District Missionary Rev. Luke Rhyee: Ministry in Midst of COVID-19

Happy souls in Chusiajcaba who enjoyed the meal.  However, currently our meal serving ministry has been suspended. Yesterday was raining in the land of Guatemala. Since last November we have not had any rain drops, which made the trees and plants wither and dry. However, the rain yesterday will refresh all the trees and plants into vivid green color. The anticipation of this alone gives me a joy in my heart.

As of this writing, TV broadcastings announce that there are more than a million people who have gotten infected globally by Covid 19, and the death toll has surpassed 60,000. The circumstance of the US is not different. The US already has 260,000 infected patients and more than 6,000 have passed away. Up until now the situation in Guatemala seems okay. Since the first Covid 19 patient in Guatemala was diagnosed, which was on March 19, Guatemala has had 50 confirmed cases and one death. One of these fifty patients came from Xela, where our mission center is located. Our Bethesda staffs are doing well. Our medical school scholarship students as well as middle school scholarship students are fine. So are our friends in Chuisajcaba.

Currently, the Guatemalan government is doing her best to moderate the transmission of Covid 19. The government ordered a “Stay at home” policy.  It forced all non-essential businesses to close. Public transportation has been suspended. The border was shut down, including the airports. A curfew was instilled from 4 pm to 4 am and has been effective.

Our ministries are also affected by the Covid 19 pandemic. Our meal serving ministry, which had served 300 children each with three meals a week, has been suspended. Our mobile clinic ministry in remote areas has been suspended also. Bethesda clinic has reduced the office hours and is attending to emergency patients with minimal staffs. In our medical outpatient department, we attend to 10 percent of patients with Covid 19 compared to the number of patients without Covid 19. In our dental department, we don’t have any patients. With regard to the scholarship programs, we keep sending the scholarships to the students.

(Our mobile clinic ministry has been suspended due to Covid 19 pandemic. In the picture, Dr. Mitch Grunsky from Trinity UMC, Sumter SC attended a patient in praying.)

So far, the Guatemalan government has done a good job in slowing down the spreading of Covid 19. However, in my viewpoint, the worst has not yet come. Until now, most of Covid 19 patients came from a high class which could afford to travel to Spain or Italy. They have resources to keep themselves in quarantine or keep social distancing order.

However, if Covid 19 spreads to the people in the low class, which is the majority of the Guatemalans, we will have a different story. The outcome would be devastating. In Guatemala there are many poor communities where they don’t have water, which is essential for personal hygiene, such as washing their hands. Nor are they in a place where they can practice social distancing. In many poverty-stricken communities, many families share one small room for their entire family. Many of them have more than 10 family members.  It is simply not possible for them to keep a safe distance from others. Also, it is the beginning moments of government regulation when people try to comply. However, if this shut down keeps going for the next several weeks, Guatemalans will be in a place where they have to decide how to die. Die from Covid 19 or from starvation. I hope this kind of situation shall not come. But it would be at the end of April or early May when Covid 19 would spread massively to the low class.

Bethesda has prepared everything possible to help the community. We accumulated a stockpile of the protection gear, such as masks, gloves, goggles, isolation gowns, intubation tubes, etc. In our plan, we wanted to purchase Covid 19 exam kits so that we may help the community directly. However, we noticed that our staffs are not ready to engage directly. This is why we changed the plan to help the community indirectly. We will help the hospitals and public health centers by sharing our resources. We will send food to the medical staffs at the hospitals. Also, we will provide food to the families in Chuisajcaba where we have a meal serving ministry as well as to the families in need close to Bethesda.

I know the circumstances of Covid 19 in the US as well as in South Korea are not good. I feel sorry to add another sad story of Guatemala to all of you. However, the impact of Covid 19 to a poor country such as Guatemala would be different than the impact to the US or to S. Korea. For to these people, it is the matter of survival of their families. For they don’t have any social or governmental safety net or savings in their bank account. Most of the families in Chuisajcaba, where we have a meal serving ministry, eat corn as their main food. For corn is the cheapest ingredient with which they can barely manage their families to not starve. Without and even before Covid 19, some of them could not manage. They often might skip a meal a day. Right now, the corn price has shot up three or four times higher than normal. This is a simple death sentence to these poor families.

Please lift these poor brothers in Guatemala in your prayers. Pray for the staffs at Bethesda. Pray that Bethesda can keep saving the people in Guatemala. Pray that we can see these bright smiles of our children very soon. Pray for those who are in pain as well as those who are mourning. Also, pray for all of us who may come closer to the Lord in the midst of Covid 19 pandemic so that the earth can restore her vivid life in the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Luke Rhyee

Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” Luke 8:48

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Payable to Healing Guatemala

P.O. Box 1835

Duluth, GA 30096

한국: 하나은행




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