Keep helping the poor amid COVID-19

Prem Christian *

The COVID-19 pandemic has paralysed the global economy; it continues to stultify the world economy on a high note. Education institutions, industries, malls, gyms, hotels, restaurants and other types of businesses are ordered to remain closed until further notice. Even small businesses have been crippled amid COVID-19 pandemic. Many lives have been affected since its inception.

Across the country, many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus lockdown, and their jobs may be at risk; they may not get back their jobs. Some daily wage earners may not have enough food to eat two meals a day.

There are also the poorest people in the state. With great urgency, the state government needs to adopt measures to continue to protect the poorest and the weakest people if the COVID-19 relief measures prove inadequate.

Marginalized and vulnerable people have been hurt by the lockdown due to the lack of essential commodities and other basic needs. The government of India announced a two week more nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of deadly coronavirus in the country.

The government, individuals and groups have big roles and responsibilities to keep helping the most vulnerable marginalized people and those in need until the deadly virus is gone away.

When Bill Gates was the richest man in the world, someone asked him during one of the meetings, "Sir, is there anyone richer than you in the world?" Bill Gates answered and said, "Yes, there is a person who is richer than I. It was during the time when I wasn't rich or famous. I was at the New York airport when I saw a newspaper vendor. I wanted to buy one newspaper but I found that I didn't have enough change. So, I left the idea of buying the newspaper and returned it to the vendor. I told him of not having the change.

The vendor said, 'I am giving you this newspaper for free.' On the insistence, I took the newspaper." Coincidentally, after two or three months Bill Gates landed at the same airport, and again he was short of change for a newspaper.

The same vendor offered him the newspaper again. But Bill Gates refused and told the vendor that he couldn't take the newspaper as he didn't have change that day too. However, the vendor said, "You can take the newspaper; I am sharing this newspaper from my profit. I won't be at loss." So Bill Gates took the newspaper.

After 19 years Bill Gates became famous and known by people. All of a Sudden he remembered the vendor and began searching for the vendor. After searching for one and a half months he found the vendor. He asked the vendor, "Do you know me?"

He replied, "Yes, you are Bill Gates." He asked the vendor again, "Do you remember once you gave me newspapers for free?" The vendor answered, "Yes, I remember. I gave you twice." Bill Gates said, "I want to repay the help you had offered me that time. Whatever you want in your life, tell me, I shall fulfil it." The vendor said, "Sir, don't you think that by doing so you won't be able to match my help."

Bill asked, "Why?" The vendor replied, "I had helped you when I was a poor newspaper vendor and you are trying to help me now when you have become the richest man in the world. How can your help match mine?"

During the meeting, Bill Gates said, "That day I realized that the newspaper vendor is richer than I because he didn't wait to become rich to help someone." We have to realize that we don't have to wait to be rich to help others.

We have to know that the real heroes are those who have rich hearts rather than a lot of money. No matter what the circumstance is never stop helping others. Helping others makes us beautiful and bright. In these unprecedented times, many struggle in life and experience different forms of challenges.

One day, while I was coaching some kids on the pitch, one of my kids came late. He is a lovely lad who stays in a rent and whose father is a daily wage earner. I asked him why he came late. He replied, "Sir, I am unwell. So, I cannot join today's training session." I asked him whether he had taken medicines. He said, "No, sir."

When he said no, immediately I understood that he didn't have money to buy his medicines. Therefore, I gave him some money and told him to buy some medicines. Eventually he gave the money to his father and his father went to buy the medicines. This incident happened a few months ago before the outbreak of coronavirus.

I helped him financially not because I had much but because I desired to reach out to him with the little things I had so that he would feel that there's a person who loved him and cared for him in his hard times. After the government announced the nationwide lockdown in the country, I visited him again and gave him some amount of money and some kilograms of potatoes.

By narrating this single distinct event, I am not showing off how I helped others. I just want to portray that there might be many kids and families like this little boy suffering from the lack of requirements. If you happen to see needy people around you, never waver to extend your help to them. I have discovered that happiness is related to how much help I extend.

Padma shri award recipient Bunker Roy who was also the founder of Barefoot College chose to help the poor since graduating from college in 1965. Here is another great exemplary deed of helping others. Narayan was an Indian chef who later turned to a social worker after he encountered with an elderly poor hungry man. He saw that elderly starving filthy man on the side of the road as he was walking on the streets of his hometown.

His plans changed from there. He was on his way to be an award-winning chef at a 5 star restaurant. He quit his job as a leading chef and began providing meals to thousands of homeless destitute people in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India, beginning in 2002. True joy and happiness lie in the act of giving without an expectation of receiving something in return.

No one has ever become poor by giving. No one has ever lacked anything good after helping the poor. No one has ever gone hungry after feeding the poor. No one has ever become naked after clothing the poor. A man who helps others is a man who has a big heart. Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble (Psalm 41:1).

Blessed are those who give good things to others in need. Acts 20:35 says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." A giver puts a beautiful smile on the poor.

When we give we should give cheerfully, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). We receive all the good things from above. So we should also give good things to others just as we receive good things from God. Almighty God is the Giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

With everything we received from God, we should reach out to the poor and help them. Helping the poor increases our joy and happiness. We will experience this happiness when we start helping. The secret to joy is helping the poor.

There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead. It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by, on the other side. In the same way a Levite also came along, went over and then walked on by, on the other side.

But a Samaritan who was travelling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him his heart was filled with pity. He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper.

He said to the innkeeper, "Take care of him and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him (Luke 10:30- 35).

We should imitate the good Samaritan and do like he did. The priest and the Levite didn't help the man who needed help. If we see helpless people today and don't help them, we will be as same as the priest and the Levite in the story.

Mother Teresa lived to serve the poorest of the poor and lived among them and liked them. She saw beauty in every human being. She loved the poor and strove to make the lives of those around her more blessed, peaceful and full of love.

In the community of Kolkata she served the sick who were unable to pay money for medical care. Today she is still remembered by the world for devoting her life to helping the countless numbers of abandoned poor sick people in Kolkata. Mother Teresa tried her best to help as many people as she could with everything what she had. What she did was so difficult, wonderful and extraordinary.

As an ISTV subscriber, I watch ISTV news on a regular basis. In the news, recently I saw poor people crying due to the lack of essential needs. There are so many things which we cannot control. We assume that things will be alright but nothing changes amid COVID-19.

Poor people do not have enough food, education, clothing and healthcare. No matter what the current circumstances, if you can envisage something good for the poor, you can make it. Helping the poor needy people is an amazing work to do. Caring for them is a noble endeavour.

In Leviticus 25:35 God said, "If one of your brethren becomes poor and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you."

There are times when we don't feel like helping but the truth is, we can't live joyfully if we are unwilling to help. Remember the key to joy is helping. Let's not simply watch the poor suffer. Let's support them and love them.

Let's grow together with them by sharing whatever we have during this critical lockdown situation. It's never too late to help the poor. It's never too late to feed the poor.

It's never too late to care for the poor. Choose to help the poor and keep helping the poor.

I assure that God will bless you more as you keep helping the poor.

* Prem Christian wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a Lecturer at Imphal Theological College & Seminary and can be reached at christianprem3(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on May 11 2020.

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