Famine in the wake of the COVID-19 pestilence

As COVID-19 cases approach 150,000 in America and over 2,000 deaths, there is an eerie feeling about the future. There is much speculation about when life will get back to normal. But there is an anticipation, a hope, and an expectation that with diligence and wisdom, life will return to at least a new normal. In America, we have so far endured this pandemic with the exception of being able to find toilet paper as a result of the hoarders, and perhaps having been rationed on certain food products. There are systems in place to prevent hoarding, price gouging, and taking advantage of people during this time of need. But what if you lived in a country where a lockdown or travel ban meant you may not be able to eat?

It’s been 16 days since my son Christian and I returned from Ghana, West Africa. When we left, there were two cases of COVID-19. We got out ahead of President Trump’s travel ban. Some 12 hours after we left, Ghana closed its borders and air traffic. Now, with 152 cases, the entire country is on lockdown—schools and businesses are shut down. Police are enforcing people to stay indoors. The country is doing its part to defeat this virus. But that doesn’t account for the human factor, which is greed. Some landlords are threatening to throw people into the streets if an extra six months rent is not paid up front. There is hoarding and reselling. There is price gouging. Food prices have inflated 500% in some areas.

In a developing country like Ghana, there are laws against such profiteering and price gouging, but there is essentially no infrastructure to enforce them. So unlike American’s hoarding of toilet paper, Ghanaians, especially in the poor rural areas we serve, face extraordinary greed against the background of needing to eat. Our ministry partner Pastor William Agbeti writes: “Unfortunately, Government and its law enforcement agencies are helpless to do anything about the price hikes, even in the presence of laws against profiteering! Since last week, we had been supplying foodstuffs, hand sanitizer and small amounts of money, out of our very meager resources to support some of the poorest of the poor.” We have developed a system to get food to the poorest families in the rural areas. We have a list of families and a list of foodstuffs to buy.

We have a vehicle to distribute them. In areas we cannot reach by vehicle, we can distribute funds via a phone app to our trusted representatives who will buy and distribute food. Every $50 we send will feed a family for about two weeks—which is when the lockdown is supposed to be lifted. If there is any small amount you can spare to assist with this effort, it would be greatly appreciated. A little bit goes a long way. As is written in 1 Peter 5:2, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by compulsion, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.” Proverbs 22:9 says, “He that has a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he gives of his bread to the poor.” Famine follows pestilence. Can we do something about it?

Bill Wilson