How To Multiply Compassion and Justice in a Time of IsolationMelanie Mokgatla
The Division Beyond ‘Social Distancing’
Corona-chaos has ensued and each of us are having to think about hygiene, the safety of our immediate family, and how to run our household for days – even months – into social isolation.
Some jobs are being shifted to the online-world of video conferencing, WhatsApp, and sharing via ‘the cloud.’ The privilege of private transportation, access to the internet and a salaried job can cushion us in this climate. We make adjustments that are a bit inconvenient but not detrimental to our lifestyle or health.
But put yourself in this narrative – one that is a lived reality for MANY in our city of Cape Town:
You wake up early to travel in a crowded taxi or train – shoulder to shoulder.
You earn a daily wage at a job that is physically demanding. If you don’t show up for work, you don’t get paid.
You leave that job and get back into crowded public transport with the weight of exhaustion and thinking about what you’ll face when you finally arrive home.
But first, you stop by the shop to buy enough food for one meal and electricity to get you through a day or two.
You live in a community where homes are built in close proximity. The noise of the streets, the voices, the breath of community life constantly infiltrating your own walls – no escaping the sight, sounds and contact of others.
Some days you have running water – other days, not. Service delivery and sanitation issues seep into the basic running of your home.
Those under your roof share a small room so that all can lay their heads down at night.
This is South Africa’s township life.
With spacial-apartheid still alive and land ownership issues rife, this is reality. We are a society that does not afford ‘social distancing’ to those that are the most economically vulnerable.
On the flip-side, those living in suburbs, with digitally-able jobs, we carry on with life in our homes, feeling a little more isolated but able to work and provide for our family. We go to the store to stock up on non-perishables – cans, long-life milk, toilet-paper. We open our cupboards and smile, knowing there’s food for many more days and enough disinfectant for all our home’s surfaces.
The gap in these narratives must pierce our hearts and elevate our action – not just re-action to the fear being spread. For those that are able to hoard and stock up, maybe pause and be thankful for how God’s provided for us financially and physically. For those that are living hand-to-mouth, may they feel The Church come around them and provide a unique, provisional love that can only come through the peace of our Father.
This is a call for the church to arise. To look at “what’s in your hand” (Ex 4:2) or in this case, your cupboard.
The New Testament church understood this sharing of life and possessions and provide an example for us to follow. In Acts 2, the Fellowship of Believers is shown to be selfless, sharing – having everything in common and aware of those in need. Acts 4 goes on to describe: “The multitude of believers was one in heart and soul. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they owned. With great power, the apostles continued to give their testimony about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And abundant grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:32-33)
What have you hoarded for your own family? What did you find important to purchase at the store for your time of isolation? This is the time to share those same things.
So what now? How can we as Christ-followers live justly and spread the love of Jesus during the isolation of the Corona virus?
- Pay employees (domestic workers, gardeners, childcare providers) a full wage & allow them to stay home to care for their own families during this time.
- If you choose to still employ an in-home worker, consider using Uber or personally driving them to and from work.
- Look in your cupboards & make an “isolation care package” for someone in need. Think of the elderly, ill, single moms, families in the First Thousand Days of a child’s life, those in townships that you have a relationship with, NGOs that are responding in vulnerable areas.
- Think about the budget-line-items you’ll be saving this month (petrol, entertainment) and use those funds to provide for someone in need
- Chat to your pastor and offer yourself as one who could help those in need.
- Offer to call an elderly member every few days to check on them
- Go to the grocery store for a single mom who can’t get out to the shops with the kids
- Pick up medicine from the pharmacy for someone that’s immune deficient and drop it at their door-step.
… the list can go on-and-on! Get creative on how to multiply compassion and justice in a time of isolation.
We understand everyone’s story is different during this time of isolation. Many small businesses are feeling the pinch and it’s not business-as-usual. But if you’re in a situation where you can give out of your overflow – and even sacrifice for another’s benefit – we believe God will use that to multiply compassion and justice across our city.