At the Navajo Nation in the U.S., an outreach ministry expands during COVID-19.

The Navajo Nation in Arizona and New Mexico, United States, where La Vida Mission’s ministry is focused, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. 

A few months ago, it was reported that it had the highest per-capita infection rate in the United States, surpassing past hotspots such as New York City. A lockdown, stay-at-home order, and nightly and weekend curfews were implemented to provide safety. Still, these have made life difficult in terms of mobility and securing food for daily needs, especially on weekends. Add to this the loss of jobs and income, and it is no surprise families are struggling. 

During the lockdown, one of La Vida Mission’s activities was reaching out to the community through deliveries of small care packages of fresh fruit purchased with church outreach funds. Supplies of rice, beans, and cornflour from the school cafeteria were added to these deliveries. Thanks to a gift from the Montrose Adventist church in Colorado, food boxes were prepared in addition to the care packages and food bags.

In the first week of May, these food supplies were extremely low, so the general food distribution was stopped. “But we left our church’s doors open for community requests for help,” reported Dori Panganiban, La Vida Mission’s community outreach director.

By the second week of May, Sherman Mohler, president of Southwest Paleontological Society, offered a donation to the mission of loads of assorted food, groceries, clothes, and household appliances. “He also gave us cash donations he received through his GoFundMe fundraiser,” Panganiban explained.

A Facebook fundraiser generated donations as well. “We used the [funds] to order flour, assorted groceries, and toilet paper online for the next food distribution,” Panganiban added. Neal Kelley and his wife, representing The Sharing Ministry, drove from Montrose, Colorado, with a pickup-load of food to add to the supplies.

“Putting all these donations together, we were able to make 150 food boxes that we distributed in our church parking lot. It made these packages reach the people quicker in preparation for the coming weekend curfew and lockdown,” Panganiban said.

The donations continued. On May 28, Navajo Strong from Utah arrived with 80 gallons of hand sanitizer to give to the ministry. “When I returned to my office after the distribution, I received a call from Brenda Maldonado of Colorado Springs Central Church asking how their church could help with our outreach,” Panganiban reported. “Coming home that same day, my husband gave me an envelope left on the bench in our sunroom with a generous check appropriated to our Food Box Distribution Ministry, left by a local member. I could not believe all this happened in just one day.”

Since that time, the ministry has made other drive-in food box distributions in the church parking lot. “Just as Jesus made the five loaves of bread and two fishes multiply, He multiplied our small care packages into something bigger to impact our community for Him,” Panganiban concluded.

The original version of this story was posted on the Mid-America Union Conference Outlook.


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