In order to earn a living, 25-year-old Rikter had to leave his village. Most of Rikter’s fellow villagers barely survived off seasonal farming jobs. Even then, the amount of money they earned was not constant. But work opportunities for Rikter were few and far between—he and his family didn’t own any land on which they could farm. So, he found a better-paying job outside of the village. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Earnings Cut in Half
Rikter worked in an entirely different country where he made nearly double the amount of money he could earn in his village. When the lockdowns occurred, the country’s border sealed, leaving Rikter stranded for 13 months. Then Rikter begged his managers to let him leave.
“I told my manager that I want to go home,” he recalled, “I want to see my family.”
Fortunately, Rikter made it home. But then the situation deteriorated.
Rikter and his father tried to pick up small jobs here and there to ensure they could help provide for Rikter’s nieces and nephews. With the lockdowns, jobs were hard to come by for all, which meant Rikter’s brother couldn’t provide for his children by himself. So, Rikter, a single man himself, lived with his father, his brother and his brother’s children. Rikter, his father and brother all tried finding work. Rikter’s brother had recently tried to find work out of the country, as Rikter had, but he had been placed in quarantine and couldn’t work or send money home.
School fees for Rikter’s nephews and nieces went unpaid, and meals were skipped. What jobs Rikter and his father could find paid significantly less than what they had made previously. In addition to the financial crisis, looming over Rikter and his family was the ever-present threat of the virus.
“I was very afraid,” Rikter remembered. “I was afraid for my family, my father and my brother.”
The Lord’s Provision
By the grace of God, neither Rikter nor any of his family members fell ill. And they did not face this crisis alone. As members of a Gospel for Asia (GFA) church, Rikter and his family were among many people helped by the church during the pandemic. Rikter received food supplies to ease his financial burden, mosquito nets to ward off disease-carrying insects and blankets to fight off the winter weather.
Rikter was aware that if he or any of his family members did fall ill, the medical bills would ruin them.
“Spending time on medical bills would be impossible for us at this point of time,” he said.
Rikter was thankful for the help he and his family received.
“I am personally very grateful to our church leaders, our pastors … for thinking about us and giving us these essential gifts that are very helpful,” he said. He also knows that this work is important and helps bring Christ’s love to people in need.
“I believe that [the] church should actively involve [itself] in doing social work during this pandemic because people are suffering,” Rikter stated. “… This is an opportunity for our church to express Christ’s love to the people.”