The World Health Organization has now officially recognized the COVID-19 crisis as a pandemic, with more than 170,000 individuals already known to be affected throughout the world, and experts anticipate the numbers will continue to rise.
At World Relief, our desire and the core of our mission is to walk with and serve those in vulnerable situations. In any disaster, those on the margins are the first to experience the full impact, and this is already proving true with the spread of this novel coronavirus. The elderly and immunocompromised are particularly susceptible, and those already facing financial hardship will likely experience continued difficulty accessing the resources they need.
We will be continuing in our work to restore hope and rebuild lives in communities around the world, but in compliance with expert advice and out of an abundance of caution, we are taking steps to protect the World Relief family, including those we serve.
Effective end of day on Monday, March 16, all of World Relief’s U.S. offices are handling all non-essential programming and services remotely for a minimum of two weeks.
Any programming and services that are deemed essential will be conducted in observance of CDC hygiene recommendations and social distancing precautions, with the end goal of assisting in the efforts to help “flatten the curve” and mitigate the spread of the virus. Our staff will be working to communicate with existing and current clients to make sure their needs are met in a way that ensures each party’s safety.
As we take these appropriate precautions, our prayer is that World Relief, and the church by association, would earn the reputation for caring sacrificially for those who are most vulnerable during any crisis. This is possible, “for God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). We see this time of turbulence not as a time to withdraw or hoard resources for ourselves, but to consider ways to serve others in our communities, including the immigrant, the elderly, the isolated and the immunocompromised.
As such, and to the extent that the threat of the disease and our resources allow, we will continue with current programs to address the most pressing problems and sustain the most vital services — such as ensuring vulnerable groups are getting accurate health information in their language, housing and employment assistance, and continued refugee resettlement support, among other things.
Thank you for your care, support and faithfulness. Together we will continue praying for the cessation of this disease, for the health care workers at the front lines, the most vulnerable in our communities, and for wisdom for the authorities leading the way.
Tim Breene & Scott Arbeiter
Will I still be able to volunteer?
At this time, we’re suspending in-person volunteer opportunities. But, there are still a lot of ways you can continue to help create welcoming communities. Please see below.
Will this affect World Relief’s international offices?
In our international programs we serve in both development and disaster settings. We are seeking to maintain our life-saving and life-improving work in some of the most difficult to reach and most vulnerable places. However, our work may well be affected in accordance with the COVID-19 threat and government guidance in each country by mandated travel restrictions, quarantines of people and regions and other factors as is true in the U.S. currently.
Will World Relief staff continue to travel internationally?
All nonessential travel is being suspended. We are also being sensitive to avoid visiting countries that have not yet been infected by COVID-19.
I’m getting a lot of different messages about coronavirus. How do I know what to believe?
We recommend visiting the CDC’s website for all updates regarding COVID-19 and for expert advice.
How is this impacting the refugee and immigrant communities?
Immigrant participants will feel the effects even more acutely. Already, several refugees who had just secured their first job—a huge step towards economic resilience—have been laid off. Schools are closing and refugee families are facing the added challenge of full-time childcare. Those who are experiencing symptoms of sickness or who are in high-risk demographics will be experiencing the tangible effects of isolation.
How can I help?
Pray! We serve a God who sees and cares for our suffering. Pray for health care workers, pray for healing for those suffering from COVID-19, pray for comfort for the lonely.
Employ foreign-born workers. Immigrants and refugees are a disproportionately large portion of the hospitality and healthcare industries. These sectors will be some of the hardest-hit by this crisis.
Engage with your local church. Work with your local networks to make sure the physical needs of those in your communities are being met.
Give. While we may not be working in the office, the work continues. During this unprecedented season, we will be responding to the urgent needs of the refugee and immigrant community with emergency financial assistance to address the most pressing problems. Please consider joining us with a special gift to sustain vital services and meet urgent needs of our newest neighbors. Visit worldrelief.org/covid-19 or your local office’s website to join us and give today.
FAQ for our Clients
I’m not feeling well, but I have an appointment with a World Relief caseworker. Should I still go to that appointment?
If you are experiencing symptoms, visit the CDC website, please try to avoid visiting World Relief offices, and seek immediate medical attention.
If I have a case pending at one of the local offices, how will I get a hold of my caseworker?
There will be staff attending to office phones and other methods of communication. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
My family member is arriving at the airport this week. Will someone be there to meet them?
Yes. We will make sure that all essential services will continue. This includes airport pickups, rent payments, food drop-offs, etc.