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Vijay Madiki delivers hot meals to hungry families in lockdown due to India's COVID-19 pandemic.
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Photo provided by Vijay Madiki

‘Miracles’ in the pandemic

Many people in India see Jesus as one of their gods, a Christian couple says. Now, as faith-based relief groups respond to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic on the subcontinent, some are asking to learn more about the Messiah — and asking for prayers.

The love of Jesus compelled Sonia Madiki to teach women to sew.

Now the program she launched a decade ago has become a lifeline for families as her home nation of India endures a devastating wave of COVID-19.

It’s a really frightening and painful situation,” she said.

Sonia Madiki, left, teaches women to sew (and make masks) in southern India.

Sonia Madiki, left, teaches women to sew (and make masks) in southern India.

Madiki and her husband, minister Vijay Madiki, serve the Church of Christ Samalkot and work with a network of some 300 congregations in southern India. Seeing the plight of women in the villages where they minister inspired Sonia Madiki to launch SWAN, a program that gives rural, homebound ladies sewing machines and the skills to use them. Then they could “earn money to be able to give their children more nutritious food, health care and especially the opportunity to go to school,” Sonia Madiki said.

She couldn’t have known 10 years ago that she was training the seamstresses for their biggest client and their most important task — mask-making, with supplies and funding from the local authorities.

But God knew, she said.

When asked if the soaring death toll in her homeland made her wonder where the Lord she serves is right now, she replied, “No, no, brother. I see that God is always at work. Even in the midst of this pandemic situation we can experience God’s miracles.”

God’s love in the midst of quarantine

In the predominantly Hindu nation of 1.3 billion souls, the latest wave of the pandemic is fueled by an aggressive strain dubbed “double mutant.”

Sonia Madiki feeds children in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in southern India.

Sonia Madiki feeds children in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in southern India.

It’s hard to fathom: More than 343,000 new infections per day and daily deaths exceeding 4,000.


Related: A pandemic of prayer for India


As the infections rise, the Madikis are working late nights. Vijay ministers alongside medical missionaries in rural villages. Sonia volunteers at hospitals, counseling patients and health care workers.

The couple also is housing 14 children on the second floor of their home. The children’s parents or relatives tested positive for COVID-19 but are unable to quarantine due to small living space. In some situations, multiple families live in two-room homes, Sonia Madiki said.

They hope to secure government permission to use a former missionary’s compound as a sort of “reverse quarantine” facility, allowing those who test negative for the virus to have a place to live as their relatives recover at home.

The Madikis work with Agape Asia, an organization with roots in Churches of Christ that sponsors children and assists in development projects across India, Nepal, China, Mongolia and Myanmar.

‘We don’t need to tell them about Jesus; we need to show them Jesus. And we’re able to do that now in this crisis.’

The nonprofit is collecting funds for relief efforts in India. So are other ministries, including India Missions and Healing Hands International.

As they minister to the hurting “we don’t need to tell them about Jesus; we need to show them Jesus,” said Ray Hooper, Agape Asia’s managing director for India operations, “and we’re able to do that now in this crisis.”

In a land where Christians have endured persecution — especially in recent years from militant Hindus — the believers’ acts of charity are getting noticed, said Jeff Robertson, Agape Asia’s executive director.    

From their home in southern India, Vijay and Sonia Madiki share details of what has become their daily routine — serving COVID-19 patients in hospitals and rural villages — with Erik Tryggestad of The Christian Chronicle, right, and Jeff Robertson of Agape Asia.

From their home in southern India, Vijay and Sonia Madiki share details of what has become their daily routine — serving COVID-19 patients in hospitals and rural villages — with Erik Tryggestad of The Christian Chronicle, right, and Jeff Robertson of Agape Asia.

Last year, during a relief effort, the Madikis approached a vendor who was selling rice. They bought his entire stock. He was amazed.

“He followed them and wanted to know why they were doing this,” Robertson said. “They were able to share Christ with him.”

Many Indians consider Jesus to be one of their gods, Vijay Madiki said.

Now, he added, “people are more open to faith. They are more willing to listen. … They are asking us to pray. And they are closing their eyes and growing closer to God.”

Filed under: Christianity in India Churches of Christ India Coronavirus coronavirus aid Covid and India COVID-19 india global pandemic India International pandemic pandemic relief Top Stories

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