In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, cities and countries around the world banded together. People stayed at home. Essential workers were applauded and appreciated. Churches embraced the “temporary” online format for meeting. The mission was to flatten the curve, and soon it would be over.

Now it’s October, and the “temporary” measures many adopted in the Spring are now a way of life. Social distancing has led to intense isolation, and the economic distress of the year is taking a major toll on mental and emotional health.

When movement control orders hit Indonesia in March, Haggai leader Tety Irwan started helping move her church’s ministry and activities online. She also prayed for a tangible way to help her community weather this storm, and on a May Zoom call with other Haggai leaders, she found it.

“I joined a Haggai Zoom Webinar “From Fear to Hope” with Haggai’s VP of International Ministry Development, Sundar Sangma. He addressed 4 areas of changes: Economic, Social Change, Technology, and Spiritual Awakening. In point 4, Spiritual Awakening, Sundar shared about the increased need for counseling and mental health resources. This point really touched my heart.”

Tety Irwan

After the webinar, Tety prayed that God would open doors to allow her church to be salt and light to those suffering mental and emotional distress due to the pandemic. Utilizing her network, Tety enlisted mental health professionals and counselors in the community to host trainings at the church. By attending the trainings, people in the church would obtain knowledge to help them minister to those experiencing mental and emotional distress and equip them with referral resources to support those in need of professional counseling.

Tety conducts training webinars for volunteers in her church.

The first of five training sessions kicked off in June, and the response was overwhelming. Nearly 80 volunteers from the church attended, as well as 6 pastors from another church. Since then, the group has established a counseling hotline in Indonesia for those in distress. The hotline offers prayer and mental health resources.

In this season of intense isolation, a friendly voice and a listening ear has the potential to save someone’s life. In July, Tety’s group had the opportunity to counsel a teenage boy contemplating suicide.

“By God’s grace and the help of the Holy Spirit, we can help these people. We will continue to do this ministry and pray that God will use us as His instrument to bring healing, peace, and Salvation to those who are in trouble.”