As you have most likely heard about the Wuhan Coronavirus in the news recently. This virus is devastating the country as they race to find a cure and control the spread of the virus. China has locked itself down in a way that I have never seen before. One of our teammates wrote a powerful post that explains some of what it is like since he is on the ground there: “Barriers and Thermometers: China and the Coronavirus“. I encourage you to read it and pray for the missionaries who are there serving to reach the Chinese people with the gospel.
In the same vein, I asked Pastor Charles, a Chinese pastor in our ministry, to update our supporters on what has been happening recently and how life and ministry has been while living in a “quarantined China” during the outbreak of the coronavirus. Here is the update he sent me in bullet points. The original is in Mandarin Simplified Chinese that I translated into English (note: I added some phrases to help with understanding). I encourage you to read it and pray for the Chinese believers who are there serving to reach their people with the gospel.
- Charles, a servant of Jesus, to all the brothers and sisters in Christ, peace to you. I thank God for giving my family the opportunity to serve the Lord, and for the training my wife and I received through Pastor Mark. I have been serving God for almost 4 years and it has been full of challenges. I even had thoughts of giving up. But thanks to God’s grace, Pastor Mark’s help, and my family’s prayers, I was able to persevere.
- I want to tell you about the circumstances that our church is facing and how we are serving in them. At present, we are faced with two challenges. One is the challenge of church planting. During the process of leading the church, I have been taken to the police station and the National Security Bureau 3 times. They said a lot of harsh things—especially about forbidding church planting and persecuting missionaries. In the face of this challenge, I was afraid. But the resurrected Lord reminded me that He has the greatest authority, and Pastor Mark’s teaching reminded me not to be afraid but to persevere. Thank the Lord for helping me mature and grow in all kinds of suffering, and to prevail over temptation and danger.
- The second challenge is the challenge for all churches in China, and even for all the Chinese people, that is, “Coronavirus 2019-nCoV”. By February 8th, there was 31 provinces in China that were affected by the virus. Nationwide there are more than 30,000 confirmed diagnoses, more than 30,000 suspected, and more than 700 deaths—of which the actual situation is even more serious than this. Many are affected by this virus. Many schools, companies, supermarkets, railways, public buses, restaurants, and churches are closed. The virus spreads quickly, people become infected quickly and also die quickly. Many people have lost family.
- There are also infected people near our church. The reason for the virus is because the face masks are sold out. The brothers and sisters in our church are unable to go out to attend services. Everyone is afraid and worried about transmitting the virus. Pastor Mark encourages us to continue having services. So we didn’t stop having services, but we continued to meet and worship with the church family via the internet on WeChat.
- The church set up a prayer meeting because of the virus. Every day at 9 AM and 7 PM, at these two prayer times, the church prays together.
- We pray to God for the virus in China, the flu in the United States, the fires in Australia, the locusts in Africa, various disasters in the world, and for those unsaved souls. We ask God for mercy and salvation.
- The prayer meetings have lasted for almost two weeks now. Family members of brothers and sisters in the church also attend the prayer meetings. The youngest is 8 years old. Together we read God’s Word, sing praises, encourage one another, and believe in God’s promises and will. We also pray for the world to repent—because many countries in our world have done a lot of things against God.
- We know that God hates sin because He is righteous and holy, but He is also a God full of grace and mercy. We know that God is not trying to judge the world, but through the daily disasters in the world He reminds us that we should be alert, worship Him, and believe and glorify Him.
- Thank God for giving me two great “graces”. One is that my wife and I during this time, plan to study with others through the internet using the Firm Foundations series Pastor Mark wrote. We chose to start with the course “Marriage and Family”. Through this course we teach that we should glorify God in marriage and imitate the relationship between Christ and the church to build an honorable marriage and family. Thank the Lord, more than 20 families are willing to participate through 3 different groups on WeChat. Some are Christians and some are not. I hope they can believe in Jesus through this and glorify God in their marriage. I hope China can have many Christian families and more people to be saved.
- God gave me a second “grace” when my father recently believed in Jesus. One day after our prayers ended, my mother called and told me the good news, she said that my dad started believing in the Lord. When I heard the news, I couldn’t stop crying. I especially thanked the Lord, I know that the Lord heard our prayers. After my mother believed in the Lord for 26 years, my dad finally started to pray, sing hymns, and study the Bible.
- Through the various disasters in the world, we know that the day of the Lord is near. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” May God be with us all. Amen!