You might expect that a country-wide epidemic capable of closing factories, schools and even borders would bring fruitful ministry to a grinding halt, but that hasn’t been the case for Dan*, a Christian worker, and his local partners.
Dan decided to stay in East Asia even after it became clear that COVID- 19, the respiratory illness caused by a recent strain of coronavirus, wasn’t going away anytime soon. Dan and his family have called the region home for many years and felt God was calling them to stay.
While the illness and resulting municipal lockdown has quieted the city, daily life hasn’t changed much for Dan. He’s continued to have opportunities to share the gospel and serve local believers, though he’s had to get creative at finding those opportunities.
Dan’s approach throughout the lockdown has been to “find the cracks,” as he puts it. While the illness, restrictions and general fear may seem like a wall blocking any open door, Dan has tried to find the cracks that still give him a way to love and serve those around him.
“There may be a temptation to think this is the end of ministry for a season. But I think there’s actually been lots of opportunities for ministry, even in the midst of lockdown,” Dan said.
The city government asked everyone to limit how often they leave their houses, but Dan has still been able to get to work regularly. From his office, he’s been able to work on mobilizing believers he knows in the U.S. to donate and ship face masks that are urgently needed in a regional city at the center of the epidemic.
Dan has arranged for these masks to go to a local church. The church has been able to distribute them at hospitals and in neighborhoods—a blessing to people and a chance to share the gospel with them.
The project has been encouraging for everyone involved, and it’s been a practical way for Dan to help believers in the U.S. serve alongside the local church in East Asia to reach those who are hurting.
In addition to having open doors for rich conversations with unbelievers, Dan has also had many opportunities to invest in believers. Coronavirus restrictions have slowed the normally busy pace of city life, which has made his fellowship with believers in safe settings sweet and unhurried. It’s taken some adjusting—he always has to travel to where they are, because they’re too nervous to travel through the city, for example—but the effort has been worth it for the wonderful conversations they’ve had.
“In normal life, especially in cities, we’re really busy, and the people we’re trying to reach are really busy too,” Dan said. “So when you have a time like this, they’re actually much more accessible than they would normally be, because they’re not busy doing other things.”
In addition to all the ways Dan has been personally encouraged by things going on in his own city, he’s also been deeply encouraged to see the East Asian church as a whole respond so well to the crisis around them. Churches across the country have been fasting and praying day after day for those who are sick and hurting, and for hearts to be softened to the gospel.
“In spite of the struggle and even the suffering and dying that’s happening, the church has been spurred into action through this in ways I’ve not seen in years,” Dan said.
“The church has been incredibly mobilized through the hardness of this. The virus is spreading around the world now, and I hope churches around the world will respond as well as the East Asian church has.”