Believers respond to virus with faith, not fear

Across the world, coronavirus has driven many people indoors and into isolation. Fear of exposure to the disease has made minimizing social interactions most people’s main goal. Some believers in East Asia, however, have had different priorities.

Since the virus first began overwhelming the region at the end of December, groups of believers have prayerfully put themselves at risk to help their local communities. They’ve found ways to engage in relief efforts local governments couldn’t manage on their own.

In a city at the very center of the epidemic, for example, Christians have regularly gone out in their neighborhoods to distribute gospel tracts and keep government workers supplied with face masks.

“Even policemen gratefully receive these gifts and spread the word among their friends,” said Cindy*, a local believer.

Local governments have also trusted churches to take care of vulnerable populations, like the elderly and those isolated in rural areas. Believers have helped with services such as disinfecting homes, delivering fresh produce and starting online education programs for children.

And as churches from around the world donate supplies to help East Asia, local believers are traveling many miles to distribute them to communities in need.

“I think this season is a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel, because every patient I meet here needs comfort from Jesus, and it is the only real comfort,” said Simon*, a physician who has been helping with relief efforts.

One group of 96 volunteers from a church Cindy knows spent two weeks traveling to nine different towns to help with epidemic prevention. In total, they were able to serve more than 10,000 people whom local governments did not have the resources to help on their own.

Many of these people already struggle to make ends meet, and without help they would have been highly at risk for contracting the virus. For example, believers helped one family where a grandmother was responsible for caring for her disabled daughter-in-law and son as well as her young grandson. She could only afford four cheap disposable masks. The believers gave her surgical masks as well as hand sanitizer. Her deep gratitude brought them to tears.

“Every team received consistent high praise from the community and the local government,” Cindy said.

All of these efforts put volunteers at risk for exposure themselves, but they have consistently shown faith instead of fear in the face of many challenges.

Through this pandemic, God is giving believers in East Asia a chance to love and serve government officials who often persecute and restrict their freedoms. Even those restrictions, however, God is using for good.

“Most of the large unregistered churches in our town had to break into small groups last year because of persecution,” said Jane*, another believer. “Now they are thankful for this government-inspired change to their structure, as these small groups are now meeting daily online to study the Word, pray, and encourage one another.

“It has become their daily sustenance in an uncertain world.”


*Names changed