For almost a decade, Jess* and her brother David* had been praying for their parents’ salvation. As a new calendar year approached this past January, they felt an extra sense of urgency. So, they both agreed to set aside the first Saturday of each month to pray and fast.
When they made those plans, they never imagined they’d end up quarantined together as a family for almost three months.
Like many East Asians, Jess and David traveled back to their hometown to celebrate the Lunar New Year at the end of January. While they were there, COVID-19 began rapidly spreading. Municipal governments in many cities put lockdowns in place to help stem the epidemic, which meant Jess and David couldn’t travel back to the cities they worked in.
As the lockdown in their city began, they set aside an additional day to pray and fast together. Every time they prayed together, their mom walked into the room they were using at the same time.
After she’d walked in on them praying several times, David asked her if she would join them. She surprised both of them when she agreed and knelt beside them on the floor. David prayed a simple prayer of blessing over her.
The next day, Jess asked her mom what she thought and if she had any questions. Jess explained the gospel again, as she’d done many times before. This time though, something was different. Her mom was ready to follow Christ. She prayed with Jess and confessed her sin and her need for Jesus.
“I will never forget that day,” Jess said. “It was the darkest time of our city but the brightest day of my family.”
Since then, Jess has been able to spend a lot of time discipling her mom while they’ve still been quarantined. They’ve been able to pray, read the Bible together, and grow closer than ever before.
Jess’s mom wasn’t the only member of the family who became open to the gospel as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. Jess and David also had a chance to share hope with their grandparents, who worshipped idols and had never wanted to listen to the gospel before.
The lockdown limited how often they could visit each other, but Jess and David prayed each evening for God to work in the lives of their grandparents. One day just a few weeks after their mom professed faith, David went to check on their grandparents. When his grandmother saw him, the first thing she asked was, “Can I follow your faith in Jesus?”
She told him she hadn’t been able to sleep for six days and nights. Nothing had helped, not even praying to her idols. She was desperate for some help and thought that maybe the God her grandchildren talked about could bring her some relief. David was so surprised that he ran all the way home to tell Jess.
“I couldn’t believe it and thought he was kidding,” Jess said. “But it was real. She tried all her own ways and came to us with her last hope.”
The siblings began to pray earnestly. That same night, their grandmother was finally able to sleep.
Though they haven’t committed to follow Christ yet, their grandparents have begun to openly ask questions about what it would mean if they deserted their idols to believe in Jesus, something they’ve never done before.
East Asia’s coronavirus cases have begun to stabilize, so Jess and David expect they’ll be able to return to the cities they work in soon. But Jess said she is excited for what is ahead for her family as God continues to work.
Many believers in East Asia are first-generation believers just like Jess and David. Pray that God will work powerfully in their families during this season, and that many more East Asians will find new life in Christ.