How’s your church coping with the current crisis? As the government has introduced measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, it’s likely your Sunday mornings or youth group sessions are starting to look very different.
But for millions of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, regular Sunday services have never been an option. The persecuted church knows masses about isolation – but being apart doesn’t mean God can’t draw us closer together.
Pastor Huang Lei leads a church in Wuhan, China – the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak. The coronavirus crisis makes it impossible for his church to have their usual gatherings – but Pastor Huang and his congregation have used the crisis to focus in on God – and it’s changing them:
“Crises force change. Let’s use this virus crisis to become more like Jesus and grow closer to God. It’s time to be church rather than do church.”
“First, we have more than 50 groups,” he says. “Almost all the groups are meeting via the internet. Praying, studying the Bible, sharing, witnessing, praising and worshipping. Of those 50, we have more than 30 groups which are spending two hours every day to pray, worship, share and testify together! That’s far more frequent than our normal meetings.
“Of course, now we have more free time; everybody is staying at home, so that’s given us the chance to do this. But we usually have the group meeting weekly and now we’re doing this daily – sometimes even more, so we are very grateful for that.”
God loves to bring good things out of bad situations, and that’s what Pastor Huang is experiencing:
“We have heard that our elderly and disabled have been thankful to the Lord and are greatly encouraged by this opportunity for online meetings… Now they cherish the connection between believers more than ever. And they’re more connected. So, bit by bit, they’ve started to actively throw themselves into praying together online. I think it’s bringing us closer more than ever. We pray, share information, and make decisions together. The virus can’t stop us.”
“The epidemic didn’t cut down our meetings. It’s the opposite… I think, after this, many church members will be more willing to communicate with other sisters and brothers in Christ, to encourage each other and share with each other.”
Our current situation where we’re being told to socially distance ourselves, not meet in big groups and generally stay home can make us feel unsettled and worried – but for millions of our persecuted church family around the world, isolation is an everyday reality. Paradoxically, Pastor Huang and his church have grown closer together. Let’s pray that during this crisis we will grow closer with our church family too.
Could we spend time in prayer, asking God how He might want to move in and through His church during these unsettling times? What can we learn about each other, and the God we serve, as we try to connect in other ways?
God is present wherever we are, and however we meet as church family, and He is always at work to build His kingdom. Let’s lean into this new season and see what God does!
Want to learn more about, and get inspired by, the brave faith of Christians living in some of the places most opposed to following Jesus? Get our awesome new 2020 World Watch List prayer map and stickers – it’s free. Plus we have a new session outline for youth leaders which includes a massive A1 map too. Get them for free at the link below:
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imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.