In the face of adversity, such as the Covid-19 virus outbreak in China which is now a global health emergency, Chinese Christians find themselves drawing closer to God.
During this time of home quarantine for the health and safety of all citizens, the authorities forbid all collective gatherings, imposed extended holidays for schools and companies and travel restrictions. Some cities have stepped up precautionary measures by allowing only one or two household members to leave the house to buy daily essentials every other day or once in five days.
Yet there is always a silver lining in every (dark) cloud. With churches closed, Christian meetings suspended, many Christians are spending more time at home reading the Bible.
Take for example, in a village known as Longchi in Sichuan province, there’s a Catholic church located on the beautiful Ermei Mountains. The church used to hold Bible meetings thrice a week for its over 400 believers. Now with enforced suspension of all large-scale activities, including church meetings, these believers, albeit homebound, are spending more time than ever before, doing their own Bible reading.
“I’m old and it would not be long before I make my final journey but I haven’t even read much of the Bible!” confessed one 80-year old man whose family name is Meng (photo on the left). “During this time of isolation, I read the Bible without stopping for 10 days and I could not stop reading about God’s forgiveness and love for me. Now I want to spend the rest of my life reading the Bible!”
“Starting from the Book of Genesis, these believers, young and old, read at least 10 chapters a day. Some can read 50-80 chapters a day,“ shares Sister Meng Jiumei, a Catholic nun serving in Longchi Church in Sichuan province*.
One of the believers shared with Sister Meng: “While I was reading the Book of Judges, I broke down in tears as I felt a strong conviction to repent to God of my sins.”
Another said, “We are often too busy to spend time with God prior to this crisis. Now we are taking this time to do more self-reflection and praying to God.”
Believers in China are hungry for the Word of God, which gives them hope and strength to go through each difficult new day. Let us remember these brothers-and-sisters-in-Christ and pray for them daily, and let us support them in whatever practical ways we can.
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*Sichuan province has a total of 470 confirmed Covid-19 cases, of which 120 recovered and 1 died. (Updated 15 Feb 2020)