A Chinese pastor living in Wuhan, the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, has urged the international faith community to pray as the number of confirmed cases in the country continues to rise. The Christian leader, identified as “A Wuhan Pastor”, penned a letter which states “It is apparent that we are facing a test of our faith.” “The situation is so critical, yet we are trusting in the Lord’s promises, that his thoughts toward us are of peace, and not evil (Jeremiah. 29:11), and that he allows for a time of testing, not to destroy us, but to establish us.” “We also have a responsibility to pray for those in this city who are fearful, and to bring to them the peace of Christ.”
The pastor emphasized that while Christ has “given us His peace it is not to remove us from disaster and death, but rather to have peace in the midst of disaster and death, because Christ has already overcome these things.” “When disaster strikes, it is but a form of God’s love,” he contended. “Wuhan’s pestilence cannot separate us from the love of Christ.” The pastor urged the international community to “pray for God’s mercy and peace upon this city.” “I believe God is calling those of us living in Wuhan to seek peace for this city and for those who are afflicted with this illness. For the medical personnel struggling on the front lines, and for every government official at every level.”
The pastor concluded his letter by urging readers to “turn their eyes upon Jesus,” adding that “only through the hope of the Lord’s mercy will this city be saved.” The pastor’s letter comes as the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus continues to rise, prompting Chinese authorities to quarantine several major cities. The virus originated in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in Hubei province, and can lead to respiratory illnesses, deadly in some cases. Hong Kong recently reported its first death from the virus, which has killed at least 425 (at time of writing), all but two of them in mainland China. The United States recently recorded its 11th case of the virus.
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency. Persecution watchdog International Christian Concern (ICC) notes that it is a time of desperation and fear. China’s Christian community has stepped up to provide hope and refuge to those suffering. Churches are broadcasting encouraging sermons to their communities through speakers placed on balconies. According to ICC, a Christian rode his bike to a pharmacy where people gathered and played a sermon through a portable speaker. Another video being circulated shows Christians distributing face masks and Gospel pamphlets to people on the streets.
Christians from other provinces have offered their homes to people fleeing from Hubei province who face housing discrimination. Human Rights Watch notes there have been numerous reports of hotels refusing to admit travellers with Wuhan or Hubei identification cards, of villages setting up roadblocks blocking cars with Hubei license plates from entering, and of people from Hubei being harassed on social media. Brother Jia Xuewei and sister Shu Qiong, from the heavily persecuted Early Rain Covenant Church, are among a number of Christians who opened up their homes to escapees and offered to cover room and board until Hubei lifts its quarantine.
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