Due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, many church buildings have been closed, and various businesses had to shut their doors to cooperate government and worldwide regulations in trying to decrease the spread of the virus. These regulations have not only spread fear throughout the world, but it has also caused the Body of Christ around the world to think of creative ways to continue meeting and to not “neglect the coming together of the saints” as Hebrews 10:25 puts it. Considering this pandemic, could a lockdown be a blessing in disguise where people go back to the heart of Christianity – our relationship with Jesus and the gathering of the saints like in the book of Acts.
It is probably difficult to see this virus as a blessing at the moment, as there’s just so much suffering because of it. But the Bible teaches us to look at what happens in life through the eyes of God. And when you look at the current situation through His eyes, amid the darkness, this crisis is changing the way the Church comes together. It’s forcing us to be the Church instead of doing church. China is a good example of this.
Pastor Huang Lei leads a church in Wuhan, China, which is the original epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak. This pandemic has forced them to be the Church. And although their church, which consists of more than 50 groups, is forced to meet online temporarily, it has made him “feel more connected to them”. Maybe you can relate as our churches have been forced to also meet online during the national lockdown.
“Almost all the groups are meeting via the internet. [We’re] praying, studying the Bible, sharing, witnessing, praising and worshipping. Among them, we have more than 30 groups which are spending two hours a day to pray, worship, share and testify together, [which is] far more frequent than our normal meetings.”
And although their country lockdown (which has now come to an end) gave them more free time to spend in the Word, prayer and worship, he’s very grateful for the opportunity. Not only has it made him feel closer to those in his church, but it’s also been a great encouragement to the elderly who often feel isolated at home alone.
“Our elderly and disabled have been thankful to the Lord and are greatly encouraged by this opportunity for online meetings. Before this, they felt alienated, staying at home alone, like they’re abandoned. Now they cherish the connection between brethren more than ever, and they’re more connected. So bit by bit, they started to actively participate in online prayer meetings.”
So many different groups of people from the elderly to those in leadership have been impacted by the pandemic in a good way. Those in leadership who only met once a month, started meeting about twice a week, which Pastor Huang feel has brought them “closer more than ever. We pray, share information, and make decisions together. The virus can’t stop us.”
Indeed, this virus can’t stop us. As the Body of Christ, we serve a living God who is with us during this time. May we not get caught up going through the motions of doing church that we neglect those who really need that connection like the elderly and the ill, who aren’t always able to meet us at church. And may we also not miss building better relationships with our brothers and sisters who’re helping us build the Kingdom of God. While we mourn with those who are currently suffering, let’s use this pandemic as an opportunity to be the Church instead of doing church.
Please continue to pray to the Lord with us for persecuted believers like those in Wuhan, China who continue to persevere during this pandemic! See how persecuted believers are standing strong in China despite all they face and how you can assist those on the frontlines of our faith. Click here.