A few weeks ago, the coronavirus hit, and the world seems to be in an ever-growing cycle of media barrage. I’m sure most of you by now are taking necessary precautions and being wise in how to stay safe.
Impact on Ministry not Fully Known
You may be asking, how is the affecting ministry and what can I do about it? Some have asked, are you safe there in Asia (to me and my many of my colleagues)?
The coronavirus was announced just before I was flying to a conference in SE Asia primarily focused on China. 5000 people were due to come, the majority from China. A few days prior, the conference organizers had set up parameters given the situation and knowing that this was Chinese New Year so a lot of tourists would be traveling as well. All those from Wuhan and those who had been to Wuhan were asked not to attend. Shortly thereafter the Chinese government blocked everyone in Wuhan anyway.
Everyone from China, including those from Hong Kong, was asked to wear facemasks and the conference provided them as well as plenty of water and hand sanitizer during the weeklong event.
It was a powerful gathering, meeting friends from across Asia, and especially hearing from friends in China. I got to be with at least 6 key leaders from the Early Rain Covenant Church that has been so prominently in the news given their shutdown and pastor being placed in jail. It was gripping hearing their stories of pressure and persecution, much of what we are trying to help with at Asian Access these days.
Taking Necessary Precautions
A week after the conference, I flew to Singapore, where cases of the virus were multiplying. My first day, in church, we had to have our temperature checked before entering and list our names and contact information before going into the sanctuary. That way if something breaks out, they can alert everyone. In addition, after writing our names and information, we had to use hand sanitizer before entering the church. During greeting time they advised us to simply smile and say ‘hello’ – no handshaking.
That week, this type of thing happened several times as I entered public buildings for meetings. And, on my last night in town, I received this notice:
Hi Joe - we just discovered a case of Covid19 Infection in my workplace. In the interest of safety - I am cancelling all my face to face meetings - so looks like we will need to take a raincheck.
Not long after receiving this message, I got word that one of our countries had to cancel one of their sessions because of their government’s regulations. And, then another message from another country was sent to me:
Dear A2 Family.
As many of you know that Coronavirus is spreading from China into ______ and many other countries. It is becoming dangerous to people in the regions. A2 _____ doesn’t want to take risk because of the Coronavirus, so we had to postpone our session in March 2020 to protect our teachers and participants from the virus.
Our Government suggested people as follows:
• Wear proper face masks
• Wash hands carefully and regularly
• Well-done Cooked food
• Drink warm water
• Limit travelling by public transportation
• Limit attending in the big crowds
• Even many churches, temples, pagodas... were required by local authorities NOT to gather as big crowds.
• and so on
Immigration is checking carefully and strictly all passengers particularly those who come from other countries transited in China, Hong-kong, Taiwan...
Just update to you all. Please remember _______, China and affected countries in your DAILY PRAYERS.
Thank you very much.
Warmly in Christ,
Praying and Helping
So, as you can see, the impact of the coronavirus is pretty widespread. We’re praying and trying to help those in need and we ask for your prayers both for being able to help and for the impact it is having on our ministries. Having to close down sessions often can mean losing deposits or full financial commitments so it even has a significant funding impact. Sometimes we can’t recover the transportation costs as well.
Most importantly though, pray for the people of Wuhan and China as they fight this virus.
Also, don’t worry. While the coronavirus spreads rapidly it’s not as dangerous as the common flu. As long as you take proper precautions, you should be fine. Simply washing your hands regularly should suffice. For more on how to help, see my friend Jon Hirst’s suggestions here: Service to Others in a Virus Outbreak.
Pray for us at Asian Access, and many other ministries, as we weather the storms related to the virus. And, should the Lord lead you to help out, please send prayers and funds to help us through the challenge.
We have Chinese colleagues asking us to send masks and sanitizer regularly so please do consider helping us.
Thanks for your prayers!
Joe Handley, President
- Coronavirus sweeps across China (MNN)
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: Coronavirus Information
- Generous Mind: Service to Others in a Virus Outbreak