On the afternoon of January 24, 2020, a video recorded by Huang Lei, the pastor of the Xiashang Church in Wuhan, Hubei Province, was uploaded online. In the video, Pastor Huang urges believers to keep faith in God's promise, to be strong and bold, to love each other, and to testify to the Lord in this difficult situation.
The outbreak of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus has been escalating. From 10 a.m. on January 23rd, Wuhan's public transport, subway, ferry and coach services were suspended, and the airport and railway stations are temporarily closed. From 12 o'clock on the 24th, Wuhan's online taxi service also ceased operating. Wuhan, a city of 11 million, was literally "sealed up" on the day before New Year's Eve.
"Dear brothers and sisters of Xiashang Church, good morning. Today is January 24, 2020," Pastor Huang said at the beginning of the video, thanking God for staying in touch with brethren via camera, and hoping that God's peace and joy would live among the online worshippers.
When talking about the reality, the pastor said, "Perhaps the real situation is more serious and complex than we can imagine, but we know that our God still reigns by sitting as a King in front of the flood, and we believe that He will save his people. No matter the circumstances, our God's promise is unchanged. His blessings are enduring and compassionate."
Pastor Huang hoped that the believers would witness God's love, the Word of Truth, and live it out with their neighbors and friends during this special period.
At this point, he read a passage from 2nd Chronicles 7:13-15: " If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people, and if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. I will open my eyes and listen to the prayers offered here."
The outbreak has affected the churches' normal gatherings. Pastor Huang said that while it had been difficult to come together in recent times to worship, to have holy communion, and to pray and praise, believers "can continue to praise God, who is always worthy of our praise, in their own homes and in different places... In today's grim environment, we may not be able to leave the city of Wuhan, but we have a way to be close to our Lord and our God, and we need the protection, wisdom and ability of heaven from Jesus Christ our Lord and Father."
The pastor also urged the faithful not to lose hearts to panic by quoting Joshua 1:9, "When the people are frightened, the children of God will rise up and block the outbreak with our prayers; we believe that everything in the world will come to pass, so this plague will inevitably pass away. But God's authority, given to His children in this plague to block the city's outbreak, will allow us to witness God's glory and block the spread of this plague."
"Hopefully, the brothers and sisters in the Xiashang Church will inspire each other in small groups, read the Bible together and pray together, seek the face of God together, strengthen their lives in God's Word, build each other in the words of God, help and assist each other as the situation permits," Pastor Huang said, adding that if there were any difficulties in the family of believers, or brothers and sisters who don't have a car to move around with, they can tell the church's chief deacon so the church can help, "because our God is the God who is with us all the time."
Pastor Huang finally gave the congregation a promising verse: "Come on, let's go to the Lord. He who tears us apart will also heal us. He hurts us and he will bind us up." (Hosea 6:1).
- Translated by Charlie Li