Shanghai Christians During COVID-19: Having Faith in Difficult Times

A picture shows four hands of different colors are joining together.
A picture shows four hands of different colors are joining together. (photo:
By Steve Sun April 25th, 2022

Editor's Note: There is a popular saying circulated online recently, "The best way to live is to read when being confused, exercise when being anxious, and recharge your batteries when being alone." This quote would be very inspirational and blessing for people living a normal life. However, for Shanghai residents who are currently living under the shadow of the epidemic, it is obviously not applicable. Dreams are always better than reality.

One of my friends based in Shanghai said: "They (Shanghainese citizens) don't want to eat home-cooked meals anymore. After the lockdown is lifted, they must go out to eat at restaurants and 'eat up' all the restaurants." He calmed down for a while and then continued, "But due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants have already closed before they can eat outside of home."

It is not easy for many people to get through this unprecedented period of the epidemic due to home-based isolation and community lockdown, which easily triggered anxiety, depression, spiritual suffering and other sorrows. Under difficult circumstances, we especially need to learn how to save ourselves spiritually, including Christians.

Recently Christian Times, an online Chinese Christian newspaper, interviewed several Christians living in Shanghai, with which we can truly understand how they have been able to transcend the real environment through leading an active life and the power of faith in the unfortunate situation.

The following is a summary of their sharing:

Believer A:

"After our residential compound was closed around March 10, I began to train myself to adapt to working from home with a routine, such as regular work, exercise, and guitar lessons. Three deliveries of supplies we have received, plus the food we had stored ourselves, are sufficient for the moment.

"Now I think about how I have lived previously all day long, activities such as attending church where I led praising and practiced the piano, working in the office, all of which have now become my fond memories. I actually miss the ordinary life I had before. I can’t step out of home now, except to go downstairs for PCR testing. Otherwise, I just stay at home.

"A lot of negative information reaches me every day, for which I have begun to meditate on life and death. In any case, I have faith that the power of the Cross can change hearts."

Believer B:

"During the COVID-19 epidemic, in my residential building, all families are elders, except that our family has two children. Our compound was locked down on March 11, which might be one of the first in Shanghai to be closed. At that time, the epidemic situation became more and more tense. It was my last day working in the office. At the time I didn't realize how serious the problem was. I just bought 5 kinds of vegetables for about 20 yuan. Back then, I thought they were too expensive. Compared to vegetable prices now, they were super cheap.

"The milk I ordered on (a large Chinese e-commerce company) has not been delivered for a month, and the delivery time has been put off every day. My children have been crying while holding the bottle when they had no milk to drink.

"We have two boys, but my wife and I have to work. So, our home became the 'battlefield' except when we slept. The children quarreled when they were happy, and fought when they were not. All we could do was to cut the fingernails of the little one, so that he wouldn’t scratch the face of his elder brother. The older boy took online classes, which could consume some of his energy. But the little one had no way to release his energy, for which he often woke up in the middle of the night and hung around everywhere. Waking up in the morning, sometimes we found him sleeping on the floor. In this environment, both adults and children could simply tend to have mental disorders. Later, my wife and I felt that we needed to do family worship and share the Bible among us, so that we could ensure good mental health.

"I believe that what seems bad can turn good. Everything works together. Shanghai will definitely recover."

Believer C:

"Before our compound was closed, we went to the nearby vegetable stores, but found there was nothing to buy. Some elder people had bought dozens of kilos of meat. Because they couldn't shop online, they’d go to these stores for panic buying early in the morning. Therefore, it was difficult for us to acquire vegetables at that time.

"At the end of March, the building we lived in was locked down because of a confirmed positive case. With the 7+7 policy, our building was to be closed for 14 days. Being notified early on one Sunday morning, we had only 2 hours to shop in the supermarket before the lockdown deadline. We had never seen such a scene, the queue at the cashiers’ counters was longer than that at farmers’ market at my hometown. We spent 500 yuan on quick-frozen dumplings, soy sauce, eggs, vegetables that last long such as carrots and onions. We also asked a colleague to buy some food for us near his home and delivered to us that day.

"A few weeks have passed since then. My biggest anxiety is that we won’t have enough food supplies. We're consuming food very carefully now. I panic every time when thinking that there could be no more food. Thankfully, I participate in some online prayer meetings held by some Christian brothers and sisters every day, which has restored a lot of peace in my heart."

Believer D:

"We are a married couple and a roommate, who are home-based isolated together. For the first week, we all felt very happy, because at other times it was difficult for us to have time to cook and eat together. I only started to feel anxious when we were about to finish all the food we had stocked in the second week. With no information from official channels, I inclined to believe the rumors I heard without knowing whether they were true or not, which made me feel very unsettled. Every time the group-purchase platform sent a notification of an order failure, I felt very upset and exhausted physically and mentally. I was on the brink of snapping. Later, I thought I had to live differently, so my roommate and I set up an exercise group and a book reading group, and invited Christian believers to join us. At the same time, we also joined the prayer group of the church. These activities helped comfort our souls."

Believer E:

"I was diagnosed with COVID-19 last Saturday and transferred to a mobile cabin hospital two days later. Before I was most worried about not being able to sleep well there with too many people present. Upon arrival, I found that there would be four people in one room, so I could rest well. Now I’m in a good mood and fed well, expecting to test negative in a week or so."

Believer F:

"During the epidemic, I read a lot of negative information on the Internet, for which I seemed to have PTSD. My heart was very hurt when taking both positive and negative information seriously.

"In reality, the most difficult thing is to buy food supplies. Fortunately, there are group buying leaders and volunteers taking care of it.

"Now the most respected people in Shanghai are the group leaders who are residents in communities and volunteered to be leaders helping purchase and distribute food. Residents in many communities in Shanghai organize “bartering", for example, some barter their Coke for sugar. Some people just give what they have for free when others need it. The kindness between people is heartwarming."

Believer G:

"My biggest gain from the pandemic is that I have repented much. I think that I used to be very ignorant and proud. Now my relationship with my mother has improved a lot. Before I often complained about my mother storing too many things at home. I couldn’t stand her shopping habits that she bought too much food that she couldn't finish eating before they went bad, for which she ate rotten vegetable leaves and sprout potatoes. Now that I have repented a lot, I have decided to stock up on necessities with my mother when the pandemic is over."

- Translated by Shuya Wang

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