The world has experienced many health crises of varying degrees in recent years, from the 2003 SARS outbreak to the Ebola scare in 2014. While crises viewed from humanity’s perspective appear dismal, God faithfully reveals His plan through His sovereign guidance.
Two Chinese students share their hope for how the world’s current headline health crisis, the coronavirus, or COVID-19, is being used to treat the world’s spiritual crisis.
Bonnie Yu, a freshman composite social studies education major, said she was worried about her family when she heard about the coronavirus spreading in China. Her parents were staying inside their home in Chengdu, a city 14 hours west of the believed epicenter of the virus, to avoid exposure to the virus.
When Yu’s church of about 200 people told her they had a goal of handing out 1,000 medical masks with Gospel tracts, she went to the stores around Greenville and bought and mailed all the masks she could. “I just wanted to help,” she said. “I hoped that that would help them because they’re still collecting [masks].”
Christians have been standing on the street handing out masks and pamphlets and using the opportunity to spread the Gospel to anyone who is willing to listen. “Many people received the masks, and they got a chance to hear the Gospel,” Yu said. “Some of them actually converted right there.”
Yu said police officers have been among those who have come to Christ. “Many places in China do not like Christianity spread[ing],” Yu said. “There’s a risk in it, but I think in this special situation they have this chance because they’re just . . . giving masks, and that is not a violation of the law.”
Yu said a lot of churches in China are doing this right now, including in Wuhan, the believed coronavirus epicenter. “They are really united by the same goal they have to spread the Gospel,” Yu said. “That makes me see that maybe perhaps it’s not all that bad, and God really has a purpose in it.”
Richard Wang, a senior biology major and Chinese international student, said he thinks the coronavirus has unified China.
“When it started, the entire country was supporting Wuhan,” Wang said. “Every province, every city almost, has sent teams of medical staff to go to Wuhan to help alleviate the overwhelmed healthcare situation there.”
Wang said the loss of life is tragic and has been a wake-up call forcing everybody to start thinking about what matters more than temporal things like money.
“Healthcare providers literally give up their life to see the patients, and so many people have donated food and equipment,” Wang said. “You see the image of God in people, even in unbelievers; there is this love and support . . . God could use this to do more good than we could imagine.”
Mark Vowels, chair of the Division of Ministries, international student liaison and ISO faculty member, has traveled to China eight times. He said God is controlling history and using this crisis to spread the Gospel through people’s kindness in the face of fear and hopelessness, despite the danger to themselves.
Christianity has grown in periods of crisis throughout history, in part because Christians were willing to take risks to serve people, Vowels said.
“I think . . . we can be praying [that] God will use Christians to step up and . . . demonstrate Christ’s compassion. And, therefore, demonstrate and proclaim the Gospel,” Vowels said.
A couple dozen BJU students joined in a prayer meeting Feb. 28 for exactly that purpose. After each huddled group had finished praying together, the students read Psalm 121 and sang “In Christ Alone” and “It Is Well with My Soul,” encouraging each other to trust God’s guidance.