China (MNN) — The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus to be a global health emergency.
WHO deliberated for two weeks about whether or not to make the declaration about the coronavirus, which began in China’s Hubei province, in the city of Wuhan. The declaration gives WHO the ability to put travel advisories in place and to review measures being taken to stop the virus.
The death toll has already exceeded 170 and continues to grow, with well over 8,000 cases identified. China Partner’s Erik Burklin says the declaration means little to the average person, but does incite a feeling of panic. “I think right now a lot of the medical professionals, including the ones in China, don’t know what they’re dealing with. They just are basically reacting to the symptoms.”
The situation in Wuhan
The most dramatic action has been taken in the city where the coronavirus first mutated. Burklin says, “Wuhan has literally been shut down and many other cities in the same province have been shut down. You can’t travel. You can’t go outside. You can’t go to stores. In fact, they’re running out of food and all kinds of basic items.”
But the Gospel continues to spread. China Partner has a strong relationship with the Christians in Wuhan, and Burklin says pastors there are ministering in the middle of the panic. “They basically encourage their congregations not to fear and to be at the forefront of helping others.”
In a time when many are afraid of death or thinking about it, Burklin says Christians have the hope of the resurrection. “And the reality of the salvation message is that that you will be resurrected. So even though you die, you live. For non-Christians and for people who do not know God and don’t believe in God, that is very confusing to them.”
Confusing, but also attractive. One video of a pastor preaching to his people has gone viral, Burklin says. In a city full of death, sickness, and fear, the news of Christ’s victory over death shines brighter.
Pray for Christians in Wuhan
It’s not surprising to see this light in Wuhan, as it hosts one of the largest seminaries in China. “I believe pastors that we have been training over the years are now ministering to the needs of these people that are so desperately in panic mode,” Burklin says.
Burklin encourages prayer for the safety of Christians in Wuhan, that they would be protected from the coronavirus and from the panic caused by it. Pray also that they would be strong witnesses for Christ, proclaiming the hope of the resurrection of the body.
Most of all, pray for unbelievers in Wuhan, that the fearlessness of Christians would bring them to Christ.