India (MNN) — This week, India became the world’s second-largest COVID-19 hotspot outside of the United States. Brazil leads non-U.S. nations with more than 13 million cases.
Authorities registered over 126,000 new cases on Thursday, India’s highest 24-hour surge so far. Earlier in the week, companies making COVID-19 vaccines warned of production shortage due to limitations caused by the spike.
“India has probably had one of the more challenging situations as it pertains to new cases, the government’s response to it, the intensity of the lockdowns, etc.,” Ed Weaver of Spoken Worldwide notes.
However, the COVID-19 virus is not the biggest challenge for believers in remote parts of northern India. It’s fear.
Fear cripples Gospel work
Pandemic regulations shut down public transportation, so unless a church is within walking distance, believers cannot attend. Virtual church isn’t an option for those without access to technology – which includes most of the communities Spoken Worldwide serves.
Moreover, people are afraid of gathering together, even in small groups, for worship or Bible study.
“A variety of messages being communicated create this great uncertainty – Who’s telling me the truth? What am I supposed to believe? Will I die? Will I cause somebody else to die? – and then you get into this paralyzing fear,” Weaver says.
Even with safety measures in place, “people are so used to not going to church [that] pastors are having a hard time convincing people to come back.”
Pray for wisdom for the Spoken Worldwide team as it counsels its partners in India. Learn more about Spoken Worldwide’s work here.
“We want to enable local leaders to lead their flocks. How do we say, ‘Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together; find ways to care for your community care, for the lost’?” Weaver asks.
“God is greater than our pandemic. Our life doesn’t have to be dictated by the pandemic; there are creative ways that we can get around it.”
Header image courtesy of Spoken Worldwide.