A change in the way health officials report new infection cases makes the situation seem even more dangerous. The latest numbers, coupled with reports that some cities enacted extreme measures by banning residents from leaving their homes, worry government officials throughout Asia.
Official quarantine response aimed to prevent new infections, yet new infections continue to surface. To ease stigma associated with the illness, the World Health Organization this week named it COVID-19. It stands for Coronavirus disease 2019.
Fear of Coronavirus makes it worse
The worst part of this outbreak is that COVID-19 carriesf so many unknowns. Trans World Radio global content officer Jon Fugler says, “We speak hope to the world, and here is an opportunity to do that. There is a lot of fear. People have uncertainty. They’re wondering, ‘how can I keep from getting this? Is it going to spread into my family?'”
The threat of the virus is unnerving, and so is the economic impact on those closest to the outbreak. Financial experts like Moody’s Analytics and Barclays say the epidemic will have a substantial effect on China’s GDP growth, and likely the world economy. The World Bank released a study estimating that a severe pandemic could trigger a near .3% drop in global GDP.
Changing the conversation
The reality is that misinformation, however unintentional, remains rampant. There’s a call now to spread truth, not panic. TWR is part of that school of thought. The ministry created some special programming relating to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) that will air in Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, and English.
Fugler explains, “We sought out a medical expert from the Christian Medical and Dental Association, Dr. David Stevens, who we interviewed.” Dr. Stevens serves as the Chief Executive Officer Emeritus of the Christian Medical& Dental Associations (CMDA). He also served on the mission field in both Somalia and Kenya.
In the long-form program called ‘A TWR Special Report: The Coronavirus—What You Need To Know’, Dr. Stevens provides medical information and facts and offers both practical and preventative tips. Fugler says, “We have a 26-minute program in English right now that’s being translated into other languages as well, that’s going out over the air on some of our high-powered radio stations to reach multiple countries with not only medical facts, but also spiritual.”
These longer-form radio programs are airing now. They are broadcast from TWR’s 400,000-watt station in Bonaire “that reaches in Latin America and the Caribbean into Cuba. So we’re airing there in English.”
A Spanish translation is underway, and “In southern Africa, it will soon be aired through our 24-hour-a-day satellite radio station, internet, and app.”
Offering comfort and hope in times of trouble
Entitled ‘The Sigh in the Tent’ (‘Tent’ means the body), TWR teams are also ready to release a five-minute program in Mandarin for broadcast throughout China via social media and WhatsApp. “That will be able to present how God can have a part in their lives, how real Jesus is, and He can alleviate some of the fears. We’re trying to speak not only to the medical, physical health needs but also to the spiritual.”
The aim: a timely intervention with hope and help. “When the Coronavirus has come and gone, people’s lives are going to be different. They’ll be internally devastated. They’ll continue to have fear; they’ve gone through trauma. We want to be able to address that while people are spiritually sensitive. We really look to be speaking hope to the world. We want to present the hope of Jesus Christ, and that’s a long-term thing.” For those who want to pick up the content via podcast, it is available through TWR360, a digital media app.
A final thought expressed by Fugler: this is a time for the body of Christ to be praying for open hearts to the Gospel. Instability often drives people to search for hope. “You just never know when you put when you put broadcasts out over the airwaves or on the internet, who’s going to pick that up and listen to it, hear that message, and God has already prepared them through His Holy Spirit for them to hear the message of the Gospel.”
(Headline photo courtesy Dipartimento Protezione Civile – Italia/Flickr/CC)