China (MNN) — For most of the world, the COVID-19 crisis is still ramping up. But in its place of origin, its influence seems to be dying away. That came in part because of China’s quick response.
“As soon as China came down with this COVID virus, and as it was starting to spread, they shut everything down,” says Erik Burklin of China Partner.
Stepping up to the plate
When China shut down, churches jumped into action. Pastors used social networking and internet resources to share sermons, minister to their neighbors, and continue discipleship efforts with members of their communities.
In fact, some of China Partner’s contacts actually saw an increase in impact. “Church leadership was not only serving their own church communities, but also their local communities by helping delivering food for the poor and buying groceries,” Burklin says. “The church continued to do its work. They were ministering to each other, they were ministering to their local communities. That’s what we saw.”
Fortunately, most of China Partner’s contacts remained symptom-free. Most people they knew who did contract the virus recovered within a week or two.
“We have one pastor that we have a very close relationship with out of Wuhan who is also the president of the local seminary there, and he had been hospitalized for almost a month and almost passed away,” Burklin reports. “But then, through God’s grace and healing power, he was released from the hospital two weeks ago.”
As the virus dies, hope grows. Cities are reopening. Students are heading back to school. Although churches aren’t all allowed to open up again, they are making preparations.
What’s more, many of their newfound digital connection techniques may persist past the virus’s influence. Burklin thinks it may provide churches with an opportunity to connect with more young people in their communities, a demographic the Chinese Church sometimes struggles to draw in.
Influence on China Partner’s ministry
There is some bad news; the virus has had negative effects on China Partner’s ministry efforts and future plans. They’ve already been forced to cancel trips up through May and move their training online. They are currently looking into Zoom solutions for online discipleship and training programs in an effort to maintain their relationships with local Chinese believers.
“We will continue to stand behind them and pray with them, serve them wherever we can, but yes, travel to China is right now not possible,” Burklin says.
Now that COVID-19’s influence is growing in the United States, China Partner has another problem. The coronavirus has had hugely detrimental effects on the economy and on individual incomes, which means donations to organizations like China Partner have taken a hit.
“People who no longer have a job can no longer give,” Burklin explains. “And as giving drops, then of course, then we need to tighten our belts.”
Do you want to help? Consider donating to China Partner directly with this link.
You can also be praying for China Partner’s continued relationships with local Chinese believers and for their faith in God’s plan for their future. “We’re trying to be good stewards of God’s money during the midst of this crisis and just seeing how he wants to guide and direct us for the future,” Burklin says.
“We’re really trusting God to provide for us and we’re trusting that people will continue to stand behind us and pray for us.”
Header photo courtesy of China Partner