China (MNN) — Months after seeing some of the first recorded COVID-19 cases, Wuhan, China is coming out of lockdown. As of April 8, the region’s stay-at-home mandate ended, and officials have continued to roll back containment efforts since then.
According to China Partner’s Erik Burklin and his contacts, “People can go back to stores, they can go back to work, [and] students have returned back to school, but everybody’s wearing masks.”
Although some sources wonder if it’s too early to move back to normalcy, others are optimistic. Gone are the days of door-to-door testing and forced lockdown. A healthy end seems to be in sight.
Why the optimism? For one thing, Chinese culture already tends toward several preventive measures. The outbreak of the SARS virus years ago made mask-wearing a cultural norm, Chinese citizens are already used to respecting authorities, and the Chinese culture typically thinks and acts as a larger community.
This last point creates a problem for Wuhan residents, however. Because many locals regularly consider their part in the larger Chinese society, they take their effect on society very seriously. Imagine, then, how difficult it must be to live in the apparent birthplace of a pandemic.
According to Burklin, many locals feel guilty about the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, even though the health crisis is obviously beyond their control. But rather than focus on something clearly beyond their control, local Christians are channeling their sympathy into prayer.
During the pandemic, Burklin remembers “one pastor was saying, ‘Thank you so much for caring for us. That is sweet that you’re praying for us.’ And so you could tell there was this empathetic and very appreciative kind of response from them.”
Now, two months later, “they’re sending us messages saying ‘We’re praying for you,’” Burklin says.”It’s just a beautiful, again, a beautiful picture of the body of Christ lifting each other up, praying for one another, helping each other, and encouraging one another.”
As most of the world encounters the COVID-19 pandemic firsthand, the Chinese believers praying for them are no stranger to the virus’s effects. Reverend Zhu, a 45-year-old partner of China Partner and president of Zhongnan Theological Seminary, contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized for several months. He was released, healthy and safe, two weeks before Wuhan reopened.
Burklin says Zhu is not the only pastor to suffer and recover from COVID-19. Now, Zhu and others are already undertaking plans to reopen the seminary and provide education for young Christian leaders in China.
“It’s an amazing story of God’s faithfulness and an amazing story of how God saved him,” Burklin says.
Like Zhu, China Partner has plans to continue their ministry as restrictions lift and cities reopen. Although they cannot physically visit China for the foreseeable future, they’re planning on providing digital material and resources for pastors and believers in China.
But to do that, they’re going to need your help. Donations are down thanks to COVID19’s economic influence, and China Partner needs all the help it can get to bring resources to their Chinese brothers and sisters.
And whatever you choose to do, pray. Pray for “wisdom for them, because a lot now has to be done differently after COVID is over of how to do large meetings and what is allowed,” Burklin says. “Of course, the government can always use COVID as an excuse to control even further than what they were doing before, right? So they need a lot of wisdom of how to go through all this.”
Header photo courtesy of Pixabay.