Greetings from Japan!
MISSIONS IN A PANDEMIC
The global coronavirus pandemic has affected every country in the world. However, as a wise man said, although we are all in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. Countries vary greatly in terms of their quality of health care and the resources they can bring to battle the virus. Crowded and unsanitary living conditions greatly increase the risks of transmitting disease.
In India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, the vast majority of the population are not salaried workers, but day laborers who depend upon each day's wages to buy food. Forced to stay at home under weeks or months of quarantine, construction workers, vendors, rickshaw drivers, garment workers, and others are simply unable to support their families. For them, the threat of starvation is more urgent than the threat of the virus.
MOBILIZING IN A CRISIS
The Great Commission is not on hold during this pandemic. On the contrary, the church is called to step forward in times of crisis and offer help in the name of Christ. IPHC World Missions has set up a special COVID-19 International Relief fund, and is partnering together with our national churches to show compassion and generosity to those who are suffering.
In north India, the government is overwhelmed by the extent of the need, and has called upon the churches to help. Bishop Michael John reports, "Our church people are coming forward to donate to this ministry and show the love of Christ to their communities. In a society where Christians are viewed with suspicion and hostility, this is a great opportunity to show what we stand for. We are confident that these acts of generosity will open up new doors for ministry."
In Nepal, our missionaries in lockdown managed to work together with our national leaders to extend help to a large number of pastors, who, in turn, assisted their congregations. Unlike in India, the government does not want to see the churches involved in this kind of charity work, so our people have had to find creative ways to get help to those in need. By the grace of God and the heroic efforts of the leaders, well over 700 families have been blessed with food assistance.
This year, our denominational emphasis is on the core value of generosity. How can people be expected to give when their own families are struggling financially?
Listen to this testimony from the Apostle Paul: "We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part" (2 Corinthians 8:1-2). In the midst of poverty and affliction, these churches somehow found a way to give to others in need. It was to these very churches that Paul wrote: "My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). The truth is, you can’t out-give God!
POINTS FOR PRAYER
• Pray that the seeds of love and generosity sown by our churches in India will bring new favor with thegovernment, and yield a harvest of revival among the towns and villages.
• Pray for a swift end to the lockdowns and curfews in these poor nations, that people may be able to support their families. Also, pray that the coronavirus will be stopped.
• Pray for the missionaries whose travel and ministry are limited due to lockdowns and restrictions, that they may continue to encourage and counsel and evangelize using whatever means necessary.
• Pray that God will do a deep work in His people and churches around the world during this season, and thatthis global calamity will usher in a global revival.
Thank you for your partnership in the gospel!
Russell & Sandra Board