Chinese pastor from Wuhan: ‘The virus can’t stop us’

March 18, 2020 by Lindy Lowry in Asia

You likely didn’t physically worship with your church last weekend. And it seems like that won’t be happening again for a while. But for millions of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, regular worship services have never been an option. Yet they find ways to still worship.

 

A powerful reminder to the Western Church that the church is not a building—but a community that follows the ways of Jesus. And that God is with us, wherever we are, working in unseen ways in the lives and hearts of His people. Throughout Scripture, we see how persecution and crisis compelled people to look at something differently, often for the bigger, Kingdom picture—through God’s eyes. Through our persecuted family, we see how prayer and thanksgiving give us new vision to see Him working in and through earthly events—even a global pandemic.

Pastor Huang Lei leads a church in China in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. As one of the few church leaders who stayed in Wuhan during the outbreak, Pastor Lei is talking about what he’s seen as a result. The crisis has forced him to look at things differently, with new vision. His church meets only online—and they’re learning to be the church, he says, instead of do church. Pastor Lei shares how the crisis is driving more prayer and deepening community. “The virus can’t stop us,” he says.

In Pastor Lei’s own words:

‘The epidemic hasn’t cut down our meetings.’

“First, we have more than 50 groups. Almost all the groups are meeting via internet. Praying, studying the Bible, sharing, witnessing, praising and worshiping. Among them, we have more than 30 groups that are spending two hours a day, from 7 am to 9 am, to pray, worship, share and testify together. That’s far more frequent than our normal meetings.

So the epidemic hasn’t cut down our meetings. It’s the opposite. And there’s 24-hour fasting and prayer. And we are doing an every-hour prayer as well. So I think after this, many of the brethren will be more willing to take part in the communication with other brethren. To encourage each other, and to share with each other.”

“Of course, now we have more free time, everybody is staying home, so that’s given us the chance to do this. But, we usually have the group meeting weekly, and now we’re doing this daily, sometimes even more. So we are very grateful for that. And we have heard that our elderly and disabled have been thankful to the Lord and are greatly encouraged by this opportunity for online meetings. Before this, they felt alienated, staying at home alone, like they’re abandoned. Now they cherish the connection between brethren more than ever. And they’re more connected. So bit by bit, they started to actively throw themselves into online pray meeting.

‘It’s bringing us closer than ever’

“As to the group leaders and deacons, we hold online meetings about twice a week. The deacons used to meet once a month, and now we have doubled it. I think it’s especially bringing us closer more than ever. We pray, share information, and make decisions together. The virus can’t stop us.

“And another thing is, we are praying with ministers in Wuhan twice a week mainly for prayer and information sharing. Other than that, we want to connect with ministers across China through this. So that’s the situation for now.

In the video below, Pastor Xiang En shares how his church in China has also seen God’s hand move over them.

‘It’s like we have Sunday worship every day’

“Speaking of preaching, of course, it’s hard for us to preach to each family, to meet every one of them in person. So the preaching and teaching system in our church is that we minister in a step-wise way. Usually, we preach and teach with the deacons and the large-group leaders, and every large-group leader leads three to 10 small groups.

“They will minister to these group leaders, and the group leaders then preach to their members. Nowadays, I usually exhort and minister to the deacons every other day, talking to every one of them through calls and Facetime, to know their situation and encourage them. They do the same.

“We ask them to do this in the same frequency, to communicate with their brothers. At the same time, there are two pastors in our church and seven deacons. The two pastors will go to the church to make videos every day, taking turns to do their job. And every day, we’ll post the video on our social platform, and on our church’s official website. So all of our brethren can watch the preaching through it. It’s like we have Sunday worship every day as well as the preaching.

‘The brethren are greatly encouraged’

“And our preaching is not like before, to interpret the Bible step-by-step (expository, verse by verse). Now we are preaching with a theme. Depending on the situation of the church, the needs of the brethren and the epidemic’s situation. We preach about these. So the brethren are greatly encouraged. And the preaching is watched and listened to by many other churches in China. It brings them comfort as well.

At the same time, we suggest our deacons make videos at home or in the church, to give emotional support to our brethren.”

Top photo: Rev Huang Lei addresses his congregation via a new Youtube channel.

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Persecution doesn't stop in crisis. As our field said recently, "Aggressors don't wait for convenience." Amid global pandemic, our brothers and sisters are still facing threats, attacks on their lives and churches, beatings, discrimination, social boycott and much more. Would you stand with them as we continue to bring emergency relief, food and medical assistance, Bibles and discipleship materials, trauma counseling, safe houses and much more? Thank you for your generosity!

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