Our partners have been reaching out and sharing some truly encouraging verses and thoughts with regard to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Their unique perspectives and experiences plus a variety of cultural backgrounds means they’ve shared encouragement we may not have thought to remind ourselves of.
Words of hope coming from all parts of the Bible, yet when brought together, they were unified in the message that we can rest in His sovereignty.
GERHARD LE ROUX - Onseepkans Mission, South Africa
From their remote township, Onseepkans, on the Northern Cape in South Africa, our partners Gerhard le Roux writes,
"In these days we were encouraged by a story we heard.
Many years ago there was a missionary teacher who took care of young girls at a mission school in Palestine. One day the news came that cholera broke out in their village and that many people had already died.
The teacher did not know what to do to protect her girls. There was no doctor nearby to whom she could go for advice.
So, not knowing what else to do, she took her trouble to the Lord Jesus, who is the Great Physician.
She asked Him to protect the mission school, because after all it was His school.
Then she called the girls together and told them about the grave danger that they were in, and together they read the 91st Psalm every morning and evening while the plague lasted.
The cholera plague became worse and many people died around them, but in the mission school the teacher and her girls were claiming the promise, “There shall no evil befall thee, and no plague came near thy dwelling.”
The Lord kept His word. None of the girls died, because they had made the Lord their refuge.
May all of us remember our Refuge in this time of uncertainty. May we make the Most High our Protector, then we will have nothing to fear for He hath said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.' "
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” - Psalms 91:4
Onseeepkans, South Africa
JOHAN LEACH - Zambia
Johan and Lesley Leach are facing more than one big challenge.
The looming possibility of the Coronavirus reaching them and their community, which is serviced only by a small medical clinic with limited resources, is being somewhat eclipsed.
Flooding in their area has made villages uninhabitable and villagers are heading for higher ground.
Johan and Leslie are using their resources to help with transportation through the flood waters, while also working alongside two Japanese nurses in their settlement to sew 1000 masks.
This was after the Lord clearly guided their steps by changing their plans for Johan to visit South Africa and America this month.
From their mission base in Chavuma, Zambia, from which they can reach the isolated villages on the Luvale flood plain with the Gospel, Johan writes,
“As followers of Christ and obedient to His Word we need to flavour and shine even more brightly in these dark and bitter days.”
They also saw that the Lord establishes our steps and is able to remove obstacles according to His plan - even if ours are out of our control.
They encourage us with Proverbs 16:9, which says,“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps,” and Isaiah 57:14, “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”
LESZEK WAKULA - Lodz Baptist Church, Poland
ITMI’s Leszek Wakula, the pastor of the only Baptist church in his city of Lodz, Poland, which has had several college students affected by the virus, refers to Hebrews 13:8 as he writes,
“Thanks to God, our emotions are stable and in peace - why - because our Lord - is still the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the foundation of our peace in times of storm. His Spirit brings peace and proper perspective on the turmoil events taking place.”
CHARL VAN WYK - South Africa
Our partner, Charl van Wyk, who has ministry partners in places like impoverished villages in Zimbabwe and squatters’ camps in South Africa, shares these encouraging words,
“God’s light in us can often shine the brightest during times of hardship. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ in Africa have suffered greatly and yet, they have taught us how to shine.
Those who have suffered have taught us to pray – and so we remember you in prayer.”
Charl also remembers the hope found in Psalm 46:10,
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
OLGA - Stone Hill Safe House for Girls, South Africa
Olga is one of Charl’s project leaders, who is helping run a safe house for young girls in the community who need a safe place to sleep.
She describes why quarantine is challenging in her community of Stone Hill, South Africa.
“We ask ourselves how this [quarantine] is remotely possible when we practically live on top of each other? When there’s five of us crammed together in one small shack!
How do we stay in 'quarantine' when we share a public water tap with 10 other families?
When we all share an outdoor long-drop toilet? Even something as simple as brushing your teeth forces you to step outside the shack.”
Homes in Stone Hill, South Africa
Though she can’t put hope in social distancing or quarantine, Olga knows where to put her hope.
“My thoughts and prayers are with my brothers and sisters all around the world, many of whom search for relief in the next official announcement or latest news report but whose only real Hope is in Jesus Christ.
As the lockdown separates us from our family and friends, we know that we are never alone. For God says, ‘For the Lord will not forsake His people…’1 Samuel 12:22.”
PIOTR ZAREMBA - Polish Bible Translation and K5N Church, Poland
ITMI’s Piotr Zaremba, serving in Poland, remembers the Communist days in his country, when there were many obstacles to church gatherings.
But Piotr rejoices that today, church can be broadcasted via the internet, unlike back then.
On a regular Sunday, around 200 people (a big number in Poland, where Evangelicals make up just one half of one percent) might hear his sermons and be encouraged in their relationship with Jesus.
But on the first Sunday of the restrictions due to the virus, Piotr’s sermon was seen and heard by over 600 viewers!
Piotr adds, “Plus, we now have social media. You can ‘contaminate’ the people with your ‘Coronafaith’ day and night - no curfew, like during those days.”
Piotr shares Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
EUGENE KALUNGA - Excellence Christian Academy, Zambia
Eugene Kalunga, the Principal of ITMI’s Excellence Christian Academy in Zambia reported that his school was asked to shut down.
Though Zambia faces similar threats as South Africa, with a high number of individuals with compromised immune systems, Eugene was concerned for all his brothers and sisters in Christ.
Eugene says he is asking God to bless those who come in the name of the Lord, sharing Psalm 118:26,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.”
He says, “We are praying for you and the people in the USA for the salvation of many.”
Ionel Iovescu - Casa Dorca Orphanage, Romania
From ITMI's Casa Dorca Children's Home in a remote village called Prillipet in rural Romania, Ionel Iovescu, writes,
“We hope that during this time you take time frequently to meditate on the Word of God and particularly Philippians 4:6-7.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
We know that God is in control, and none of this comes as a surprise to Him. We find great comfort in His peace and joy, and even in these times we have so much to be thankful for in Jesus.
Pray that as the kids see this peace and joy in the hearts of the staff, that God would use this to transform their hearts. Pray this for all the Christians in the world, as they interact with others."
Ionel also noted,
“No matter where you are in the world as you read this, we are all sharing these strange circumstances together. In a way, it makes us feel more connected.”
We hope reading these words from these ITMI partners does make you feel more connected.
Because though we may be oceans apart, and we may have varying experiences of this pandemic, we are all in it together, and most importantly, we are all in it together with Jesus.
May we rise up, reach out and love our neighbors, both next door and around the world!