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A viral threat leads to great gospel openings with this question: ‘Aren’t you afraid?’

CMS missionaries Dave & Leoni Painter serve in Cambodia, where Dave lectures at Phnom Penh Bible School. As a direct result of the Coronavirus crisis, they have discovered some extraordinary opportunities for evangelism. 

Hope School (where our daughter Grace attends), the Phnom Penh Bible School where I lecture, and all Christian churches have just been shut by order of the government here in Cambodia—an effort at social distancing’ aimed at stopping the spread of Coronavirus. Grace is now studying at home online, and the Bible School students have returned to their home provinces for at least five weeks. 

While Cambodia seems to have so far missed the worst of the effects of COVID-19, the economic and social effects are all around us. The building sites around us have shut down, the cranes just swing in the breeze. Most of the city’s population live hand-to-mouth, and have little or nothing to fall back on as the local and global economy grinds to a halt. The tuk-tuk drivers, the market stall-keepers, the rubbish recyclers, and the factory workers live in fear of what will happen if they get sick, or have little left to eat. 

And yet, every day we are finding great opportunities for gospel conversations (at a distance). 

How can we best use this opportunity to be an effective witness to the gospel in this new situation?  

A regularly asked question 

We live in a local community full of office and small business owners who often only make contact with others in the workplace. Now, they are out on the street, in the front of their houses, wondering what to do with themselves. Most are visibly fearful and looking for sources of comfort and hope. Up until now they have placed their trust in careers, education, and general materialism, as they grow increasingly affluent. However, now the virus threatens to take all this away. The question we get asked the most these days is: “Aren’t you afraid?” 

We can share with them that, while we all together need to fight the effects of the virus, for us, the real battle has already been won, on the cross of Jesus. There, the powers of sin and death were ultimately overcome, so that we can enjoy true peace and reconciliation with our Maker and Saviour. If we place our trust in him, then the worries and anxieties of this world can be overcome. 

Other blessings 

The big blessing that we are currently receiving is the deepening of relationships with our co-workers at the Bible School, as well as with local Christians, as we together endure through the current crisis. While we are unable to meet as a larger community, when we do have the opportunity to meet in small groups, the bonds of fellowship have been strengthened as we face dangers together, and seek to encourage and challenge one another. 

If you would like to receive regular prayer updates from Dave and Leoni, click here 

PRAY 

Give thanks to God that he is using COVID-19 to cause people to consider their future. Ask that God will give all Christians, including those in Cambodia, wise answers to non-believers’ questions.