Becoming Christian through COVID
Posted on: 15th March 2021
CMS workers J & D are based in the Middle East, in an area hard hit by COVID. Nonetheless they continue to see people become Christians through their online church. Here J & D provide a picture of a desert region where, under lockdown, the gospel continues to grow.
As COVID continues into another year we continue to adapt church life and ministry to changing regulations and requirements. At the time of writing, the government has allowed essential activities to start up again. By ‘essential’ they include workplaces, restaurants, hotels and some concerts.
To be fair, our recent increase in cases over here are happening amongst big family gatherings—‘family’ here includes aunts and uncles and cousins—so they can be quite large groups. As a result, harsh fines are now imposed for any gatherings in homes that are not immediate family. That obviously affects church activities like Bible study groups.
Gospel growth continues
Despite the challenges to church life and ministry, there is much to thank God for.
Tilly and Anna
Here are a couple of encouraging stories of two young women who came to faith:
Tilly* comes from a very strong New Age and occult background. She heard the gospel on TV, came to faith, and found our church online.
Anna worked as part of the cabin crew with a major airline. She also joined our church online. She recently asked to meet one-to-one with someone to help her to understand the Bible, and now her prayer is that she puts down a good foundation for her relationship with God.
Josh is from Uganda, from a Christian family, but had rejected Jesus.
Last September, Josh met a Christian man, Geoff, in his residence, who befriended him.
Geoff shared the good news with Josh and, over time, Josh put his trust in Jesus. Meeting together weekly, they worked through the Just For Starters Bible studies before Josh joined Geoff’s Bible study group. For Josh, this time with Geoff was critical in his understanding of the gospel and the Bible.
Challenges to faith
Just before Christmas Geoff was retrenched from his job and had to move to another country for work. Despite the distance he still met with Josh on Zoom and encouraged him to continue with the Bible study group.
At Christmas Josh returned to Uganda following the death of his mother. His faith has been rocked by this bereavement, but on his return to the Middle East he was encouraged by fellowship with other Christians and the teaching from church. He understands that, despite suffering and loss, he needs to keep trusting Jesus.
Annie is a young Filipino woman, working in a demanding job. After her marriage fell apart in 2017, she was devastated, and struggled financially and emotionally.
One of her colleagues invited her to our church many times. She resisted, as she thought our church sounded a bit strange and confronting, especially as she is from a very conservative Catholic background. She was cautious, but eventually she came, hoping it would stop her friend from inviting her!
She heard about Jesus, and her friend answered many questions she had. Annie accepted Jesus as her Lord and Saviour in August 2018.
I (that is, D) met her in her first few weeks at church. Her friend explained and encouraged her that serving is part of living for Jesus. Annie wanted to find out about Children’s ministry. So I introduced her to the coordinator, and she joined the team straight away. Except for COVID-19 restrictions, she has been involved every week since.
She later joined the training for 2:42 (Bible Study groups) leaders. Now she is leading a 2:42 group and is being discipled. She has been in my weekly 2:42 leader training group, so I have seen her ‘light bulb moments’ and her growth in faith.
Annie is now sharing the gospel, and discipling people who come to faith. She has recently joined a team overseeing ministry with new believers. This includes courses in Baptism, Christian Basics, and How to Read the Bible. She continues to grow in her relationship with God and is an encouragement to all she ministers amongst, and to me.
Thanks to God
When we consider the challenges of our church, city, region and world in the face of Coronavirus, we continue to give thanks to God. In spite of all this—even because of it—he continues to grow his kingdom and draw people to himself.
Thank God that the gospel continues to grow in the Middle East and pray that he will use the opportunities created by online ministry to draw many to himself.
*All names in this article have been changed