While the coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced many into isolation, it’s also been an opportunity for the global church to come together to extend a helping hand to those affected by the growing epidemic.
To date, nearly 94,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed worldwide, with approximately 80,000 of those occurring in Mainland China, according to Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
The virus is spreading quickly, and so is fear. Tumbling stock markets, entire cities on lockdown, tourism halted—the coronavirus threatens to cripple global economies, and world leaders are searching for answers.
Together, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse are offering both physical and spiritual relief in the midst of international chaos.
“We pray for the people of China and other nations where this virus is spreading. Our hearts go out to those who are sick and suffering and to the families who are grieving the loss of loved ones,” Franklin Graham posted on Facebook. “The world is looking for hope. My hope rests in God. King David said, ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…’ (Psalm 23:4). One day we will all stand before Him and give an account of how we have lived our lives. My prayer is that each and every one will put their hope and trust in Jesus Christ.”
In February, BGEA and SP’s China Ministry team shipped 78 pallets of medical supplies and personal protective equipment to Hubei, China, as well as 10,000 protective medical masks to the city of Huai’an.
Franklin’s mother, Ruth Bell Graham, spent her childhood in Huai’an (also known as Tsingkiagngpu), where her parents served as medical missionaries.
“Our hospital is the government-appointed hospital for treating patients infected with COVID-19,” said the chief director of Huai’an’s No. 4 People’s Hospital.
“We only had 600 medical masks left. Thank God our friends from the USA sent the masks to us at the right time—when we were in desperate need. Praise the Lord!” she said through tears.
The China Ministry team is also working to quell fear by communicating with ministry contacts through WeChat, one of China’s largest messaging and social media apps.
“[This] virus is ruthless, and we don’t know where it is from or where it is going. Yet, Jesus is love, and we do know where He is from and where He is going. We are following Him,” said Daniel Ma, senior ministry representative for BGEA and SP’s China Ministry.
BGEA has even established a webpage that specifically addresses concerns related to the coronavirus.
Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly knows all too well the devastating effects an unrestrained virus can have on families, communities and nations. Brantly contracted Ebola in 2014 while serving as a doctor with Samaritian’s Purse’s World Medical Mission in Liberia. He was eventually evacuated to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, where he received experimental treatment that led to his recovery.
Like the Ebola crisis, Brantly believes the coronavirus outbreak is a divine opportunity to show love and compassion to others.
“The message I shared in 2014 is just as true and just as pertinent now as it was then: We must choose compassion over fear,” Brantly told FOX Business. “We must choose to respond to people (even in deadly outbreaks of infectious diseases) with actions and words and attitudes that convey compassion and uphold the dignity of our fellow human beings.”
Story updated at 11:09 a.m. EST, Mar. 4, to reflect the most current number of coronavirus cases.
Above: Staff from Huai’an’s No. 4 People’s Hospital in China stand with boxes of protective medical masks sent by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.
Photo: Courtesy of BGEA China Ministry/©2020 BGEA