As many may remember, we recently spent time in Hong Kong and southeast Asia, where the coronavirus has hit the hardest.
I have been receiving regular updates from our people in China on our UCG Hong Kong WhatsApp group. I would like to share some recent excerpts to help us all sharpen and energize our prayers for all.
Here are comments from Connie Chen, a schoolteacher in northeast Harbin, China, (population 10 million) with whom we personally met and spent time with on our recent Hong Kong visit.
“To my brothers and sisters in UCG, I would like to let you all know that I am doing well in this coronavirus crisis in China. Thanks to all your prayers, I feel very safe here.”
Connie goes on to note: “Psalm 91 says that He is our refuge, and God in whom we trust. His faithfulness is our shield and armor. As long we are sheltered under His wings, I will not fear the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day. Nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plagues that destroy at midday. I thank God for His protection at all times.”
She goes on to write: “This is my situation during this time of strict epidemic control: Since the government announced in late January that the virus is transmittable from person to person, most services, except supermarkets, have been suspended in order to avoid crowd gathering.” Connie says, “I have been quarantining myself at home.”
Regular life in China has been seriously disrupted over the past month or so. Connie continues:
“All schools are still closed. They normally restart on March 2. So the government has now required teachers to give live lectures online.” Following an upcoming period of two weeks of additional quarantine without additional new coronavirus cases being reported, officials will allow workers to return and “resume all work across the board in April. But how things actually turn out would still depend on the epidemic situation.”
Connie and others are trusting in God and surviving. She described her current situation: “In terms of life, the daily necessities in the supermarket are basically sufficient (but masks are definitely sold out). I stored a lot of food in the house earlier, so I have no shortage of daily food and drinks.”
But ordinary life remains difficult. As she writes: “The small districts we live in are all under locked down management. You can only go in and out through a designated exit. A family can go out to buy food every two days. The time limit is two hours. You must take a temperature measurement [to determine whether you are infected with COVID-19] and hold a Pass issued by the property management. No entry or exit is permitted without this official Pass.”
Connie’s conclusion? “This epidemic has made we humans see how fragile and vulnerable we are. Everything we seek after apart from Christ is futile. The only thing that is wise and pleasing to God is to use our short lifespan to prepare for a priceless eternal life.”
Mary Ong, a member of the United Church of God who hosted us and the McNeelys in Hong Kong, wrote this: “[The crisis] does affect my teaching, but God is good. I am grateful that I am able to teach my students online through Skype, Zoom and FB messenger.”
“We sometimes ask questions and groan and sigh and cry inside when we see and hear the news that is affecting the people. I try not to focus on the negatives. Reading the Bible does give me strength and encouragement. Listening to the words of God’s ministers helps me too.”
Mary writes: “The Bible is filled with encouragement and words that keep us going. As the saying [goes]: ‘look for the silver lining in life.’ God will see us through and there is HOPE.”
Mary concluded a recent message with these words: “I am blessed and thankful to our Father. We do have to come to GOD on our knees daily. And at this time, approaching the Passover and DUB, fasting, praying and reading His WORDS—these are essential in our daily lives.”
Declaring her love for all members worldwide, Mary quoted Jeremiah 29:12-14 Jeremiah 29:12-14  Then shall you call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
 And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.
 And I will be found of you, said the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places where I have driven you, said the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place from where I caused you to be carried away captive.
American King James Version×: “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.”
These are serious times that we all live in. We should be praying fervently for God’s supernatural protection and guidance for all, and especially for all of our brothers and sisters in the Church. This includes praying that God’s will be done, and prayers for favor and grace as matters unfold. Now is the time to watch and pray (Matthew 26:41 Matthew 26:41Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
American King James Version×) and to make physical preparations and changes, in addition to remaining spiritually prepared for the times to come.