Putting COVID 19 into Perspective

Joy- Welcome to our podcast series Asked and Answered,” the podcast that answers your questions about missions today. With me in the studio are Ron and Charis Pearce. Welcome back, guys!

Ron- Good to be back.

Joy- Are you ready for your question of the day? Okay, what has the effect been of Covid on the national churches of the world? It’s a big one.

Ron-Okay, it’s a good question. First of all, let me qualify what I am going to say in the next few seconds with this: Covid has swept the world; many people have died. Some people don’t want to recognize that but at the same time, it’s true. We ask our partners all over, Christian national church leaders, and I will ask them, Are people dying there?”: yes. It’s different in every country, I’m not going to get into anything as far as the spinoff topics around that, but just leave it at this, a lot of people have died and there has been a lot of suffering. That being said, the effect on the national church, on evangelism, church planting, people accepting Christ has been massive and positive and this is something that I think needs to be explained simply because this is not in the news, it’s not being written about anywhere that I can find, even on the internet. People are more consumed with arguing, talking, discussing all the situations around Covid, but not this. And this is really, for believers, what we have got to understand. In all my conversations with leaders around the world, all they want to talk about is what Jesus is doing. We don’t talk about the Covid situation that much. You know, at one time you’ll say, Is it bad?” Yeah, it’s bad. Let’s move on,” and the idea is, it is doing something, it is giving them an opportunity like never before to talk to people about eternal issues. This is because people are coming, whether it is right or wrong, they are coming face to face with a disease that they believe is going to wipe out their civilization, their families, everything like that and is going to be devastating and that they are all of a sudden out of control as far as eternal issues. What is going to happen to me after I die?” And therefore, this is where all of a sudden people are starting to come up to Christians and say, Aren’t you afraid to die?” For instance, in Vietnam, I was talking to a leader there and they are doing church planting in the villages of Vietnam amongst tribal folks, and here they are in the jungles, they are walking in there, the pastors have usually got a smile on their face, these are usually young guys, and they’ve got peace in their heart. 

<p>Group of young men reading the Bible</p>
For instance, in Vietnam, I was talking to a leader there and they are doing church planting in the villages of Vietnam amongst tribal folks.

Well, all the people in the villages have heard in the jungles of Vietnam about Covid and it’s going to be devastating and it’s this and this and this. They are animists which means they worship the rocks and moon and stars etcetera, they don’t understand, they don’t have a personal God, so their religion is to try to ward off the evil in some way, but this is overpowering. And they don’t have that much Covid in the jungles, to be honest with you. They are isolated and many times it is not there as much as it is in the cities. So here they come in and they see this young man walking in and he’s going to tell them about Jesus. They rush up to him, and this leader told me, he said, Ron, the question is always the same; aren’t you afraid to die? Why have you got a smile on your face? Aren’t you scared?” And the young pastor is sitting there saying, No I’m not because I know the Creator. I know the one that you have been worshiping from afar. I’m not afraid of death and here is the reason why.” For an evangelist, this is the perfect door opener alright, because they are asking you to tell them why you are not afraid. Why have you got peace in your heart? Why have you got joy that is overflowing? Why? Well, they spend a day or two explaining the Gospel to their new audience and its hundreds and hundreds of people, and all of a sudden the chief comes up after a few days and says, Okay, you’ve convinced us, we want to be Christians, we want to have this peace.” They experience the peace of God at that time and when they accept the Lord and the church starts. I said to this leader who I was talking to, In the old days we used to have a church start up like 30, 40 people maybe, the first Sunday.” He said, Those days are over. It’s 200, 300, 400 and he says they are coming in mass.” And what caused it? Covid. All of a sudden the rumor went out there. All of a sudden they came face to face with eternity, they didn’t have the answers, their religion was insufficient to give them peace and assurity. And that is the way with all the world religions right now. We have never run up to this sort of test in our generation. So all the great world religions, all the hopes, all the philosophies, are crumbling in people’s minds. And here is the second part, the Christians in all these situations are standing apart from the crowd, they are demonstrating, like that pastor I told you about, they are demonstrating the peace that passes all understanding, they’ve got the joy, they’ve got the smile. Everything that you see in the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, all of those things they are demonstrating in front of a scared world. And these people are coming. And this is all over the map. India especially. Who were the ones in India during Covid that were giving away food? It was the Christians in the locked down villages. Everyone else was hiding. All the Hindu priests, all the Muslim clerics were hiding in their houses, and here the Christians are out praying over people, they are praying for their salvation, they’re praying for the sickness, they’re giving them food, giving them clothes. Here they are out here doing this and everybody was watching this happen and that is why there has been such a current revival in the last little while, last 16 months now in India. 

<p>Crowd in India praising God</p>
“In the old days we used to have a church start up like 30, 40 people maybe, the first Sunday.” He said, “Those days are over. It’s 200, 300, 400 and he says they are coming in mass.”

The people are coming to the Lord all over the place. Why? They say because we watched you Christians under Covid and Covid exposed really what is in a person’s life and that is why the pastors are just trying to scramble right now to answer all the questions of these people in these other countries. Revivals are breaking out, outpourings of the Holy Spirit all due to Covid. So, was it good? No, people died. Is it good for eternity? Yes, because people are finding Jesus. This is the separation that causes in hard times. Let’s put it this way, if there was something else other than Covid that went through, let’s suppose there was another disaster, a massive earthquake, a tidal wave, giant hailstones falling out of the sky that weigh 100 pounds each, all this sort of stuff alright? And you’ve got death, destruction, you’ve got panic, you’ve got all these words that I can describe to talk about fear of the world totally coming into that. And then you’ve got this little group of people walking around with a smile on their face. And they aren’t afraid because they aren’t afraid of death because they know what is going to happen after death, because they’ve got the answers and they are calm in the midst of this. This is what separates us from the world and this is why Peter was talking about this, he says, Always be prepared to give an account of the hope that lies within you.” That was the book of Peter, both books of Peter were written in a time of heavy persecution in the Roman Empire on Christians etcetera and therefore, he was saying, you’re going to stand apart. Always be prepared.

Charis- I was going to say that in countries where there is heavy persecution, the non-Christians would always watch the Christians and see how they handled the persecution. This is now giving the same type of opportunity to Christians in countries where there isn’t persecution or different persecution.

Ron- That is exactly it, Charis, because no matter what comes at us, we are supposed to, and have the power to, act differently from the world. This is where I am afraid many in the Western church have dropped the ball. We have behaved poorly in many times. And I know that I might get calls on this, and rebuttal, and all sorts of threats but at the same time I think people have to realize this is true. Around the world they take this as an opportunity, we take it as a threat and this is not what we are supposed to be doing right now. I was hoping when Covid broke out, I honestly was hoping this was going to be the beginning of a massive North American revival, even in the Western world, including Western Europe. I thought okay, this is our big chance, and it never happened. It did for maybe two weeks and then all of a sudden there was no difference. Other things moved in, we were occupied with other ideas, evangelism wasn’t foremost. Around the world in all the other countries that we are dealing with, evangelism and discipleship, church planting, getting Bibles. The requests for Bibles right now in other countries is off the scale. Why? Covid. That is the difference we are seeing right now in these countries. So it was bad and a lot of people died, and they have died. Is it good for the Kingdom of God? Yeah, it is.

Joy- And if we have no one asking us where our hope comes from it’s likely because we’re not displaying the hope that we need to be so that is a good reminder for all of us listening.

Ron- Also Joy, just in closing this, God gives us a gift every once in a while, of an opportunity to love people and that can come through usually disasters or other situations, even personal disasters. So if into a Christian family’s life, all of a sudden comes a young lady that is a single mom, has nothing, going through hard times, that is an opportunity that God has given us. That is the same thing if we want to talk about a people group, like the Romani people in Serbia. That was an opportunity given to Empower to love those people. Covid provided the world and the Christians in the world with an opportunity to love. This is a gift from God on that level. Not on the level of people dying, I’m not saying that for one second, but on the other side of things, this was something that God gave to us and many churches around the world, many national churches are taking advantage of it and they are saying thank you Lord we are seeing people turn to Jesus and that is all that matters.

Joy- Okay, well that is excellent and it’s a perfect reminder that it is not too late for believers in the West to turn things around and display their hope and joy for all the world to see.

Ron- Amen.

God gives us a gift every once in a while, of an opportunity to love people and that can come through usually disasters or other situations, even personal disasters.

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