The Church's Opportunity to Shine - COVID 19 Update
"As we should not touch each other because of Coronavirus, the whole Church should begin to greet each other the way we Christians do in Nepal! With a small bow we say, 'Jai Mashi!', meaning 'Victory in Jesus'." ~ Jandi* in Nepal
Updated March 19th
In these unprecedented, uncertain times, you are on our minds, in our hearts and in our prayers. Both in ordinary and difficult circumstances, we cannot thank you enough for the vital role you play in Harvest Bridge’s work.
I am reminded that during such a time as this, there is deep opportunity for the Church around the world to shine through difficultly, and to declare "Victory in Jesus" amid hardship.
As in the US, COVID-19 is spreading in South Asia. Weak healthcare systems and high population density are the norm in the region, meaning the virus has the potential to transmit rapidly while countries struggle immensely to cope.
Even as ministry in South Asia evolves during this time, Harvest Bridge is superbly-positioned to respond on the front lines. Your prayers and support – without which this work is not possible – are more vital now than ever. In such a time as this, there is tremendous opportunity for the church around the world to step up and shine through adversity.
Our US staff have always worked remotely, to minimize administrative costs and enable us to hire the best people for the job, regardless of location. Harvest Bridge’s operations on this side of the world remain unchanged.
Ministry in South Asia is changing in response to the need for social distancing, but ministry continues. Like the early Christians who risked their lives to care for those suffering from devastating outbreaks, our Asian partners stand ready to make the most of this crisis by loving their neighbors and living the Gospel however they prudently can. This is true despite South Asian Christians being likely to suffer more than most of their countrymen; as marginalized religious minorities, they may experience discrimination in receiving medical care and other assistance.
Below, several of our country leaders share how COVID-19 is impacting their nations and ministries, as the situation continues to unfold.
"We are persecuted by the orthodox [Hindu] religious groups; the law of our country is totally against Christianity. We do not have any support from the government or political parties. Our churches are not registered in the government as religious institutions. We have no burial ground and no recognition as a religious group by local people and government. There are many anti-Christian activities going on...
...On the other side, many new people are coming to Christ and becoming members of the local church. In spite of a critical situation, the Kingdom activities are going on and God is doing marvelous things in our country. We are seeing so many exciting things in our churches and organizations. We are experiencing God's love, mercy and blessings in our day to day life.
So now, even though the world is upset and being threatened because of this outbreak, God's people are still very excited and working diligently. Thank you for your prayer and love to us. Please continue to pray that we can fulfill all our goals of this year. There are many things to be done in the future and with our planned programs we are deciding what to do. Please pray with us and we will be praying for you too. God bless you and protect you at this moment." ~ Pastor Sunil*, Nepal
"Thank you for all your concern and prayer. COVID-19 has been a big issue, even though our government has claimed that no one has tested positive. Some of our summer schools will be closed for at least two or three weeks, and we have been advised not to gather in large groups. Please kindly remember us in your prayer. It is a great blessing and encouragement and strength for us to know that HB has been with us always, not only in financial support but in prayer and mental support.” ~ Pastor Thang*, Myanmar
"Thank you for your concern. We are doing fine, but the threat is there. Some churches are closed, children’s schools are closed, house visiting is suspended, and church time is shortened. Regular activities are slowed down, and people are afraid of going to the marketplace. Marriages are postponed, and some Christian day-laborers have no work. We are praying for the whole world." ~ Pastor John*, India
"As of Sunday 15th March, all but the smallest churches in Pakistan were closed on Government notification. So there was hardly any fellowship. Other than that, the masks and other hygienic products are being sold at a high price, which adds to the difficulties of the people who are not well-off.” ~ Pastor Sameer*, Pakistan
Please pray for South Asian Christians as they navigate how best to both care for their health and continue being Christ to their neighbors. Your support and prayer goes far and means so much in the ministries and lives of our South Asian brothers and sisters – now more than ever.
Thank you, and may Christ's peace be with you.
Andrew, Kate, and the Harvest Bridge Team
*Names changed for safety