In a day and age where news spreads faster than the coronavirus, the tendency to fear is stronger than ever. It seems like a culture of fear have particularly affected social and political trends in the States since 9/11 – at least that was my perspective when I was living there. Yet I see how fear infects all of us at every level, in some way.
[Note to my readers: This is going to be a very long post, and includes links to articles that will help you get a different perspective on what is happening in China, as well as other information I’ve received from reliable sources, kept confident to protect their identities. There are pictures at the end which will only be visible on my website, and not via the email post notification.]
The culture of fear
In Israel, people fear debilitating illness and death. Conversations between friends often end with, “the important thing is your health” followed by spitting motion to ward off the evil implied if you don’t have your health. In Israel, the lack of an official government is impacting our medical care, and a system that has been hailed as a great success is gradually falling apart as political parties battle for votes in the upcoming election (yes, we go to the polls again in March). People in the south of the country fear for their lives – and reasonable so – as Hamas continues to harry our southern borders. Parents fear for the safety of their children serving in the army.
In the US there has been an increasing fear of the “other” – whoever that may be. Political sides are at each other’s throats, and the newscasters do nothing to calm people’s fears for the future of the country. With the presidential election, depending on their perspective, people fear what will happen if Trump is or isn’t reelected.
Now a new fear is threatening the world. The World Health Organization has officially named it as COVID-19 – the coronavirus.
A new fear – the coronavirus – COVID-19
I won’t waste your time recounting the history, background, and what we all know. I’m sure you’ve been following the news as much as I have. Yet I am amazed by the reactions of the China and the world to this virus. For me, the greatest clue as to its impact is in the realm of number vs response.
Keep in mind, there more than 1.5 billion people in China. The city of Wuhan, where this coronavirus originated has a population of 11-12 million people. Of these, as of February 12, there were officially around 31,000 people with the virus, or approximately 0.26 percent of the total population. As of today, China is officially claiming ~72,500 people officially diagnosed with the virus. That means 0.01 percent of the total population of the nation has it. I am not minimizing the impact of this disease, nor of the people suffering from it. But it begs the question – why has China reacted so strongly to this virus? Cities far removed from Wuhan have blocked all travel in and out of their city (see photo of a city in China far distant from Wuhan – name deliberately not shared to protect the photographer). What is it they are not telling us?
The Chinese government continues to silence dissent
For a while we received hints through videos that were secretly taken by citizen reporters in Wuhan, Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin have gone missing. Other reporters have been threatened. Yet one must search long and hard for these reports. This New York Times article was published only today – although they went missing at the beginning of the week. Oh yes, they are mentioned in passing, but where is the public cry for truth and justice? Could it be that Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin were starting to have an impact? Anyone who knows anything about China knows that its president is quick to squash criticism of any kind. To the best of my knowledge, these men were not Christians, fear was real, yet they overcame their fear for the sake of truth. Their reports were proving what the statistics imply: A nation doesn’t lock down many cities because of illness in only 0.26% of its population in one city – and 0.01% nationwide. Nor does the world respond as it has… for the world, the greatest evidence that the coronavirus is serious business is being proven in Japan. The passengers are right to be concerned about the lack of testing for everyone on board. Too many people are being diagnosed daily. And while the odds of dying are not considered to be high, questions remain. Particularly at risk are older people with compromised health conditions. Nevertheless, the fear is real due to the the infectious nature of the virus.
Christians in Wuhan
What is not reaching the news at all, but is circulating through some social media, is the response of Christians in Wuhan. Theirs is a response that is touching my heart, and I am sure is based on their close walk with Jesus and understanding that God truly is the King of the universe and sovereign of this world – despite the powers of darkness that are being evidenced through the evil around impacting them, and us, on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, the political correctness of China demands absolute allegiance to the Communist Government. That same mentality mandates that there is no God, but if you must worship one, then that God must conform to the image of the dictates of the Communist Government. Fox news reported on January 7 on a new law with “harsh rules” for religious groups that was scheduled for implementation in February of 2020. They said that this news would gain international attention. However, it has not. Hence, the response of Wuhan Christians is even more impressive.
They have initiated a Pray for China 40 Days project, which is spread through photographs with a very short prayer. These prayers are not only moving, but reveal people who know that their only hope is in the God of Heaven, who truly does love all humankind, including the Chinese people. They are based on scripture, and could well serve as an example to us all in praying for own nation, wherever we live.
Some reports advise that Christians were seeking for ways to minister to those who are ill, and have even helped opened their homes to others. However, other reports indicate that the government has stopped them from doing this as part of enforcement of this new law. This report is well worth listening to.
At the end of my post I’ve added several of the prayers that I have received, to date.
Despite this “plague” God is touching hearts
Yesterday I received an amazingly poetic letter from a pastor in Wuhan, translated and forward to me by other Chinese believers. For those who have experienced China, it is clear this poem is a heart cry, and gives evidence that God is moving despite the political and economic gods that seek to control the lives of this great nation.
I hope this prayer gives you insight for who to pray for China, as it has to me.
(Reproduced as I received it, without any textual changes)
The hustle and bustle of China finally quieted down, the restless society finally calmed down, and the restless Chinese people gradually calmed down.
The *Wild Animals* that were once held by humans in cages finally managed to *Keep Humans in “Cages”*
Humans finally lowered their proud head and begun to think quietly: Are we still the king of the earth? *Mankind finally felt the power of Nature once again*
In the face of the threat of death, human beings have only begun to reflect seriously, only to realize that a lack of awe-inspiring social atmosphere will lead to more harm and more risks.
The greedy heart is being purified by the virus, and the mouth that loves to eat is being punished by the virus. The people who have been soaking in the bright red and green places all day have been driven home by the virus, saying…. *Go home*
There are fewer and fewer people on the street, few cars on the road,
*The Air is getting Fresher…., the Haze is gone…, the Sky is getting Bluer…., the Sun is getting Brighter…., Family Lives are getting Warmer, Harmonial, and Cordial and People’s hearts have become more and more Calm*
People who haven’t read for Years have picked up books at home. Parents and children who had no communication with their children, couples who couldn’t speak few words a year have opened up the conversation box. Children who did not know how to respect the elderly has also begun to be filial.
The virus taught human beings a vivid and profound lesson. It made us understand awe. It also let us know what is called *”Good Times”*. It also made us feel true love on earth. It made us gradually fall in love *”Return to the Road”*, we really should be grateful for this *”Enemy”*, we need such an “enemy” to give us *Reminder”* and give us *”Empowerment”*
The virus will not leave so quickly, it needs to see the *”Cultivation” of human’s good habits*, and the virus will not continue to rag, because *Human love will gather more power* to keep the virus away, time will tell us everything, Time will also prove what is right.
I really like *”Quiet China”* and I hope Chinese people will take the initiative to build a *”Quiet China”* without the virus reminding them again.
Relevance for you and me
Psalm 46 1 For the music director, of the sons of Korah, according to Alamoth, a song.
2 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
3 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth change, though the mountains topple into the heart of the seas,
4 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at their swelling. Selah
The future has never been a certainty for any of us. We go to sleep at night, blissfully oblivious to the possibility that we might not wake up – ever again. When we do awaken, we go out our daily lives. Yet change happens quite suddenly.
One day I got an email telling me I had met my 100% match. My choice to respond to that email permanently changed my life and led to my marriage – and widowhood. In a way, the price of my great joy was the sorrow that followed… it was worth it.
We went to sleep one night, and in the morning, the Berlin Wall was raised. Decades later, we awoke and it had fallen.
I came home from an amazing holiday in Barcelona and promptly fell into a deep sleep. I awoke on 9/11 to a changed world – and we wondered – is it the end of the world?
China is suffering horribly right now, seemingly overnight. But I would posit that their suffering began long ago, and finally the world is seeing, with open eyes the horrible cruelty of man against man as misinformation is leading to the deaths of the citizens of China, and is impacting the rest of the world far beyond what we can even imagine.
The earth IS changing, mountains are crumbling, and the waters roar and foam. Where does our help come from? Political systems cannot save us. A regular paycheck will not save us. All the possessions in the world cannot give us security in times like these. If the God of Creation, the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth is not our anchor, we will find our hearts and minds cast adrift like a captainless ship, lost at sea and overwhelmed. Fear will cause us to tremble, and we will drown.
My hope and prayer, for me, for each of you reading this, and for the people of China, is that we would cling to our sure anchor in the storm – the one who has promised to be with us through it all, and work in us a glory that is eternal. Our God and Savior Jesus Christ.
At times like these, even health is worthless, if we do not have a heart that is at peace with God.
I hope you will be blessed by these prayers posted below, and the links to a couple of very encouraging teachings by a Pastor in Wuhan.