Advice to stay home as much as possible, bans on non-essential travel, no more than two people allowed together in public…These are just some of the Covid-19 restrictions we’ve had this year that have made us feel, well – restricted! But despite all this, God has not stopped growing his kingdom.
About two months ago, one of our pastors, Yvonne Zheng (Pastor of the Mandarin-speaking congregation at Hurstville Chinese Baptist Church, located in Riverwood NSW), asked God to give her opportunities to spread the gospel during the lockdown. She decided that going for regular walks would be a healthy exercise – but didn’t want to do this alone. So, she started to go for weekly walks with the lady living next door.
“Before the pandemic, I would say hello to my neighbour, but that’s about it. Through the lockdown, we started building a closer relationship,” Yvonne explains. “This lady came to Australia to help look after her grandchildren. She was worried because she couldn’t get back to China during international travel restrictions. We started walking together, and she was a bit curious. She said that I didn’t seem worried, and I told her that I was a Christian and believed all these things were in God’s hand and under his control.”
Yvonne continued to pray for her neighbour, who didn’t know much about Jesus. Yvonne shared how Jesus is the King of the universe, and that believing in him is to accept his kingship and follow him. She could help her understand the idea of ‘kingship’ by likening it to the familiar Chinese concept of being under the reign of an emperor.
A few weeks ago, Yvonne’s neighbour asked her how to become a Christian! “I was very excited and invited her over to my house. We talked more about Jesus and I prayed for her. We’ve started one-to-one bible studies, doing a course that looks at reconciliation with God,” Yvonne shared. “I wanted her to experience what church looks like and understand that even in this pandemic, God hasn’t left his people alone. So I put her under one of my congregation’s groups where we have daily devotions and listen to sermons together.”
“Yvonne’s experience shows us that the church is God’s agency in the world whether we are able to gather together in person or not,” says Grae McWhirter, Team Leader of Gen1K Leadership Development. “While congregating on Sundays is a blessing, it’s in the interactions with our family members, work colleagues, friends and indeed neighbours where the mission of God to transform lives and introduce people to Jesus finds its greatest expression. Yvonne has modelled what this is like and how God continues to be at work – and that is a huge encouragement!”
Yvonne would like to encourage all of us to be sharing Jesus at this time. “In this lockdown, we can see lots of fear in people’s hearts, uncertainty about the future, and questioning what life is about,” she says. “So if we share about God being the creator who is in control, and who brings security and certainty into our hearts, then even in this lockdown, people can come to Christ!”
Please pray for Yvonne’s neighbour. “I’ve introduced her to the group, but she is shy and doesn’t know anyone,” Yvonne says. “Even though people have been welcoming, it’s different introducing someone in person. Sharing life online is hard.”
Please also pray for Yvonne and her leadership team as they consider reopening church. “Our congregation’s meeting place is a school hall, so in order to go back, we have to do a lot of safety/cleaning planning and preparation. And if anyone from the school gets infected, we would be locked out again and have to go back online. So please pray that God would keep us safe, and that we would be able to return and be encouraged in person. Pray that we will then cherish meeting in person, and not take it for granted like before.”
How has God been using you during the pandemic? Let us know!