I officially started to work for East Asia and the Pacific office of Global Ministries in April this year as a coworker for China, and my work is based in St. Louis Missouri. I am so excited to have this opportunity to serve Global Ministries and mission partners in China. The area executive Mr. Derek Duncan and I planned to visit China earlier this year, but we have to postpone this visit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we couldn’t physically meet our mission partners in China at this moment, I kept in touch with China Christian Council, Amity Foundation, Shaanxi and Henan Provincial Christian Council, the seminaries, and friends through social media and we learned from each other.
Due to the decreasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, most of the cities in China including Wuhan are reopened on March 7th after almost 11 weeks of lockdown. The people are allowed to travel between cities, and the people have returned to normal with the restrictions. Most of the planned commercial flights between the US and China were canceled. Many schools and university Chinese students in the US had encountered difficulties in traveling back to China. Some Chinese students who flew back on charter flights would need to pay an expensive ticket and the costs of the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in China.
In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, from January until now, the Churches in China have temporarily closed and discouraged congregational activities and changed it to online worship and all seminary students stayed at home to participate in their online classes. Between February 2nd and 11th, China Christian Council (CCC) and National Committee of Three-self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China (TSPM)) corporated with Amity Foundation to donate medical protective materials and ventilators to the hospitals in Wuhan and other major cities in Hubei province. They also sent disinfectant for the communities in Hubei province to spray through the streets to prevent the virus.
In responding to the calling of CCC and TSPM, the local churches and individuals have been committed to working together with communities to share the social responsibilities and generously donated supplies and money to the areas most affected by the coronavirus.
Hubei Provincial Christian Council and Mid-South Theological Seminary in Wuhan played an important role as a transfer station of medical supplies which were sent by local churches in China. They organized church volunteers to deliver those antivirus emergency supplies as soon as possible to the hospitals, police stations and communities.
According to the report of CCC & TSPM in March, the churches and Chrisitan individuals in China have donated more than 141 million yuan (approximately 2.14 million US dollars) and 5.6 million yuan (approximately $802,000 US dollars) worth of medical supplies to the hospitals and communities.
There are some overseas churches and organizations supporting China’s fight against the epidemic through various actions. In January 2020, Global Ministries joined an ecumenical effort to provide much-needed medical supplies to China through one of the mission partners - Amity foundation, which is an independent Chinese organization founded in 1985 on the initiative of Chinese Christians. According to the report of the Amity Foundation, these medical supplies have been delivered to over 300 hospitals, medical centers, and more than 100 communities and township-level organizations in 14 cities, 1 autonomous prefecture, and 3 counties in Hubei and Jiangsu Province.
As confirmed cases in China are continuously decreasing in March, Amity Foundation begins to provide supplies to overseas countries. In March, Amity Foundation shipped 7000 masks and 2,000 protective suits to Japan and the Philippines. Amity Foundation cooperated with Jinde Charities, a Catholic charity in China, to donate emergency medical protective materials, including 500,000 masks, plus protective suits, and goggles, to countries such as Italy, Spain, and Germany.
The COVID-19 pandemic is fundamentally changing how we be a church and how we engage in mission partnership. Those may be the questions not only for us, and also for the ecumenical churches. On May 9th, the area executive Mr. Derek Duncan invited mission coworkers for East Asia to a Zoom meeting. Each of us shared our concerns about how these changes affect us during the pandemic and in the post-pandemic world. We may need to invite our mission partners to join this conversation. The coronavirus pandemic may allow us to see beyond our projects and needs of the people around the world. It may allow us to look at our sisters and brothers from other countries and cultures as a source of inspiration and leadership. The global ministries will become more vital and most true to the call of God. We will continue to pray for and support each other during this uncertain period of time. We realized that the greatest healing therapy is LOVE.
G. Lou's appointment is made possible by gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.