We want to share some stories of hope arising from the coronavirus pandemic. Amidst the tragedy of losing loved ones, God is at work turning around situations of despair to new realities of hope.
The following stories illustrate how God is able to save lives, enable the gospel to be broadcast to thousands of people and for churches to come together online for prayer, teaching and encouragement. On a practical level, TEN’s partners are providing food parcels to the hungry thanks to the donations made to the Covid-19 Relief Fund.
Good News Church in Constanta, Romania
Traian and Elena Pascalau, who lead the Good News Church in Constanta, Romania, have responded to the impact of COVID-19 lockdown and social isolation by getting connected online with their community. In fact, Traian even managed to offer local church members a crash course on using whatever technology people had available in order to stay connected.
Every day, Pastor Traian shares a message of encouragement for the community, along with praise reports and prayers for those in need. One of the oldest church members, who remembered the time when the church never had a building, said with wise humour, “Pastor always told us that we are the church and if we are the church, we can still sing together and speak with each other.”
Since the last in-person meeting, three new people have already joined the virtual congregation. Another lady, who had recently attended the church meeting, asked to stay in touch. She was added to a WhatsApp group and sent in a short message. “I was in your church only once and I already miss it. I wanted to come every Sunday. It was the first time in my life when I felt that God is real. Now I cannot come anymore, I am determined to not let this stop me. Is there a way I can give my heart to Jesus Christ online or do I have to wait?”
She did not have to wait. Traian prayed with her and she is now a Christian. The church is a living organism that is growing, no matter what. Apart from the online meetings, Traian also helps with shopping for food and other essentials on behalf of those people who are unable to leave their homes.
Beginning of Life, Chisinau, Moldova
Due to the ongoing crisis caused by the rapid, global spread of Covid-19, Moldovans are fearful of their future. Many thousands of people have lost their jobs and social assistance from the government is still insignificant when compared with the impacts of the crisis. Although the number of COVID-19 related deaths being reported in Moldova is relatively small, the true scale of the disease is considered to be much greater.
In this context, the Beginning of Life team has made adjustments to its programmes and projects to comply with the restrictions and in order to reach people in need despite lockdown and curfews. For deprived families, BOL has been able to prepare and deliver 390 food parcels and hygiene kits for mothers with infants.
The Early Learning Centre and Psychological Art Studio have adapted to provide online classes in combination with special toolkits distributed each week for families to use at home. Teaching materials are now prepared in a form that can be used by people on their own or in a group at a distance. Also, there are organized meetings using Zoom with leaders and trainers who are working with their groups of beneficiaries online across different communities. For most of the people, this is a totally new way of facilitating ministry.
Educational projects related to schools and community have continued through social media and streaming platforms YouTube and Zoom. Employing this new form of communication with youth and teens has required creative solutions. These new arrangements were welcomed not only by the children and youth but also by their parents who also stay at home. All of the BOL team continue to learn the specifics of working with people online and are getting to grips with the new Internet tools. There have been additional costs to make these changes, however, we have avoided making major deviations from the agreed budget.
Slavko Hadžić, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Slavko Hadžić became a Christian during the war in former Yugoslavia in the early 90s, having grown up as a communist atheist. In 2016 he was appointed as Langham Partnership’s preaching’s coordinator for West Balkans & North Adriatic. For 15 years, Slavko was the pastor of an evangelical church “Kosevsko brdo” in Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina and has spent two decades in street evangelism. Slavko is also an evangelist with the Fellowship of Evangelists at Universities of Europe (FEUER). He has been healed twice from cancer.
The strict imposition of Covid-19 curfews, quarantined border controls and closure of many businesses, have resulted in the sudden loss of thousands of jobs. By the end of April, the coronavirus had claimed more than 60 deaths, with 1,500 people infected and over 600 recovered.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown, Slavko started recording weekly evangelistic messages and posting them to our church YouTube page and on Social Media. The response has been very good and already several non-Christians who watched messages and were touched by them and have been in touch. Slavko decided to start new YouTube Channel “Dobra Vijest – Good News”, which had been part of the vision for Institute “Good News” Bible Institute in Sarajevo. All video content will be evangelistic with talks given by different speakers in Bosnian and with English subtitles,
For now, there are few messages in Bosnian, and this one, “Peace in troubled times” is subtitled in English. New material will be posted regularly on their YouTube channel, both in Bosnian and English: Dobra vijest – Good News
The background situation
The coronavirus, COVID-19 that emerged in China has infected more than a million people worldwide and has claimed many lives. Despite warnings of such a catastrophe, governments, businesses and citizens were ill-prepared for the sudden pandemic that has spread across all continents. Drastic measures have been introduced to reduce the rate of infection and consequent deaths. To protect the vulnerable and to ensure that hospitals were not inundated with coronavirus admissions, social isolation policies now exist across the world with curfews, quarantine and only essential journeys permissible. Air, sea and land transport has been largely suspended with many borders closed. Meanwhile, we wait for the peak of the pandemic to pass and for restrictions to be gradually lifted.
These measures have affected not only affected businesses, tourism, sport and social gatherings, but also the work of the church.
1st May 2020