Asbury in Mission (AIM) has been in contact with our mission partners and shares the following messages we've received from them. Please pray for all of them as they, too, navigate the new landscape put before us because of COVID-19.
Mark & Deirdre Zimmerman, Nepal
Thanks for being in touch, and for your prayers. Nepal remains relatively untouched by coronavirus, with just one case in January in someone travelling from China, and one case announced yesterday in a Nepali student returning from France. Unfortunately that hasn’t stopped the government taking very drastic measures, with rapid changes at very little notice. They gave 24 hours’ notice for closing the airport to all flights, and last night suddenly announced we were under complete lockdown from 6am this morning with no chance to go shopping or make other arrangements. The boys have been home from school for 10 days now with both doing on-line classes and exams, and Mark and I still go to the hospital. So we remain quite busy although it looks like things will get quieter in the next week while the hospital empties and if it continues to have no corona cases.
Of course, if we do get struck by the virus it will probably be pretty bad here given most people’s economic situation/living conditions and the limits to medical facilities. We wait, like everyone, to see how long this will last. We will probably put out a letter in the coming days which will give you a better idea of our situation, but meanwhile thanks again for your prayers.
Brendon Homan, Youth with a Mission (YWAM), South Africa
Things are going forward in SA, but we did find out last night that the whole country will be going into a 21 day lockdown from midnight Thursday as our president has declared a state of emergency.
Please pray for us that our country doesn’t go into a state of panic and also that the virus doesn’t reach the townships as there are many people with HIV and TB and this would have dire consequences of it did.
Further we started an online prayer movement to push back and we’re hoping that many people will join in this as we believe this is the exact time Christians shouldn’t be going into hiding. Here’s the link if you’d want to give it a look. https://mvmnt.co.za/
Thank you for checking in on is and I also would like to know how we can pray for you in the States?
God bless you all,
Josefa Wall and Prof Munashe Furusa-Vice Chancellor, Africa University, Zimbabwe
The university affirmed its position to adhere to the government directive to close down the university effective 24 March 2020. On behalf of staff and students, I would like to thank you all for your unwavering support during these trying times. Your support has indeed lessened the burden on our shoulders and given us hope through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are grateful for your support and appreciate your prayers for the continued safety and welfare of the members of the Africa University community and their families during this global crisis. We unite with you in prayer for those affected by this illness, those experiencing stress and the medical personnel treating and caring for them.
Grace and peace to you and the Asbury family,
[Since this initial email we have learned from Josefa that one of the two people in Zimbabwe with confirmed cases for COVID 19 has died.
Kevin & Kathy Bruce, Liebenzell, Ecuador
We are doing fine, seeking to place our trust daily in our Lord and not succumb to fear or panic. We’ve had two emergency ambulance trip calls so far, but neither really seemed to be related to the corona-virus, but rather just from a lack of other vehicles. Some of our local Awa are really wanting to close up our road with a pile of gravel and rocks; they are just scared and want to keep the sickness away. Some are saying they will only eat food from up here, as the virus might come in eggs, or rice, or food that is brought from the city. Many are coming here to our house to ask questions, to see the news, and maybe just for a voice of reassurance.
We do continue to appreciate your prayers that God will give us daily strength, words of encouragement, and patience with our people in this time. In parts of the country the people are running out of food, as many local stores are closing without the help of public transportation, but our people can live reasonably well out of their backyard gardens, so that hasn’t been a real issue here. We are also well-supplied so haven’t really felt a lack of food. And yes, we have plenty of toilet paper and quite a variety of leaves in the back yard! (that is, as long as there are no stinging fuzzy caterpillars on them…) :-)
We also appreciate your prayers as we seek to try to help our Mission family in these days, keeping everyone in good contact, well-supplied, and encouraged. Pretty much every ministry and church has had to cancel most meetings. It was fun to see that three of the Liebenzell churches here posted services on-line! A good time to put all this excellent technology we have to work! :-)
And you all there are facing many of these same issues...! We are thankful that our God is still sovereign, even amidst the seeming craziness that has overtaken the world.
Thanks so much for keeping in touch!
Kevin & Kathy
For some specific prayer requests:
1. For a peaceful heart and mind, along with a calm message, for Kathy & I during this present world situation. Many of our Awa people are getting pretty panicky. We desire to be voices that encourage them to place their hope and trust in our Father God, rather than drown in fear.
2. That our road would remain open, as many of our neighbors are fearful and have plans to shut it up with a pile of rocks and gravel. Since we have become the local ambulance, and are also trying to take Marco Aurelio, one of the Awa believers, out to the city regularly for his dialysis treatments, it would be really helpful if our road remained passable!
3. For the Awa believers as we have had to cancel church services and also our Easter conference. There were six young Awa wanting to get baptized at Easter, pray that their faith will remain strong. Last Sunday we were able to post a short Sunday message, at least for the ones who are technologically able to listen to it on their phones.
4. For our kids and grandson Ronin there in the USA, and also for Kathy’s mom who has recently been hospitalized with what seems to have been a mild heart attack. We find it hard knowing we are somewhat cut off from travel at this time; at the same time so thankful for good communication!
5. For a good ability in leadership for the Ecuadorian Mission team, including our Ecuadorian pastors, ministry workers, and our German and American co-workers. Pray for good fellowship and unity in a time when we are geographically isolated from each other.
6. The Ecuadorian health-care system is already maxed out, so we imagine this new crisis will be very difficult to handle. Please pray for the IESS hospital and San Vicente hospital, both located in the city of Ibarra, as they will soon be full to capacity; for doctors and nurses, for supplies that will likely run short.
Diana Coke, Thembelihle School, South Africa
South Africa is near the start of this pandemic, but we realise we are facing a massive challenge. There are approx 7 million people in this country with HIV and TB, with suppressed immune systems. Our State Health service has been mismanaged and under-resourced for at least the last decade, so there's no way we could deal with the numbers that could require medical care. This sector is very decidedly Third World and hasn't been coping with the everyday health needs of the population, let alone Covid-19.
Our State President has just made his 2nd announcement this evening.
Last Sunday he declared a National Disaster, when we had approx 130 Covid-19 patients. Since then the numbers have risen to over 400, but we know this is just the very tip of the iceberg. Thus far we have had no deaths).
We are praying that SA may somehow come through this without the total collapse of the economy that has been looming anyway. Their Crisis Task Team seems to have made some very far-reaching decisions regarding helping those who will suffer economically during this time, and we pray that these can be put in place.
All schools closed instead on 17 March, and will only return after Easter (at least that's the current decision). This makes a great deal of sense, except for the children who will have no one to care for them at home, and who will not receive the daily meals that Thembelihle, and many other schools, supply to disadvantaged children.
So please may we ask for prayer for safety for all the children, especially at Thembelihle. So many of them live in a squatter camp, or in crowded communities, where social distancing or hygiene requirements just aren't feasible. Also for those initiatives that are trying to fill the gap as regards feeding the hungry. We also ask for prayer for God's guidance for those dealing with this pandemic; protection of the most needy of our people, and the health care workers who will be at the forefront.
That is all we can do, and we really appreciate the fact that brothers and sisters in Christ on the other side of the world are also praying for our situation.
In Christ alone, we put our trust. May God guide and direct the USA as well, as you have to deal with this situation.
Very many thanks to all at Asbury. We value your concern and prayers.
Dr. Chris Hena, Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia
COVID 19 is in our county now. Honestly, so much fear, but I have faith in Jesus who controls everything, to see us through this time. We are going to use wisdom and do all the things we are told to do, but I am not going to give in to fear. I see so many hopeful passages in His word, so I am refusing to give in to all the negatives.
You may never know how much you and others have blessed us. During Ebola, I had only mask and gloves. Today, we are more prepared, because of all the materials you sent our way. A big thanks to Doreen [at Through These Hands] and the Asbury United Methodist Church family. We are going to defeat this COVID-19, because of your generosity.
Have a blessed evening. A thanks again for everything.