During the outbreak of Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19), all on-site gatherings of churches have been suspended, but Jesus' work in the hearts of believers has been not. The epidemic seems to separate the believers, but the inseparable love between each other in the Lord continues through their family worship sessions.
As a sister puts it, even though we can't go to church, God's love never leaves us. At home, we confess our sins to God and ask for his forgiveness and mercy. We read the Bible to help with our spiritual growth, and share spiritual resources with our brothers and sisters. We encourage each other and pray together, waiting for God's blessings.
The children of God, some as families, others as individuals, worship God at home in various ways, even when they are not able to gather together.
In Shangrao, Jiangxi province, Brother T leads his wife and two children keep to daily spiritual worship and shares God's word with his family members through WeChat videos. Brother T is the third generation of Christians in the family. During the epidemic, more than 20 members of the family gradually participated in family worship under his organization, encouraging each other and building up together. In addition, as a fellow worker of a church in Xiamen, Fujian province, he also leads the group members to pray online three times a day, earnestly calling for the end of the epidemic.
Considering that the children can't sit still for too long, Brother T makes the family worship as simple as possible and encourages the family to worship God in a free and relaxed atmosphere. During the worship, any child who feels uneasy sitting down for too long will be asked to share first, and then take a quiet rest nearby. After settling the children, Brother T and his wife will then share their Bible readings more deeply.
The family worship consists of two parts: daily devotion in the morning and family altar in the evening.
Daily devotional for 10 minutes: one minute of prayer before getting up at 7 a.m., three minutes of morning scripture reading, three minutes of meditation, and three minutes of response. Fellowship with God every morning satisfies the spirit and fills the family with joy.
Family altar: after dinner every day, the family read the Bible together. Such as, "In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears." (Psalms 18:6). All family members share their thoughts and experiences one by one and end up singing a hymn together. Through the family altar for 15 minutes every day, the family can feel the presence of God, their spiritual life continues to grow, and the relationship between each other in the Lord is even closer and sweeter. At the same time, a wonderful testimony for the Lord is also made through the family altar.
In Leting, Hebei province, Sister W, who turned 69 this year, had a chance in the evening to read scriptures and pray after the daily busy housework. Like what many young believers do, she punched in at WeChat with a close sister saying "I read Numbers 20 today". Quietly reading scriptures and praying are spiritual habits that she has been holding on to for a long time. In this special period, unable to go out, through a WeChat group every day, she listens to the sermon and communicates with brothers and sisters to encourage each other. Worshipping alone should not necessary feel lonely.
Sister W first came to Beijing to look after her daughter's baby. Later, when her grandchild was older, she moved out to rent a house so that she could gather freely. During the Spring Festival, she returned to her hometown of Leting. Temporarily unable to return to Beijing because of the epidemic, she's been waiting in prayer. Her husband and her son's family haven't believed yet; however, she did not lose heart, "Maybe it's not the time yet, and I'm sure God will finally work it out", she said with a hearty smile.
Sister R and her husband have been married in Pudong, Shanghai, for six months. They were separately in Beijing and Shanghai before marriage; however, they are now grateful for being able to stay together during this special period. Her husband, a doctor, goes to work as usual. Although not in the department that treats patients with the NCP (novel coronavirus pneumonia), he is also exposed to the high risk of infection. Sister R truly experienced what it feels like for everyone to stay safely at home while the medical staff are risking their lives. She loved her husband very much and was very worried. At one time, her husband came home from work with a cough and a fever for two straight days, which made her feel deeply anxious and uneasy. When returning to prayer, she found peace in God and was convinced that our lives are in the hands of God.
Her husband once asked her, "Are you afraid?". She almost blurted out, "No, not even death will separate us." There were some conflicts in their life soon after their marriage, but during this period, they cherish each other even more. "The happiest thing now is that we pray together every night", she said, turning tears into laughter.
The Chinese Christian newspaper Gospel Times is collecting articles about the lives and faiths of believers in the midst of the epidemic, and many brothers and sisters have sent feedback through messages.
"I started fasting and praying since the 2nd day of this month, and then my family fasted and prayed together", a netizen said, "Our church used to gather almost every night, but now it's just family gatherings. But I still feel very fulfilled and closer to God. Thanks be to the Lord for His good will in everything. During the family worship, we pray and prepare our heart first, and then read the Bible. We are now reading 2nd Chronicles. After reading each chapter, we discuss it together and share what we gained from it, and end with prayer. We plan to add praise before the Bible reading."
Another reader said, "My daughter and I have been concerned about the outbreak since the Eve of the Spring Festival. Our family of three has been praying for China and Wuhan, for all of us to repent and for the families who have not yet believed in the Lord. Meanwhile, we should learn from the families reading the Bible, since we did not do much before."
- Translated by Sophia Chen