Editor's note: This is a testimony of a pastor who lives in Hubei and his wife, both recovering from the COVID-19 infection.
My dear family in the Lord, peace be with you!
I am Qiu Guandong from Shanxi and my wife is Huang Ying from Wuhan. We are both pastors and have served for eleven years.
After getting married, we did not live a smooth life. We suffered from the theft of a bicycle and a scooter; then my mother-in-law experienced bone fracture; when they were out to serve, the water leakage in their apartment led to trouble in the neighborhood. What was worse, my wife had a surgery due to ligament rupture in her ankle and was infected with the coronavirus.
Those unfortunate things happened to us in just three months, leaving us unprepared and so weak that we were unable to pray to God.
During that period, I had been pastoring a church in Xiaogan, Hubei, and my wife had been involved in a seminary. We were convinced that we had done our utmost to serve the house of God, and got puzzled by why so many distresses came upon us.
Had we done something wrong? Did God want us to learn a lesson? Did He let these happen to show His glory?
Those various difficulties brought numerous questions to our minds, particularly when we were tested positive for the infection. Though we were filled with sadness and hardships, we came to know well about our weaknesses and God's will.
It dates back to a four-day period in late January. When we stayed in Wuhan from Jan. 19 to 22, we did not take any protective measure out of knowing little about pneumonia and regarded the disease as being far away from us. Until now, we have no idea about how we were affected.
Starting from Jan. 24, I felt headache with a fever and pain throughout the body, as if I was whipped. It became progressively harder to breathe. My wife showed similar symptoms such as dry cough. Realizing all the symptoms corresponded with the standards of the pneumonia, we could not find peace even after continuous prayers. Fear then followed, with thought we would soon leave the world to see the Lord!
Although I am a pastor with experience in hospice care, I was so inwardly weak that many comforting and encouraging words failed to work on me. My wife, who had gone through great storms, even thought of abandoning the ministry, despite having devoted herself full-time to God. Actually, we were not afraid of death, but how could we see the Lord when we owed him too much? How could we be accountable to God?
In the middle of the night, my mind was full of random thoughts with tears. I cried while praying. Despite not feeling well herself, my wife took care of me for more than 20 hours. After midnight, God answered my prayer - he put two verses in my heart:
John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
1 Corinthians 1:4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.
The verses turned the anxiety inside me into peace and the unwillingness into obedience!
I came to realize His intention was to let me feel peace in the midst of suffering, so as to use that experience to comfort other people!
Getting through Jan. 24, the last day of the 2019 Lunar Chinese Year, we packed our luggage to be quarantined in hospital. Suspected to be coronavirus cases, we were advised to stay in isolation and take drugs at home because of a lack of beds in the hospital.
Back home, we stayed separately in two rooms while wearing masks at all times. We kept a distance while eating and talking, and the entire tableware was disinfected, worried that any possible cross infection would make things worse for both of us.
My symptoms of fever, cough, headache, and feeling weak all over after lasting for seven days. Without any fever, my wife suffered from dry cough, diarrhea, lack of strength. Just after discarding the plaster around her ankle, my wife had to cook with a crutch. We prayed and cheered for each other for a week.
On Feb. 1, we had completed the dosage regimen for our prescribed drugs and our symptoms abated. However, at the next checkup, I was diagnosed with the infection in both lungs, indicating that I was basically still infected with the novel coronavirus and had to be hospitalized.
It seemed that God wanted to lead us into deeper waters so we can experience him even more.
After we informed our parents and the church, my wife prayed for me with tears running down her face. Attempting to comfort her, I was holding back tears with various uncertainties inside my mind.
It was unknown if there was a bed for me and how long I would stay in hospital. It was unknown if my wife would encounter any accident while alone at home.
In the face of these various concerns, I only spoke to the Lord, "I entrust everything to you. Please be completely responsible for us." After the prayer, I felt an extraordinary peace in my heart, not stemming from a positive mentality, but from Christ's peace in me!
I was taken into a big ward in a private hospital, a 30-square-meter room where there was just one bed without a bathroom. The medical staff were "armed" to the teeth and could not be recognized. My breakfast contained an egg with two buns, and the lunch and dinner were cold, hard and salty rice. The breakfast was not enough for me, a 1.8m tall man, and the rest of the meals caused me stomach pain. Not knowing how long this situation would last, I sought for help from God. Some days later, the meals were adjusted to the point where I could be full without any pain. My temperature returned to normal and my symptoms gradually disappeared.
On the seventh day of my hospitalization, I was woken up from a dream at 11 pm and required to be transferred for further treatment.
I was transferred to another ward and stayed with a teacher and a boss. Intending to preach the gospel to them, I found it pretty difficult to fit into their topics. Their conversations were about making money and comparing with each other. In addition, I was an introvert with a fear of rejection, so I gave up. However, I had never imagined the discipline of God when I was reluctant to evangelize. In the beginning, my nucleic acid test had returned negative, but now changed into a suspicious positive.
I realized God would not spare me if I refused to evangelize them. I was more disobedient than Jonah at times. Then I begged God to give me another opportunity to proclaim his salvation with courage and wisdom.
Thanks for his answer to my prayer. The minute they asked me questions about Islam, I used that entry point to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. They listened very carefully and though not making a decision to follow the Lord, the seed of the gospel was sown.
Soon after, the follow-up test showed negative and my lungs had recovered. When I was discharged from the hospital, a tailored service vehicle was provided to take me home. It took 25 days from my symptoms to full recovery.
We experienced the cruelty of the epidemic, the care and love of brothers and sisters, and the providence of God. The following are some reflections:
1. Being a pastor does not necessarily one is strong and brave. Confronted with difficulties, pastors are ordinary people with fears and struggles, with even more need for God's mercy.
2. When we were quarantined at home, we were not abandoned warriors; many Christians were watching and praying for us. The Christian family was more brotherly than our biological family. We were not alone.
3. The most terrible thing lies not in the harm the virus caused to human bodies, but in the lack of real peace.
4. Marriage is not just about the vow and fine-sounding words in the wedding, but the challenge of going through real life together. The experience makes our hearts closer to each other.
5. The sudden epidemic also struck three of my relatives. We do see the preciousness of souls. We should preach the gospel under both ideal and non-ideal circumstances.
6. God's faithfulness and promises never change in any difficult situation. Despite the rising prices of commodities, we never lacked food. The special food reserves for the Spring Festival were enough for our daily feeding needs.
My wife used the same face mask for more than twenty days and still recovered from the disease. This was totally by God's grace!
(The original article was published on WeChat account: "Gospel News". CCD edited and translated with permission.)
- Translated by Karen Luo