5 Good Things (YES! GOOD THINGS) Covid Brought to Christian Missionaries
Not all grey clouds bring rain. Sometimes they bring a welcome shade from the hot sun. Such is the case with the coronavirus. There are many tragedies that have been thrust upon believers by the coronavirus, but there do seem to be a few unforeseen benefits as well.
Believe it or not, there are certain benefits that the coronavirus has brought to Christian believers around the world, especially to those who have been living in closed nations.
Here are the top five benefits of the coronavirus for believers:
Christian Home schooling!
Christian Home schooling has undoubtably been the big winner during Covid. It has been illegal for Chinese to home-school their children in China, but many house church believers have been doing it anyway. “We value a Christian education,” said Sarah (not her real name) during an interview in Shanghai in 2019 regarding homeschooling. “We can’t, with a good conscience, send our children to a Chinese school that demands they be taught that atheism is a fact.”
China demands that all children enroll in government school and receive a compulsory education in Communism and Atheism. Back to Jerusalem has built more than 100 primary education buildings in Western China and all of them have a mandatory “moral” education room. The “moral” education room is to teach children the tenants of Communism from the age of three years old.
Sarah, and many like her, were taking a real risk by homeschooling their children, but in 2020, the homeschooling enforcement has relaxed considerably. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, almost all parents have had to assist in online learning. Traditional schools are in disarray and not sure how to teach their curriculum online. Home-school parents, familiar with learning online, are breezing right on by.
And it is not just Chinese parents who are having a fresh start with Christian online learning. Public school attendance is at an all time low around the world. Many parents are turning to home schooling instead.
Christian Home-schooling might be the single biggest winner of the coronavirus and has the potential to change the direction of millions of children’s lives around the world.
Working from Home
Many missionaries and believers in the underground house church work for themselves and run their own business. They often do this because in countries like Bhutan or Pakistan, jobs are regularly offered based on faith, leaving Christians shunned from the job market. Due to the Covid restrictions, governments around the world have encouraged workers to work from home and this has been great news for Christians who work for themselves. It has saved many of those working with Back to Jerusalem a lot of money – it has meant that money has not been spent on unnecessary office space and overhead.
In addition, hours of travel time has been saved every week, allowing believers to have extra time with family and ministry. There have been many Christian businesses benefit from working from home.
Yay for masks!
For Christians in China – face masks might be a huge blessing in disguise. Another way to say it might be to say that masks are a masked blessing.
In 2018, China announced Sky Net: a facial recognition system that the official news outlet bragged was “a facial recognition system that can scan China’s population of about 1.4 billion people in a second.” Since 2018, China has been in hyperdrive to install cameras with facial recognition capabilities everywhere, creating what has been called the “most intense government surveillance in the world.”
China is expected to have more than half a billion cameras by the end of 2021, which works out at one camera for every three people in the nation.
Christians are concerned about the cameras with AI facial recognition because they can be easily used to track the movement of Christians, pastors, and mission leaders.
However, the entire system was built and deployed prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Though the coronavirus has brought many challenges to the church in China, it has also brought about a very timely blessing in disguise: the mask.
Because of the virus, the mask is now required in all public places and has allowed a new sense, at least on some level, of anonymity again.
Just when the government had a new answer on how to carefully track every citizen in the nation, invested billions of dollars into an AI surveillance program, and installed more cameras than any other country in the world – this monkey wrench comes along and creates a new back door for believers.
Maybe it was planned all along…
Social Credit Score
In 2019, the Chinese government had reached a sinister level of oppression with social credit scoring. Social credit was geared toward essentially paralyzing Christians who operate outside the Three-Self Movement church structure. Social credit was deployed to mobilize the entire country against Christians.
In 2019, it was predicted that by 2020, the Chinese government would require every citizen to have a digital ID to allow detailed tracking of bank accounts, social media friend accounts, communication, travel, and purchases. All of the information from the digital ID translated into a “social credit” rating. Citizens with higher social credit scores would reap the benefits of free gym memberships, cheaper public transportation, shorter waiting times in hospitals, and international travel benefits, to name a few. However, the ramifications of this data collection would socially and economically paralyze Christians.
Christians who rank low on the social credit scale from their Christian activities would be blacklisted, preventing them from finding work, obtaining loans, and/or finding a place to live. The blacklist prevented low-score citizens from traveling. In 2019, 6.25 million people had low social credit scores and were worried about the full scale launch that was set for 2020.
Then, the coronavirus hit and everything went berserk!
The complete implementation of the planned social credit score never arrived. It couldn’t. China went into lockdown and all the plans went out the window.
China spent a lot of money on their planned roll out of the social credit score, but the coronavirus dealt it a blow that will not be easy to recover from – and that is great news!
New Warm Welcome for Christian Business
Some of the best news to come out of the coronavirus has been for Christian missionaries looking for opportunities to serve in unreached nations, because so many closed countries have flung their doors wide open.
Missions trips of all kinds have been canceled across the board, but they need not be because there are nations that are easier to travel to today than ever before – even with the new Covid-19 restrictions.
A couple of weeks ago, BTJ published an article on the 16 NATIONS that desperately need the Gospel and are open right now for ministry. So many of them are hungry for Christians and especially Christian business. Take Uzbekistan for instance. There is really no place like it right now. If you are an American missionary that would like to open a business or take a tour, they are almost begging you to go there. In fact, they are promising to compensate American tourists (*cough* – missionary) up to $3,000 if they catch COVID-19 while on their trip!
When has a nation that has never heard the Gospel before offered money to missionaries if they get sick?
The answer? NEVER!
Though the enemy undoubtably meant the coronavirus for evil, it is possible to see how God is using it for good.