As the death toll from the coronavirus reaches at least 1,383, according to numbers released by the Chinese Communist Party, Christians on the mainland are risking their lives to provide aid to families in cities that have been deemed high risk for the disease.
Mark Hogsed, World Help’s vice president of international programs, told The Christian Post that the Christian nongovernmental organization is partnering with local pastors to distribute emergency relief in the provinces surrounding Wuhan, where the infection now known as COVID-19 is thought to have originated last December.
“For over 20 years, we’d been working with a network of local Chinese pastors and church planters doing Bible distribution, church planting, and evangelizing,” he said. “So we heard this network is willing to distribute protective masks as well as food to the people they’re ministering to. All they needed were the resources. We are actively on the ground right now, providing masks and food to as many people as they can to help prevent the virus.”
With an additional 5,000 reported Friday, the number of coronavirus cases in mainland China has now surged past 63,000.
Adam Kamradt-Scott, an infectious diseases expert at the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney, told Reuters the new figures give no indication the outbreak is nearing a peak.
“Based on the current trend in confirmed cases, this appears to be a clear indication that while the Chinese authorities are doing their best to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the fairly drastic measures they have implemented to date would appear to have been too little, too late,” he said.
While the pastors and other aid workers partnering with World Help are “taking preventive measures,” they are risking their lives to provide aid to those in need, Hogsed told CP.
“Our partners are being as safe as possible, they’re taking every precaution they can, but they feel this is a calling and a time to step up,” he said. “One of the effects of the virus is people are staying inside. They’re not going outside if they don’t have to, so these pastors are choosing to go out into their communities out of love for the people and as a practical way to spread the Gospel.”
“We feel strongly that we can be an example of a very practical Gospel,” he added. “This is one way that Christians on the ground can practically help those who need it, even in the face of danger.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett