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As the coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeps headlines across the world, it is difficult to know what to believe and how to respond. Authorities are scrambling to contain the virus by implementing travel bans and lockdowns.
The Virus: the coronavirus can cause a wide range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to SARS. It can infect both animals and people and is highly contagious.
Our first reaction, of course, is prayer. God is never surprised. As Barb Wooler and Wayne Hannah point out in 30 Days to a More Resilient Faith, God works powerfully in times of crisis. Viral outbreaks like this cause fear and paranoia. But when disaster shakes our world, we search for hope. Our hearts open up to the gospel. And Jesus meets us in our need. We pray that God will work through this to draw people to himself.
At present, there are no evacuation orders that affect Encompass staff. We trust our brothers and sisters in affected regions to have better knowledge and perspective than we could from afar. The main impact at this point is the disruption of local meetings or travel plans. In fact, our staff who experience crises often find unique opportunities to press in—to be a presence of hope and grace at an uncertain time.
That said, Encompass leaders are monitoring the situation to help our global staff make wise decisions. We are constantly communicating with those in affected regions. We care deeply about their safety and well-being and are vigilant in our collaborations on how to proceed.
Please pray that God would draw many people to himself in this crisis. Pray for our global staff—for wisdom and grace as they respond to the situation. And of course, for safety and good health. Pray that believers everywhere will show God’s love and compassion in the middle of this crisis.