COVID-19 Lockdown in the Middle East
Originally posted at: https://anglicanfrontiers.com/covid-19-lockdown-in-the-middle-east/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=covid-19-lockdown-in-the-middle-east
by an anonymous AFM Cross-Cultural Worker
We are in our sixth week of lockdown—staying at home except for a weekly trip to get food. I expect we’ll be in this situation through May, barring the creation of a treatment for COVID-19. Our country has closed its borders, and stopped schools and public gatherings (including worship services) back in early March. The airports closed on 17 March, with the exception of a single repatriation flight to the US. That plane left two days ago, but we declined to go. We are home…and still capable of serving the people to which God called and prepared us to minister, with your prayers and financial support. For as much progress as we’ve made with learning the local language, ingraining ourselves in the culture, and being part of the social fabric, we know we’ll always be “foreigners”. The resources God has blessed us with and the power of a US passport meant we always had the option to leave if things became hazardous. That is not true now. The expat “escape hatch” is closed. So as bad as the pandemic is, it has pushed us closer to our local Muslim and Christian refugee friends. We are all in the same boat now.
“Thank God for the lice.” If you know the story of Corrie Ten Boom and the “The Hiding Place”, you will understand the circumstances that phrase references. When Corrie and her sister, Betsy, were held in the Ravensbrück Nazi concentration camp, their barracks was infested with lice. Betsy had amazing faith in God, giving thanks to Him in even the worst circumstances, including praising Him for the lice. As the weeks went by, Corrie and Betsy discovered the guards would never enter their barracks, because of the lice. This allowed the two sisters to share the Bible, lead worship, and minister to their fellow prisoners at night without fear of discovery.
Similarly, the COVID-19’s severe movement restrictions that are damaging the economy and frustrating humanitarian relief work have simultaneously blocked the efforts of people who seek to harm some local friends under our care. We can’t share more details about this situation, as it is still in progress. However, please pray for “Martha and Mary”—whose lives are in danger because they decided to follow Jesus.
The pandemic has forced us to slow down. The hospital is now a place to be avoided, except when you’re going to die. There is uncertainty about the availability of food or other basic commodities. Curiously, there has been no hoarding in this country, perhaps because that luxury is only for people with extra money or easy credit—not an option here. These circumstances have opened avenues for conversations about where real security comes from, as well as discussions about mortality.
Jesus is the answer! He told us we would have trouble in this world, but to take heart, for He has overcome the world. I’ll close with some encouraging scripture that comforts us in difficult circumstances. We hope you can rest in these truths also.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4), and
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).