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 (Manna 90: In The Day of Trouble)
Covid-19: Global Updates
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TRUE JESUS CHURCH IN EUROPE
European Coordination Center (ECC)

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus from the brethren in Europe, to all the brethren of the True Jesus Church worldwide.

In 2020, the world faces many problems, both in terms of health and economics. The news reports on these issues every day. However, there is no news on how these problems have affected people's beliefs. Yet, faith is even more important in such difficult times.

At the beginning of this year, many thought that Europe would not be affected by COVID-19. But by the end of February, the virus spread quickly in Italy, and in March, throughout the rest of Europe. Most countries issued national lockdowns, which included the suspension of church services and other church events.

Our brethren in Europe could not gather to keep the Sabbath or have Bible study. The care and volunteer teams of the European Coordination Center (ECC) were also prevented from visiting the brethren in the pioneering European areas. All convocations and training had to be canceled. Such a situation can easily impact the members’ faith, especially if it were to continue for an extended period. In countries like Italy and Spain, our brethren were not permitted to leave home to work.

In Hebrews, it is written:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. …And let us consider one another…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. (Heb 10:23–25a)

If the brethren have to face their problems alone, they could lose faith quickly. Therefore, the ECC looked for solutions to help them keep the Sabbath and strengthen their faith in Jesus:

  • Instead of meeting in church, we started online Sabbath services. Thank God, the church in Mannheim, Germany, already had experience broadcasting their Sabbath service on YouTube. Preacher Ko was also available to lead these, so on March 21, the ECC started regular online Sabbath worship for more than two hundred brethren in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Georgia, Poland, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In parallel, our brethren in Italy used a QQ chat group to conduct Bible studies and Sabbath services.
  • Our Youth Fellowship coordinators also organized online Bible study groups to take place every evening, in different languages, with translation training in German, English, and Mandarin alongside.
  • In April, the ECC started a Skype seminar to study our biblical doctrines in depth. The seminar is held twice a week in the afternoons. More than fifty brethren use their extra free time to study the word of God, and we were joined even by brethren from Russia and Argentina.

Jesus commanded us: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). Although it is difficult to preach the gospel during these times of social distancing and lockdown, there are other ways to make God visible to the people.

  • In Empoli, Italy, our brethren collected money to source five thousand face masks from China and offered them to the local hospital.
  • In Georgia, we started the process of registering the True Jesus Church and finding a place of worship for our brethren.
  • At the beginning of May, we were able to purchase a church building in Empoli. The renovation process started straight away so that our brethren can move in as soon as possible.

Since the end of May, some restrictions in Europe were lifted so that we could start meeting in church again. From May 29 to June 1, we held our first spiritual convocation since the pandemic outbreak in Hamburg, Germany. Of course, we had to abide by the government guidelines to reduce the risk of infection, such as keeping a safe distance from each other, wearing face masks, and hand sanitizing. The members were happy to be able to meet again. No online service can replace physically gathering in the church, being able to sing, pray and share God’s word together. The strong feeling of being one family in Christ returned. Truly, we are “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” united in the Spirit and body of Christ (Eph 2:19; Eph 4:3–6).

We pray that the brethren worldwide will be able to overcome the coronavirus pandemic and that Jesus will keep us safe in His grace and mercy. May the True Jesus Church be strengthened in faith and grow to spread the gospel into the world.

All glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

TRUE JESUS CHURCH IN AFRICA
African Ministry Committee (AMC)

Nigeria
June 2020

In the name of Jesus Christ, we thank God for His favor, protection, and love for His church. The entire world is under the threat of COVID-19, and Nigeria is no exception. Under government restrictions, places of worship and businesses were closed when the virus reached this country.

The pandemic has affected our church programs. Services in Lagos State have been put on hold until further notice, and in Rivers State, services are being held in different houses, though we cannot hold other weekly church activities. A few weeks ago, the lockdown was relaxed, but still, only fifty people are allowed in one service session.

In Delta State, services are held in a few locations, while services in Akwa Ibom State are running as normal because the membership does not exceed the restricted numbers.

Finally, to fully implement government directives, we practice social distancing, regular cleaning, and hand sanitizing. We also use an infrared thermometer to check the members’ temperatures as they enter church premises.

According to their abilities, the members are encouraged to help one another during this period,  which they are doing.

The spiritual challenges being experienced by members and truth-seekers are the result of places of worship being closed. The church cannot continue to edify, admonish, and encourage members. At the same time, the fear of the unknown has increased, stirring up anxiety.

Physically, most of the members are low-income earners, working as farmers and traders (and so on.) They have experienced financial pressure due to the price hikes of goods and services during the pandemic. To cushion the effect, the church will be assisting such members to return to business.

Looking forward to the lifting of restrictions, the church will organize a national spiritual convocation to change the members’ attitude towards the service of God, keep them focused on the things of God, and redirect their behaviors to love God and humanity. We thank God that, as of now (June 2020), no members in Nigeria have tested positive for COVID-19. Hallelujah!

Nigeria, October 31, 2020
-
Total confirmed national cases: 62,691[1]
- Total confirmed national deaths: 1,144

Kenya
June 23, 2020

It has been about one hundred days since COVID-19 was first reported in Kenya.

There have been 4,797 reported cases in this period, of which 1,680 patients have recovered, and 125 have died.

The pandemic has caused much misery and untold suffering for the general public and True Jesus Church members. The faithful are suffering from mental, physical, economic, and spiritual problems. Because the government moved swiftly to contain the onslaught of the virus, this has resulted in the closure of businesses, places of worship, schools and institutions, jobs being lost, and loneliness, as many were separated from their family members for an extended period.

A recent survey found that of the people asked:

1. 60 percent were unable to pay their rent.
2. 50 percent relied on food donations.
3. 54 percent were earning reduced salaries.
4. There is increased job insecurity.
5. The cost of food has risen.
6. 75 percent could not repay their debts.
7. 81 percent were anxious and stressed.
8. The majority were living under extreme pressure.
9. Mental health problems had gone up.

These effects are deeply felt in the church since they impact directly on the members’ spiritual well-being. Indeed, some of our members cannot pay rent, have been laid off from their jobs, have lost their businesses, and have gone without food. They are anxious about what tomorrow will bring.

The church in Kenya has, therefore, given these encouragements to the workers and the members:

1. Rely on God through prayer and read His word to gain strength.
2. Continue having Sabbath services with family members at home.
3. Pray more.
4. Encourage each other through phone calls, and pray for each other.
5. The workers should keep calling the members to find out their situations and to encourage them.
6. All members should follow all the safety measures laid down by the government and experts.
7. Wherever possible, the members should offer any such help—material or otherwise—that may be
required by other members.

Meanwhile, the workers’ exchange program has stopped, and our local pastoral work has been greatly affected. However, we thank God that, despite all these, there were no cases of a member leaving the church, or dying from the disease.

We request that our brethren worldwide continue to remember us in prayer.  May the Lord Jesus bless, protect and strengthen all True Jesus Church members across the world.

Kenya, October 31, 2020
Total confirmed national cases: 53,797
Total confirmed national deaths: 981

Ghana
June 8, 2020

The first two cases of COVID-19 in Ghana were reported on March 13, 2020—one imported from Norway, and one from Turkey. On June 8, the Ghana Health Service reported that there had been 240,204 tests done, with 10,358 testing positive (fifty-eight percent male, forty-two percent female).  There were 6,713 active cases; 3,645 had recovered, and forty-eight deaths. The virus had spread nationwide, with more than fifty percent of the cases concentrated in Accra.

Church Response to Restrictions

The church has complied with the government’s restrictions and strategic measures to combat the virus. In March, notice was served to all True Jesus Church branches in Ghana to observe the ban on social gatherings.

We are grateful to God for His mercy: at the time of writing, there have been no cases of infection reported among the members. There have also been no rule-breaching incidents.

Physically, our members are facing a strain on their daily incomes, and it is challenging to maintain contact with some members. Spiritually, pastors, ministers, and church board members continue to encourage members through family services, phone calls, home visits, and prayer.

We have had no help or support from any source, either governmental or private, during the lockdown period.

Lifting of Restrictions

The government has announced the lifting of restrictions to commence from June 6. The Ghana Evangelical Coordination Board (GECB) has communicated this to the members. Still, services are yet to pick up due to the logistics of complying with the protocols set out by the government. The same holds for most religious organizations in Ghana. The borders remain closed until further notice, while the ban on social gatherings remains until July 31, 2020.

We, the church in Ghana, collectively are grateful to God and all the members for their continuous cooperation throughout this trying time.

Ghana, October 31, 2020
Total confirmed national cases: 48,055
Total confirmed national deaths: 320

 

Zambia
June 2020

COVID-19 came to our attention in December 2019, and the situation in Zambia worsened in January 2020. At that time, the government imposed a lockdown—schools, churches and other public places were closed. The worst-hit areas were Lusaka, where the first cases were reported, and Kafue. The virus then spread to Ndola in the Copperbelt Province, then Chingola, and later to Nakonde in the northern province, bordering Tanzania. At the time of writing, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases rose to 1,400, with seven deaths. To date, 950 patients have been released from quarantine centers, and 443 patients have been discharged from hospitals.

After a review, leisure venues such as bars and casinos were closed until further notice. Under the Ministry of Health’s guidance, only fifty believers were allowed to gather in places of worship. The church did not allow this to interrupt our services—small congregations gathered for Sabbath services in individual homes, although attendance was poor.  Nevertheless, the believers are faring well, both physically and spiritually, under the government restrictions and threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking forward, the church will continue to educate the members about behavioral change during this pandemic period, and how to adapt to this new normal situation. Now, restrictions have relaxed, and, apart from venues such as bars and taverns, businesses have reopened. Churches are allowed to hold services for up to 150 members, subject to government rules and regulations. The country’s economy, and, subsequently, the standard of living, have been adversely affected by the lockdown. Our prayer is that the restrictions can be further relaxed, with the pros and cons balanced, and that the members learn to adapt to this new way of life.

Zambia, October 31, 2020
Total confirmed national cases: 16,415
Total confirmed national deaths: 349


[1] Source for October 2020 statistics: The World Health Organization, covid19.who.int.

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Author: ECC and AMC
Publisher: True Jesus Church
Date: 11/16/2020
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