In my conversations with others this year, I’ve often asked the questions, “What do you see God doing during the time of COVID-19? Why did God allow this pandemic, which has affected so many people around the world, to happen? How can it be turned into a blessing?”
Over the past year, I have witnessed God working through the disruption of COVID-19 to spread the gospel. I have been able to keep weekly contact with Rosedale International’s outreach team in South Asia. This team has seen a number of exciting developments during this time of disruption. They have found new opportunities to place their focus on God, and have blessed many people as a result.
Before the pandemic, I visited South Asia once or twice a year to have Bible studies and discuss how to reach the region’s many Hindu and Muslim peoples with the message of Jesus. When it became clear that because of pandemic travel restrictions I would not be able to visit, we decided to try meeting online for weekly Bible studies. One of our first studies focused on the life of Job. We asked why God allowed him to lose everything, and wondered how that might help us understand the losses we were experiencing because of the pandemic. After that first meeting and continuing to the present, we have met weekly for studies that focus on the South Asia team’s outreach opportunities.
One thing we did not foresee was how this one study would blossom into many Bible studies in South Asia. The pandemic restrictions created new opportunities to spread the gospel as many tribal people who had worked or studied in the cities returned to their home villages. This allowed the team members with whom I was meeting to begin having weekly Bible studies and discussions in a number of villages near their homes.
Members of these simple meetings sang together, read Scripture, and discussed how to apply what they were learning to their lives. The participants were mostly young people who had an interest in the gospel, but before now had only listened rather than fully engage. Growth was contagious—in one area, members began traveling up to an hour away to attend. It was a blessing to me to hear their stories and see photos of their meetings as they interacted together with joy and celebration.
In a time when outreach seemed impossible, God brought these believers and seekers together to study his Word. Now that South Asia is slowly permitting people to return to school and work the members of these Bible studies are discussing how to continue meeting around the Word in whatever setting they face. They have learned that this isn’t complex—leading simple interactions in diverse locations spreads the news of Jesus and is an encouragement to every participant.
Weekly, I continue to meet online with the core team, and they in turn follow up on the studies with local people. God is leading all of us, giving us a new understanding of the way he works in the face of deep economic, public health, and spiritual needs. In the lives of those who look to him in every situation, he is sufficient.