General Secretary Nora Sanders checks in with our Christian partners in China who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Photo of people unloading medical supplies from trucks in Wuhan, China
Arrival of medical supplies to Amity Foundation rescue operation of coronavirus relief in China.
Credit: Amity Foundation
“High alert but low risk.” If you are like most Canadians, you are concerned about the COVID-19 virus (coronavirus) but life is continuing as normal.   As of February 16, 358 potential cases had been investigated in Canada, with only eight actual cases identified. As of February 18, 43 Canadians on board a cruise ship off Japan have also been confirmed as infected. Quarantine arrangements have been imposed on those returning from either Wuhan or the cruise ship, and voluntary quarantine is encouraged for others travelling back from China.   That’s fine for us, but for our partners in China, and for pretty well everyone in China, nothing is normal right now. As of February 18, the total number of confirmed cases in China now stands at 72,532 and the death toll at 1,871. Millions are affected by quarantine or restrictions in movement.   Let me share a little of what we are hearing from our Christian partners in China.   Some who were Commissioners at the 43rd General Council will remember meeting Rev. Kan Baoping, who was one of the global guests at our gathering. Rev. Kan was at that time the President and General Secretary of the China Christian Council, and he is now serving with the National Three-Self Patriotic Movement, which is the affiliated Protestant social service organization. He knows Canada well, having been a student of Douglas John Hall in Montreal some years ago, and he warmly hosted our United Church delegation when we visited China in 2016.   When I reached out to Rev. Kan last week by email, he responded, letting me know that he is deeply immersed in the efforts of the China Christian Council and National Three-Self Patriotic Movement to provide medical supplies and support for the epidemic region, Hubei province. In words reminiscent of the words of the Apostle Paul, he asked for continuous prayers, adding that “your prayer will give us strength and support our spirit in combatting against the virus.”    I wanted to share that with you, friends across the United Church, because I know that many of you will want to join in those prayers, asking for God’s abounding love and mercy for the people of China.   The United Church is helping in a modest financial way too, working through the American Baptist International Ministries to send medical supplies. The Amity Foundation, another of our partners in China, has provided updates on this work.   By the way, if you have been following the blog posts of Kelsi James, our young overseas personnel with the Amity Foundation, she is back in Canada now, sooner than expected. Even though she was not in the Wuhan area, it seemed appropriate to bring her home at this time.   In the recent Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we were reminded of the worldwide network of love and support of which we are part. Our prayers can mean so much to those facing this time of trouble.   Blessings,   Nora

— Nora Sanders is General Secretary of The United Church of Canada. 

This message was originally sent to subscribers to the General Secretary's letter, "Note from Nora." Subscribe here.

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