Opportunities Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
Dear brethren in Christ, I wanted to send you a brief update on our situation here in Spain to ask prayer for a few items. I am thankful to report that at the present time, Paola, Melody and I are well, and so are the members of our congregation in Málaga. None of us have become gravely ill with symptoms of the Coronavirus, although one of our members, Rafa, may have been infected with the virus, since he has been suffering from symptoms associated with the virus-- a low fever, fatigue, chest congestion, shortness of breath--but none of these have developed into serious illness.
Friends Affected by the Coronavirus
We have had several people close to us seriously affected by this illness, however, and one woman who was a member of the church in Alcázar de San Juan, where I used to live, has died from the virus. Her name was Mari. Please pray for her husband Juan Manuel, her son Jonathan, and her daughters, Gloria and María Jesús. It is so sad to know that none of her family members could be with her at the end, nor they have been able to give her a proper burial, since under the present circumstances, the remains of anyone dying in the hospital of the Coronavirus must be immediately cremated. I am sure they will have a memorial service for her later on.
I would like to ask you to pray at the present time for my brotherin-law, Paco García. He was admitted to the hospital the other day with a fever, great physical weakness, and a certain measure of respiratory distress, after suffering for over a week in his home with flu-like symptoms. On being admitted to the hospital, he was immediately given saline solution and put on a respirator. The doctors say his condition is critical, but showing some modest signs of improvement. Thankfully, he is out of ICU and is in his own hospital room now. Please pray for his full recovery, and for his family, as well. They are treating him for Coronavirus, even though official confirmation of the nature of his illness is still pending.
Another brother in the faith, who is a long time member of another church in Málaga, is also gravely illin the hospital with the Coronavirus. His name is Daniel Frías, and he has been quite ill with pneumonia, coughing blood, and hooked up to a respirator on full sedation. The latest news, however, is that there has been some improvement in his condition; he has ceased to cough blood, they have lowered his sedation level, and are using a less invasive sort of respiratory therapy. Still, he is not out of the woods; please remember him in your prayers.
At the same time that many people around us have been seriously affected by the Coronavirus, there is no doubt that this time of crisis has also opened doors of opportunity for evangelistic witness in an unprecedented manner. One great opportunity that has been opened up to me personally is that I have received an invitation from a gypsy friend to preach several times a week by live streaming to an entire "clan" of his relatives. The man who has extended to me this invitation is named Jesús Fernandez. Jesús is the "patriarchal" figure of a rather large gypsy family in the neighborhood near the church. For some time has shown a real hunger for the Word of God and a sincere burden that not only his immediate family, but his extended family as well, hear the biblical gospel proclaimed in a clear and uncompromising manner. Therefore, he is encouraging all of his relatives to "tune in" to messages which I am preaching from the living room of my own home by live streaming. After the message, there is an "open mic" time in which people who are listening can ask me questions about the Bible, and the questions they are asking are very good, indeed!- - questions that go right to the heart of the gospel such as--.How can one truly know Jesus? How is a person born again? What are we to think about so-called "carnal" Christians? Jesús has asked me to preach as many nights as I can during this time of confinement. So far, however, I am preaching three nights a week-- Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please pray that the Lord will guide me in selecting the passages on which to preach and also give me wisdom in answering the doctrinal questions people have.
Our own congregation is continuing to meet by live streaming on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings. It is a woefully inadequate method of meeting, since the technical difficulties that arise in transmission, such as interference with the sound system, only serve to underscore the sense of distance between the members, but it is all we have right now, the only way we have to meet together until the end of April, at least.
My experience preaching on the radio in Texarkana prepared me a bit, I believe, for preaching by cell phone at the present time. I lean my cell phone against a stack of books, and then preach to the congregation. How odd this all feels! Yet I am impressed by the fact that these are days of unique opportunity, and we must take advantage of them.
Pray that God will bless the meetings with the gypsies and with my own congregation. Pray that he will give each one of us wisdom to redeem the time and make the most of the opportunities afforded to us at this most strange, unique, yet promising hour. Pray for the older members of our church who are single and live alone-- Fina, Jenny, and José Emilio, in particular. May the Lord bless each of you and keep you safe and thriving spiritually, despite any quarantine!
By God's grace, may we be full of peace, joy, and love and all the fruit of the Spirit during this time, and ready to give a response for the hope that is in us to all who ask.
c/Azor 19, Urb. el Coto
29651 Mijas-Costa (MA) SPAIN