It happened a few months ago.
The boys had just gone to bed.
Then all of a sudden the neighbors were all outside screaming and yelling, beating pots and pans (and anything else they could find) with sticks. Young and old alike.
For two hours.
And it wasn’t just the neighbors….the entire town was in on it.
It was extremely frustrating for my family, attempting to sleep. Not to mention just plain bizarre.
Well, it turns out that a new night club had opened up about 60 miles away, and was using those outdoor lights that shine into the sky to draw attention to their grand opening.
They certainly succeeded in drawing attention. Just not the attention they expected.
These lights that I remember being fairly popular in my 80’s/90’s childhood in America are literally foreign here. People didn’t know what this crazy sight was, and reacted in panic and fear. The generally thinking was that it was some kind of witchcraft or something, and it needed to be scared away by loud noises. The communal banging swept like wildfire. I’m not sure why everyone eventually stopped….the lights going out or exhaustion. I never heard that part of the story.
I’ve lived in this country a long time, but never experienced anything like this.
Currently, according to all the posts I’m seeing on social media, Americans are also experiencing something they’ve never encountered before. This isn’t because of their neighbors trying to chase away mysterious lights, but because of the Corona Virus pandemic.
I’m seeing all the posts of empty shelves at supermarkets, school closings, attempts to flatten the curve, etc. I honestly can’t imagine being present for all this. Here in my little corner of East Africa, I feel kind of exempt from what is happening with all my friends and family back in my passport country.
But I’m not exempt.
This is a global crisis that is having huge domino effects far and near.
My little family is expecting an American adoption case worker to come and visit us in order to help us finally make some progress in our journey. Now, those plans may end up being postponed…with their own load of domino effects for us.
But when I went to church this morning, I felt the impact even more.
Currently, Uganda has no cases of the virus, and many travel restrictions have been in place to keep it that way. And though this is a third-world country, at least a 7 hour drive from out capital city, and the population of my small congregation is mainly young people with limited education, everyone was clearly hyper-aware of the world news. Every week we have a greeting time, where basically everyone moves around and greets each person with handshakes and hugs.
Not today. Some people flat out sat down when told to move around and greet one another. Others offered elbows. Most peoples’ feet were fixed where they were standing. I exchanged a hug with one friend, and it seemed like the whole church was watching, aghast. I didn’t expect this reaction here.
With the elephant in the room, the topic of the pandemic was definitely a major theme in today’s sermon. The text was from both 1 Chronicles 21 & 2 Chronicles 7. Now, my boys and I have been reading a chapter a day from our Bible before they go to school for a quite awhile now, and are currently in the middle of 2 Chronicles. So, whenever anything comes up regarding Scripture we have recently read through, it catches my attention in a special way.
In 1 Chronicles 21, all of Israel was suffering from a plague (disease) as a result of King David’s sin. The angel of death had wiped out 70,000 men. (Plus women and children? We don’t know…). The King cried out to God for mercy, and then the death and disease ceased, and David went to the place where the angel stopped. He built an altar and made many sacrifices to God. It became the site of the tabernacle.
Many years later, in 2 Chronicles, King Solomon had finished building the temple on the same location where David had called out to God to stop that plague on the nation of Israel. Solomon held a special service to dedicate it to God, where he prayed a very long prayer on behalf of his people. In chapter 7, God answers the prayer, which includes some well known words:
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Interesting….not to mention the fact that East Africa, including Uganda, are having issues with locusts swarms…
In the midst of this crisis, President Trump has declared today (March 15, 2020) a National Day of Prayer. Now, I’m not in America, and I’m the only American in my little Ugandan church, but our pastor decided to follow his leading and dedicate time in our service to pray.
While I was praying, felt God lead me to pray for so many various aspects of this situation. I know you, wherever you are, are feeling the effects of COVID 19 in some way. Maybe you are dedicating time today to pray as well. Can I share with some requests with you, as God led me to pray this morning?
WAYS TO PRAY IN THE MIDST OF THE CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC:
- The families of those who have already died as a result of contracting the disease
- Healing for people currently diagnosed with the virus, and their families
- Impact this is having on people after they recover from the sickness
- Protection for people especially vulnerable to the virus
- Peace for people with anxiety and fear in the midst of all that is happening
- Provision for people without access to necessities as a result of shortages/panic
- Children who are at home because of school cancellations, and parents who are unable to be at home with their children. (Willingness of others to help with childcare, etc.)
- Individuals who are losing work/business
- Wisdom for people making big decisions regarding the virus (from politicians, to school administrators, to business owners, and everyone in between)
- Stamina and health for all the medical professionals who are working more directly with the virus and its threats
And some requests more specific to the missionary/international working community:
- People with health issues, needing to leave their current country in order to receive the medical attention they need (emergencies, appointments, medication, etc.)
- Many people have plans for visitors that are in jeopardy (like my adoption case worker, short-term teams, family visits, etc.)
- People who are planning weddings, or wanting to travel for funerals, or whatever else it might be. These things are big deals right now if they are “local,” but so much more complicated when these events are happening in different parts of the world.
- Missionaries in their home countries for the purpose of support-raising who are unable to visit churches, organizations, etc. because of the social distancing, and fearing for the financial stability of their families.
- People who are currently stuck…trying to get home, whether that is their passport country or host country. Some are even separated from their families.
- Families involved in international adoption…this involves various aspects of travel for countless people who are trying to make their families complete, undoubtedly being delayed and causing heartache
- Wisdom for people trying to make plans for inevitable travel, and whether or not to factor in an extra two weeks for the sake of quarantine
- People living in countries where they are literally not allowed to leave their homes
- Suffering economies that are dependent on tourism
- Potential hysteria that could occur in countries incapable of managing an outbreak. (If my neighborhood reacted with panic over seeing strange lights in the distance, imagine what would happen if the Corona Virus actually finds its way here…) May God continue to protect Uganda and similar countries from these dangers.
I am sure I’ve neglected many aspects of this crisis that we should be bringing before God, but hopefully this is a good start for many of us to consider. If you have other prayer points to add, please include it in the comments below. If you or someone you know has a specific request relating to all of this, please share so that more people can join in praying with/for you.
As God says in 2 Chronicles 7, let us remember to humble ourselves before Him and pray, resting in His promise to heal our land.