Image for Christians and the Coronavirus

Christians and the Coronavirus

Photo of Taffeta ChimeTaffeta Chime | Bio

Taffeta Chime

Taffeta Chime, called Taffy by most, is a writer and language teacher from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where she and her husband Shane Xu serve with the Chinese congregation at the North Boulevard church of Christ. Taffy has a BA in English and Creative Writing (2011) and an MA in English and Foreign Languages/Linguistics (2015), both from Middle Tennessee State University. She has won multiple awards for her short stories, poems, and essays and has been published in several literary journals. She also has two published young adult novels, Stoodie (2007) and The Last (2011). Through her twelve years of teaching English as a foreign language, Taffy has built intentional relationships with people from all around the world and continues evangelistic efforts through online Bible/language lessons, homestay for international students and visitors, and volunteer work in the local international community. Most recently, she is learning her new role as a mother to her daughter, Beili. Taffy enjoys watching YouTube, exercising, playing with her two cats, and streaming language games on Twitch.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Peter 3:8).

As Christians, how can we bring unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind into the conversation surrounding the coronavirus?

We can start by looking at the issue through the eyes of Chinese people.

It is helpful to note that, in addition to the anxiety the Chinese feel about the virus’s spread, “fake news” in China is just as bad as–if not worse than–it is here in the states. The Chinese media is notorious for showing the best news and covering up bad news.

My friend Abby is living in Wuhan, where she and her husband Mark have been told to stay in their university campus apartment for about three weeks now.

Abby explained to me that because public transportation and many public services have shut down, grocery stores were closing because the food is running out.

“There were a lot of reports on news sites saying . . . a lot of supermarkets are full. But in reality, it had been a few days after those articles had been released, and our markets were running out of food again and no one was really posting about it.”

On the other hand, others are posting information online that overdramatizes the situation.

Abby explained, “I have stopped reading the news on WeChat [a social media app], especially in public groups. . . . There were articles being released saying people were walking off buildings, the virus had mutated and turned people into zombies and affected their brains. They actually had pictures of Chinese people lying on the sidewalk, I guess from other news stories, and they had turned it into fake news and made it seem like it was part of this virus. Other people are posting that cats, dogs, and pets transmit the virus, so there were people that were tossing their pets from twenty-plus stories high in their building to kill their animals because they thought they had the virus.”

Many of the Chinese in the US have a lot of fear about the situation too.

Even though the chances of catching the virus here are negligible, many Chinese have family, friends, or loved ones back in China in the midst of the outbreak.

Some Chinese friends–like one visiting scholar who has been living in our home away from her husband and son for six months–cannot yet return home and are just biding time until they can be reunited. Others–like my husband–have vulnerable family and are wishing they could be with them.

The outbreak in China is one that should not cause us to shirk in fear but to reach out in love.

Almost everyone knows someone who is affected, and we are all ready to see this pass. All of the Chinese here in the US are in great need of love and encouragement right now.

Instead, I have heard many Chinese–and even non-Chinese Asians–say that they have had more negative encounters with Americans since the outbreak of the virus.

Some start a conversation with, “You’re not sick, are you?” Others make insensitive jokes about getting sick or dying from the virus. So in a time when they are needing more comfort, many Chinese are instead feeling isolation and racism.

Paul says in Galatians 6 that we should bear one another’s burdens and that we should do good to all people as we are able.

The outbreak in China is one that should not cause us to shirk in fear but to reach out in love.

Didn’t Paul say to Timothy in his second letter that we do not have a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control? If you are having trouble giving up your fear of the coronavirus in exchange for love of a neighbor, sister, or brother, remember that God gives us peace.

1 Peter 5:7 reminds us to cast our anxieties on Christ because He cares for us. Lift up these concerns in prayer and ask the Spirit for help.

1 Corinthians 1 encourages us to “comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (1:4). God uses those moments when we find ourselves “so utterly burdened beyond our strength” (1:8) in order to teach us to “rely not on ourselves but on God” (1:9), as well as to comfort others in their affliction.

If you know a Chinese person, ask how he or she is doing. Invite them for coffee or dinner and listen to their worries. Ask them about friends or family in China. Ask how you can help. Pray with and for them.

Remember Proverbs 17:17:

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”