Southern Baptist leaders from around the world are calling on people to pray for global healing, comfort, and salvation in the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak that has now killed nearly 1,400 people and infected at least 64,000, mostly in China.
Thirty ethnically diverse leaders joined Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Dr. Ronnie Floyd Thursday for a 30-minute phone conference call held from SBC headquarters in Nashville.
"I want to remind all of us on the call, that regardless of how despairing the news may be, or some of the hope that may be even lost in your heart, that there is a God Who lives, there is a God Who cares, there is a God Who is with you everywhere you go," Floyd said.
Leaders on the call represented groups comprising the Southern Baptist Asian American Fellowship, including Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian and Japanese, said Peter Yanes, executive director of Asian American relations and mobilization for the SBC Executive Committee.
Yanes prayed for a medical breakthrough in treating the virus and Floyd reminded participants that God heals people miraculously, but also uses modern medicine to provide breakthroughs.
"Pray for breakthroughs - not only for churches, pastors and the ill, but also breakthroughs in medicine and those people caring for the ill," Floyd said.
SBC conference call participants heard updates from several church leaders familiar with the current coronavirus crisis in Wuhan and elsewhere in China.
Pastor Andy Liu of the Chinese Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana is from Wuhan, China. Several of his family members and friends reside in Wuhan where the government has tried to lockdown roughly 50 million people. He said his family has reported that they are okay, but they describe a "serious situation" in the city where several Baptist church members are under quarantine in their homes for two weeks.
Pastor Liu requested prayer for them and others affected by the viral outbreak. "They are thankful for prayer for their city, country and families. They need prayer and healing," he said.
Jeremy Sin of the North American Mission Board said he tried to arrange sending protective masks from Hong Kong to his family members on the mainland, but he found there was a shortage of them in the city. He said it took two weeks to locate some and mail them to his vulnerable relatives.
Dr. Amos Lee, executive director of Chinese Baptist Fellowship of USA and Canada said the ripple effect of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in China is being felt right here in the United States.
Lee reported that attendance at Grace Chinese Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia has dropped 40% since the outbreak. That is because many church members visited family in China during the recent Chinese New Year, and although they experienced no coronavirus symptoms, many abided by church recommendations to self-quarantine once they returned to Virginia.
Nevertheless, many church members were afraid that the virus would spread in their church, so they have stayed away from attending services. The church is now relying on video conferencing and live streamings to help minister to those remaining at home.
Floyd encouraged Southern Baptists to spend time praying this Sunday, February 19th for China and for those affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus.
"Exodus 15:26 says, 'I am the Lord who healed you'," Floyd reminded the SBC phone conference participants.
"We need to remember that God is the ultimate healer."
Hear more from Pastor Andy Liu of the Chinese Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana by watching the video posted at the top of this article.