‘Simple Gesture’ Spreads Comfort Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Carter Tan, English pastor of Chinese Grace Baptist Church of Richmond, Va., expressed gratitude for a card of encouragement he received from a small women’s mission group from Beulah Baptist Church.

AYLETT, Va. (BP) — Internet service is spotty in rural, unincorporated Aylett, Va. There, a small women’s group at Beulah Baptist Church read an article in the March print edition of the Dover Diary, spotlighting ministry in the U.S. during the coronavirus outbreak.

The account of fear, wisdom and xenophobic bullying written by Carter Tan, English pastor of Grace Chinese Baptist Church of Richmond, Va., about 50 miles away, caught the eyes of Friendship Women on Mission member Judy Shepard.

“It’s a difficult situation for all people groups in this point in time,” Shepard, wife of Beulah Baptist pastor Ed Shepard, told Baptist Press. “We just wanted to let them know that a sister church in the association was praying for them, and continuing to remember them in our prayers.”

Shepard bought a simple card of encouragement for all 15 or so members of the mission group to sign.

Tan had written the article — also published in BP — weeks earlier, when U.S. cases of COVID-19 were perhaps in the single digits. Cases were only linked to those who had traveled abroad, but community or person-to-person transmission has since been documented in the U.S.

He had written of the sentiments of this coronavirus and the effect that it was having on his congregation, partially out of fear and partially out of good old precautionary common sense, as he put it in the article,” Shepard said. “And then, the thing that was really beginning to add to all of this decrease in attendance for these reasons, was that his daughter unfortunately at school had had a boy come up to her and had teased her by calling her ‘coronavirus.’ And that just struck a vein within me that the cruelty that we can have towards people who are God’s children, just as we are.”

Tan told BP he appreciates the sentiments of the women he’d never met a sister church he had never visited.

“It was just really sweet,” Tan told BP. “And for me as a pastor, you know, knowing that this is not the local church that’s going through this, but it’s the kingdom of God, and other churches are encouraging us during this time, … that God’s kingdom is larger than a local church.”

Cases of COVID-19 have since swelled to more than 800 in the U.S., where at least 28 have died from the disease, according to official tallies Tuesday (March 10). At least five cases have been reported in Virginia, and the U.S. National Guard is preparing to deploy to New Rochelle, N.Y., where the largest cluster of U.S. cases — 118 — have been reported.

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Source: Baptist Press