In March 2020, the world changed.
The COVID-19 pandemic spread fear and uncertainty around the globe. At a time when people were desperate for hope, churches had to close their doors. Small groups had to stop meeting. The Word of God was the only steady thing left, and pastors and ministry leaders were determined to find ways to keep advancing the Gospel.
Now, almost two years later, the negative effects of the pandemic linger. But verse by verse, the Word of God has remained our source of power and encouragement. God shows us that His Word is alive and active. That He is faithful. That He continues to work when everything in the world stops.
The lockdowns affected everyone, from children to adults, from families to those living alone. In Mozambique, pastors saw an impact on people in their congregations, especially those who were struggling with their faith already. Many people fell away from church.
“I lost many members who were still immature believers because they stayed home and forgot even to pray for themselves,” says Pastor Celso.
He was one of hundreds of pastors in Mozambique who was trained to implement Bible League’s Family Project Philip, a new take on the Project Philip Bible study. Church leaders would visit communities and train the local pastors on the materials, then go door-to-door with the pastors to announce the program.
The plan was to encourage families to study God’s Word together since government lockdowns forced families to remain in their homes. The plan worked.
“With Family Project Philip, we reached them all,” says Pastor Goba.
“Family Project Philip is one of the best opportunities for the ministry in my community because it gives family members the opportunity to study together, pray together, and in most cases, join the same biblically grounded local church,” says Pastor Celso.
Pastor Goba is another ministry leader in Mozambique who implemented the Family Project Philip strategy in his community. “Previously, we used to have families affiliated with three or more different church denominations; each family member had their own church,” he says. “Now, with Family Project Philip, we see family members all joining the same church because they have reached the same conviction. I have 17 new members from three families that never attended church. With Family Project Philip, we reached them all.”
Pastor Celso believes the pandemic has been an example of God’s promise to bring good from Romans 8.
“I believe God uses the pandemic to teach people something good because even in this lockdown period, He gave us the strategy to reach them,” he says. “People need God in times of difficulties. Family Project Philip is transforming lives.”
Pastor Lorijane spends her days ministering to those in the most remote, mountainous areas of the Philippines. When the pandemic first hit, her ministry wasn’t terribly affected because she serves in such a remote area. She and her team still took extra precautions.
But she felt called to do something different.
She felt God calling her to the hospitals to pray for the sick and suffering. “I sincerely desired their healing,” she says. “I cried with them as I shared their pain.” She shared the Gospel with them using Bible League’s Project Philip Bible studies and her skills from Church Planter Training. “I was so joyful to see each of them accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior,” she says.
Sadly, the patients she prayed with weren’t all being healed. One by one, many of the new believers in the hospital died. Lorijane began to ask God questions. Why were these things happening if He had called her here? But then she remembered a verse in Proverbs. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). She realized God brought her here to share the Good News before it was too late.
Lorijane rested, knowing God was using her in the midst of this pandemic, but then more bad news came. She was diagnosed with COVID-19. She was quarantined to a facility for two weeks. She still relied on the message from Proverbs, and saw once again how the Lord was using her.
She became friends with others in the facility, and began to share the Gospel. Several of those in the facility accepted Christ as their Savior through Lorijane’s faithfulness and trust in the Lord. “I took two weeks’ vacation from my ministry, but I maintained the connection with the Lord,” she says. “Sometimes we cannot comprehend God’s wisdom, but if we learn to trust in Him, we will be surprised by His plan.”
“It was a moment that, as a church, we had to reinvent ourselves so that the work would not stop,” says Pastor Josué as he reflects on the start of the pandemic. The Bible League-trained church leader began doing online services and sending words of encouragement via text. But he, like so many others in his community, wanted to do more. They wanted to reach the front-line medical workers who faced sickness and death day after day.
That’s why Bible League’s team in Brazil created the White Bible Campaign, a movement to get the Word of God into the hands of as many medical professionals as possible. The team prepared 1,500 Bibles to hand out, but once in the hospitals, they realized they needed many more. Throughout the whole campaign, they provided more than 5,000 Bibles.
“We would make a tribute and give the best gift—the Word of God—as a form of gratitude and recognition in the midst of so much work and dedication through the pandemic,” says Érica, a nurse who was involved in the campaign. “They would have tears on their faces, crying for this demonstration of affection. To us, it was clear there was a situation of physical exhaustion where the Word of God was received as a balm.”
“It was a moment that, as a church, we had to reinvent ourselves so that the work would not stop,” says Pastor Josué.
She and others presented Bibles to doctors, nurses, and nursing assistants as well as administrative, maintenance, and cleaning staff. Though some people resisted the gesture, nearly all received the Bibles with joy and gratitude.
The team is already hearing testimonies of how God is using this campaign. “The concern of Bible League Brazil to bring the Bible and to evangelize really impacted me,” says one healthcare provider. “I received the most valuable gift—the Word of God. The experiences I’ve had with God through this were unique and impacting. God took us to an extraordinary dimension. The situation taught us that prayer brings us closer to God.”
The pandemic opened people’s eyes to the things that really matter and the things upon which we can truly stand. God has proven Himself faithful over and over, even in the midst of a global pandemic.