Published on June 25th, 2020
Todd Nettleton of VOM Radio recently talked with Brother John, a Christian worker in Syria. Read part of their conversation below. (Edited for length, clarity, and age-appropriateness.)
Todd: What does the coronavirus mean for life in your country? How is it affecting the church?
Brother John: Well Todd, it has been really interesting to see how the Middle Eastern world and Syria responded to the coronavirus. Their culture is a culture of honor and shame.
So if somebody has the coronavirus they tend to hide it. For one thing, they don’t want to bring shame to the community or to be the weak link in the community. They don’t tend to get tested; they just tend to hide it.
From the church perspective it is really interesting to see how God has used this time. The church turned to house churches. People began to worship from home, they use social media like WhatsApp and Facebook, and the message has reached many more people. If you have a church of about 100 people and you are posting your message online and using social media, now you have more than 1,000 people listening.
Todd: A lot of the people would never go to a church because that would bring shame on them and their family. But in the privacy of their own home, watching a service on social media or watching a service online, they don’t have to deal with that shame issue because they are cut off from everyone else. People are being exposed to the gospel that would not have been exposed before the coronavirus came.
Brother John: There are more chances for them to share with their neighbor right now. They are going to their neighbor, they are praying with their neighbors, and the neighbors are watching their faith. They get to share why they are not afraid. Then their neighbors say, “Tell me more about your faith.”
That is opening doors for people to share within their own community about the Lord. It opens the door for people who are afraid of going to a church because of honor and shame.
To Talk About
Why are more people in Syria hearing the Good News of Jesus?
Why do some people in the Middle East keep it a secret when they get sick?
Why do their neighbors ask to learn more about their faith?
How would you answer if someone asked you to tell them more about your faith?