Here in Iquitos, the pandemic has reached critical proportions. At the smaller of the two local government hospitals, over 250 patients are lying on the ground for lack of bed space. A third, private hospital had to close its doors last week because so many of the staff members had fallen ill with COVID. Last week, the understaffing crisis made it necessary for the national government to ship in fifty new medical personnel.
Two months ago, I thought our city was safe from the coronavirus. We are in such a remote location in the middle of the Amazon Jungle; Iquitos is the only major city in the world that can only be reached by plane or boat. When President Vizcarra announced the national lockdown mid-March, no cases had been reported in our region or city. All travel was frozen throughout the country. It seemed like COVID-19 would not gain access to Iquitos any time soon.
A day or so later, the first reported case here hit our news. The lockdown did not happen quite soon enough to keep us free of it. A local man working as a tour guide had contracted the disease a few days earlier by contact with a tourist.
Just one local man. He had gotten home to Iquitos right before the travel freeze. From an infection that one man carried to our city, now our hospitals are overflowing with sick and dying people.
The other day, Holy Spirit pointed out to my heart something about this.
How much more powerful is the good news of Jesus than COVID? Immeasurably so! Take another look at our verse for today. “For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.”
Even more than sickness, the grace of our Lord is spreading right now to more and more people. I was just talking to my dad this afternoon, who works at Family Christian Center in Munster, Indiana. He told me about a recent online prayer meeting he and Pastor Steve Munsey ran online via Facebook. 20,000 people participated! This is far more than their typical weekend attendance before this pandemic began. I am hearing so many reports from all over, of hearts becoming softened towards the Lord through all of this. Thank You, Father!
But think about it. It all started with just one. Do you realize that, inside of you, you carry the most powerful force in the universe? What can God do with just one willing heart? When you transmit the love of Jesus to just a few other people, the message itself carries the power. Jesus will build His church. The spread becomes exponential. As we make ourselves available, we will see this pattern continue: “…His fame spread throughout all the region” (Mark 1:28, NKJV).
It reminds me of an assignment God gave to my husband nearly 25 years ago. During a practicum for his missions school training, he planted a very small church in a village in the depths of the rainforest. Communication is hard in the jungle, where days of boat travel are the only way to connect with far-flung pockets of population. As a result, he had lost contact with those people when he returned home from that experience.
Not long ago, he revisited the area for the first time in all those years. He found that the tiny congregation he started, by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, had grown into 500 people. Without any further effort on his part, it was thriving!
Jesus will build His church. All God needs is one person. Is there someone you can reach out to today? Your part in His plan is indispensable!
What about all the “simple, everyday” members of Jesus’ body? Can a mailman, a stay-at-home mom, a Walmart cashier, or a street cleaner really make that much of a difference for His kingdom? How do we respond when our thoughts are pummelled with these questions?