Confinement in Europe…
Dear ORM friends,
Curtis May has asked me to share my experiences during the Covid confinement, especially expressing how this lockdown affected my ministry. For the past two years, I have been trying to sell my house in Ireland in order to go back to Switzerland so I’ve only travelled a couple of times to Burundi to teach and supervise a medical project.
About a year ago, I joined the committee of Christian Action in Orient (ACO), which is part of the Missionary Department of the Reformed Churches in French-speaking Switzerland. The organisation encourages and offers financial support for Christian projects in Islamic areas, especially countries that are experiencing conflict, such as Syria, Lebanon, and several others. I also serve as a translator for this organisation and for my church in Switzerland.
In early February we heard that the cases of Covid-19 were growing in France and Italy. Prior to that, we were following the development of the disease in China, never thinking that it would become a worldwide issue. In Mulhouse, France, a large evangelical church hosted a conference that lasted several days. Many attendees were infected with the virus and some died. Several Swiss Christians were at the conference and brought the disease back to their local areas. The church was accused of causing the propagation, but the truth is the authorities were trying to hide the growing number of cases in certain areas of France and downplay the seriousness of the situation. A representative from the church responded that actually she had been a whistle-blower to sound the alarm!
Beginning in March, there were talks of possible confinement. People were still crossing the border every day for work and business at a time when the outbreak in Italy was overwhelming the medical facilities. In Switzerland, particularly in Geneva and Tessin county, the number of new cases grew very quickly. Every day more restrictions and security measures were being reported on the news. Even at that early date, people over 65 and those at risk were strongly encouraged to stay home and avoid contact with grandchildren. There was a wave of panic. Shops were almost emptied in 24 hours and it became difficult to find flour, pasta, rice, and other essential items, including toilet paper! Meetings were forbidden, including, church services and most of the ministries were put “on hold.” It seemed like war was at our steps! While some panicked, other refused to believe in the seriousness of the situation or the contagiousness of the disease.
In Ireland, our pastor began holding church services in a parking lot in an industrial area. We were invited to drive in, roll down our windows and park under a tent that protected us from the drizzling rain while we listened to praise music and the sermon, preached over a simple sound system. The first time we had drive-in church services there were about thirty cars. Several other curious drivers came to see what was going on. Some decided to stay for the entire service! In these difficult and frightening times, I heard several testimonies of people who were saved after listening to Christian messages on radio or TV. In Ireland, in the United Kingdom and Europe, many hearts were turned to God.
—By Evelyne O’Callaghan-Burkhard
I want to thank Evelyn for sharing with us the confinement in Europe. It sounds like we are experiencing a similar revival of faith in the United States. “Yes, my soul, finds rest in God: my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God: he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him.” Psalm 52:5-8
At all times, you people: pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Thank you for your prayers and support for the ministry.
Blessings and stay safe.