TURNING FEAR INTO HOPE
Followers of Jesus Christ aren’t providentially immune to the effects of COVID-19 or any other natural disaster. But we do have his assurance that he will walk with us every step of the way through the crisis and that God will ultimately bring great good out of what today appears only as great evil.
Like the apostle Paul, however, we realize that whatever the challenging circumstances ahead, God still has important work for us to do. So we want to take a few moments on this page to share with you how TWR is taking necessary precautions against the coronavirus while continuing to reach the world for Christ so that lasting fruit is produced.
First, though, may we invite you to take just a few minutes to listen to this message as TWR CEO Lauren Libby shares some uplifting thoughts from Psalm 91?
MEDIA – NOW MORE THAN EVER
As people self-isolate and hunker down during this crisis, the media that keep us connected to other human beings and to what’s happening around the world will play a vital role in our lives. As they seek information, answers to life’s hardest questions and even diversion, they’ll turn to radio broadcasts, videos, the Internet and mobile apps as pipelines beyond their four walls. And for people in many countries, these technologies are the only ways to gain access – and often the confidential access needed to avoid persecution – to God’s Word.
Serving as a voice of hope, strength and information in times of grave crisis isn’t new to TWR. Although our main priorities are proclaiming the gospel and making disciples, we frequently leverage our global communication facilities to help people trapped in natural or manmade disasters. We’ve done so after hurricanes and earthquakes and during wars and civil turmoil. We’ve even reached out during Ebola epidemics, and we’ll do so now in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
SPECIAL TWR PROGRAMMING
In fact, programs responding to the pandemic are already being aired. TWR Asia’s Chinese Ministry promptly created From Despair to Hope, a program consisting of multiple short episodes offering encouragement and evangelistic messages to some of the hardest-hit countries. Already going out in Mandarin, plans call for the program to be translated into other Chinese languages as well as Korean and Japanese.
In English and Spanish, the 26-minute interview program Coronavirus: What You Need to Know has been broadcast from the TWR Bonaire transmitter – the most powerful AM station in the Western Hemisphere. The program has also been translated into Farsi for broadcast into Iran, another especially hard-hit country. Featuring an interview by TWR’s Andy Napier with nationally known Christian health-care leader Dr. David Stevens, the program opens with extensive information about the nature of the virus and preventive measures to take. It also includes an engaging discussion of spiritual perspectives on the COVID-19 outbreak.
If you would like to help spread this message of hope, you can do so by clicking here.
“Many times, humanity thinks it reached an ultimate scientific level and they consider God not useful anymore. Our achievements made us all arrogant. This tiny, microscopic virus made us feel insignificant and left us scared. I just say, may your will be done Lord. And may TWR’s programs reach many hearts.” – a listener in Iran
“Through this I’m learning to live day by day, cannot think about the future in whatsoever way. I need prayers, I’m worried.” – an Arabic listener in Lebanon
“This is a very good program. I listened to it and feel comforted. May God have mercy upon those who are sick. I will share to other brothers and sisters. I have already shared through my moments (with friends) and have also shared to a large group of friends.” – a listener in China
“Thank you very much for giving us an opportunity to start a Radio Home program in our church. The importance and the value of such a program is very much evident in this COVID-19 lockdown period. I was really worried and thinking how to share the Word of God with my church believers, and how to share the gospel as soon as the government announced a lockdown. But thank God I was able to use the Radio Home players you have given to nurture the believers of my church during this period. Every Sunday all our believers – including myself – get together at 10 in the morning and listen to a Radio Home lesson in our own homes as a church that is gathered by one spirit even though we are physically distanced. Also these lessons have been very much important to me. There were times I got really discouraged but I get motivated and energized when I listen to the Radio Home lessons. The most important thing is there are non-believers also living among our church believers houses. Our believers use these Radio Home lessons to share the gospel with their own non-believing family members. I have heard already some of this non believing family members accept Christ after listening to these lessons. We thank God and pray for your ministry regularly.” — a Sri Lankan pastor
"I am a 30-year-old public police officer. I had no fear of God and trusted in my position too much. I made many mistakes without any remorse, but at night when I would return home, I had no peace in my heart and could not sleep well. My wife suggested I listen to your program with her every night when I wasn't on duty. It was in March of last year that I heard the message titled 'Spiritual Renewal,' based on Psalm 51. Pastor Isac Silvano ended the message by saying that if King David confessed his sin to God and was forgiven, you can also confess your sins to receive forgiveness, salvation and peace of mind. My life changed from that night on. In this time of quarantine, my wife visits the families in our neighborhood to encourage them to listen to this program. Please increase the program to 30 minutes. People are searching for God." — a listener in Africa
"My family and I have not missed your programs in Umbundu and Portuguese, especially during these days of quarantine. These programs, besides teaching us the Word of God, serve as entertainment for our five children, who cannot leave the house or go to school because of the coronavirus. We don’t know God's purpose for this pandemic, but one thing we do know is that my family, who heard the Word of God only on Sundays in church, now listen together to biblical messages daily in two languages: Umbundu and Portuguese. We learn new songs, and this has really helped to lessen the pressure and anxiety of being locked in the house. Please do not get discouraged and remain steadfast, because this is your time to reach many families for Christ. Only eternity will reveal the positive results of your work. We ask your prayers for Africa, for God to control the catastrophic results of the plague." — a listener in Africa
MINISTRY IN THE TIME OF COVID
Like the men and women who support TWR, our staff members are highly motivated to heed Christ’s command to make disciples around the world, and they remain on mission during this time of critical need. As the work continues, TWR leaders consider it part of their sacred trust to undergird the staff with the best advice and procedures to guard against the coronavirus. Local conditions and government directives are being closely monitored in each of the TWR regions and coordinated by the ministry’s Executive Team, led by CEO Lauren Libby.
During the height of the lockdowns leading into spring, most staff members worked remotely, keeping operations underway by using email, video conferencing and similar technologies. At the Americas main office, daily devotions moved to Zoom, where staff shared biblical encouragement and prayer requests and then prayed for each other and for supporters facing difficulties.
Essential duties required some, however, to report to their usual job sites. At TWR Cary, for example, Donor Services workers showed up throughout the intense isolation period to handle communications with donors and to process the generous gifts that enabled us to keep proclaiming the gospel around the world. Our broadcast centers – such as the stations in West Africa and Central Asia and on Bonaire and Guam – and our digital ministries never stopped connecting with listeners in their heart languages.
As reports have filtered in from our global teams, a picture is coming into focus of how TWR ministry unfolded amid the pandemic. Here are a few snapshots from the field:
Few cases of COVID-19 surfaced among the worldwide staff, thank the Lord. A technician with our national partner in a former Soviet country is recovering from the illness while the head of that ministry and his wife are also believed to be infected. One of our translators in Brazil became ill with the virus and continues to battle the effects.
In Spain the director of our national partner and his wife were stricken and hospitalized but eventually sent home to recuperate. Despite this bad news, the Spanish ministry recently rolled out a video podcast called This Is Real Talk! aimed at secular young adults and met with huge success.
Another of our colleagues in Europe, Eeva Vähäsarja, suffered a serious case of the COVID-19. Click on picture below to read about her frightening experience and the spiritual lessons she learned from it.
- Robertas Peteraitis of TWR’s national partner in Lithuania writes that the ministry’s internet outreach surged as people sheltered at home. When the mandatory isolation was ordered, he said, the number of subscribers to the ministry’s online course Why Jesus? shot up by a factor of 10.
TWR Romania director Mihai Papuc explained how his staff got creative to keep the work going despite the declared state of emergency. All of the team members worked from home except when a program needed to be recorded. The program speaker went alone to the studio while Papuc engineered the recording over his home computer.
In one part of Nigeria, the government ordered a near-total, four-week lockdown order. It was so strict, said TWR West Africa International Director Abdoulaye Sangho, that “our team of producers in that area decided to sacrifice comfort and confine themselves in the office so they could continue producing the programs that they are charged with.”
In India, our national partner’s innovative radio home groups have been a (literal) godsend during the global crisis. These groups gather in small numbers at local homes to fellowship, pray and listen to messages from the renowned Thru the Bible series played on a digital device.
“When TWR India started the radio home groups, many churches were skeptical and suspicious,” TWR India reported. “But today they are all convinced that in the present times and in the days ahead, small groups would be ideal for a country like India.”
A participant in this ministry to an almost totally unreached people group wrote, “We are a poor and underprivileged community. But through this we are able to provide a wonderful Bible study to my people. The groups listen regularly, and when I see the situation with COVID-19, I can see that it is a great help to our believers. Every day I call our group leaders and get information. Many testify, ‘Now this is our church.’”
WE PRAISE GOD FOR PARTNERS LIKE YOU
Our staff, our programming and our facilities will keep proclaiming the gospel to 190 countries in more than 275 languages. But we readily admit that we can’t do this without you. We understand that you have lots of pressing issues on your mind, that the world seems like it has been turned upside down since the beginning of the year.
Frankly, though, we count on your continued prayers and financial support. Just yesterday we received a generous donation from a supporter whose accompanying note couldn’t have been timelier: “It is more important now than ever to get the gospel out. People need comfort, encouragement and hope which can only be found in Christ.”
If you’ve been supporting a TWR missionary – whose basic financial needs certainly will not diminish during this crisis – or giving to ministry outreach, we thank you sincerely and ask you to keep standing with us in the days ahead. And if you’re used to posting gifts to us by conventional mail and find that process to be problematic or even impossible now, please consider going online to our easy and secure donation page, where you can give from the safety and convenience of your home computer.
Finally, throughout its founding, operation and growth, TWR has been undergirded by prayer. We are firmly convinced that God will continue using and blessing this ministry as long it remains sharply focused on its calling and relies on daily prayer. So this is our appeal to you today: Please make TWR a regular part of your personal prayer time. It is our goal to not merely survive this coronavirus ordeal but to truly be “more than conquerors through him who loves us.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
In times like these, it can be difficult to know how to respond as Christians, but there are so many ways we can harness the peace of God and spread it all around us! That’s why we have gathered 10 different ways we can respond and turn fear into hope:
China, Iran, Italy — these coronavirus hot spots have seemingly been turned upside down because of this invisible foe, and it’s not the only thing many battle against in these regions. With Asia and the Middle East among our most pinnacle ministry landscapes, their fear and pain has not gone unfelt. Now more than ever, our programs and presence in these areas play a vital role in meeting individuals in their isolation with the hope of the gospel.
Here’s how you can be praying:
- Pray for the health and safety of all who find themselves in affected regions.
- Pray that their hearts would be opened to the Lord and that he would be their source of peace through this difficult time.
- Pray for our teams and specialized programs throughout these regions, that they would be a voice of hope and truth through all of this uncertainty.
At TWR, we believe in the redemptive power of God’s Word, and there is nothing that speaks more life-giving hope. When times are uncertain, it’s important to fall back on its truths and look to him for comfort. So, make a list of verses which you feel embody “hope” and let scripture speak to you during this crisis. Pray over these verses and share your list with a friend so that they might benefit as well!
Great Commission inspiration is all around us, and while many movements and travel opportunities have been changed with the onset of COVID-19, the mission remains the same. It’s important to remember that. That’s why stories like that of God’s work in our own ministry are so important: we serve a big God, and he has great plans for everything, even this. When times are uncertain, it’s important to fall back on its truths and look to him for comfort. So, make a list of verses which you feel embody “hope” and let scripture speak to you during this crisis. Pray over these verses and share your list with a friend so that they might benefit as well!
So, read a missions-minded book — like Towers to Eternity — to remind your head and heart why God’s work in you is so very important!
TWR has missionaries all over the world, many of whom currently reside and minister to areas deeply impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Here’s how you can be praying for them directly:
- Prayers for health and safety as many live under quarantine and self-isolation measures.
- Prayers for their work and logistical limitations as many are now working from home. Many meetings and trips have also now been cancelled or postponed due to travel restrictions.
- Pray for their ministry: that the virus and all of its repercussions would not hinder their ministry, but rather that it would be strengthened. That this would be an incredible opportunity to minister to many who would otherwise not hear the message of the gospel.
Now, TWR teams across Asia are working to translate and broadcast programming to meet the people in their time of need, and bring hope straight to their doorstep. Will you join us?
With much of the world slowing down and social distancing in effect, many are feeling worried and disconnected. You can touch your community straight through those barriers: reach out and encourage friends, family, and neighbors alike by phone, text, email or a little classic snail mail. Each point of contact is a wonderful opportunity for them to share in your peace!
TWR360 is a wealth of encouraging resources which can be accessed anytime, anywhere. Check it out, fill your spiritual cup, and feel free to share it with friends! You can even listen to our special report, “The Coronavirus — What You Need to Know,” which discusses the outbreak from both a practical and biblical standpoint.
One very practical way you can spare our friendly staff in Donor Services (and perhaps a few trees) is to switch to online giving! Not only does it help relieve mounting pressure on mail carriers, but it keeps our lovely staff from handling physical paper, therefore reducing their exposure to any potential harm associated with the coronavirus. Win win all around!
Our ministry and others like it rely on you to keep the message going, and now more than ever, the people need to hear it! They need comfort, encouragement, hope and assurance — and these can only be found in Christ. If you’ve been supporting TWR or the church, we encourage you to continue your giving, and thank you for all that you do to further the Great Commission. We could not do it without you!