Latin America News: The coronavirus has arrived

Just over a week ago, Latin America confirmed its first case of the coronavirus in Brazil from a man who had traveled to the Lombardy region of northern Italy. Since then, Mexico, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Argentine, and Chile also confirmed cases of the virus. The arrival of COVID-19 in Latin America is especially worrisome for vulnerable Venezuela, whose millions live in abject poverty and with a severely lacking healthcare system. 

The virus has sparked an exorbitant price increase and demand for disinfecting products and masks. It has also inspired numerous songs, some written to criticize socialist systems, others to remind people to wash their hands. Health officials in southern Latin America are bracing for a surge in cases as summer ends and colder weather begins. Recent news from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that the mortality rate for the coronavirus is 3.4% globally, while the seasonal flu kills less than 1%. COVID-19 is a disease for which there is currently no vaccine or treatment and only a limited understanding of transmission and mortality. Our world is in uncharted territory.

A pastor in Wuhan, China wrote these words, and surely they must be echoed, as COVID-19 spreads across the globe:

The situation is so critical, yet [we are] trusting in the Lord’s promises, that His thoughts toward us are of peace, and not evil (Jeremiah. 29:11), and that He allows for a time of testing, not to destroy us, but to establish us. Therefore, Christians are not only to suffer with the people of this city, but we have a responsibility to pray for those in this city who are fearful and to bring them the peace of Christ.

To bring them the peace of Christ. What a powerful statement. Even in this time of great unknown, of great fear, of even greater grief, God is perfecting us, establishing us, strengthening us, settling us. But not just for ourselves or for our own good. God is also working in us so that we can testify of Him and of the peace that passeth understanding that only comes from Jesus. We are ministers of reconciliation, and we are to bring the peace of Christ to a world that is panicking, fearful, grieving, lost.

As the pastor in Wuhan, China says:

If you do not feel a responsibility to pray, ask the Lord for a loving soul, an earnestly prayerful heart; if you are not crying, ask the Lord for tears. Because we surely know that only through the hope of the Lord’s mercy will this city (and the world) be saved.

During this time of crisis, pray. Pray for China. Pray for Latin America. Pray for the world.

About the author

Tracy Paver is a missionary to Chile working alongside veteran church-planting missionaries Jason and Lori Holt.

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