Seventh-day Adventists are being asked to pray and show Christ-like compassion as the new coronavirus claims its first church member in China and threatens to disrupt public mission work in various parts of the world.

In China, the local branch of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency is shipping in protective gear to help health authorities deal with the viral outbreak that has killed more than 1,000 people, all but two in China, and infected more than 42,000 others worldwide, said Robert Folkenberg Jr., president of the Adventist Church’s Chinese Union Mission.

In addition, church members are assisting Chinese health workers in every possible way, he said.

“Our brothers and sisters in China are leaning daily on the strength of the Lord,” he said by email. “They are also doing all they can to support hospitals and front-line health workers during this difficult time. Your prayers of support will mean so much to them.”

Few details were available about the church member who died. At least five other church membersare known to be battling the infection in China, Folkenberg said. Many Adventist churches are located in Hubei, the Chinese province where the outbreak originated.

Little is known about coronavirus. It is believed to begin with a fever, followed by a dry cough and, after a week, shortness of breath, the BBC reported. To avoid catching the virus, the news agency recommends washing hands with soap or hand gels, not touching the eyes, nose, and mouth, and staying a yard (meter) away from people who are coughing.

Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson, who called on Jan 30 for worldwide prayer for China and other places being affected by the coronavirus, said new restrictions because of the outbreak could disrupt public mission work.

“There can be a definite disruption in the activity of church witness wherever people are restricted because of disasters or unusual challenges,” he said.

But Wilson saw “an important opportunity for church members to exhibit Christ’s compassion in helping others who are fearful or in direct need in these unusual situations.”

“Wherever you are on the globe, realize that every situation offers an opportunity for mission outreach and to serve people in Total Member Involvement in the name of Jesus,” he said.

He cautioned people to act prayerfully.

“Please pray for the containment and reduction of this serious illness, for the safety of all concerned in China and elsewhere, and for those who have lost loved ones,” he said. “Use every opportunity you have to let the Holy Spirit work through you to touch people’s lives as we approach the end of time and Christ’s soon coming.”

Watch YouTube video with Adventist physician’s perspective on coronavirus

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