Vaccine of Love
To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, December 11.
Several times a day, emergency text alerts pop up on my cell phone. The messages contain information about coronavirus and warnings against leaving the house.
The South Korean region where I live earned the distinction of being a COVID-free zone amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But then Patient No. 31 brought the virus to my region by attending the gathering of an offshoot Christian group. The event turned into a super-spreader. My town rapidly became the most infected in the country, with hundreds of new confirmed cases every day. The number of confirmed cases topped 6,000 less than a month after the event. As the national media pumped out daily reports about my region, people across South Korea looked down on us as the main culprit for spreading coronavirus across the country.
Everything seemed to stop in an instant. There were no people in supermarkets, outdoor markets, and restaurants. No one bought or sold. Few cars drove on the streets. The invisible virus quickly turned the visible world upside down.
My church also was affected. I freely have shared my love for Jesus for decades, but my worship and missionary activities came to a standstill. I wondered whether God’s church should be forced to close its doors. Should we quietly give up our calling to spread the gospel and wait for the situation to improve? I couldn’t. While the world was closing, I was praying.
“My Father, I know that the global crisis is Your opportunity. What opportunity will You give me?” I prayed again and again.
A bright light flashed in the pitch-black darkness. I remembered learning how to make hand sanitizer with the church conference’s health ministries department.
“One of the things that people need now is hand sanitizer,” I thought.
With the help of the health ministries department, members of my church made about 1,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and distributed them at outdoor markets. We put on masks and gloves to give away the hand sanitizer. People responded as if hand sanitizer were one of the most valuable gifts in the world. They showed heartfelt gratitude. We did not disclose the name of our church, but many people asked, “Where do you come from?” or “Which organization to you represent?” Then we replied that we were with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
A crisis turned into an opportunity. God’s love as revealed through our sharing melted hearts frozen by COVID-19.
Then God gave me another idea. South Korea experienced nationwide panic when masks sold out. Long lines of people waited to purchase scarce masks at shops.
“How can I help these struggling people?” I wondered.
As I thought about it, I remembered learning to use a sewing machine when I was young. I started to make cloth masks at home. As I slowly made mask after mask, other church members heard about the initiative and volunteered to help. Their involvement gave me courage and strength. Most of all, I rejoiced to see church members who had withdrawn from outreach work because of COVID-19 regaining their vitality for Christ.
Our God is a God of reversal, and He turns crises into opportunities. People separated by social distancing drew close through hand sanitizers and masks. My church has become a place to share the vaccine of love, the best vaccine in a crisis. We have distributed 3,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and hundreds of masks.
Through this sharing effort initiated and powered by God, I pray earnestly that the earth will be filled not with COVID-19 but with “the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9; NKJV).
Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help construct a mission center in the South Korean region where Jang Dong-woon’s church is located.