God's Gracious Lessons During Quarantine :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

God's Gracious Lessons During Quarantine

Ami Potter
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The first day I heard about COVID-19, I shrugged my shoulders. As a short-term missionary to the Philippines, I had other things to think about. The end of the school year was approaching, and the schedule was packed with final concerts, final exams, and closing events. Close on the heels of graduation, my sister and I had planned a missions trip to Hungary. Viruses come and go right? A few weeks later on our way home from church, we heard school had been cancelled for the upcoming week. One whole week? Was this going to be like the time the mayor canceled school due to heavy rain promptly when the sun came out?

Little did we know that this Sunday was the last time our church would meet face-to-face for more than a year. Our trip to Hungary was canceled due to the border closing, and within a few days it was just me and my sister left in a four-bedroom apartment. During the coming months, Metro Manila went under a longer lockdown than even Wuhan, China. For two months only one person per household was allowed out once a week to buy groceries. My sister got the pass, and I got white skin from trying to break the record for the longest stay indoors.

A ninety-day quarantine indoors is not exactly my idea of missionary work. What was God’s purpose in all this? Should I have left the field since everything would be online anyway? Let me share some of the lessons God taught me over the summer and some of the blessings we have enjoyed through God’s gracious, providential leading in our lives.

Quarantine Blessings

Music and Language Lessons

Like Noah in the ark, what do you do with fifty days in a row? After a school year at breakneck speed, it was a blessing to unwind slowly and finally deal with those niggling projects that had been ignored. I got around to organizing the copyright-free material I had gathered over the years into a more polished violin curriculum. I also worked on the pacing I needed to organize Music Theory 3 and 4 — an absolute miracle considering we had started from scratch two years earlier. And I finally had time and energy to focus on language study. During the semester, my language lessons consisted of me staring vacantly at the teacher through a foggy brain induced by dehydration and lack of sleep. With the start of the pandemic, I not only had time to study, but could actually enjoy my lessons in air-conditioned comfort.

Inner Lessons

But God didn’t just use the lockdown as my personal project fest. He was also teaching me important inner lessons. With the removal of outward pressures, I found my heart still irritable, anxious, and discontent. Could it be that the problems I faced during the school year had been my heart attitude instead of my circumstances all along? God brought a book across my path about gratitude. I realized that, although outwardly I had not been complaining, my heart was not truly embracing God’s sovereignty over my life and humbly thanking Him for whatever He brought my way.

As my heart changed, God gave me opportunities to reach out to others in need. I started calling a girl who was stuck in her apartment alone. Hour-long conversations turned into a warm friendship and an opportunity to mentor. Our large apartment became a tool to show Christ’s love through hospitality. I also realized I could reach out through Messenger. I decided to start a Bible memory group chat where we uploaded our verse recordings. After a lack of fellowship for months, hearing each other’s voices reciting God’s Word was like a breath of cool fresh air on a hot day.

Lessons for Christ’s Local Body

Finally, God did a work in our church. Before the pandemic, my sister and I had grown discouraged at various immaturities in our church. When Enhanced Community Quarantine kept getting extended, one of the young men took it upon himself to start Zoom church services. Our first prayer meeting lasted more than an hour. Surprisingly, not only did no one seem to mind, but this devotion to prayer grew over the following months. Our Western minds (and watches) were unused to such lengthy group prayer times. Soon, we saw a marked change in our churchmates. After years of waiting, was God using the pandemic to turn the tide and answer our prayers for the revival of His body? Could pandemic restrictions be God’s tool to accomplish His purpose? The answer was a resounding yes.

Throughout the ensuing months, our churchmates would share fresh stories each Sunday of God’s work in their lives in testimony times lasting over an hour. I began to understand that God’s plan not only included the grander scale of nations, the medium scale of churches, but also the minute scale of individuals.

If someone had told me that first day I heard about the coronavirus what God had in store, I doubt I would have believed it. Surely God’s ways are not our ways and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, but as the heavens are higher than the earth so are God’s ways higher than ours.