A shadowy figure moved closer toward the disciples on the wind-tossed Sea of Galilee. Jesus said, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Christ shares the same message with believers riding waves of uncertainty in this global pandemic and opens the door to share the hope He offers. Ellen Xi (not her real name), a former Houston’s First member baptized at the Downtown Campus last year, has taken the message of hope to friends and family after returning to her home in China several months before the outbreak in Wuhan.
“The Enemy intended to harm us, but God intended it for good,” said Ellen. “My parents-in-law and sister-in-law converted to Christ during this pandemic, and friends showed more interest in the Christian articles or Scriptures I posted on social media.”
Ellen left China to work on her MBA, initially landing in Singapore, San Francisco, and then in North Carolina. When her dad received a cancer diagnosis in 2018, she came to Houston to lend moral support while he received treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center. A friend introduced her to Houston’s First during their stay.
“The first time I visited the Downtown Campus, I knew it’s where I belonged,” she said. “I was sincerely welcomed and immediately felt a part of the church.”
Four months of sweet fellowship with Ellen’s new church family and the release of her dad from MD Anderson took them back to China, where God led her to become a prayer intercessor. She had no idea how important her prayers would become as 2019 came to a close.
As the virus began to spread throughout China, she and her family, like other families worldwide, were faced with quarantine.
“During this pandemic I connected with God more and witnessed more of his presence in my life,” said Ellen. “During the stillness, God frequently woke me up during the night or early mornings to pray. I would even say my sweetest experience with God was in this period.”
Ellen made virtual connections with non-believers to give them an encouraging word and lift them up from fear, panic, anger, and despair. She encourages her brothers and sisters in Houston to be still and offers verses she leaned on during the height of the outbreak in China.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” — Exodus 14:14
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” — Psalm 46:10
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” — Isaiah 60:1-3
Life has gradually gotten back to normal and “things are good” in China for Ellen and her family. Three of her friends were infected but have recovered. Provisions are sufficient and she says they lack nothing.
“I believe God’s leading us to Houston was not just for my dad’s cancer treatment, but also for my rebirth in Christ, my baptism,” said Ellen. “I feel that God is preparing a tremendous revival for all of us. Just how COVID-19 broke out, this revival might also begin in China, then spread to Europe and America, and to every corner of the earth."