Starting in February, Beijing's Chongwenmen Church has served its congregation through a pastoral helpline.
A large number of calls have been answered by the pastor on duty for intercessory prayers and pouring out of hearts.
Although the church launched online video services and devotional messages after the Covid-19 outbreak in late January, it opened a helpline for believers as the flock was accustomed to talking with pastors during ordinary times.
Because there are many prayer requests stemming from negative emotions stemming from long periods of isolation at home, the new line aims at helping Christians face daily life.
"We hope to accompany brothers and sisters so they know with certainty that pastors are present all of the time," said Rev. Liu Cuimin, the church's senior pastor.
After consoling and encouraging believers through the helpline, the pastor on call also informs other co-workers so they can pray together.
The callers ask for prayers for the safety of their family members who have returned to work, where they can find a fellowship to pray with one another, or they ask questions about how to donate funds for affected areas, or what time onsite services will resume, or about baptism.
Hearing the familiar voices of their pastors, many believers feel warmth and happiness.
Apart from responding to these calls, the on-call pastor also reaches a hand out to other members who have lost jobs during the coronavirus crisis, looking for job opportunities for them.
A call from an elderly Christian in poor health was living in the epicenter of Wuhan indicated that he was quite anxious as he was alone without any child nearby. The pastor prayed for him and answered his faith questions. He was relieved.
One Sunday, Rev. Liu preached about how to get rid of anxiety in all aspects of people's life. Afterward, a few members shared their anxieties by calling the help line, including one who indicated that he was suffering from depression. The pastor prayed for them and recommended books on anxiety and depression to them.
- Translated by Karen Luo