Overview of the Church in South Africa During the Epidemic
In January 2020, two local churches held Spiritual Convocations. After they concluded, some believers returned to China for the Lunar New Year. Many of them have not since come back to South Africa because of the coronavirus. The first case of COVID-19 in South Africa on March 5 made everyone nervous. What effects would it have on South Africa? On the evening of March 26, the president of South Africa announced that the country had entered a Level 5 lockdown for prevention and control. Restrictions were enforced and the church also announced that it would stop gatherings. Visitations could not proceed normally. The South African church council decided to have a meeting online. In order to allow for believers to continue to meet, online services were established so that members could keep the Sabbath at home during the pandemic. WeChat groups were also set up for each service location. Leaders were arranged for each group, and they were given the responsibility to gather brethren nearby to participate in online worship services (on Friday evenings, Sabbath mornings, and Sabbath afternoons). Johannesburg church also set up a fellowship network for Bible study.
The participation for each service is approximately 100 from Johannesburg Church, 35 from Cape Town Church, 8 from PE service location, 6 from Free State service location, 5 from Limpopo service location, 4 from Mpumalanga service location, and 10 from Northern Cape service location.
Thanks to the Lord Jesus for His guidance. After more than half a year of lockdown, believers in various parts of South Africa have gradually recovered from the situation caused by the pandemic. They have slowly resumed their normal work and store operations smoothly and peacefully, through God’s providence. When air service from China resumed (currently there is a round-trip flight every week), some believers purchased plane tickets to go to China. At present, more than 30 believers have gone to China and have yet to decide whether to return to South Africa.
In August, when the South African president announced that the lockdown would be downgraded to Level 1 and that in-person church services could be resumed, the South African church council decided to give a one-month buffer to see if the situation would last before deciding to resume physical church services. If the situation was stable, services would resume in October. Thanks to the Lord’s grace and care, the church in South Africa resumed its chapel services on the first Sabbath of October. RE classes and visitations likewise resumed.
After recommencing normal services, the situations in various locations are as follows:
Johannesburg Church: There are three live streamed services a week, allowing those who cannot come to church to also participate in live services. The number of people who gather are between 50-70, which is within the range allowed by the South African government.
Cape Town Church: Worship services are held at the chapel every Sabbath afternoon. Members join the Johannesburg Church via livestream during the other service times. The number of people at service is between 20-35.
PE worship location: The worship services are held at the chapel every Sabbath afternoon. Members join Johannesburg livestream during the other worship times. The number of people at service is between 8-12.
Free Province worship location: Services are held at the chapel every Sabbath afternoon. Members join Johannesburg livestream during the other worship times. The number of people at service is between 5-8.
The other three meeting points join Johannesburg livestream for all services.
Thank God! We pray that the Lord will continue to lead the church in South Africa to carry out various holy works during the pandemic. May all the work be pleasing to the Lord, and may He protect and watch over all the brethren. All glory and praise be to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah, amen!