When Vanessa walked out of her high-rise apartment in Kuala Lumpur to go for a run, she never imagined that running a mile would require her to run back-and-forth a 30-foot hallway of her building to accomplish it. Now, almost 5 weeks into the Movement Control Order issued on March 18th in their city, Vanessa and her family have begun, like most of us, to find new rhythms in daily life to carry-on in the work God has for them.
A little over two years ago, Vanessa and her husband moved as Mid-Termers to Kuala Lumpur to live and work. Their family moved as part of the broader Brook Hills effort to engage least reached people groups through the marketplace in strategic cities around the world.
“We never imagined that our time here would include a pandemic,” said Vanessa. “For the most part, our city looks like the rest of the world, although we are not allowed to leave our house except for essential items.” In fact, only the ‘head of the household’ can go to the grocery store once a week in Kuala Lumpur. This means her husband, Peter, is making weekly runs to ensure the pantry is stocked for the week. As COVID-19 spreads through the city, only grocery stores and gas stations remain open. Most people are working from home and homeschooling these days. People are unfortunately not allowed outside to exercise or play but are limited to their home. This is why the new norm for exercise is running down building hallways or climbing multiple flights of stairs with her 5-month-old daughter strapped to her chest.
While all of this has been challenging, especially for her husband’s business, God has blessed Vanessa and Peter in this season as well. One big blessing is extended time together as a family. “God blessed us with our first child in December and this season has provided extra time with our new baby girl,” said Vanessa. “Most days we cruise the perimeter of our apartment, stopping to stare out of our windows to the empty streets below. We make sure to say ‘Hi’ to Dad as we stroll by his living room office.” These days have strengthened their family unit in ways they never could have imagined.
Although it is very difficult to be isolated away from community and work, Vanessa also feels encouraged by how the church has responded in the midst of this. She and her husband are part of a small international church in their city where they invest in local believers and teach them how to join in the Great Commission by making disciples of all nations. “We have had the opportunity to regularly connect virtually with our local faith family and the transition to virtual meetings seemed to happen rather smoothly,” said Vanessa. This has been a grace from the Lord in the midst of being confined to home. Though many are fearful, most of the local believers in KL seem very eager to connect with one another and are wanting to look honestly at God’s Word in the midst of this time.
Daily Zoom meetings are scheduled between church members where believers can eat lunch together, pray together, and memorize Scripture together. “In many ways,” Vanessa said, “this situation has caused members to lean into the church family more and a deeper community has been fostered.” This is especially encouraging in this culture, when oftentimes fellowship and one-anothering in the church can be challenging.
While physical ministry has been a challenge in this season, God has also given many opportunities for Vanessa to have conversations with her unbelieving friends and coworkers. She has shared the gospel and of the hope that she finds in the midst of this, while also sharing Scripture she has been clinging to for strength.
“I can't imagine the unbearable weight of circumstance and hopelessness someone without Christ must have in a season like this. But this also gives us a real opportunity to live out 1 Peter 3:15 and give account to the hope we have in Christ.”
Practically, this has looked like reaching out via WhatsApp or video chat to her friends and colleagues and finding ways to serve and love people from a distance. In many ways, people are eager to connect and ready to listen. Lord willing, this is a fruitful environment for gospel proclamation.
That being said, one thing Vanessa said they need is prayer from their faith family at Brook Hills. Prayer for wisdom for the local believers to know how to share and reach out through text, calls, and online platforms, as that comes with additional security risk. “We want to be faithful to proclaim while pursuing it wisely,” she said. In addition, Vanessa asked us to pray for the unreached people groups living in Kuala Lumpur. There is potential for them to have access to things they normally would not. One example is that now most church services are currently online. Pray that they would be seeking hope, hear the gospel, and that God would use this current circumstance to bring glory to Himself through the salvation of many.
Finally, please pray that Vanessa and Peter would lean into the Lord and trust Him in the midst of great uncertainty. Pray they would daily be pursuing the Word and prayer, firmly fastening them to truth. We pray this for ourselves at Brook Hills as well, that as we are firmly fastened to Him, He might loosen our grip on things of the world and stir in the hearts of some in our congregation to go and join the work around the world to share the gospel and make Christ known to those who are perishing without Him.
Vanessa and Peter are not the real names of these Mid-Termers. We changed them for security purposes, but you know them. Their incredible family lives and works in KL as marketplace professionals strategically connected to church planting and disciple-making efforts among the least reached peoples of the world living there. Going Mid-Term is a great opportunity to engage the least reached in the world with the gospel for one month to three years. If God is stirring in you to consider going Mid-Term like Vanessa and Peter, simply engage the Global Team or go to the Mid-Term page to discover your first step in the process.