“We decided to stay open.”
It was the last Sunday before the French government banned large gatherings.
Many churches in Paris had already closed their doors.
But one church decided to offer one last service — and it had amazing results!
“Many churches [had] decided to close their service,” said Pastor Dorothee Rajiah, the senior pastor of the Paris Christian Center.
She was witnessing the tragic progression of the coronavirus across her beloved country and the city of Paris.
France is the latest European country to be hit hard by COVID-19. With almost 69,000 confirmed infections and over 7,500 deaths in the country already at that time, French hospitals are now facing hundreds of new patients each day.
After watching other countries deal with the virus through social distancing and quarantine practices, the French government decided to take stricter measures to protect its citizens from the spread of COVID-19.
“Our priority is to do everything to slow the circulation of the virus across the country,” said Olivier Veran, the French Health Minister.
“It is the only way to protect those vulnerable and to mitigate the epidemic on a national scale.”
Recently, Veran and other French officials declared a ban on “all gatherings of more than 1,000 people” in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Many French churches had already closed their doors before the ban was declared, but Paris Christian Center was still holding services, inviting concerned citizens in to pray, worship, and focus on God in the midst of the global panic.
So, when the French government declared a ban on all large gatherings, Pastor Rajiah and her colleagues decided to hold one last service before the ban went into effect.
Rajiah and the other pastors at Paris Christian Center knew that many Parisians would need the comfort of attending church one last time before more stringent social distancing regulations took effect.
They offered their congregation and anyone who wanted to attend the opportunity to pray and worship together, to draw near to God, and to find hope in the light of the Gospel.
Although they were focused on preaching the Gospel to their city, the pastors took every precaution to make sure their congregation was safe.
“We told the people they should not shake hands or even kiss, at least for some time,” confided Pastor Rajiah. “And we tell them they can wave at people with the hand and say I love you from their heart.”
Even though coronavirus fears kept many social interactions at bay, God richly blessed the Paris Christian Center’s decision to offer a final service.
“[The day of the last service], 15 people got saved, so we are so excited about it!” said Pastor Rajiah.
It was a day of rejoicing for the Paris congregation, as they welcomed new believers into the family of God – and it was proof that God is still moving, even in the midst of a global pandemic!
Realizing that the message of the Gospel is more relevant than ever, the Paris Christian Center hopes to continue reaching out to their city in this difficult and terrifying time.
Now that they can no longer meet in person, Pastor Rajiah reported, “we are ready to stream from our website and from YouTube,” like so many other churches around the world right now.
The Paris Christian Center hopes to see many more people brought to Christ before the current pandemic is over!
And Paris is not the only place that’s seeing a wave of conversions in the time of the coronavirus.
For example, not long ago, a group of doctors in Italy found faith as they were confronted with the reality of death and disease. Now they pray over their patients and their work each day, asking God for mercy and strength to combat COVID-19.
These are strange times, but we must remember that God is still working to draw people to Him, even through the trials and tribulations of COVID-19.
Pray for churches and citizens in Paris, Italy, and the rest of the world as we all face the coronavirus together. May God be glorified as more people come to know His Gospel and His peace!