With the country in ruins after years of civil war, Yemen is facing the challenge of coping with Covid-19, but Christians in the country are choosing to respond to the challenge with lives of prayer, faith and hope.
It is challenging enough dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic in our country, with its medical and social infrastructure. But for those living in Yemen, where five years of brutal conflict have reduced much of the infrastructure to ruins, the difficulties are immense.
Yet Yemeni believers are responding to this challenge by seeking to follow Christ through lives of prayer, faith and hope.
A Yemeni woman wears Covid-19 protection
“There’s a lot of anxiety and frustration dominating my neighbourhood,” said Shoki, who lives in the north of the country. “Many of the people around me are fearful. In contrast to that, I’ve noticed how , prayer, and following the measures of prevention and safe health practices.”
"Believers are a blessing, as they talk about how to deal with this pandemic in a spirit of hope and a spirit of encouragement" Shoki, Yemen
It is hard to get accurate figures for a country so ravaged by war. It is feared that over half the population may be at risk of contracting the disease, which would result in over 40,000 deaths.
One gravedigger told The Associated Press he’d never seen such a constant flow of dead – and that in a city that has seen more than five years of war. And it’s not just Covid-19: the hard-pressed Yemenis face a combination of the virus with other fever-producing illnesses including malaria, cholera and dengue fever.
In this environment, believers in the hardest hit areas of Yemen say that they are combatting sadness and fear by turning to prayer.
“We pray for each other that the Lord Jesus will deliver us from this pandemic,” a believer said. “It has brought us closer to Him and brought us closer to each other as His children in Yemen. We’re trying to spend more time with our children, teaching them and praying together and praying for the salvation of our people.”
Without the minimum resources needed to properly treat Covid-19 patients, a lot of medical facilities are refusing to admit suspected cases of Covid-19 at all. There are even stories circulating about Yemenis dying at hospital doors after being refused treatment.“Some of my neighbours were thrown out of a hospital after they started experiencing severe difficulty breathing,” said an Open Doors source. “They went from one hospital to another and were repeatedly turned away because they were presenting symptoms consistent with a Covid-19 infection, including respiratory distress, fever and weakness. Finally, they returned home to die, since the life-saving treatment they needed was simply not offered.”
And for an economy already devastated by war, the pandemic is just deepening the economic crisis with prices rising on food, masks, soap and other basic supplies.
“My work as a home goods vendor was affected by the spread of this virus,” said Hasan, a believer living in the north. “Despite this pressure, I feel that God is with me and my family and I’m confident that His doors won’t close even when others do.”
"We feel that the Lord Jesus is with us. We feel His mercy and closeness to us." A Yemeni believer
Through all this, believers are trusting in God.
“Even in light of the difficult conditions we’re facing, we feel that the Lord Jesus is with us,” a believing sister said. “We feel His mercy and closeness to us. A lot of people complain about emptiness and boredom because of the need to stay at home more, but I’ve found it to be a valuable opportunity to pray, draw closer to God, and feel the affection of His hand outstretched to His children.”
“I and many others are feeling the great pressure that the spread of this virus has added to our lives,” said a believer named Naser. “But when I search, I find that we, the believers, carry hope that helps us with the certainty that tomorrow will be better and that by the will of our Lord we will pass through this and all the anxieties and fears surrounding us.”
Why not share this story with friends or family, encouraging them to pray for the perseucted church in Yemen?