Back to normal? Not everywhere
By IMB Staff
The following accounts from IMB workers give an idea how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting different regions of the world.
Melanie Clinton*, Sub-Saharan Africa – We are now in the third wave, and it is the highly contagious Delta variant. So many people are getting sick. In fact, my husband tested positive this week, and my daughter and I are experiencing symptoms, so we are all in quarantine for two weeks. Our kids’ school has been in upheaval because so many children, parents and teachers are either sick or have been exposed to someone who is sick and had to isolate. That’s something distinctive about this third wave – lots of children are getting sick. In many cases the symptoms are not severe, but it’s alarming how rapidly the virus is spreading. We are currently in a two-week lockdown that includes the closing of churches, schools, gyms, movie theatres and restaurants (except for deliveries and take out).
Veronica Stone*, Southeast Asia – Current conditions in our country are pretty bleak, to be honest. It’s really disheartening watching the western world open up while people around us are suffering. Since mid-March of last year, we’ve been in some kind of lockdown or restrictions – with only short time periods when we’ve been allowed to go out as a family. The current lockdown restrictions are such that almost all businesses are closed, all parks are closed and there is a limit on the amount of people that can be in a car, which I think is two. Prayers are greatly needed for our country. Many of my friends have talked about feeling dread just because we’re walking through this dark tunnel with no end in sight. Many of our co-workers have expressed exhaustion, especially as parents work on keeping morale up in homes as kids face this fourth lockdown.
Lifeway Bible Studies Podcast fulfills need for encouragement and ease
NASHVILLE (BP) – The Lifeway Bible Studies Podcast launched in February 2021 in the midst of a pandemic, bringing ease and efficiency to engaging God’s Word for those still under lockdown.
More than ever, people are listening to podcasts in their cars, at the gym, waiting at appointments, walking and jogging. And the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the audio platform’s everyday use, especially for Christians desiring to listen to sermons and devotionals when they were unable to go to church or to their small groups.
In a season where believers needed more biblical encouragement, the Lifeway Christian Resources Adult Ministry team started looking at its large library of video-based Bible study content. With the permission of individual authors, they took the audio portions and made them available via podcast.
The Group Answers Podcast , designed to train and encourage small group leaders, hosted by Chris Surratt and Brian Daniel, soft-launched the Lifeway Bible Studies Podcast as bonus episodes on their podcast in January to give those already listening a taste of what was to come. The response was extremely positive, launching with 400-500 downloads a week.
“Making Space” by Jeff Vanderstelt was the first study turned into podcast  episodes, helping listeners glean wisdom from Proverbs and from Jesus’s example. Tony Evans’ “Horizontal Jesus”  followed it, focusing on learning how Jesus empowers His church to be His hands and feet in the world today.
“People are enjoying these shorter podcasts. If they want a quick devotion or just a supplemental Bible study for their day, they could listen to one on their daily walk, on the way to work or wherever they are,” said Chris Surratt, small group and discipleship specialist for Lifeway. “It’s just that easy, so people are really grabbing onto it.”