The novel coronavirus now dubbed COVID-19 has struck fear around Asia and the world. As many as 760 million people in China have been quarantined, and perhaps 110 million are barred from even exiting their apartment, all as part of China’s effort to prevent a pandemic.

In Hong Kong, where my wife and I serve as missionaries in the Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod, school has been cancelled since late January. Kids began doing online classes last week, and they will not return to school until mid-March at the earliest. Restrictions on public activities and gatherings have spread throughout much of Asia, as individuals seek to reduce their risk of infection. Unsurprisingly, church attendance, especially among families with children, has plummeted.

However, the quarantines and cancellations associated with COVID-19 offer a remarkable opportunity. Families are stuck indoors for weeks on end. Employers are telling employees to work from home and giving more flexible arrangements. Kids finish their homework in just a few hours, leaving the day open for activities. Although it’s a terrible situation, nonetheless it opens a door for Christian families to step into a regular practice of home discipleship.

Although Christians in China are facing a special tribulation today, the same principles apply to those living in the States and elsewhere. In times of both severe crisis (think Hurricane Katrina victims stuck in the Superdome) and also mundane inconvenience (think of the odd snow day or sick day), we can seize the opportunity for the most important education of all, more essential than literacy, more useful than math, more formative than history: catechesis!

What the Numbers Tell Us

Research on the effectiveness of childhood ...

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