Editor’s Note: For up-to-date global cases of COVID-19, follow this map from the University of Washington or this map from John Hopkins University. It is likely case numbers are higher than depicted due to community transmission or mild cases that are untested, but author and global health expert Daniel Chin points out that those cases are mostly likely to occur where we see the virus already clustering. Therefore, those areas without cases or with low numbers of cases are not yet in the same risk category as others, like Washington state or New York. But Chin warns that we should assume that case numbers will rise across the country, thus even lower-risk places should plan a response now and follow local public health recommendations.

As I write this, my heart is very heavy. I just spent the second Sunday morning of Lent in my living room with my wife, watching a livestream of the worship service from my church. The church was empty because this past Friday, the King County Public Health Department in Washington state sent a notice to faith-based organizations, recommending that they cancel all gatherings with 50 or more people. Pretty much all churches in the Seattle area have already stopped their in-person worship services along with most other church activities. Since the evangelical church that I attend has over 1,500 worshipers in four services each Sunday, we livestreamed our worship services. As this article was being prepared for publication, Gov. Jay Inslee took it further, banning gatherings larger than 250 people in three metro counties, and WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

But my heart is not heavy because I could not gather with others to worship (as much as I appreciate corporate worship). It ...

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