As persecuted Christians around the world prepare for an Easter in lockdown, there are calls for prisoners of faith to be released from overcrowded jails where the virus could spread like wildfire.

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This contrasts with public declarations in North Korea that the country is free of the coronavirus, a claim that has been met with scepticism worldwide.

In Wuhan, China, where the epidemic began, one church has been sending out members in protective gear to deliver masks, sanitiser and medicines to the vulnerable. Speaking on social media, Pastor Huang Lei said, 'Everything presents an opportunity to glorify God.'

His statement, which has been widely reported worldwide, continued: 'If Christians are more afraid of death than the world during a disaster, then the suffering they have endured would be in vain. God wants us to overcome difficulties through Him. This epidemic provides an opportunity for us to reflect, strengthen our spiritual life and to depend on God.'

Earlier in Wuhan Christians were detained by the police for handing out face masks.

'Release International will continue to support Christians around the world who are suffering for their faith, despite the pandemic,' says Release CEO Paul Robinson. 'And we're encouraged to see how many are using this time of shaking as an opportunity to share their unshakable faith, hope and joy with their neighbours.'

Through its international network of missions Release International is active in around 25 countries around the world, supporting pastors, Christian prisoners and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles, and working for justice.  CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.