Alexandra Rodriguez knows firsthand the horror of the coronavirus in Wuhan. A Christian American teaching English in Wuhan, China, she was quarantined in Wuhan until the U.S. government was able to fly her and other Americans home. In her first media interview since she came home, she described to me on my podcast how she felt as she waited and prayed to get out. She also believes the problem is worse than the Chinese government is admitting.
In the past week, I interviewed Chinese missionary Dennis Balcombe, also an American, who described to me how Christians are responding to the dangerous virus now known as COVID-19. He shared incredible insights into what God is doing through His people, including the sick coming for healing and people turning to churches for hope.
Then Pastor Frank Amedia, who has connections to Chinese Christians he believes are reliable, says that there have also been healings and confirmed that people are swarming to churches at the same time that the number of deaths are in the tens of thousands—much higher than the 2,100 or so that the Chinese government says have died.
Both Balcomb and Amedia reported what they heard from their Chinese sources via telephone and the internet. But Alexandra Rodriguez was there. So when I learned one of my friends knew her through his church, Faith Assembly in Orlando, Florida, I tracked her down. She gave me one of the most incredible interviews I've ever had—an exclusive for my Strang Report podcast and Charisma News.
I wanted to learn from someone who was there and was quarantined, and I wondered what she thought this coronavirus means in a spiritual sense. She told me the disease could be the rumblings of something bigger—perhaps even prophecy coming true.
"My hope and prayer is that everything smooths out and that eventually they get it contained," Alexandra told me. "But it could be the rumblings of something bigger. I believe that the Lord works in mysterious ways. And I've seen His hand in all of this. It could be prophecy coming true. It could just be one of those things in the world that happens and then we move on. My prayer, again, is that it all settles down."
Back in September, when Alexandra got the opportunity to go to Wuhan to tutor students in English, she was excited about it. But what was supposed to be a 10-month stay was cut short to six months when the city was quarantined because of the coronavirus. She was stuck in the city for several weeks until the U.S. government got her home. Some of her colleagues, though, are still stuck in Wuhan.
As of Thursday evening, Feb. 20, the official death count for the coronavirus in China is 2,118, according to the New York Times. But Alexandra says that from her understanding of the Chinese government and the way things are run in China, she "100% [believes] the numbers are probably far higher than what they are reporting to the world."
She tells me that when she first heard about the coronavirus in late December, the Chinese media presented it as if it were nothing more than a new strain of the flu and encouraged people to wash their hands.
"They treated it in the media there as if it wasn't an emergency," she says. "So I had heard about it. And it was right about that time that some colleagues of mine and I went off for winter holiday. So we left the country to visit Thailand for 10 days. We came back two days before they shut down the city."
When Alexandra and her friends returned to Wuhan from Thailand on Jan. 21, she says the city was like a ghost town. No one was entering or leaving the city, and the few people they did see were always wearing masks. It was a bit frightening to find out a few days later that no one was allowed to travel unless it was essential.
Alexandra says she and her colleagues purchased provisions to last for a couple weeks and then shut themselves up in their homes. It was a frightening battle to get out of the city, she says. She received a news story that reported the American embassy was offering passage out of China for American citizens. But when she called the embassy to say she wanted to leave, she found out the report was fake news. The U.S. hadn't confirmed a plane yet. At this point, she began panicking.
Finally, through connections in the U.S., Alexandra was able to email the embassy and let them know that if and when a charter plane became available to leave Wuhan, she wanted to be on it. She was placed on a waiting list.
"I sent the email and it was just silence," she says. "I waited and I waited. I waited about three days, and I was talking to my colleagues back and forth. We were all trying to get out."
When Alexandra's friend received a call from the embassy saying they had a spot for her, she was able to secure one for Alexandra, too.
"I'm really grateful that I was able to get on the flight because I know there were some people who are trying to get out who didn't make that first flight," she says.
After stopping in Alaska to refuel, Alexandra's plane landed in Ontario, where the passengers were quarantined in a military base in case they showed signs of symptoms. She says they arrived in early February.
She remembers many rumors that were circulating about the virus starting from a pinpointed market that sold exotic meats. But she isn't convinced those rumors were true.
"Now there's speculation that it might have been around for a lot longer," she says. "And it was a lot of hush-hush. They didn't want mass panic. China was desperately trying to keep it under wraps, although more and more people were presenting with symptoms."
So what does this mean for Christians in China and specifically in Wuhan? Alexandra says most churches aren't meeting anymore, since people are staying in their homes. In fact, public meetings of any kind are outlawed right now because of the quarantine—and religious meetings were the first to be shut down.
As of now, there's no telling how this outbreak will affect China's future. But Alexandra is praying this virus would come to a swift end. I hope you'll join her in that prayer. While this coronavirus could certainly be a sign of something bigger, let's agree in prayer that God will show mercy and allow this virus to be contained.
I think you'll want to listen to my full interview with Alexandra and get her full, exclusive story on what's going on in China. Click here to listen.
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