GOD AT WORK IN UKRAINE (PART 2)

Christians are living out Jesus’ teachings as Ukrainians flee invasion. A movement of love, generosity sweeps Poland as it opens arms to Ukrainians 

 More than 60% of the 110 Poland Baptist churches are responding to the needs of Ukrainian refugees.

CHELM, Poland — With little more than the clothes on their back, hundreds of Ukrainian women and children wait hours in line to cross into Poland as part of the largest movement of people in Europe since World War II. They shuffle their feet quietly, even apprehensively, toward an unknown future in an unfamiliar country.

They’re stunned when they arrive. Volunteers have taped Ukrainian flags in their car windows and signs in Ukrainian reading, “free rides to shelter.” The drivers take the refugees to the Baptist church in Chelm, only a few kilometers up the road where people from around the world — Poland, Latvia, England, the United States, to name a few — are offering a place of safety and security for a few hours, few days or as long as they need it.

Families sit in stunned silence in an impromptu reception area where church volunteers tell the refugees the church has free food, drinks, showers, and places to sleep. The congregation even has a set-up children’s area where they can play with bubbles or watch educational videos projected on a screen.

“What we’re seeing is a movement of love and generosity across this nation. Poles are opening their doors and arms to Ukrainians. They are taking them into their churches. They are taking them into their homes. They are feeding them. They are caring for them,” said Marek Glodek, president of the Baptist Union of Poland.

“This is what Jesus calls His believers to do all the time. Polish Christians are taking the teachings of Jesus seriously and living them out each day during this situation.”

More than 60% of the 110 Poland Baptist churches are responding to the needs of Ukrainian refugees, many of them in dramatic and radical ways.

At a warehouse in Chelm, donations for Ukrainians are coming in as fast as they are going out to Ukraine and to shelters across Poland. The deliveries continue even after Russia intensifies attacks on the western portion of Ukraine.

In north Poland, church members installed new insulation, air conditioning, heating, electrical lines and beds in an old summer camp to revitalize it to house refugees.

Near the Belarus border, a church is providing shelter for about 50 people and sending supplies into Ukraine despite increased Russian aggression. 

“More than 1.5 million Ukrainians have sought safety in Poland,” said Mickey Lenamon, TBM executive director and CEO. “Baptists worldwide have joined together to meet their needs. TBM is honored to be part of that, whether it is through funding, sorting and loading donations in-country, setting up beds, or even doing the little things that are needed like cleaning floors and toilets. We see what believers throughout the region are doing and are seeking to do likewise: follow Christ daily and share His love.”

GOD USES CATASTROPHES FOR HIS PURPOSES

Just as Covid has caused massive disruption to the world now we have Russia invading Ukraine which has caused an enormous refugee crisis. Just as we see in the Book of Acts, catastrophes are opportunities for the church to innovate and to step in and help.

In Acts 8, a massive disruption upset the Christian world. Led by Saul of Tarsus, massive persecution drove Christians from their home base of Jerusalem. Up to that time the new Christian movement was centered in Jerusalem and was confined to Jews. By the end of the book of Acts, the church was more Gentile than Jewish and the church at Jerusalem was a side note. What made the difference? During the disruption, one church used it as an opportunity to innovate, and innovation changes the world.

Churches in countries neighboring Ukraine have opened their doors to shelter and aid refugees as the United Nations refugee agency estimated Thursday that 1 million people have fled the Eastern European nation since the beginning of Russia’s invasion last week. 

“In just seven days, 1 million people have fled Ukraine, uprooted by this senseless war,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement. “I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one.”

Many of the displaced have fled to neighboring countries such as Poland, Moldova, Slovakia and Hungary, while many more remain in Ukraine. 

Churches in neighboring countries are among community centers and camps sheltering refugees who’ve fled from the violence, with some seeing hundreds of Ukrainians coming and going in recent days. 

Refugees from Ukraine are pictured after crossing the Ukrainian-Polish border in Korczowa on March 02, 2022. – The number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine has surged to nearly 875,000, UN figures showed on March 2, as fighting intensified on day seven of Russia’s invasion

As Poland has taken the brunt of the Ukrainian refugees, one church that has served as many as 400 refugees is a Baptist church in Chelm. According to the Baptist Federation of Europe, the church is “filled with life” as it has pushed its pews out of the way to make room for beds. 

“It is not tension that you feel as you enter the building but life, peace, and joy,” a statement from the federation reads. “Children laugh and play while mothers prepare for onward journeys. The church piano plays a variety of tunes, none of the hymns, as the children practice their piano lessons.”

“Pews are in the pulpit and beds fill the sanctuary, the balcony, and every available space,” the statement adds. “Ukrainian and Polish families work side by side, making food, receiving donations, and cleaning the toilets. The laundry vibrates as the three new washing machines continue their endless 24-hour cycle. The supply rooms are full of children excitedly selecting new clothes and discovering new toys that have been donated.”

The church’s kitchen has supplied soup, snacks, and hot meals for the refugees arriving while packing lunches for the refugees that depart. The church receives help from local hotels that provide clean linen for the beds. 

The Polish Baptist Union hopes to house as many as 1,000 refugees. Polish Baptists have established 40 shelter camps. The PBU provides the camps with bedding items, food, and hygiene items, while Send Relief, IMB’s relief arm, provides funds to assist in the relief efforts. 

First Baptist Church of Gdasnk, Poland, will host one of the refugee centers, according to IMB missionary Ken Brownd. “It’s just cool to see Polish Baptists stepping up and taking care of their neighbors. They’ve done that for a long time now, but this is a different level,” Brownd was quoted as saying in an IMB report “Our team is trying to organize the Send Relief help … but really, this is mostly driven by Polish Baptists, so we’re not the main players in this at all. We’re helpers, and so it’s amazing.”

If nothing else Christians all around the world need to be in prayer and look for ways to financially support our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and the surrounding nations that are reaching out to help the refugees.

ONE-THIRD OF AUSTRALIANS THINK MORE ABOUT GOD AS A RESULT OF THE PANDEMIC

God uses catastrophes for His purposes. Since the Covid -19 pandemic started, Australians are experiencing a renewed spiritual awakening with three in ten praying more often now. Moreover, Prayer Groups are more active and growing.

Australian Prayer Network
Building prayer across the nation

A new report (McCrindle Research) has revealed that the experience of COVID-19 has caused many Australians to experience a renewed spiritual search. A third of Australians have thought more about God, while 28% have prayed more. During the pandemic, almost half of Australians have thought more about the meaning of life (47%) or their own mortality (47%). The collective experience of the pandemic has ushered in a return to a focus on the local community, with half of Australians (53%) valuing a strong local community more than they did three years ago. The local church is a key element of the local community with three in four Australians (76%) agreeing the churches in their local area are making a positive difference to their community.

The research, which was conducted by McCrindle Research and surveyed 1,000 Australians also found that two-thirds of Australians are likely to attend a church service either online (64%) or in-person (67%) if personally invited by a friend or family member. Far from religion and spirituality being only for older Australians, Gen Z (45%) are twice as likely as Baby Boomers (21%) to be extremely or very likely to attend an online church service if personally invited by a friend or family member. Mark McCrindle, Founder and Principal of McCrindle Research says, “This data is worth reflecting on a little longer: in this seemingly secular era, where the church is perceived by many commentators to be on the decline and culturally outdated, almost half of all young adults invited to a church service by a friend or family member would very likely attend.”

The report also found that Australians are accepting of others’ religious views. Nine in ten (90%) agree that in Australia people should have the freedom to share their religious beliefs if done in a peaceful way, even if those beliefs are different from mainstream community views. There is, however, wavering support for religious symbolism in public life. Almost two in five Australians (39%) agree that Christian practices in public life such as parliament opening in prayer, oaths in court being taken on the Bible, or Christian chaplains in hospitals or jails should be stopped. Three in five (61%), however, disagree and are therefore open to Christian practices in public life continuing.

Interestingly, religious discrimination is a genuine issue in Australia with almost three in ten Australians (29%) having experienced religious discrimination, this equates to about half of those who identify with a religion which is six in ten Australians. Australians who identify with a non-Christian religion are more likely to have experienced discrimination (54%) than Protestants (27%) or Catholics (32%). Religious discrimination is also more likely to be experienced by younger Australians who are four times as likely as their older counterparts to say they have experienced religious discrimination (51% Gen Z cf. 13% Baby Boomers).

Source: McCrindle Research

COVID-19 RAISING THE BIG ISSUES OF LIFE

Researchers have found Australians say they have been praying more during the COVID-19 crisis, suggesting the pandemic has led many to reassess their priorities in life.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle surveyed 1002 people between July 24 and 28 and found more than a third (35 per cent) said they were praying more and 41 per cent were thinking about God more. A quarter said they were reading the Bible more.

Nearly a half (47 per cent) said they had thought more about their mortality and the meaning of life.

“The research is showing that this COVID situation has rattled Australians and got them thinking about the big purpose of life,” Mr McCrindle said. “It’s got them re-prioritising their life.”

Charles Sturt University Associate Professor Ruth Powell, who studies Australian spirituality said she was not surprised by the survey results. Her own research as director of the National Church Life Survey has shown a third of Australians pray or meditate “in normal times”.

“In this context when a proportion say I think I am praying more …. it’s not surprising if it has been heightened at this time,” she said. “What we know from our own research is that Australians are already moderately religious or spiritual. “It’s often in times of crisis that you do go to the big spiritual questions.”

Macquarie University Professor Marion Maddox, an authority on the intersection of religion and politics, said it was not surprising many people would be thinking more about their spirituality and mortality during an existential crisis.

“The bushfires would have had similar effects of making people think about the meaning and purpose of life or …. questions about environmental concerns and our relationship to the human world,” she said.

“It’s at the same time that churches and places of collective worship are closing, so people aren’t able to gather and do their spiritual reflection as easily together. They can do it online, but it’s not quite the same.”

Anglican Bishop of South Sydney Michael Stead said he has received anecdotal feedback that parishioners were reading the Bible and praying more.

“The enforced slow down and isolation of the COVID restrictions have meant that people have been forced to step off the treadmill and realise there is more to life than the endless grind of work and pursuit of material ends,” he said. “It has given people an opportunity to reflect more deeply on what is the ultimate meaning of life and hence to dig into spiritual resources to help answer those kind of questions.

“There is a degree where we are all thinking about our own mortality now and that is forcing a reconnection back to God.”

The Stringer family is no exception, their story is encouraging.

The Stringer family have been praying more during the coronavirus pandemic. Andrew, Lucy, William, Katie and EleanorCREDIT: STEVEN SIEWERT.
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Katie Stringer from Leichhardt in Sydney Australia, a teacher and mother of three children aged from 6 to 13, said she and her family had been praying more at home together during the pandemic. They read passages from the Bible during family meals and in the car during school drop-off.
Mrs Stringer said the closure of their local Anglican church forced them to “assess their spiritual connection”. “It reminded us our faith is also our responsibility and not just the responsibility of the minister in our church,” she said. “We needed to be proactive in talking to God.”

Catastrophes: Bring them on Lord; if it means people turn back to you.

CALIFORNIA UNDER JUDGEMENT?

The headlines read “It seems like all Hell has broken loose in California

Governor Newsom Declares Statewide Emergency Due to Wildfires. Aug 19, 2020

Gov. Newsom Declares Statewide Emergency Due to Wildfires

Newsom’s order states that “there are currently hundreds of fires actively burning during these extreme weather conditions throughout California.” And “the number of fires actively burning statewide, as well as throughout other Western states, has resulted in a strain on California’s mutual aid system, making it increasingly difficult for jurisdictions to obtain the necessary in-state and out-of-state firefighting resources to respond to these fires.”

Developing: Fires explode across Bay Area, burning homes and sparking mass evacuation. Aug 19, 2020

DEVELOPING: Fires explode across Bay Area, burning homes and sparking mass evacuations…

(ETH) – Fierce and fast-moving fires caused by lightning storms are sweeping across the Bay Area of California and elsewhere in Northern California and the fires have exploded overnight, burning homes and causing thousands to flee.

According to the latest reports, The most recent fires stretched from the wine country to the Santa Cruz Mountains, moving at dangerous speed amid an intense heatwave that also has produced rolling blackouts in the cities. According to Yahoo News, “Officials have ordered the evacuation of the western edge of Vacaville — a city of 100,000 residents about halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento — in the area of Alamo Drive north of Interstate 5 and west of North Orchard Avenue, according to a Facebook post by Vacaville police.

California struck by nearly 11,000 lightning strikes in past 72 hours. Aug 19, 2020

California struck by nearly 11,000 lightning strikes in past 72 hours

(ETH) – It seems like all Hell has broken loose in California over the past week with wildfires, coronavirus, earthquakes, wildfires and now some experts are warning that a series of fast-moving fires in the San Francisco Bay Area and other locations in Northern California was caused by intense lightning storms — that exploded overnight, burning homes and causing thousands to flee.

In fact, a recent report is indicating that nearly 11,000 lighting strikes took place in a span of just 72 hours. According to KTLA 5, Northern and Central California experienced an unusually active sequence of largely dry lightning strikes on Sunday morning, and was the most widespread and violent in recent memory in the Bay Area on one of the hottest nights in years, This report comes from Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with UCLA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research

GOD AT WORK DURING CORONAVIRUS

Jason Hubbard from International Prayer Connect, shares amazing good news of what God has done in our world during Covid- 19 between Passover and Pentecost 2020.
“The doors to the our church buildings may have been closed but the Church has not been closed. We are living through a Great Quarantine Revival and I think God is just getting started.” Nick Hall Pulse Movement

  • Jesus Fast with Lou Engle – 40 Days March – 9 April 2020: 72,000 people. 1.9 million reached with call to fast & pray – 10 languages, 190,000 read the devotionals and 21,000 join Esther Fast to end Covid-19. 
  • Brazil Send 8 Feb & 25 April 2020 137,000 people in 3 stadiums and 3.2 mil watch. 15,695 salvations and re-commitments.
  • Good Friday Pulse Movement 10 April 2020 with Nick Hall. More than 130,000 came to Christ in virtual evangelistic event. 100 million tuned in from nearly 100 countries, translated into 40 languages.
  • World Prayer Together 1 May 2020 600,000 from 100+ nations in 12 languages for a 4 hour global call to launch GO20202 month of evangelism. 1.8 million house churches in May representing 38 million in united prayer. www.runministries.org
  • Watchmen for the Nations Passover & Pentecost Events 7 April & 28 May 2020 3000,000 from 100 nations translated into 26 languages. Also 10 days of worship & prayer 21-30 May 2020 www.watchmenforthenations.com
  • GO2020 52.6 million Christians shared the gospel on and off line. 227 million people reached with the gospel. Prayer Covenant for Children mobilised 7000,000 GO2020 kids and adults in Africa to pray for those they wanted to reach. Jesus film had 163 million views. A video clip of Amazing Grace got 2 million views and UK Blessing Song had over 2.2 million – now nearly 3.5 million!
  • Global Media Outreach reached 14.3 million people in 150 countries with webs based evangelistic services. 175,997 indicated decisions.
  • #Hope Story 60 second testimonies were seen by a million people. Stories were shared from nearly 50 nations On TikTok alone, 200,000 viewed a Hope Story of a young Aboriginal Australian. #HopeStoryChallenge 

MILLIONS AT RISK AS FAMINE GRIPS THREE AFRICAN NATIONS

Revelation 6:5 -6
“When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.”

It almost appears that we can hear the galloping of the black horse of the book of Revelation as we learn of new reports that over 16 million people are at risk of dying of famine in three African Nations.  “We are living a horrible drought and a difficult time,” said Shukurow, a Somali mother of a malnourished child. “We hardly have enough to get by, let alone to think of our future.”

The UN humanitarian chief, Stephen O’Brien, says the world is facing “the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations” and says the organisation needs urgent resources to avert the famine crisis.

Across the Horn of Africa, people are starving. A catastrophic combination of conflict, high food prices and drought has left more than 11 million people in desperate need. The United Nations has been sounding the alert for months. We have resisted using the “f-word” — famine — but on Wednesday we officially recognised the fast-evolving reality. There is famine in parts of Somalia. And it is spreading.

This is a wake-up call we cannot ignore. Everyday, I hear the most harrowing reports from our UN teams on the ground. Somali refugees, their cattle and goats dead from thirst, walking for weeks to find help in Kenya and Ethiopia. Orphans who arrive alone, their parents dead, terrified and malnourished, in a foreign land.

We must also recognise that Kenya and Ethiopia, which have generously kept their borders open, face enormous challenges of their own. The largest refugee camp in the world, Dadaab, is already dangerously over-crowded with some 380,000 refugees. Many thousands more are waiting to be registered. In neighbouring Ethiopia, 2,000 people a day are arriving at the Dolo refugee camp – also struggling to keep pace. This compounds a food crisis faced by almost 7 million Kenyans and Ethiopians at home. In Djibouti and Eritrea, tens of thousands of people are also in need — and potentially many more.

Imagine the catastrophe ahead for theses nations. Many, already with deficient immune systems, without access to adequate health services (ventilators – unlikely) will die due to the Corona virus.

southsudanafricanchildhungeras

 

CHURCH NOT A BUILDING – FAITH TRIUMPHS

“In the middle of this pandemic there is hope, that there’s strength, and that we will make it through this because He has risen – so will we,” said an emphatic Andre Chambers of Hampton Roads.

A dozen churches in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia put a unique twist on a traditional Easter message during these challenging times. Some directed traffic. Others lined up each car just right as members of 12 Virginia churches rolled up with masks on and maintaining strict social distancing guidelines, to send the world an Easter message.

People gather at the Mount Davidson Cross in San Francisco, Sunday, April 12, 2020. Mount Davidson’s annual Easter Sunrise Service was cancelled for San Francisco’s shelter in place orders over coronavirus concerns.

As Christians around the US and around the world are forced to practice social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pastors and believers are adapting to the loss of Sunday gatherings. These powerful photos prove that the Church of Jesus is not a building, it’s His people. And the God who offers salvation for each individual is still able to meet with you one-on-one, whether it’s the middle of a parking lot, or in your own living room.

EARTHQUAKES AND VOLCANOES ARE NOW ERUPTING WORLDWIDE

The waves of earthquakes are rocking the centre of the U.S. and the sudden awakening of several volcanoes around the world may be a sign of the pre-Messiah shake-up predicted by the prophets. At the same time, several far more mild earthquakes in Israel seem to embody the Biblical concept of God’s mercy being aroused by Man’s actions.

The earth seems to be waking up as seismic activity is being reported around the globe. Last month, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake shook Idaho, generating a multitude of avalanches. The quake was the largest in the region since a 6.9 quake hit in 1983. There have been 238 earthquakes in Idaho in the last week according to the U.S. Geological Survey website. Five of those have been substantial in size rating 4.0 to 6.5. Idaho isn’t new to experiencing earthquakes.

Two weeks before Idaho felt the earth move, Salt Lake City, Utah, approximately 340 miles away from the Idaho epicentre, was hit by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake. Since that earthquake, there have been 886 smaller earthquakes and aftershocks in the Salt Lake area. The belly of the country is clearly rumbling as the University of Utah Seismograph Station mapped a total of 980 tremors throughout Idaho, Utah and Wyoming since March 18

Earthquakes and Volcanoes Are Now Erupting Worldwide

An article in Discover explained the epidemic of earthquakes as being caused by the continent “stretching,” a process described in German as “horst and graben.”

“As North America continues to stretch across the Basin and Range, these faults can generate earthquakes as the valleys continue to drop,” the article explained. “Both of the earthquakes that happened in Nevada and Utah recently were on one of the normal faults that bounded a valley.

VOLCANOES AROUND THE WORLD

But it is not just the central U.S. that is experiencing a seismic awakening. Since January 21, the Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland has experienced more than 8,000 earthquakes and about 10 centimetres of land uplift due to magma intrusions underground. Geologists believe the volcanic systems in the region become active about once every thousand years. The last time this region experienced volcanic activity was 800 years ago. Beginning in the tenth century, the volcanically volatile period lasted for 300 years.

The region is about 30 miles southwest of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, but is only nine miles away from Iceland’s international airport. A major eruption could shut down travel for all of Iceland as well as endanger the nearby town of Grindavik as well as the Blue Lagoon, a popular tourist destination. There is also a nearby geothermal power-plant which could be endangered by volcanic activity.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Krakatoa volcano in Indonesia exploded on Friday. Though two relatively small eruptions were recorded, the volcano is a hotspot and cause for concern. In 188, a Krakatoa eruption had one of the highest death tolls of any volcanic eruption, killing more than 36,000 people. The most recent eruption at the site was in 2018, generating a tsunami and killing 437 people.

Volcanoes are explicitly mentioned in the Bible as one of the “end times” signs as God shakes all that can be shaken as a wake up call that He exists and that He judges unrighteous nations.. The following Scripture reveals how God refines His own people.

And I will bring the third part through the fire and will refine them as silver is refined and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on My name and I will answer them; I will say: ‘It is My people’ and they shall say: ‘Hashem is my God.’ Zechariah 13:9

BIBLE PROPHESIES “END TIMES” CATASTROPHES

Even before this coronavirus outbreak, the global economy was really starting to slow down.  Economic numbers were absolutely dismal all over the world, and many experts were warning that we were right on the verge of the next global recession.

Now that this outbreak has erupted, we definitely have much more momentum in a downward direction. Very challenging times are ahead, although most people still don’t understand what is happening.

We are moving into a time when everything that can be shaken will be shaken.  The global financial system is on the precipice of utter disaster, we we witnessing great civil unrest and political shaking all over the world, the drumbeat of war grows louder and louder, weather patterns are going absolutely crazy and seismic activity is on the rise all over the planet. For born again, Bible believing saints, as events unfold exactly as predicted in God’s Word, it is confirmation that our Heavenly Father’s plan for Jesus to return and rule and reign on this planet for 1000 years is on track and not too far distant. Saints are you preparing to rule and reign with Jesus in the Millennium?

Japan’s biggest contraction in more than five years adds to escalating concerns among policymakers about the length of a likely recession in the world’s third-largest economy as the impact of the coronavirus and a plunge in oil prices causes markets to slide and the yen to gain.

Japan’s gross domestic product was already contracting badly in 2019. It had shrank at an annualised pace of 6.3 percent from the previous quarter in the three months through December, 2019. Economists surveyed had predicted a fall of 3.8 percent, flagging the adverse impact of a sales tax increase, weak global demand and typhoon disruption.

Consumer spending fell 11.1% after the national sales tax was raised in October to 10% from 8%. During the same month,Typhoon Hagibis ravaged a large swathe of the country.

Capital spending declined 14.1% and exports slipped 0.4% due to the fallout from the U.S.-China trade war.

“I’m getting ready for another contraction in Japan’s first quarter. There just aren’t any positive factors to build a positive growth forecast,” said Mari Iwashita, chief market economist at Daiwa Securities Co., flagging her view that the economy is likely falling into recession.

“There is a good chance of Japan’s economy falling into a recession,” Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, said before Monday’s data was released. He flagged the risks of supply chains being affected if the outbreak was prolonged.

The coronavirus is taking a toll on the number of Chinese tourists to Japan and manufacturing activity due to the economy’s close ties with China, prompting some economists to forecast a contraction lasting two quarters.

The following is how Zero Hedge summarised the recent economic data that we have seen come out of China…

While not perfect, and certainly not a comprehensive view of what is really taking place “on the ground”, the above data is a useful real-time indicator of how the people in China perceive the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, and one thing is abundantly clear: as the pandemic spreads further without containment, and as the charts above flatline, so will China’s economy, which means that while Goldman’s draconian view of what happens to Q1 GDP is spot on, the expectation for a V-shaped recovery in Q2 and onward will vaporise faster than a vial of ultra-biohazardaous viruses in a Wuhan virology lab.

As far as the coronavirus is concerned, the key will be what happens to the number of confirmed cases outside of China.  Over the past week that number has roughly doubled, and if that keeps happening every week we will soon have a full-blown global pandemic on our hands.