The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has created a global health crisis that has had a deep impact on the way we perceive our world and on our everyday lives.
It has given us new terms and redefined others with an overarching sense of “scary” because there is whole lot we do not understand about this virus and its impact to date. It’s not only the unknown rate of contagious transmission that threatens our sense of security, but the safety measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus require something new like social distancing, no handshakes, and wear face mask.
The impact Covid-19 could have on the world is staggering. We could be facing multiple famines of “biblical proportions” in just a matter of months according to reports from the UN, World Food bank, and other agencies. It’s predicted that this coronavirus pandemic will push an additional 130 million people to the brink of starvation before the end of 2020.
While all this is alarming, the opportunities for the church have never been greater. The gospel must remain center stage as we address the needs created by this pandemic. We must use an unconditional approach that helps people with what they need to survive in a loving manner; a deep-seated practice that adds value to people and makes people aware of who Jesus Christ is. With this approach we can and will lift people out of despair no matter what the issues of the day are.
We know that when felt needs are met with this approach, behaviors change and people embrace Jesus personally, their lives become better, problems such as human trafficking and gender-based violence are the first to change because the family unit is strengthened. When dignity is restored, human rights issues, health problems, and economic issues lessen over time. Peace-building and humanitarian assistance tend to address life’s insecurities. When a person becomes secure in who they are, a new inward desire to be and do better develops. Lives are and will be truly transformed.
Just when we were learning how to adjust to the pandemic, the appalling death of George Floyd lit a fiery response that’s been smoldering for decades. A protest is a public expression of objection, disapproval, or dissent towards an idea or action. I’m thankful I live in a nation where we can protest peacefully for something we disapprove of. Protest are not new, take the time to read Acts 19: 23-41 (the protests/riots of Ephesus, it’s like reading today’s headlines).
Protests are driving us to have long overdue conversations that lead, in some cases, to well thought-out actions. This is also far more a Christian response problem than a government problem to fix (see what our CEO, Camille Melki says about our response to the protests in Lebanon). Only the love of Jesus Christ flowing through us can heal and mend the racial divide. Neither the government nor non-believers will add value to people they do not love. Christians are obligated to love all people. You cannot love people you do not add value to.
It’s seems that more and more people are trying to thrive on bad news. Why? Bad news sells. People are looking for a reason to justify being afraid, it feeds into their despair and this gives them some sort of temporary comfort fix. However, for the follower of Jesus Christ this period (pandemic and the protests) in our history is a God given opportunity. It’s an opportunity for us to look at ourselves and do some deep soul searching and then make some major adjustments. We must pivot in a new direction.
Remember you and I were born for such a time as this! God makes no mistakes. So, what will define you? What are you doing with this unique time in history?
Here is my question for you to think on and answer. When you look back over this time of pandemic and protests in 1 year, or in 5 years, or in 50 years, what will define this period of time in your life for you?
Here is what we know, it’s during the most difficult times in life when people get the hungriest to know God. Luke 15 tells us that down deep everyone wants to know God whether they know it or not. In times of uncertainty with an unknown future as followers of Jesus Christ we must be ready to be fantastic image barriers.
What I am going to say next many will want to glance over. It sounds way too simplistic, or it’s a cop-out, been-there-done-that, that’s what we do as Christians etc. But trust me, it’s none of these things. It’s very hard work. We know that when we pray about something, over time, God changes our thinking, and/or burdens, our behaviors, He might even ask us to do something tangible in a more convincing way. Be open and ready to listen to the whispers from your Savior. This will only come in times of prayer.
Prayer is needed for the Pandemic:
- Pray for the pandemic, pray that a vaccine will be found in record time.
- Pray for all those that have lost loved ones to death
- Pray for those who are hurting because of an unknow, “scary” future, that they will trust God who knows the future.
Prayer is needed for the protests:
- Pray that the protests will be used for good and not evil.
- Pray that many protestors will come to faith in Jesus Christ, the one who can heal their pain and who cares for their concerns,
- Pray that Reconciliation will take place, first with their heavenly Father and second with their neighbor. Let us all realize that hurting people, hurt people and we need to pray and help them.
Prayer is needed for us as Christians: I’d like to spend some time here because this is key to moving forward in a positive way.
- Pray for more believers to become followers of Jesus Christ. It’s become evident to me during the pandemic and protests that there’s a large number of people who believe, who placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, but do not continue to follow Him. Followers are disciples, people who have a desire to make a significant difference in their sphere of influence because of Christ. As John records it:,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” – John 14:12
Jesus was indicating in this verse that the disciples’ work, as well as yours and mine, would be greater – not in power but in extent (reach). The greater works point to the power of the gospel to transform lives. The power of the gospel to transform life is the greatest ministry of all, the most important spiritual work in the world. Even during a pandemic and in the mist of protests God is allowing us to do “greater works” than even Jesus saw in His day. This is why we as followers of Jesus Christ cannot let this time in our history go to waste. We have to pay attention to the opportunities before us.
- Pray, that we will use this period of time wisely, to show people in our path who Jesus is, the peace he can bring, and the Hope He provides.
Some people say, when people are suffering and living in despair this is not the time to emphasize the gospel because it is too general, and the issues of the day must take center stage. However, the gospel has been and must remain center stage, using an unconditional approach that loves and adds value to people, and makes people aware of who Jesus Christ is. With this life-style approach we can and are lifting people out of despair no matter what the issues of the day are.
So, what will you be known for during this time in history? A person of prayer taking full advantage of the pandemic and the protests in a way to lead people into a growing relationship with Him? This is “the greater work” for this unprecedented time in our history.