We are facing the reality of the worldwide Coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic. It is certainly unprecedented during the lifetime of most of us, and people are asking: “What should we do? How should we handle this? It is not a time to be reactionary, to panic or to create panic. It is also not a time to be in denial and to say nothing. It is a time to show leadership.
As we read the reports of the spread of this pandemic, as we see the pictures and hear people in different countries sharing their experiences, we all experience the human emotions brought about by times of crisis. We are all thinking of our health and that of our loved ones and our members. But we should not be the ones’ who react with fear or selfishness. We should lead our people in the spirit of compassion and sacrifice, remembering that the One we are following, sacrificed His life for us.
We need to acknowledge the fact that depending on how the situation develops, assemblies might have to make certain choices: Like for example to stop handshaking, kissing and hugging in church for a while. We might even have to choose whether or not to suspend some meetings. Whatever happens, we should not shy away from leading and we should be sure to point out that this too will pass. There is Hope and we have Faith in Jesus.
For us as believers this is a time to exercise faith. We are people with a perspective on life that says: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.“ (Ps.23:4 NIV). We proclaim that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Tim.1:7 NLT)
We are the people who believe that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 37-38 NIV)
People of faith pray and believe that God hears and answers. We should be praying for hope and healing for those who are suffering or overwhelmed with fear. We should pray for strength and guidance for all medical staff and political leaders. We should pray for wisdom, protection and healing.
The South African Council of Churches meeting on the Coronavirus outbreak has been brought forward to 19 March 2020. We will keep you posted on the outcome of this meeting.
It is a time to act with wisdom. World Health Organization (WHO) has issued guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of infection. It focuses mainly on improved personal hygiene and promotes habits like washing our hands regularly, not to touch our faces, to clean cell phones and work surfaces with disinfectant. To practise social distancing where possible and to strengthen our immune systems.
We should also guide our people to exercise prudence and not to (over)react to everything that is posted on Social media and especially not to re-send it without first establishing that it is really from a reliable source.
May the grace of God, the Love of Jesus and the communion of the Holy Spirit, rest, rule and abide with you – now and forevermore.