From the Pastors Desk
Mar20FriMarch 20, 2020 by Jami-Ann St Pierre
When we officially rang in 2020 the terms “Coronavirus” and “COVID-19” were unknown to us. Today, March 20, 2020, they are household words. Nationally and Provincially we are in a state of emergency. IN a few short weeks, classification of this virus has escalated from outbreak, to epidemic, to global pandemic. There is not a person on this planet who hasn’t been impacted by this virus. Today, many are anxious, fearful, and greatly on edge. People are isolating (a good thing), and panic buying. Little did we realize how important toilet paper, respiratory masks, hand sanitizer, and bottled water were.
Everyone will react to this crisis differently. How should Christians respond when everyone is afraid and struggling to find hope? How should Christians bring the truth of the Gospel to a world that STILL needs Him above everything else? Here are 10 things Christians can do in faithful response to COVID-19:
1. Stay informed and only spread truthful information – Not all information is truthful or helpful. Right now we are seeing a lot of reacting, not all of them are positive or even rational. We don’t want to be complacent or ignorant, nor do we want to panic. For helpful and accurate information check out https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada.html or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html. Philippians 4:8, NIV: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
2. Do Not Surrender to Fear – Believer’s I encourage you to look to the power and peace of God in these days. Faith is the antidote to fear.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline. – 1 Timothy 1:7
3. Practice Personal Hygiene – This seems pretty obvious, or even common sense. I can tell you I don’t think I have ever washed my hands as much. The CDC has stated that this step can go a long way in helping to prevent sickness and reduce the spread of COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fabout%2Fprevention.html. WE need to have a global outlook here. It is not just about us. Loving our neighbour involves taking every precaution to look after their well-being. Just because you are healthy and strong enough to fight off the virus doesn’t mean that others around you will be. And just because you don’t currently have symptoms doesn’t mean you aren’t infected or incapable of spreading the virus to others.
If you’re not sick:
-Avoid close contact with those who are.
-Thoroughly and frequently wash your hands.
-Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
-If you can avoid public places, stay home!
-Understand that quarantines will help slow the spread of COVID-19.
If you are sick or think you might be sick:
-Stay home. Seriously. Consider your impact.
-Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
-Wash your hands frequently!
-Disinfect surfaces you’ve touched.
-Wear a face mask if available. If not, cover your nose and mouth.
This is a time, more than ever, for Christians to step up and care for the sick by being socially conscious, considerate, and diligent in practicing personal hygiene.
4. Choose Compassion OVER Personal Convenience – All of these cancellations may feel extreme. Especially ones we enjoy. But remember, cancelling these larger gatherings dramatically reduce the number of people exposed. So in doing so lives will be saved. My niece’s daughters’ principal made a statement on the last day of school that is worth repeating: “In the end, it will be impossible to know if we overreacted or did too much, but it will be QUITE apparent if we under reacted or did too little." What a statement! Check out Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
5. Don’t buy what you don’t need – Be considerate and don’t buy more than you need. Panic purchasing and stockpiling has led to the shortages we have seen in recent weeks. A distillery in Toronto is starting to make hand sanitizer to help in the shortage.
How Christians can help:
-Refraining from buying respiratory masks. Surgical masks are essential for doctors and nurses, and without them, they cannot effectively treat sick patients, including those with coronavirus.
-Washing their hands with soap when possible and saving the hand sanitizer for nurses, first responders, and trauma centers.
-Saving bottled water for those who do not have immediate access to clean running water. Use the tap or filtered water first.
-Saving baby wipes for babies. There are other ways to clean and sanitize one’s house.
Remember, God has promised to be your daily bread (Luke 11:1-4) and provide for all of your needs (Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:25-34). As Jesus said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
6. Be Generous – Nothing shines like generous Christians. People are being laid off, parents are forced to stay home from work to look after children whose schools are closed.
So what can Christians do?
-Be generous and give to families in need.
-Offer to grocery shop for the vulnerable or Moms at home with the kids
-Ask about the needs of your neighbours and go out of your way to meet them.
The apostle John wrote, “if anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17)
Like it or not, the time for generosity is now. How will Christians respond? Will they be stingy or quick to provide for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40)?
7. Don’t Isolate yourself from the Body of Christ – It is true we are not meeting for our weekly public gathering … in person. But you will be able to join via the internet. We will be emailing instructions and also posting on the Home Page of the website. Even if we cannot meet in person in our building, or life groups, we must stay in contact with fellow believers and encourage them through text messages, phone calls, and even FaceTime or Skype. Thankfully, there are still many resources available, the greatest of which is prayer. The Apostle Paul was often prevented from meeting with churches and believers in person. This did not stop him from writing to fellow believers or praying for them from where he was (Romans 1:8-11).
8. Be the Church – In the midst of the fear and uncertainty believers have an opportunity to be an incredible witness to the world. Check out Matthew 5:13-16. Imagine what the next months would look like if the church took the lead on giving, compassion and community care during this season. What would be the Gospel impact if we did that? Global disaster or opportunity to be the light and love, hands and feet of Jesus Christ? We get to decide (Colossians 3:12).
9. PRAY – There are many ways to react to a public health crisis like the coronavirus. But in this season, Christians have the power to do more than react. Now is the time for Christ’s followers to truly go on the offensive and unleash the power of prayer.
- Pray for healing for the sick (James 5:14-15)
- Pray for strength for those who aren’t sick (3 John 1:2)
- Pray for provision (both financial and physical) (Philippians 4:19)
- Pray for a spirit of peace to come over the world (1 Timothy 1:7)
- Pray for wisdom for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
- Pray in unity with other believers (Matthew 18:20)
- Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
- Pray that the Gospel will Spread … in a GOOD CONTAGIOUS WAY – 2 Thessalonians 3:1 “As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.”
10. Put Your Hope and Trust in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – While the coronavirus may impact our health, our economy, and our very way of life, we serve a God who is bigger and stronger than any sickness, fear, darkness, or weapon of the enemy, and He has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11). Our God is Healer (Psalms 30:2), Provider (Philippians 4:19), and King (Psalms 47:7).
So trust in the Lord, trust in His power, trust in His plan, and stand firm in His promises (Proverbs 3:5-6). Be the church and the light and love of Jesus Christ to a sick and frightened world. And when you too are afraid, never forget that “weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5)
Hope to See you online Sunday … You are all Greatly Loved
(I know this was long … But the information is important. Thanks to Crosswalk.com for this helpful article … I have adapted it for us.)