Updated: Oct 14, 2021
The world is in a crisis! In less than three months, life has radically changed as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. The disease first broke-out in Wuhan Province in China and was first announced on 31st December 2019, hence earning itself the name Covid-19. It has since spread to engulf the whole world and WHO declared it a pandemic.
Over 932,166 people have been infected worldwide and so far over 46,764 people have died as a result. News reports show empty and abandoned cities all over the world. The streets are empty in cities that usually did not sleep. All because people are locked down or are self-isolating to prevent the spread of the virus.
The lock-down has, not only affected businesses but churches and other religious institutions as well. Churches are closed as believers are encouraged to pray in their homes. One wonders whether there’s any good that can come out of this hopeless situation where church gatherings are shut down to avoid the spread of the virus. Any Christian would agree with the scripture that says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”(Romans 8: 28). Well, here are Five Ways the Covid-19 is Challenging the Church Grow in this midst of this seemingly hopeless lock-down situation.
We’ve Been Challenged to look beyond the four walls of the church.
The church is not the building but the people. Over the years, as persecution raged and the world became more hostile to Christianity, the church sought the easier way by seeking safety within the four walls of the church building. Most activities are done within the church, from revival rallies to conferences, Sunday gathering, youth ministries, you name it. Fewer and fewer churches are being missional and reaching out to their communities. This lock-down has challenged the church to move out of the building to seek out the people in their communities. This is a blessing in that it’s reminding the church to go back to its primary mission “going into all the world and making disciples” (Matthew 28: 19-20).
2. We’ve Been Challenged to Rethink Our Mission Strategy to Include Technology Such as The Internet.
Those who otherwise would bash the idea of church online as a strategy for reaching the lost are now open to the idea all of a sudden. The church is challenged to go beyond just creating a platform online where members can attend church services, but to look at technology as a whole. Perhaps this will help the church to seek to redeem technology and use it for the glory of God. Indeed this is a good thing that this situation is forcing the church to consider.
3. We’ve Been Given a Unique Opportunity to Reach Thousands with the Gospel, Most of Whom are Locked-down.
A Section of the church in China in Wuhan province has taken advantage of the lock-down situation to reach out with the gospel as they provided free masks to people on their streets. As they gave out the masks they also gave out tracts and shared the gospel at any opportunity they found. The Chinese church has not only suffered from this pandemic, but they have also seized the moment, to share hope through the gospel. Meanwhile Ahmadiyya Muslim in the USA is also seizing the opportunity to reach out. Their youth are reaching out to those who are self-isolating by offering to shop for them, help them send mail, bring urgent supplies or even make a friendly phone call. Some of those in self-isolation just need a little assistance like shopping or calling someone for them. There’s indeed a real opportunity to share the gospel. Christians should be the most aggressive in reaching out to such people who are our neighbours; coming to their rescue with needed resources and the gospel. This is challenging us to revisit our theology about suffering.
4. We’ve Been Challenged to Assess Where Our Hope Truly Lies.
Living with an eminent possibility of death has forced some Christians to deal with the issue of death. Many Christians have not come to terms with the reality that God has called us to give our lives for his sake. As such, many Christians have not died to self yet or fully surrendered to Christ. They live to themselves. Some Christians are despairing because they cannot trust in God. They have been challenged to “assess themselves whether they be in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Christians who live for themselves meanwhile neglecting the work of Christ and his kingdom will find themselves locked out of the kingdom someday. Paul looked at his life in light of this reality and said: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21). I wonder how many Christians, in the midst of this pandemic can say that. Some might be shocked to realize that they are not even born-again.
5. We’ve Been Challenged to View Suffering Biblicaly
Covid-19 has challenged the church to embrace a biblical understanding of suffering. Many Christians, especially those open to prosperity gospel have for long living in a theological bubble; believing that they can never fall sick. Some churches in Uganda have declared themselves a “disease-free zone.” But as Christians and non-believers alike are infected and others dying, their theological bubbles are being burst. As the disease begins to hit close to home with a Ugandan pastor passing on from the UK and some of the children from our beloved Watoto Children‘s Choir (Lord have mercy) getting infected. The Covid-19 situation is helping remind many Christians who were getting comfortable in this sin-sick world to remember that our citizenship is not here and that as long as you are still living under the sun, we’ll experience suffering. But praise be to Jesus for he has overcome the world.
In conclusion, not all is gloom and doom in this season of self-quarantine, lock-down, social distancing, sanitizers and hand washing. God is using this situation to mold his church to become more and more like Christ. But, will we be attentive to his voice and sensitive to His leading so that we can seize the opportunities that this challenge provides so that as we serve Christ we may become more and more like him? Well, that’s the big question.