Updated: Jun 29
Welcome to Episode 4 of The Cross & The Virus with me Jimmy Okello. The Cross & The Virus is a 5-part Facebook Live broadcast exploring a Christian perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re joining us today for the first time, I invite you to check out our earlier episodes either on my Facebook or on this blog. I’m excited that you would join us in this series to explore a Christian perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this episode, we’re looking at the question: How Should The Church Respond to this Crisis?
The magnitude of the Crisis
Before we look at how the church should respond, it’s important to understand the magnitude of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like I said in the earlier episodes, this pandemic is unlike anything we’ve seen before.
As a result of the pandemic, we’ve seen massive shutdowns of businesses, churches, schools, transport systems and curfews.
The internet is littered with pictures and videos of people panic-buying to stock for the lockdown. Some people have lost their jobs and many have been forced to work remotely from home.
In many African countries where the majority live “hand to mouth”, food shortage seems to be a more deadly threat than COVID-19. We’ve seen pictures of a stampede in Kenya as slum residents surge for food and a similar situation in Malawai and South Africa. The pictures are disturbing.
Meanwhile, the latest figures from WHO shows 73,470 new cases, 2,544,792 confirmed cases and 175,694 deaths so far.
The locus of the pandemic being America, Italy, Germany, Spain and China. Interestingly, the figures are generally low in Africa. Most people, especially from the west, seems to predict that Africa will be hit last and the death toll could be in millions. God forbid!
That’s the gravity of the challenge that we are dealing with. When all is said and done, the pandemic will have serious consequences that will last for many years. A lot has changed already.
With that said, how should the Church respond? I believe there are three key ways that the church can respond to display the glory of God and alleviate the suffering of many families in this time. The church should respond:
In Faith and Prayer to God
Christians believe that God is in control and that He has allowed this pandemic to happen for a good reason. Paul, in writing to the church in Rome, writes saying, “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).
The Church should respond in faith and prayer to God. I believe that any response that the Church can make must start or be rooted in prayer. Unless we appeal to heaven, the impact of effort will be limited.
We can do more on our knees praying and bringing the world before God than we can do on our own. “Elijah was a human being even as we are.” The bible says. “He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops”, (James 5: 17-18). We’re reminded here that prayer is powerful and through it, God can accomplish a lot.
In Service and Love to our Neighbours
COVID-19 pandemic is, not only a crisis but also, a great opportunity for the church to shine as a light in the darkness. Many people are seeking answers now. The church should be ready to give an answer for the hope they have. It presents a great opportunity for the church to point people to Christ.
We’re “Salt of the earth and Light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16), the bible says. As light, we expel darkness by our godly example. When people in darkness see our examples, darkness is driven away and they are drawn to the light where they find Jesus.
As salt, we’re not sodium chloride but rather potassium chloride which removes bad odour and adds value to the soil as manure. As this salt, we add value to people.
In Pursued of The Great Commission.
As the Church of Jesus Christ, we’ve been called to “Go into all the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28: 18-20). As much as the church is in lockdown, the Great Commission is not in lockdown. We’re called to Go and make disciples and there is no better time than now when people are in their homes.
In my blog article, The Five Ways COVID-19 is Challenging the Church to Grow, I share my thoughts about how the Church is being changed. Over the years with the increase in persecution, the church has become more and more inward-looking. We do everything within the four walls of the church. From revival rallies to children’s ministry, women’s conference and worship nights.
However, this pandemic is challenging the church to look beyond the wall and into the world. To Go and make disciples.
In the past, even pastors’ offices were generally smaller because the pastor spent little time there but was out to shepherd the flock, but today pastors’ offices are bigger and plugged with wifi and lots of gadgets and they spend most of their time in the office and little time in pastoral visits. A lot is going to change with this pandemic.
In this pandemic, the church should not close and wait for a time to re-open. Instead, the church should look for opportunities to advance the great commission.
Whether using technology, as I’m doing or by walking to a neighbour and sharing the gospel. We must think creatively about how we’ll take the gospel to the ends of the earth. We can not afford to remain idle.
How is your church responding to this crisis? If your church is not, please ask your pastor, why?.