What Should We Be Doing About The Coronavirus?

A challenge to churches to minister in their community, family and church if the Coronavirus strikes.

Since Jesus came to earth and healed people Christians have loved lepers, victims of the plague, people dying of HIV-Aids.  Some believers died doing acts of tender mercy to those who died with no one close, no one to pray or sing over them.  They put their lives on the line because they knew that to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  Rise up Church!

 

Many people are worried and wondering what they can do in case this virus comes to their area, community, family, or church.  As the Coordinator of Urban & Mercy Ministries I want to send out some ideas and thoughts especially for churches in rising to this challenge that is before the church.

Let me begin by saying that though COVID-19 is new as a virus the concept of a plague or pestilence is not a new challenge for the Church.  Since mankind fell in the garden of Eden disease has come into the world.  It is one of the evidences of judgment generally on all mankind, just like the common cold.  Most likely, just like the rain, it will fall upon the just and the unjust.  Is it a cause or reason to call for repentance?  Of course, since death comes to us all here is another way it may claim us, but it is not something that we can particularly say, “because of this sin, in this country, that is why this disease has come.”  Jesus tells all people, “unless you repent, you will all perish as they did” (Luke 13:3).

The reality of death always becomes heightened in our awareness during days of war, tribulation, or disease.  None of us need to become a caricature of an angry prophet, the disease is frightening enough. We need to be available with the Gospel of hope, the reality of heaven, and the demonstration of compassion and mercy.  We need to be sensitive to the panic and fear that arises in times of pestilence, and we need to deal with our own fears as well.

So, our first call is to pray!  Pray for God’s mercy to protect us against this disease, ask the Lord to restrain it and to end it. Pray for the Lord to give our scientists wisdom and skill to come up with vaccines and medicines to fight it.  Pray for our leaders to know the best strategy and the wisdom to implement it to protect the public health.  Pray for our pastors and church leaders to know how to prepare the people of the congregation to be prepared for ministry.  Pray for faith and courage to be able to meet the challenge.

Our second call is for us as God’s people to lead with courage and faith, and not hysteria, gossip, rumors, panic, or paralysis.  We need to encourage ourselves and our families to trust the Lord, and to be wise in our actions.  We need to teach our children hygiene, washing our hands, sneezing or coughing into our elbows, using hand sanitizer, staying home when we realize we have symptoms of cold, flu, or virus.

The third thing is to mobilize all the medical personnel within your congregation and help them spiritually.  Bring them forward in a worship service and pray over them, as they are the first line of defense against, and have the most susceptibility to, the virus-even before they know what may be walking into the clinic or doctor’s office.  Pray for God’s protection over them, and for them to be a witness of faith and courage.

Ask your members who are in the medical profession for their advice and wisdom as to how to prepare the congregation.

Lastly, prepare the congregation as to how to extend mercy to those who become sick.  Do you have a food pantry or families prepared to bring meals to families who are told to stay home while they are sick or in isolation?  Do you know what elderly or handicapped people may have no family to bring them help if they become isolated, in the congregation and in the neighborhood?  This is a good way to show love and care to those around you.  Ask for their contact information and encourage them to let the church know if they need help.  Volunteers may be needed for transportation, picking up prescriptions, or calling relatives.

Since Jesus came to earth and healed people Christians have loved lepers, victims of the plague, people dying of HIV-Aids.  Some believers died doing acts of tender mercy to those who died with no one close, no one to pray or sing over them.  They put their lives on the line because they knew that to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  Rise up Church!

Randy Nabors is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, is Pastor Emeritus of New City Fellowship in Chattanooga Tenn., and the Urban & Mercy Ministries Coordinator- The New City Network at Mission to North America (MNA). This article is used with permission.