Kia Ora, Bula Vinaka, Malo e lelei, Talofa Lava… hello.
As you are probably aware by now, COVID-19 has entrenched itself in our world. Each government within our territory is slowly rolling out its response to this crisis. Part of each response will be a requirement not to gather corporately, and the numbers of acceptable gatherings are likely to reduce in size. During this time, it is really important that everyone operating under the umbrella of The Salvation Army adhere to and follow the official guidelines that have been put out for your safety and the safety of the young people we work with.
As I write this, all of our upcoming Easter camps and sporting events have been cancelled. It is at times like this we need to remember that the church is people and not buildings. We often forget that for long periods of history the church, God’s people, couldn’t gather freely in larger groups as we can today across our territory. Yet, despite that, people still got saved and the message of the gospel still spread all over the known world. In fact, in some other countries around the world, this is how it still is today.
While this next season of social distancing and isolation might be unusual for our generation, it is not unusual in the two-thousand-year history of Christ followers who have gone before us. Throughout the course of history, it was not unusual for people to be isolated because of persecution, social standing, or pestilence and sickness. However, the difference between those who have gone before and us today is that we can stay connected while being disconnected. Thanks to the internet and social media, in many parts of our territory we can stay in touch while being out of touch.
It is because of this that I believe we have an opportunity to bring hope at a time where there is so much fear. Let us be the calm amongst all of the anxiety because of the hope that we have in Christ. Some of those around us may be faced with the bigger questions in life for the first time as they might face their mortality. So, make sure you keep an eye on and encourage each other and reach out to those who have no hope. This is where the rubber of our faith meets the road of uncertainty.
The good news, for those of us who are in Christ, is that we have certainty. At this time, wise words from the New Testament book of Philippians come to mind:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Who are you going to pray for and encourage during the days ahead?