Times change but our call never does. More than ever is the world in need of hope, of comfort, of good news. Many doors close as we speak. Our traditional ways of evangelising will not be possible for a time. But we have the Spirit of God. His power in us will enable us to find new ways.
In times of war churches were full. This is a different kind of war, and churches cannot be full. This is the time the world can see what the church really is. Not a building of a Sunday hobby. We are like the church in Acts, which was banished from the temple and the synagogues, but spread throughout the world, taking their message with them. God used this for good then, and He can do the same now.
Still our situation is unique. For the protection of society, personal contact has to be strictly limited to what is necessary for survival. How do we reach out to and love people we cannot meet?
For God, this pandemic is no surprise. With this tremendous challenge, he has also given us the tools that no generation before us has had, to communicate remotely with great ease. This is the time to use every digital platform, as well as traditional media such as TV and radio , to reach out to people, both near and far, personally and collectively. Let the church be known for not forgetting the lonely and isolated. Let the church be known for seeking our the hungry and feeding them. Let the church be known for good works which will glorify God.
In a time of crisis, we all tend to take care of our own first and foremost. Many parents, for example, have been overwhelmed with new home schooling responsibilities as well as with financial insecurity. Many elderly people are stuck at home feeling useless and a burden to society. These are legitimate difficulties and there is room for grief and complaints. However, for all of us God has a plan to fulfil our purpose in this generation and to make his salvation known.
What can we do practically?
- Many people now have more time to pray. There are unlimited needs all around us, but we need not stop there. Please pray for mission workers in the 10/40 window, as they are faced with tremendous challenges. Please pray for wisdom, protection, inspiration and for God to open previously unseen doors. Pray with your kids. Pray alone. Pray on a Zoom prayer meeting. Write a prayer and email it around. Pray on the phone. Whatever works. But pray.
- Encourage! Let others know you pray for them. Let missionaries and mission organisations know. Ask what their needs are and offer help where you can. Has God blessed you with funds? Please consider how you can use them, without being asked for them. Share supplies of food, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, whatever you have that can bless others.
- Get creative! Hold a social distance garden worship, where a small number of people gather at an appropriate distance outside to sing and pray. Use home schooling to teach your children about mission (we have children’s resources available!) Make cards for neighbour in need and people on the mission field. Share prayer points for mission and mission resources in creative ways.
- This is the time people are confronted with death and have questions that matter. Resist just talking about the virus, but dare to ask people if it is well with their soul. If they have spiritual questions, be open to answer them. Again, use every thinkable digital platform to reach out to your neighbours and those far away.
- Get the word of God out there. Make videos, art, music, and spread it around.
- Order gifts online for people. You can even do this internationally. Ask mission organisations for addresses to send stuff to. This can be aid, but also books, toys and whatever else can encourage missionary workers.
The word of God is not bound. As we accept our limitations in personal freedom for the good of society, we can rejoice in the unlimited power of the word of God to reach people wherever they are and be part of that.