A generous response to Coronavirus

By Debbie Wright | 13 March 2020 | Comments (7)

The novel Covid19 virus is now touching all our lives in a myriad of ways. Our church’s trip to Israel has been cancelled, conferences have been postponed, my 18 year old daughter is worrying about her A Levels, the need for skype lessons and logistics around her exams. My 87-year-old father in hospital is being fast-tracked to get an operation scheduled for 9 months to be done now. Emergency plans at work, keeping our distance from one another and every surface springing a hand gel are constant reminders of an unknown, disruptive threat.

But what of our response? The regular updates on our phone pinging the latest statistics and the pictures of empty shelves and commuters covering their faces all work to heighten our hardwired instinct to be anxious and to protect ourselves. And maybe put that extra bag of rice or pasta in our supermarket basket – just in case…

So how should we respond as Christians?

 

Put our trust in God

None of us can predict the future but we can draw strength from what we do know. Worry is not our friend and panic is not our way.  ‘If you faint on the day of adversity, your strength is small’ (Proverbs 24.10)

Corrie ten Boom, who faced extreme adversity, reminds us that ‘Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength’. Jesus calls us to respond in prayer and put our trust in him. ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go’. (Joshua 1:9)

Services and businesses are going to come under pressure and people in general may be experiencing extra stress – we won’t always know what they might be dealing with on the inside. Asking God to give us extra servings of grace and patience for others will help mark us as different.

 

Be the first to arrive and the last to leave

Throughout history, Christians have stood out because they showed up and reached out to the sick, the vulnerable and the marginalised through plagues, pandemics and persecutions.  Sociologist Rodney Stark writes about a plague in AD251 which swept through the Roman Empire decimating the population: ‘Pagans tended to flee the cities but Christians stayed. The early Bishop Dionysius writes ‘Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves, and many departed this life serenely happy’.’ 

In nineteenth century England, when thousands were dying of cholera, Charles Spurgeon visited homes to care for the sick. Today, the church of Jesus in Wuhan China, the virus’s epicentre, is open and ministering to everyone.

Not all of us will be on the front-line of caring for the sick, but rather than holing up at home, there are things we can do. Food banks have reported that they are running out of staples, so that extra bag or rice or pasta could be donated. Elderly people in your church or community may feel even more isolated with access to online services, so running errands or just a listening ear over a cup of tea may be a lifeline.

 

Be watchful for those who are vulnerable

This week I spoke to a girl in her thirties who works for herself and is originally from Romania who was very worried about the virus. When I asked her what she was most worried about, it wasn’t getting ill in itself, but the fact that she was alone here in the UK. We live in a world that has never been better connected but so many feel alone, vulnerable and anxious. In times like this we can be beacons of light in a dark world offering our love, peace and confidence through the power of the Holy Spirit.

One practical idea might be to set up Whatsapp group for the neighbours on your street, as a couple of enterprising people we know have done in London.  They posted a note through letter boxes suggesting starting a group that could share shopping, collecting medicines or just being a listening ear.

 

Pray

Above all we can pray! The disruption of this unknown threat may be an inconvenience for most of us, but we must pray for those working in the NHS, for the government decision makers and our supermarket supply chains. As well as those who will be deprived of income and those who may suffer personal loss and extreme pressures.

Praying leads us closer to God and is a reminder that confidence in God trumps fear, thankfulness trumps selfishness, and understanding his love for us unleashes our love for our fellow humans.

Prayer-infused peace, compassion and selflessness should mark how we talk about Coronavirus.  Jesus Christ put on flesh and made himself vulnerable. He healed the sick and loved the marginalized and we should follow his lead.


Read more...

The wonder drug of generosity

Growing generous teenagers

The science of generosity

 

Posted by Debbie Wright

Debbie Wright is Stewardship’s Head of Content and is passionate about generosity in all its guises. Besides occasional blogging and tweeting she creates resources and campaigns such as 40acts and Advent Wonder to inspire, engage and motivate the wider Christian community. Prior to joining, Debbie worked for A Rocha UK as editor of their national magazine and in a previous life worked as a TV producer/director for the BBC for 17 years.  Debbie is married to Graham; they have 4 daughters and a springer spaniel.  When not acting as taxi driver, she can be found on a salsa dance floor. Follow Debbie on Twitter @debwright99

comments:

Carolyn Lewis

March 14, 2020 7:40 AM
Thank you

Really helpful to read during these times when it is easy not to think of others. Thank you for the prompt to continue to support others especially the vulnerable.

Tony Wakeling

March 14, 2020 4:14 PM
We stand in need of such wisdom and guidance
Thank you for your ministry

Tony Wakeling
Former Trust Manager of Stewardship Services

Richard

March 15, 2020 3:28 PM
Thank you -- this is good. I particularly appreciate the quotation from Corrie Ten Boom. When others are distancing and isolating in more ways than the obvious, Christians need to be relating. Spiritual and mental health matter, too!

Eileen Moore

March 15, 2020 5:19 PM
A helpful, calm and encouraging piece. Thank you.

paul dibley

March 16, 2020 8:48 AM
Thanks for your lovely balanced comments. I will check the food bank website more frequently. it is too easy to get swamped by the minor nuisances like not being allowed to leave jugs of orange squash out so the teenagers in the youth group can help themselves........keep up the good work

judith goddard

March 16, 2020 9:10 AM
Thank you Debbie - reading this from my house overlooking Lutembe Bay, Lake Victoria, Uganda. Thank you for your positivity and practical prayer thoughts. I've had a bucket of water and soap at the gate into the compound for nearly two weeks now.. I employ 4 members of staff who look after the houses and garden. One staff member lives on the compound with his wife and two children Faith and Hope, the other staff come each day from the local village about a mile away. They walk each day from the village. I have a lodger in one of the one bedroom apartments - all of us wash our hands every time we come onto the compound, including any visitors. There also hand sanitizer is available for everyone. As yet no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Uganda but the MOH appears to be prepared from the experience of Ebola outbreaks in the past. Each church is advised to have handwashing facilities available and where I live we have a very active WhatsAp Group to keep in touch with neighbours and residents in the area.

Mark Cook

March 16, 2020 9:24 AM
A really helpful and God-centred article. It's now going round the leadership of our church and to the Christian charities for whom I fundraise.
Thank you!

leave a comment:

Your comment will have to be approved by a site administrator before it is shown on the site so please be patient.