A Holistic Mission Guide

The Church’s Response in Times of Crisis

Unstoppable: COVID-19 and the Church

COVID-19 continues to be an unstoppable pandemic with the capacity of locking down the whole world, causing many deaths and infecting millions of people. The virus is going to be endemic; it will stay with us. Concerning the discovery of a vaccine, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gherbreyesus said, “It won’t end the COVID-19 pandemic on its own, and there’s no guarantee that scientists will find one.” 

Many experts have expressed similar opinions that the vaccines are “no guarantee for permanent eradication.” The WHO Director-General further said, “We will not – we cannot go back to the way things were.” We just have to adopt a new normal way of life.

Social media is full of ‘Gospel’ messages. We have heard many videos saying that COVID-19 is a warning sign of the end times, the signs of divine wrath, or the consequences of violations of natural laws. Some say that it is the end times, the fulfilment of 666, and China is branded as anti-Christ/Christian because of their anti-Christian attitude and activities. Some see it as God’s punishment for sinful people.

Instead of discerning God’s love amidst suffering, many preachers have over-emphasized an angry God. This is nothing but a prosperity theology. When we measure God’s works only from an “abundant blessings” and a “miraculous cure” perspective, then it is prosperity theology. In other words, such people can be termed as the worshipers of mammon (money and wealth). Some even prophesied that Israel will be the only country that will not be affected by COVID-19. (It was also affected by the pandemic.) For me, it is not a curse/divine punishment, but a blessing – it makes us realize our mistakes and open up new opportunities to work for God’s kingdom. 

COVID-19 is challenging us to go out from the four walls of the church. We have been so satisfied with our normal get-together worship services, but worship services have now been locked down for months. COVID-19 is demanding a new Christian ministry in action. It is like telling us, “Come out from the church and go to homes, marketplaces, and preach there!” We are being reminded that the Church was started at home. God is there where one or two are gathered in God’s name. The Church is the people and not the magnificent building. The Church is also not a few older men making decisions for everybody. All people – men, women, youth, disabled, etc. – are included in Church. The Church becomes vibrant when we build the whole people of God. We need to build an inclusive Church where all are treated justly and equally. Today, it seems that people see only money, fame, and power. Nothing else. 

It also seems that the world has lost the value of love, care, and support. It is as though humanity has no place in society. The story of Jyotikumari and her father testify to it. She is just a fifteen-year-old girl, but she dared to take her father home on a bicycle. They were evicted from the room where they lived in Delhi. The father, who had a broken leg, was seated on the carrier of an old bicycle, and she pedaled him to their home village in Bihar. The journey took seven days. The distance covered was around 1,000 miles. The landlord asked them to leave since they could not pay rent during the COVID-19 lockdown. We live in a world where human beings are treated worse than animals. They also passed by many churches, mosques, and temples, but nobody came forward to help. No one offered them shelter. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging us to show love and justice in action. It is urging us to go to the homes of drunkards, killers, commercial sex workers, and preach there! Pray there! Sing there! About justice, love, care, and solidarity. It is challenging us to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our everyday worlds.

For Reflection and Discussion

  1. Some Christians are saying that COVID-19 is a sign of the end times. What are your thoughts on this? What does the Bible say about indicators of the end times? 
  2. What do you think it means to “discern God’s love amidst suffering” within your community? Do you agree that this should be our priority as people of faith? If so, what are practical ways to do so? 
  3. Jyotikumari’s story is heartbreaking – evicted from home, cycling 1,000 miles, carrying her father and yet no “good Samaritan” passed by. For whom have you recently had the opportunity to express care and compassion? Did you or did you not act in a way that “shows love and justice in action”? 

About the Author

Rev. Dr. Wati Longchar is a Baptist minister from Nagaland, India, who currently serves as the International Associate Missionary and Consultant of International Ministries (IM) for Theological Education Ministry of East and South Asia, a position formed through a partnership with American Baptist Churches USA and Ao Baptist Arogo Mungdang (ABAM) / Ao Baptist Church Association.
Rev. Dr. Wati Longchar

Related Articles