As I look out on my usually busy street and see that it is just about deserted, I find myself pondering these unprecedented times. Much of the church has had a sense for a time that something big was coming and that 2020 would be a significant year, but none of us knew that coronavirus would be the activator.

Driving back from speaking at Gold Hill Baptist Church on Sunday, 15 March, there was a strange sense in my gut that things were about to change. The media stories were growing and the idea that things were about to become less free was increasingly clear. Within days, everything was being live streamed and Zoom or Skype had quickly become a friend to all.

We have entered a new season, and in these days, these first few months for me of ministering as CEO at the Evangelical Alliance, we are committed to continue spreading the gospel, being a strong, united voice for the church, and supporting our membership throughout this epidemic. A lot of this ministry will be online for the months to come, but we believe that although scattered to our own spaces, the Lord is supernaturally gathering us all.

We were involved in calling a National Day of Prayer on Sunday, 22 March, and it was such an encouragement to join with thousands of Christians lighting candles in their windows as a signal of hope to the nation. As a family we gathered in that moment and raised our voices in prayer – the presence of our King was tangible and knowing we were joining our brothers and sisters to seek His face was powerful.

Sponsored

The question is, How do we begin to respond in these days?” There are three things that we are encouraging the church to do. First, pray. Pray for the NHS workers diligently and faithfully serving the sick. Pray for the sick themselves – for their healing. Pray for a sudden end to the coronavirus, that it would depart as quickly as it seemed to come, right across the world, in Jesus’ name. Pray too for our government and those in leadership to receive God’s wisdom in these days.

Second, don’t panic. Fear is more widespread and contagious than the virus itself, and we cannot bow the knee to it. One of the most consistent commands in the Bible is do not be afraid”, and the Lord always wants to breathe peace into our homes and lives. The words of Psalm 91 are important to hold onto in these days: I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’”

The third thing, which comes as a result of praying and not being afraid, is demonstrating a different way, showing the world what is different when you put your trust in Jesus. We stand on the Rock of Ages even though the nations find themselves on shifting sand. How can we actively demonstrate the love of Jesus to our neighbours, families and friends in this time? WhatsApp street groups, food packages outside doors, offers to pray for people on the phone, sharing the hope we have in Jesus – let’s keep creatively imagining how we can be good news.

In these unique days we are having to refocus a lot of what we are doing, but reimagining helps us to pull together on how we can continue to serve the church in making Jesus known. It is my firm belief that this crisis has given us unprecedented opportunity to share the gospel. There is so much fear and hopelessness around and into this we can bring our hope in Jesus. We can act differently, love differently, speak differently, and see our communities transformed for Jesus.

So, please stay safe, keep praying, be a non-anxious presence, and show what’s different when you have Jesus. This is an incredibly difficult time for our country, but we will get through this and, as the people of the gospel, we must tell a different story at this time of challenge. Go for it, family.

Fear is more widespread and contagious than the virus itself, and we cannot bow the knee to it.