The following is a statement from Bishop Danny Yohannan, Vice President of Gospel for Asia, concerning the current Coronavirus crisis:
The coronavirus COVID-19 is now impacting our daily lives, and — for many of us — consuming our thoughts and conversations every hour. It’s also driving us into physical isolation as many of us self-isolate and try to stay home as much as possible to lower our risk of contracting and spreading the disease.
A majority of churches around the world have even cancelled their services and/or switched to a streaming platform instead of meeting in person. But in this time of unprecedented isolation, we — the Church — need to come together like never before. We might have to socially distance ourselves from others physically — but we must allow this crisis to draw us closer to each other in our hearts, minds, and Christ-like actions.
“Separate, yet come together” — it seems like an oxymoron, a contradiction. So, how do we do that?
1. Come together with God. It’s vitally important for every one of us to draw closer to God during this anxious time, so that He may draw closer in a personal way to each of us. In times of trial and tribulation, God’s people have always run to the outstretched arms of God, and the love of God has flooded them with His light, peace, and hope.
2. Come together as a family. This is a life-changing moment when we can choose to invest our precious time with our loved ones: encouraging them, talking with them about things that really matter, laughing together over memories, and praying together as a family—especially praying for those suffering with the virus and for wisdom for the leaders of our nation. Also let us never forget to pray for God’s mercy and grace for millions who still wait to hear about the love of Christ for the first time. Let’s be careful not to waste this opportunity.
3. Come together as a community of believers. We might be separated in body but we will always be together in spirit and in prayer. Use the full range of today’s communications tools — phone, social media, video chat, teleconferencing, live streaming — to stay connected to your fellow believers, the Body of Christ. This is crucial — and with modern technology there’s no reason why we need to become spiritual castaways. Thanks to the incredible technology available to us, following the Scriptural command to “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25) is possible anywhere, any time, in real-time.
4. Come together to serve the most vulnerable. At this time of fear and uncertainty, let’s not forget the most vulnerable among us — the elderly, those with health issues, the homeless, and the poor — as well as those around the world with personal crises that can be utterly devastating (Matthew 25:40). I assure you: COVID-19 will not stop Gospel for Asia serving the most vulnerable families and children across Asia, and showing them the love of God in both word and deed.
5. Come together during Lent by putting our focus on God. As we are being encouraged to socially isolate ourselves, let us remember we are in the season of Great Lent. Rather than “social isolation,” we can practice “ascetic prayer.” We can turn this into a God-focused time as we all use this chance to quietly pray and intercede for those around us, and for those who are suffering. May God be merciful to us all as we cry out to him. Kyrie Eleison (God, have mercy).
Finally, COVID-19 might stop us gathering together in our traditional worship settings, but it will NEVER stop the Church! We will fight this crisis on our knees in prayer — and we will fight it together. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is able to separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).
Danny Yohannan is vice-president of Gospel for Asia (GFA, www.gfa.org), a leading faith-based mission agency, bringing vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially to those who have yet to hear the “good news” of Jesus Christ. In GFA’s latest yearly report, this included more than 70,000 sponsored children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,000 clean water wells drilled, over 11,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 200,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://press.gfa.org/news.