Christians eager to be responsible about COVID-19
21 March 2020
The New Zealand Christian Network, the alliance of evangelical churches, organisations and individuals in Aotearoa New Zealand, commends the New Zealand Government for its leadership in our time of COVID-19 crisis. We agree that all New Zealanders must do what is necessary at this time to unite against the virus and slow its spread.
We also commend the many churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, marae, clubs and societies who have sacrificially agreed to abide by the Government’s temporary restrictions to keep us all as safe as possible during this period of moderate risk. We pray that the risk does not increase further.
We are thankful for technology that can help keep us connected at times when we need to be physically distant. Physical proximity is an important part of our communal Christian faith, but we also believe in a God who is not limited to our material world and is present everywhere at all times. For thousands of years this belief has been a comfort to those who find themselves isolated from their faith communities. Billions of people around the world today who follow Jesus continue to find in Him tangible peace in times of terrifying trial.
We implore leaders of churches who plan to continue gathering in larger groups to urgently reconsider. We cite Singapore and Korea as cases where community transmission of COVID-19 was greatly amplified by attendance at large church services. Churchgoers are not immune to illness, let alone a virus as dangerous as this one.
Christ-followers need to be socially responsible, to love God by loving our neighbours. There is nothing to fear in love. We encourage all Christian leaders to consider carefully the way the Apostle Paul’s pleaded with the believers in Philippi (Philippians 2:3-5): “Do not proceed out of selfish ambition or vein conceit, but concern others better than yourselves… look not only look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” For this is the way of Christ.
We urge all New Zealanders, including Christians, to turn towards God and to be much in prayer about our situation.
Deerfield, IL – February 13, 2020
Amid the continuous spread of the Corona Virus, now called COVID-19, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) calls for churches to join in prayers for the millions affected directly and indirectly.
WEA Secretary General Bp Efraim Tendero said: “We have been following with concern the news of the outbreak and spread of COVID-19 over the past weeks, first in China and then internationally, and we know that many among our constituency have already been praying for those affected. We would like to now specifically call on churches and individual believers to take time to pray for God to intervene in this crisis and stop the virus from spreading any further.”
COVID-19 has already infected tens of thousands and claimed some 1,400 lives. “We are expressing our condolences for those who have lost loved ones and pray for speedy and full recovering for those still suffering of the disease,” Bp Tendero commented and added: “We are also conscious of the very challenging situation of the millions who have been under quarantine for weeks in affected Chinese cities, and the increasing worry about the economic situation that will affect many individuals and families even when the health crisis will be long gone. Please join us in prayer as a global family of believers who are concerned for our brothers and sisters in Christ, their loved ones and beyond.”
Specifically, you can pray for:
- the wisdom of governments as they respond to the immediate crisis, first and foremost the authorities in China where the situation is most severe;
- the virus to be contained and new infections to rapidly decline;
- the speedy development of an effective vaccine;
- strength and hope for those most affected in Hubei province to persevere despite the ongoing lock-down of their cities;
- those who already are or soon will be affected by the emerging economic consequences of the health crisis, especially those whose livelihoods may be threatened because of losing their jobs.
“We are saddened by the daily increasing numbers of infected people and those who lost their lives due to the virus and pray with urgent heart for a fast turn-around of the situation, but we also hold onto hope in our loving God who intervenes in visible and invisible ways in times of tragedy,” Bp Tendero said. “We are thankful for a much speedier response to the current virus than what had been seen in the past; we are grateful that the vast majority of infected people are experiencing full recovery; and we pray that God’s presence and his all-surpassing peace and comfort would be with those who have lost loved ones. Together with the Psalmist, we pray: ‘Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.’” (Psalm 62:5)
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), serving and representing some 600 million evangelicals in 130 countries, is deeply concerned about the recent developments in the border region between Syria and Turkey and calls for prayer for the thousands of vulnerable people at risk of further suffering. The escalation of military attacks in the wake of political decisions by the United States, Turkey and Syria along with other state and non-state actors, threatens areas in northern Syria that are populated by Christians of various traditions, including evangelicals.
Deerfield, IL – October 15, 2019
According to Open Doors, a pastor of a Christian and Missionary Alliance in the Syrian city of Qamishli reported numerous deaths and injuries as a result of recent bombardments. It is just one example of the suffering inflicted on populations in areas that have previously already suffered at the hands of ISIS terrorists and who are now again forced to flee in the thousands for relatively safer zones. This internal displacement in itself will present new threats of food and water shortages, lack of medical services and vulnerability to exploitation, among others.
“We are very concerned about the deteriorating situation in Syria and the people who are caught up in this conflict yet again. We call on Christians and churches to pray for and stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Christ in the region, and also with the Syrian people in all its diversity, including Kurds and Arabs,” said Bp Efraim Tendero, Secretary General of the WEA, and added: “We also call on all involved parties to work towards an immediate end to the senseless violence, towards the protection of innocent civilians and the restoration of peace, which will also prevent the resurgence of terrorism that threatens people of all faiths, including Christians.”
The New Zealand Christian Network has a number of major concerns about the proposed liberalisation of New Zealand’s abortion legislation.
What is missing in the proposed new legislation, asserts spokesperson Dr Stuart Lange, is clear evidence of concern to respect and protect the life of those unborn. “How can politicians say they care about society’s most vulnerable people, then have this huge blind spot about those most vulnerable of all, unborn children?”
The existing legislation is less than perfect, and often too loosely applied, but it does at least implicitly seek to balance the health of the mother and the great seriousness of ending an unborn baby’s life.
Those proposing the change say that abortion needs to be “decriminalised”. But that is a misleading argument. Under the current legislation, no woman undergoing a “lawful” abortion is ever committing a criminal act. Only abortionists who operate outside of the law commit a crime.
Proponents of the change say that abortion must become simply a “woman’s health issue”. But what about the health of the unborn child? Abortion remains an extreme and tragic event, invariably with fatal consequences for one of the two people involved.
The network acknowledges that aborting a baby is often an agonising decision for a woman, and can also have ongoing effects on her well-being.
NZCN believes that current legislation, for all its flaws, is much to be preferred to what is proposed.
It urges members of parliament to vote against what is proposed.
Dr Stuart Lange National Director
New Zealand Christian Network
WEA and Refugee Highway Partnership Encourage Churches to Participate in World Refugee Sunday on June 16 / 23
WEA and RHP joint media release
Deerfield, IL – May 23, 2019
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) together with the Refugee Highway Partnership (RHP) call on churches to participate in the upcoming World Refugee Sunday (WRS) on June 16 or 23 – the Sundays before and after the United Nation’s World Refugee Day. The 2019 WRS Resource Pack provides pastors and church leaders with creative tools to respond to the various needs of refugees and displaced people.
“Headlines about refugees may at times be short-lived in today’s fast-paced news media, but the reality of displacement persists and affects countless people in every region of the world,” said Bp Efraim Tendero, Secretary General of the WEA. “The situation may feel overwhelming, but if local churches take time to pray, to reflect on God’s perspective on refugees and displaced people, and then reach out to those in their surroundings who may have been forced to flee, they can make a great difference in people’s lives. World Refugee Sunday provides an ideal opportunity for your local church to get involved!”
“68.5 million is simply a number. But the world’s 68.5 million precious men, women and children forcibly displaced by war, violence and persecution can tell untold numbers of stories of personal and family pain and suffering, resilience and courage, hospitality and kindness, while many also experienced some of the worst inhumanities imaginable,” the RHP states. “We hope that the resources will help churches to lament and celebrate together and express their solidarity with displaced people in prayer and action.”
From Afghanistan to Yemen, from Congo to Venezuela: war, conflict, persecution and other hardships are a daily reality for many. The following are just two brief testimonies from Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of Congo:
“In the wake of the recent Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, the fear psychosis prevalent in the country has resulted in hostilities against refugees who have been mistakenly perceived as Islamist extremists. This includes aggression against Christian refugees from Pakistan as well. Following the attacks, angry mobs forced out these refugees from their places of residence and threatened local homeowners who host refugees and asylum seekers, who come from around 15 countries, with the majority being from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some are Ahmadiyya or Shia Muslims and others are Christians, all persecuted by majority Muslim groups in their home countries. The pressure on these already deeply vulnerable people is intense. Thank you for standing with them and other forcibly-displaced people around the world on World Refugee Sunday.” – Mr. Godfrey Yogarajah, WEA Deputy Secretary-General for Ministries and head of the National Christian Evangelical Alliance in Sri Lanka.
‘‘There is no time from my childhood to-date when I have seen my community fully enjoying the right to belong – all the time with difficult explanations, many times not believable. More than 50 years I still see my community running for safety. In the light of the latest violence in my village, I thought tonight: ‘nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle. Blessed are the peacemakers!’ Thank you for standing with us on World Refugee Sunday.” – Congolese pastor of a refugee church in another country.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. – Hebrews 13:2
Download the World Refugee Sunday Resource Booklet in the format that best suits your needs:
New York, NY – April 26, 2019
In a press release earlier today, the Evangelical Alliance of the United Kingdom (EAUK) highlighted a brief video interview with the pastor of Zion Church, which was one of the targets of the Easter Sunday bombings. The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) would like to give greater exposure to the moving testimony of Pastor Roshan Mahesen and invites Christians to continue to pray for their brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka.
Bp Efraim Tendero, WEA Secretary General and CEO, expressed his solidarity with the Christians in Sri Lanka in a statement after the attacks, saying: “We are deeply saddened and troubled by the news of the targeted attacks on worshippers and other innocent people on Easter Sunday. As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we now also mourn the loss of lives due to this heartless violence. We call on churches around the world to join us in prayer for those affected, and that God’s strong and comforting presence may be with them in this tragedy. May God help them to hold onto the faith of the resurrection and experience the peace that transcends all understanding.”
The leader of the evangelical church bombed in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday has spoken out, offering forgiveness to the attackers, and thanks to all who have offered prayer and support. Pastor Roshan Mahesen also spoke of his commitment to continue the church’s mission.
Speaking in London this week Pastor Roshan said: “We are hurt. We are angry also, but still, as the senior pastor of Zion Church Batticaloa, the whole congregation and every family affected, we say to the suicide bomber, and also to the group that sent the suicide bomber, that we love you and we forgive you, no matter what you have done to us, we love you, because we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Jesus Christ on the Cross, he said father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. We also, who follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we say, for the Lord forgive these people.”
In the video shared by Sri Lankan Christian ministry ‘The Life’, Pastor Roshan went on to say: “I want to take this opportunity to thank every church around the world, every believer, every person known to me and unknown to me who has contacted me, calling me, sending messages of condolences, and then words of encouragement.
“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, every word you speak brings such comfort and strength. We will stand and continue what the lord has purposed in our life and we are ready, and we will continue to fulfil the mission the Lord has given us.”
Pastor Chrishanthy Sathiyaraj, leader of a Sri Lankan church which brings together Tamil and Sinhalese Christians and founder of ‘The Life’ ministry, interviewed Pastor Roshan earlier this week while he was visiting the UK.
Pastor Chrishanthy is part of the Evangelical Alliance UK’s council and commented: “These atrocious attacks have shocked the world, the violence has impacted my friends and family and many in the Sri Lankan community in the UK know people who have died.
“If only we can hear Pastor Roshan’s words and respond with forgiveness instead of hate. Jesus Christ calls us to love even those who persecute us, and what is more powerful than to choose to love in circumstances such as these. Let’s forgive, stand together and build the kingdom of God. Don’t give up.”
Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance UK, joined a prayer gathering earlier this week following the attacks as Sri Lankan leaders prayed together. Responding to the video Steve Clifford said: “I am mourning with my Sri Lankan brothers and sisters in Christ as they bury loved ones, as church communities are shaken by the violence inflicted on them and as others live in fear that the same might strike them.
“Pastor Roshan offers love and forgiveness that can only come from knowing that we are forgiven by Jesus. I will continue to pray for him and all the believers in Sri Lanka, that they will know hope in Jesus that overcomes all fear.”