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.
As 2020 gathers momentum, warm greetings from the NZCN leadership team.
The Lord alone knows what a year may bring: what calamities, what challenges, and what encouragements and breakthroughs.
Our world continues to be troubled by conflict, oppression, tyranny, greed, corruption, poverty, and a deepening climate crisis. And now a possible pandemic. In many countries, there is active persecution and violence against Christian minorities.
In Aotearoa, secularism has contributed to a diminished societal awareness of the true and living God, and a growing indifference towards Christianity. Many New Zealand Christians appear to lack full confidence in Christ and the Gospel, have privatised their faith, and seem preoccupied with less important things. Deep prayerfulness appears not as prevalent as it should be. Some churches are doing fairly well, but many are not. The whole New Zealand church appears to need a fresh spiritual renewing and reinvigoration.
In September New Zealanders will vote on referendums about legalising marijuana and allowing voluntary euthanasia. Parliament will shortly be voting on significantly liberalised abortion legislation which contains no regard for protecting the life of an unborn child.
So, all in all, is this a year in which Christians should plan to be complacent, and live and act just the same as before? Would a better starting point be to ask: what can we each do differently – individually and together – to make a real difference?
Also included in this newsletter are:
Resources about Waitangi, which reflected significant Christian influences
Waitangi Day isn’t just a national holiday. It marks the birth of our nation. Although the Treaty remains a mystery to many, it appears that people are starting to realise that knowing about the history of Aotearoa-New Zealand is fundamental to calling ourselves New Zealanders. Last September, the government announced that NZ history will be taught in all schools by 2022 and will be compulsory from years 1-10, and from year 11, schools will choose which subjects their students are required to take.
How much of NZ’s history are we acquainted with? Particularly our Christian heritage and the role the church and early missionaries played in helping form this nation. See our special Waitangi section below, with links to some articles and resources you may wish to peruse.
Mōhau – a visual album
Top musical Māori artists joined forces to produce a visual album showcasing the live recording of eight moving and uplifting waiata whakamoemiti (gospel songs).
Information on many opportunities, invitations and events coming up soon
Rounding out the newsletter is an extensive list of opportunities, invitations and events coming up soon. Please take the time to check them out. There is something for everyone, including those in ministry, and information about some critical matters currently before Parliament.
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.”