There is a sense of relief and gratitude around New Zealand that the situation with the Covid 19 virus has now much improved, and the move to Alert Level 2 is widely welcomed. It will be great to meet again with family and friends. The present restriction to gatherings of 10 means however that churches cannot yet gather together, and this has caused some anxiety and frustration for some. Against that backdrop, the NZCN team proposes these reflections…
- We support the desire of the Government to protect human lives by managing and reducing the risks of infection wherever groups are gathered. Keeping people safe is part of any government’s God-given responsibilities.
- We accept (with some misgivings) that because of the potential irresponsibility of a few, the Government felt that police needed some temporary extra powers at this time so that they can swiftly intervene when some people act in ways that put everyone else at risk.
- We do not see any clear evidence of some underlying Government agenda to actively single out and discriminate against Christians and churches at this time.
- We do look for greater consistency in how many people are allowed to gather in different contexts, and for the Government to weigh more fairly the relative risk of various settings.
- We eagerly look forward to when churches are permitted to gather again, physically. We recognise that this will probably happen incrementally, and over some time, and that larger churches may be affected for longer.
- We urge all churches to be very cautious, to respect the restrictions, and to scrupulously follow all safety procedures. Society is still facing a highly dangerous contagion, which could very easily kick back and re-establish itself. Church gatherings are not without significant risk. Just one person could infect many others in a congregation, and as a result some could die. We have a responsibility of care both to our own people (including those most vulnerable), and to society around us.
- We continue to embrace the many opportunities of this time for Gospel proclamation, for greater reach on-line, for innovations, for small house gatherings, for small groups, for pastoral care, and for loving our neighbours.
- We remain in prayer for the Government, for the health of New Zealanders, for those who mourn, for the spiritual renewal of our society, for the recovery of the economy, for those who have lost jobs and businesses, and for those many less-privileged and less-resourced societies around the world which are much more vulnerable than our own.
Arohanui from the NZCN team
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)