The Covid-19 pandemic is becoming an embarrassing issue not only for advanced countries with superior medical facilities, research communities but also the Christian body. In this write-up, I have made the point as to why as a Christian I am worried by the havoc this pandemic is causing in this world at a time when prophecies and the word of God are not scarce all over the world.
To make matters even worse, Christianity is advancing at an appreciable rate with preaching on radio and television stations on a daily basis. Besides, healing, signs and wonders, as well as deliverance through the power of God, are ever-present in several congregations and therefore it seemed on the surface the church was doing very well only to be hit with this pandemic.
The Bible says in Amos 3:7 that “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” This is the trump card men and women of God have held over the years and made them important figures in critical decisions making in several nations. Men of God have revealed God’s will and plan to kings and leaders of nations with respect to impending dangers and remedies to avert them:
The State of the Church today
Even though there is proliferation of churches all over the world and especially in Africa, the same cannot be said of the presence of God or the churches doing the will of God or even hearing from God. Could it be said that the words of Jesus in Matthew 15:8 –“These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” succinctly describe the state of the church of today?
I believe the fact that the church, just like the state agencies and even the World Health Organization and other national and international bodies, has been caught unawares by this pandemic is a clear indication that the relationship between the church and our maker and saviour is not that good. Proliferation of churches and multiplicity of church programmes is not the same as having a healthy relationship with Jesus.
Today, some pastors have become celebrities and are more of businessmen and women than shepherds of souls in the churches, role models and custodians of moral standards. The preaching and teaching of the Word of God is not as important to some men of God as the financial administration of the church.
The result is that men and women of God are involved in scandals nearly at the same rate as those who have nothing to do with the preaching and teaching of the word of God. Prophecies on national issues lack accuracy and usually lead to ridiculing of men of God and the body of Christ as a whole.
Evangelism is no more about Jesus but rather the popularity of the church and their respective leaders. It is, therefore, more or less a competitive advertisement to promote one church at the expense of others and has virtually nothing to do with winning of lost souls for Christ. We, therefore, end up recycling Christians among the churches.
These and many others have significantly reduced the influence of the church on national issues. The churches are not consulted on key national issues in order to know the mind and will of God but because of its huge following with the potential of affecting voting patterns.
Role played by Christians during the Spanish Flu Pandemic
According to The Christian Evangel, the Assemblies of God’s paper of record, later known as the Pentecostal Evangel, during the Spanish Influenza pandemic which started in 1918, churches and ministers complied with health department mandates in the United States to close their meetings and quarantine those who were sick similar to what pertains today.
They recognised that they needed to protect people in the cities they lived in. On several occasions, ministers cancelled revival meetings because the influenza was spreading across the town.
Some saw the epidemic as resistance to the great work God was doing. Even so, they viewed the painful reality of human mortality as a greater impulse to reach the lost.
However, these believers also went to the homes of those who were sick to pray, and they saw many answers to prayer and the power of the Word of God being made manifest. They weren’t afraid to pray for the sick. In some cases, they ministered to them even in death, as is illustrated below.
These and other stories during the pandemic gave the Christians the moral right, courage and faith to further preach the Word of God when the pandemic subsided and won more souls for God.
The way forward: A call to return to God
The church has been given the power to heal the sick and even raise the dead according to Matthew 10:8 –“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give”. Sickness from a novel virus is not exempted from the classes of sicknesses we have been empowered to deal with. The world is therefore looking up to the church for perhaps an unorthodox breakthrough regarding the corona virus and its effect on the global community.
Ezekiel 22:30- “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one”.
We need to return to God and be more empowered to deal with the situation in order to have the moral right to tell the world that we have a saviour who is not only a healer but also has the power and authority to give us life beyond this world.
Should we be silent and flow with the tide and be talking about flattening the curve as the medical professionals and scientists are saying, we stand the risk of diminishing the influence of Christianity in national issues for a long time. This is a time for revival- If we missed the first opportunity of telling the world of the impending danger, we should not miss the second opportunity of having our influence felt in dealing with this pandemic. The time to act is now!
The author is a member of Assemblies of God Church and a Managing Consultant by profession.