Thoughts on Covid 19 – Mike Hill
The spread of this new virus is likely to get worse before it gets better. How should Christians approach this international health challenge?
Quite clearly, we should be responsible. As I write, this afternoon the Governmental COBRA Committee will be meeting to apply the next round of restrictions intended to ‘delay’ the spread of the virus. I think as Christians we should adhere to the advice we are given. Encouraging church members not to race to put their own needs first – panic buying, being mean to people from affected countries, should not be in our playbook.
On the other hand, we should be a community that deploys fresh reserves of faith in our Sovereign Lord. This is not a call to recklessness, but a call to be faithful.
I’m not sure whether our response to the AIDS outbreak in the 1990s did us any favours. Panic, avoidance, peddling false ideas about how the disease was transmitted and judgementalism were not winning ways in terms of our response – not our finest hour! Thank God for the Mildmay Hospital, a Christian Institution that was the first hospital to offer treatment in a ward dedicated solely to the treatment of AIDS patients before the arrival of anti-viral medication. A disruptive intervention.
Times of stress, national or international, are at one and the same time a challenge and an opportunity for leaders. It is in hard times that leaders step up. Helping people discover a balance between responsibility and faithfulness is our task. Challenging them not to approach this crisis in a purely self-centred way could be a powerful sign of the Church’s witness.
Back in the annals of history, Christians stood out for getting the balance right. Between the years 250 and 261 AD (before the Roman Empire switched to being a ‘Christian’ administration) the Plague of Cyprian ravaged the Empire. It is reported that at the time, 5,000 people per day were dying in the city of Rome alone! St Cyprian of Carthage witnessed and wrote about this plague and the Christians’ response to it. He wrote these words,
Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves, and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbours and cheerfully accepting their pains.
And all this despite a persecution that broke out against Christians in 256AD!
I feel sure that some sister Christians were equally compassionate and courageous!
These are anxious times, no doubt. This is a season however of opportunity as well as challenge. An opportunity to witness to another way of dealing with threat and uncertainty. But a particular time for leaders to step up and model three key leadership values, I believe.
God consistently shows us that there is a different way to do life than much of what happens in the 21st century developed world.
This Lent, I am reflecting on what it means to “deny myself, take up my cross and follow Jesus.”
You are a leader? It’s really time to lead.
TRAINING – FOR YOUR DIARY
I am awaiting the outcome of today’s COBRA meeting to see how the land lies when further restrictions are applied. When this information is available to me, I shall start to work on a disaster management plan for the GLN. Clearly, we have no idea how long this virus will be around until it dies down. If public meetings become ill-advised then we shall have to figure out another way of getting world class leadership material to you. I want you to know that my colleagues and I are already on the case with this and will keep you posted as the situation develops. As it stands, here are the leadership training opportunities we have lined-up for you:
GLSnext Online Coaching with Craig Groeschel – Booking Deadline 30 March
GLSnext Seminar for Church Leaders – London Battersea – 21 May
GLSnext Seminar for Church Leaders – Cheltenham – 9 June
GLS Chicago and UK/IRE – SEB DEADLINES 31 MARCH
As ever, do get in touch if we can help in any way.
With prayerful good wishes
Your brother in Christ
CEO, GLN UK & Ireland