Churches – from local congregations/ corps to the Synods/ Councils/ Conferences/ Territories, Christian individuals and institutions, have all responded to the corona crisis. Amidst dealing with their own fears of the situation and also adhering to the advisories of the administration, they have been in the thick of things also caring for the needy and vulnerable in their communities and neighborhood. Most church heads have also advised the faithful on what needs to be done.
Frontline missionary doctors, nurses and allied health care workers, chaplains and counsellors, have all been in the forefront battling the virus. The Christian Medical Association of India (CMAI) circulated an early note to help churches address and cope with the situation. The Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) have also moved in, coordinating community level responses through their community based networks across the country.
Faith communities worldwide and in India have been discovering new ways of gathering and worshiping together, even virtually. Many online platforms have been created, existing platforms activated and intensified, to nurture interaction and support amidst communities who now face situations of a lockdown albeit temporary. Faith leaders, pastors and theological educators are addressing issues relating to articulation of faith in these trying times and it’s implications for interpretation of faith and God.
We do not completely know how the situation will evolve but we do know that we can stop the virus in its course and break it down. We have done it before. Our scientists will help us. India has the opportunity to learn from countries that were in this spot a few weeks ago.
While cooperating with different measures that are put in place to curtail the spread of the virus we are also faced with the challenge of meeting the needs of the people affected by prolonged curfew in different parts of the country. We pray God for wisdom to guide neighborhood ministerial communities -local churches – to cooperate and strengthen initiatives of all well meaning people and institutions in the neighborhood to help vulnerable people tide over the situation
We appeal to Churches in every neighborhood to assist in some way those who are stranded and those that are homeless, those with disabilities and the elderly, those confined to their homes and limited mobility and those that are socially disadvantaged including the gender and sexual minorities. May our spaces where required and everywhere be sanctuaries and safe spaces for those in need. Where possible let us enhance possibilities for small traders to sell their produce. None should starve. May our people be angels to the unknown.
Pray for our medical missionaries and community workers who are exposed to the virus on account of the nature of their work; call and enquire if they need any support. It will be good to recognise and acknowledge the services of sanitary workers and such others in essential services without whose services we will be worse off. They will value our encouragement and tangible support in their work everyday. It will also be wise to use this time to plan for restoration of persons and communities once we come through this crises.
It is a tough ask, a hard task, yet a call to be Jesus in our times. We thank God for virtual spaces and communication facilities that we can use to extend pastoral counseling and care to all of God’s creation.
Let us encourage each other by sharing how we have been involved in helping people/ communities cope with the challenges of the times, as well as how we coped in dealing with our challenges. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org OR message on WhatsApp +91 72181 83675. These will be posted in the ‘NCCI constituents responding to COVID 19’ link on our website.
Finally, one thing we always know and it comes to us through Jesus our lord; ‘for one who believes all things are possible’. Be assured of the prayers and accompaniment of the leadership and secretaries of the NCCI. We shall overcome . .
Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary, NCCI