A pandemic of love
A pandemic of love
19 March 2020
The values embraced by the world have taught us that life is about individual freedom, competition, continuous consumption, pleasure seeking and entertainment. This is the ‘good news’ of 21st century society.
The values of God’s kingdom call us to a counter-cultural life of generous community, contentment, self-control, service, patience and love for others.
In the coronavirus pandemic world, this is a genuine opportunity for mission – for sharing the love of Jesus – and creating a pandemic of love.
This is not the time to retreat in fear and anxiety, but a time to trust God and live out our calling to love and serve others. It may be time for ‘physical distancing’, but it is not the time for ‘social distancing’.
Here are 10 simple ways to continue to engage in mission in our changing world:
- Connect with your neighbours
The staff of Stanmore House, a Salvos Conference Centre in Sydney, hit the streets to show love to their community, dropping a gift of toilet paper and a card to the doorsteps of their local neighbourhood. The card read, “If you are self-isolating we are here to help!”, with details including contact phone numbers. You can download the card here from My Salvos Toolkit. https://my.salvos.org.au/toolkit/resource/covid-19-coronavirus-prayer-resources/1793/
Some people will be self-isolating, quarantined or unable to get out to shop for groceries and other essentials. If you know an elderly person, or someone who is more vulnerable, offer to do their shopping for them.
- Read God’s word, pray and grow in our walk with Jesus
In a time of uncertainty and increased isolation, what better time to draw near to God and be reminded of his character, promises and steadfast love. This will equip us all to be less anxious, open to the Spirit’s leading and ready to serve others.
- Give someone a call
Commit to calling a family member, neighbour, work colleague or contact from your corps to see how they are going and asking if there is anything you can do for them. If a call is too difficult, send an encouraging text and ask how they are travelling.
- Take care to protect the most vulnerable
Take potential risks seriously and respect health and food guidelines from the health and government authorities. Look for ways to adapt what we do – to clean our facilities regularly, use hand sanitiser and provide takeaway-wrapped food and non-perishable groceries. This might not look exciting but it shows that we value people enough to take good care of them. It is an act of love.
- Get along to a Woolworths store
Woolworths announced that from Tuesday 17 March until at least Friday 20 March it would give the elderly and those with a disability a 60-minute window from 7am to shop freely, in a less-crowded environment. Uniformed Salvos have been invited to assist by getting groceries back to people’s cars, pushing a trolley, or in other practical ways including getting items that are high on shelves and putting the packed bags at the checkouts into trolleys. Get along and speak to your local Woolworths manager and see how God leads. To read more go to: https://others.org.au/news/2020/03/18/supermarket-salvos-to-the-rescue/
- Support your local businesses
Local businesses are going to struggle and people are at risk of losing their livelihoods. Where you can, be generous, ask after their well-being and keep supporting your local cafes and stores.
- Show hospitality
Invite people who might be feeling lonely to your home for a meal. Don’t shake hands or give them a hug, but you can still share a meal and conversation together over the table. Say grace, listen to their concerns and show God’s love by opening up your home and giving people time – and a meal.
- Walk in the park, play with kids, listen to music
In the late 1940s, C.S. Lewis wrote an essay in response to the nuclear threat that people lived in fear of. He wrote: “If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things – praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts – not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies but they need not dominate our minds.” — ‘On Living in an Atomic Age’ (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays. If you replace the words “atomic bomb” with “coronavirus”, the writing of Lewis remains true for God’s people today – and a missional witness to Jesus and the fruit of the Spirit.
- Worship in different ways
Corps are gathering for worship differently in these days. This includes in pairs or triplets for prayer and Bible reading; in small groups in homes; and via live-streaming. The Salvos also have a subscription for all with Right Now Media that allows access to a wide range of video resources for adults, youth and kids. If you are interested, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Whatever you do each day - do it with love
Let’s create a pandemic of love!
Rod Yule is General Manager, Local Mission Delivery and Resources, Mission Support, The Salvation Army Australia Territory.