As I sit here at my computer in Mitchell, South Dakota, the COVD-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the normal-life activities of virtually all humanity.
We arrived home from South Asia on March 8, and by March 11 we were in a self-quarantine condition for the next two weeks. By March 11, U.S. flights to and from Europe were suspended. On March 22, a national leader for The Wesleyan Church in Nepal) called, saying that all of Nepal was shutting down public activity and that a three-month training program for promising young church leaders had ended. Students were being sent home. The 97-year-old instructor from Seattle, Washington, was seeking a ticket for a flight home before the Kathmandu airport was to be shut down within 24 hours. Through our own travel agency, we got him a seat on the last flight out of Kathmandu later that same day.
As of the present, all of Nepal and much of India is totally shut down as far as travel and meeting in groups. The Kathmandu Wesleyan Church has stopped meeting as a full congregation and is now divided into five ministry groups led by five different church leaders.
We all have had our normal lives disrupted by this COVD-19 pandemic, and our prayers especially go out to those who have lost their jobs or, worse yet, have lost a loved one during this time. At the same time, it is important for us to realize that we are people of faith, not fear. We are citizens of the celestial city, not citizens of this earthly domain. Our utmost concern is the eternal lives of those around us, not simply to preserve our physical lives. We live by a different set of priorities, and that gives us a hope and a steadiness in the face of trials and trouble.
During the Middle Ages, the Black Death devastated Europe and fearful residents of many cities fled to the countryside. During those times, it was the Christians who stayed behind to care for the sick and dying at personal physical peril to themselves. In the 1800s, Moravian Christians voluntarily became lifetime residents of island leper colonies in order to serve the spiritual and physical needs of the lepers. Christians don’t run from peril. They joyfully live to share the transcending love of Jesus.
Now, of course, we should be prudent and follow wise safety practices, but we have a higher calling — to give ourselves to the will of God and for the service of others in the name of Christ. We rest in the calm assurance that God loves us and has promised to care for us in all circumstances. Nothing will be able to separate us from his great and glorious love. Everyone who identifies as a Christians must determine the unique path the Lord has laid out for a time such as this.
Let us be wise stewards of the life God has given us but not be bound by the concerns only of this world. This is not to say we don’t care about the suffering and dangers so many are facing worldwide these days. We simply must not let this world dictate our life of faith these days. We are citizens of an eternal destiny.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39, ESV).
Name omitted for security reasons.