16th June 2020

Coronavirus and Persecution

“I am convinced that neither death nor life…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:18-19 (NRSV)

How many of us are missing the opportunity to meet together each week to worship God and fellowship with each other? How many of us were hoping against hope that lockdown will be ‘unlocked’ by Pentecost and our churches or other meeting places would be opened up by then. Well, we know now that that certainly wasn’t the case. The best way we can worship is by social media, zoom or good old fashioned telephone. Certainly not face to face with other Christians. We can’t even meet in each other’s homes yet, and greeting each other outside can only be at two metres apart. If we flout these regulations we risk being fined. And all because of a microscopic virus. Hopefully this pandemic will not last for ever. But whether it does or not, the experience will probably have transformed us and this world as we know it for a long time to come.

Covid-19 is not likely to bring persecution on Christians in the Western world but experiencing it does give us a glimpse of what it’s like to live in a less tolerant part of the world – the Middle East, North Africa or North Korea for example. Let’s take a look at some comparisons. They can all be summed up in the one word, loneliness. For example, many Christians in these countries don’t meet for worship. They even must make every effort for their faith not to be known in some countries. The only means they have for keeping in touch and sharing their faith is by social media and maybe the telephone. But even these forms of communication can be monitored by government spies or those of other religions.

We are getting a flavour of these restrictions by the imposition of lockdown and other government instituted rules. We now know what it’s like to be forbidden to meet with one another, due to social distancing and being confined to our homes – until recently not even being able to meet with other members of our family. But even experiencing this gives us a taste of what these Christians have to face at the risk of severe penalties in many countries in the world.

Let’s count our blessings and pray to God that the time will soon come when all Christians are able to meet together in person to share their faith and encourage one another. And a future time, when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).

Lord, strengthen the faith of our persecuted brothers and sisters and move us to pray for them. In Jesus’ name.

Study by Christopher Reeve

About the Author:
Christopher Reeve is assistant pastor of the Invicta (Blean) Congregation near Canterbury, which is part of Grace Communion International/Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Invicta Fellowship
Blean Village Hall
School Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11.30 a.m.

Local Congregational Contact:
Mrs Annette Woods
Phone: 07473 188326
Email: annettewoods2@nhs.net

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