Coronavirus is an opportunity for the Church to 'rise up' - Baptist leader

Christian charity The Trussell Trust is asking people to continue donating food so that it can support people through the coronavirus pandemic(Photo: The Trussell Trust)

The head of the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) has encouraged Christians not to be afraid in the face of the coronavirus pandemic but instead look for opportunities to serve their communities and love their neighbours.

Lynn Green, BUGB General Secretary, said the pandemic was an opportunity for the Church to "rise up" and "take action" where it can. 

In a live prayer broadcast via Skype last night, she drew inspiration from Haggai 2, in which God tells His people to be strong and know that He is with them as they set about the work of rebuilding the Temple.

She said the Israelites' sense of discouragement and being overwhelmed were emotions that many people today could resonate with. But she called on churches to instead be "beacons of hope" wherever God has placed them. 

"Whilst that passage was written for a different people at a completely different time, this sense of the heavens and the earth and all nations being shaken I think certainly resonates with us today," she said.

"It's like we've all been caught up in some dystopian dream as all the day to day fabric of our lives is being shaped in ways we could have hardly imagined a few weeks ago."

It was easy, she continued, to be "paralysed by fear, like rabbits in the headlights", but she said that Christians "mustn't be surprised by what's happening" but instead live with "faith and hope in our living God" and look to see where He is already at work.

"People are feeling afraid and anxious, and there are doubts about our ability to control this epidemic. And for those who become unwell, how are we going to care for them?" she said.

"But we who follow Jesus live in times of shaking as people who have faith and hope in our living God, and I think this passage helps us to do that." 

She continued: "We mustn't be surprised by what's happening. We live in an imperfect, fallen world, and times of shaking are always present with us. And each different era has been shaken in different ways.

"We know that we will be affected just like everyone else, but as people of faith, we look to see God at work in and through these things."

Reflecting on Haggai 2, she said there was a sense from the passage "that it's time for the body of Christ to rise up".

"This is a moment where we can rise up," she said.

"And God is exorting us: be strong, keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, keep our faith firm at this time, and just be strong - and work [because] we can do something, we can make a difference.

"Now is the time to step up to the plate and to take action where we can, and to be the people of God at this time."