In the past 4 months I’ve have had Influenza A, Covid – BA.2, an RSV virus and I’m currently fighting the fourth viral illness! These viruses are stealthily moving through our world, creating health and wellbeing challenges for many and placing significant pressure on health and community care systems. They are impacting churches and community services with reduced worship service attendance, diminished volunteering, and a reduction in community activities.[1 At the August World Forum meeting of Faith Community Nursing leaders, everyone present (via Zoom) said their country was facing growing increased community angst and a surge in mental distress regarding global inflation, fear of war and global conflicts, environmental catastrophes and other factors beyond their control that were placing pressure on household incomes, food supply – especially to poorer countries, and threatening global stability and peace
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'”
I couldn’t help thinking ‘the harvest is under attack from virus and pestilence’, but rather than feel harassed and helpless in the face of all this trouble, we need to go to the LORD of the harvest because he knows His crop and he has promised if we ask him He will provide the workers. I sense a great deal of fatigue amongst Christians and I understand it can be difficult to feel energetic and inspired to help others when you are tired and struggling yourself. However, we are not reaping this harvest in our own energy, and if we try to do that, we will fail. The good news is that we have the power of the LORD of the universe residing within us, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:3, NIV) and in Isaiah 46:4 (NIV) “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
I look around me at a world in despair,
Where love, hope, peace and joy, are becoming quite rare,
People’s lives are anxious, full of sadness and fear,
The war, unrest and disease make us all shed a tear.
They’re losing zeal and their future holds little intrigue,
They’re stressed and worried, and have Covid fatigue.
Oh LORD restore hope and enter their lives
Bring them a future in which they can thrive.
Fulfil your promises of strength, hope and release,
Send forth harvest workers as your people of peace
Dr Anne van Loon, Chairperson AFCNA
1 Wang, W., & Elhage A 2022, ‘Here’s Who Stopped Going to Church During the Pandemic’, Christianity Today, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/january-web-only/attendance-decline-covid-pandemic-church.html