Facing the aftermath of COVID 19 with christian faith
The prevalence of COVID 19 pandemic gave us Christian an opportunity to reflect on our faith and put our believes on scale. We could realize that indeed we are praising a wonderful, merciful and caring God who protected us and accorded us another opportunity to live. Now we understand the essence of Hosanna 316, O! Mohau wa Modimo ke kwetsa e kaakang. The mercy of the Almighty God was not bestowed on us for sweet nothing. We are given a second chance for a reason. There is a purpose for us to fulfill hence our living.
As we are to live with Coronavirus for years if not decades to come, we need to link behaviour change work with people’s faith. Be it messages around vaccinations, hand-washing, burial practices or distancing, the desired behaviour change will only happen if it connects to something of significance within individuals. I know because I have seen this in action, and heard it directly from people. Faith is at the heart of this. It is a critical factor guiding the daily lives of 80% of the world’s population. If we as people of faith can help link technical information to religious values and practices, people are much more likely to embrace the change.
Considering the mindset of most of people living in Sekhukhune Area were our congregation is situated, we have an important role to play to stamp out misinformation. To correct damaging mistruths. As with HIV/AIDS, there is a lot of stigma associated with COVID-19, especially towards vaccination. Many people are misled and the unfounded information they spread amongst community members is detrimental to an extend that it derails people and detours their road to health. Such fake information has power and could be followed by many people, some of which are learned members of our Church and congregation. Throughout our faith communities how we speak and behave will either increase the stigma and pain of those suffering or be a balm of healing to their souls.
Faith leaders in our Church and Ministries must be truth tellers, because their influence is invaluable. I’ve learned that when people are faced with conflicting information they often turn to faith leaders to find out ‘the truth’ and the ‘correct’ behavior to adopt. During the HIV/AIDS crisis, we had to somehow stop people shaking hands which conflicted with local and religious custom that placed a high value on the practice. Not shaking hands with your neighbor would be considered offensive. It was only when Church worked with Reverends, to help them understand how infections were passed on, that we saw people begin to adapt their behavior. In order to enable our members to thrive and overcome the aftermath of COVID 19 pandemic, our learners in all spheres of the church must Study vastly and get researched information about the virus. Let us not apply common sense in addressing our members on crucial issues such as a pandemic. Your talks may either safe of kill the nation.
As much as we need God to help us to deal with the aftermath of COVID 19, we also need our own human values to address the challenges we are facing. We cannot just pray and expect God to do miracles while we lead loose lives. We need to applied the ancient latin saying which goes “ORA ET LABORA” which means Pray hard and Work hard.
The Services and Witness Commission of our church and congregation should lead pastoral care activities. Acknowledging the fact that people lost jobs, parents and breadwinners should evoke in us the sense of sympathy. Let us be seen doing something towards helping each other. As a principle, ask yourself every evening before going to bed “What did I do today to help victims of COVID 19?”