I have been reluctant to write about this topic. Rare are the moments when the effects of this pandemic are not on the forefront of our minds. Our forgetfulness may provide us with a moment of stillness, only to be snapped back to reality by a news headline or a tweet. Fewer still are the moments we hear of hope and action. I will attempt to share with you, one of those rare moments of hope and light in the midst of confusion and fear.
To recap what we are all painfully aware of, a few weeks ago our world changed to the point that it will likely never be the same again. So fast and absolute was the upheaval of our deceptively secure lives that we have been left shaken and wondering: Why? Did God allow this to happen? Are we being punished? Is this the end? In our prayers we beg God to stop this plague and the coming global economic and health care crisis, to keep us safe from it all. We begin to rebuke it in the name of Jesus! But we are forgetting a fundamental truth. We forget there are only two possibilities for everything that has happened since the creation of our universe. God either made something happen or he permitted it. To say there is a third option is to say God is something less than He is. I realize this may challenge how some view God as the benevolent old man in the clouds who only sends out his baby cupids to shoot us with arrows of love. Yet, we must seek to know him as he is not as we want him to be.
This is Vasco, one of the children on the mission base. Photograph by Thomas Martins
In the wisdom of man, we have always misunderstood God. John the Baptist (who knew something of the divinity of Jesus when they were both yet in the womb), clouded by the understanding the years had given him, questioned what he knew at the river Jordan when Jesus did not meet his expectations. When John’s life was flipped upside down and death was at his doorstep, when the savior he thought he knew didn’t show up with an army to bust him out of prison, he was left disillusioned. He thought to himself, “this can’t be right, the God I know wouldn’t leave me in here. He wouldn’t let them cut my head off… maybe I had the wrong guy all along.” Yet, Jesus responds by pointing to the miracles that John was blind to and finishes by saying, “blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Lk 7:23). In other words, “you wouldn’t be offended if you paid attention to what I AM doing, instead of what you THINK I should be doing.”
“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” ~Luke 7:23
May we also seek to be the blessed ones who are not offended by what the Lord is doing. Instead of praying for God to fix this disaster (as if it had accidentally slipped through his fingers), we should be asking for Him to show us what he is doing through it. In what way is he seeking to spread his kingdom in these difficult times and how can we be part of it? I believe each of us find ourselves exactly where we should be to fulfill our purpose in the coming weeks.
The following is Wordsower Liberia’s (WSL) response to the virus.
The printing press room in action. Photograph by Thomas Martins
In a country where misinformation and superstitions are widely spread and easily believed, communication of the facts is of primary importance. In a country where many towns and villages are located in the bush and not easily accessible, dissemination of those facts is equally important. Getting this information into the hands of the people has the potential to save many lives.
After identifying this need and realizing that WSL has the perfect resources to fulfill it, namely a printing press and motorbikes, we got moving. In collaboration with the Liberian government and the official health organizations, we produced a booklet with all the facts of COVID-19. We also added some of WSL’s own evangelistic material to the back of the booklet. We have produced hundreds of these booklets. We trained the WSL missionary teams and sent them out. We have been going to all towns and villages, teaching awareness about the virus and bringing the only message that can provide hope in these times, the good news of the Kingdom of God. The teams have been received with joy and gratitude.
On the mission field. Photograph by Thomas Martins
For those villages that can’t afford a bucket for hand washing, we are teaching a free alternative for a hand washing station. Photograph by Thomas Martins