The emergence of COVID-19 pandemic has brought a great challenge to every aspect of human life; including all sectors, and the Church is not excluded. It was the pandemic that led the Federal and State government to device measures on how to deal with and curb the spread of the pandemic.
Among the governmental measures are the locking down of schools, social gathering, religious gathering, and so on. Although the measures are good to curb the spread but they pose a great challenge to the Church. Before the pandemic, people gathered for different services in churches such as Sunday worship, midweek and other special programmes, but as it is now these meetings cannot hold. At an initial stage, churches started handling the challenge by asking members to worship at various house fellowship centers that are closer to their houses, but later turn to become family worship.
This pandemic poses a great challenge to the Gospel, but I believe the Word cannot be locked, God will always provide a means of speaking to His people as He had done in the olden days. Meanwhile, for a passionate child of God that has received the mandate to sow the seed of the Word, there will always be a way out.
In the midst of this pandemic, how then can we strategize to witness to others without violating the government orders? Should evangelism be on hold during the COVID 19? No, there is no better time to reach your community and beyond than now. The following ways could be of help:-
1. Prayer Strategy – the world can be reached by heartfelt prayer. If it is impossible to reach them one-to-one, praying for the salvation of the members of our community is a vital tool to reaching them. In addition, there is a need to cultivate and develop family/church prayer chain so that believers could pray for the salvation of the unbelieving people in their community. Prayer strategy proposals in anticipation of God’s intervention will also help when the lockdown is over.
2. Digital/ Internet Strategy – the world has become a highly technological globe that connection is virtually possible through technology. Other internet sources like phones through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp applications will be of tremendous benefit to reaching the unbelieving people for Christ. For instance, since the beginning of the lockdown when services could no longer be held in the auditorium, our church has started online services for Sunday worship, Tuesday Open Heaven program, and Wednesday mid-week services. Testimonies abound as members of the church and the world at large has been blessed through this strategy.
3. Radio/TV Strategy – This strategy can be adequately used for the mass proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though it may cost too high, it is easy to reach lots of people through Radio/TV mass media. An instance of this is the Easter service projected from the USA through AIT station of which I was a beneficiary, titled ‘International Easter Service for Nigeria’. It is a good way to go during this COVID 19 crisis that is ravaging the international community. Our own church also has started a programme on Grajos F.M., two to three times in a week where Rev Israel Olusegun Ayuba, the Pastor of Praise Baptist Church Sango Ota, ministers to people, prays for them and for the nation and beyond.
4. Morning Cry Strategy – This is another means of reaching people with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I have first-hand testimony about what God has used morning cry strategy to do in the lives of people and I know some people that are saved through this strategy. It is done in the early hours of the day before the bright daylight. This strategy is very effective especially when the preacher tries to appeal for verdict i.e. asking people to take a decision for Christ and leading them to say prayer of salvation even without seeing them, it works.
5. Street Evangelism Strategy- It is very effective although it calls for courage, boldness, and grace. During this lockdown, standing in the middle of the street or beside a house without entering any building or without touching anybody to proclaim the Gospel is essential. Witnessing in streets in day-time is what I have practised time without number, I discovered that people are hungry of the Word and they desire to pray. Romans 10:14 says ‘how, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? The believers have been sent by God to proclaim His word, we do not have an excuse.
6. Cultivating Christian Joy Strategy – COVID 19 crisis should not deprive us to exemplify Christian joy to the whole world. Christian joy is beyond earthly, the joy of the Lord is our hope and strength. Regardless of COVID 19, the joy on the face of Christians will witness Christ to the unbelieving world because the present suffering is not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us. The joy of our hope in Christ which should launch us into vibrant praises and thanksgiving to God will invariably attract our world to Jesus Christ, the joy of many generations.
7. Benevolence Strategy: In such a time like this many people need assistance especially those who earn daily pay, from hand to mouth need to be assisted. Rendering assistance to people in such a time like this can open doors for the Gospel. For instance, our church (Praise Baptist Church, Sango Ota), by the grace of God has been engaging in what we tag ‘kingdom market,’ distributing all sorts of food items such as rice, beans, tomatoes paste, indomie, gaari, vegetables and others to the members of the church and the public.
In conclusion, the gospel cannot be locked down or caged especially if we are ready to obey the Great Commission. God knows about this time and He expects us, the believers to make use of the time to proclaim repentance from sin, salvation through His name, dedication to Christ and prepare people for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the best time to let people know that the end is near and proclaiming the kingdom of God is the ultimate. We cannot afford to fail Him. If Noah had failed what would have happened? If the disciples had failed what would have happened? It is high time for the church and individuals to rise in the midst of this pandemic and proclaim the risen Lord. May God grant us the grace.
`FUNMI OLAPOJU. MISSION AND EVANGELISM PASTOR OF PRAISE BAPTIST CHURCH.