As the world grapples with COVID-19 the Church has not been exempted. I have often joked that in seminary they never taught me how to minister during COVID-19 so it’s difficult to know what to do. However, what has been comforting is to remember that the promises of God have not changed with the pandemic. He promised to build his church (Matt 16:18) and Christ is building his church despite the virus. The Lord promises that his word cannot be bound (2 Tim. 2:9), and indeed his word still continues to go forth in power even during the pandemic. The Lord in Romans also assures us that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:31-39), and true to his word not even COVID-19 can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.
We thank the Lord that in his mercy and grace not a single person in our core group of Christ Presbyterian Church plant (CPC) has been infected by the virus; nevertheless, this does not mean we have not been affected. For about four months now we are not meeting in person for our Bible studies. We thank the Lord for the gift of technology like Zoom. We can still do Bible studies virtually but we immensely miss in-person gatherings. Yet Zoom does not completely solve our challenges. In Malawi internet access comes with quite a cost hence not all our members are able to keep up with these virtual Bible studies. It’s been personally hard on me as a pastor and church planter not to see every member of our core group joining the online Bible studies regularly.
To address this challenge, CPC decided to use the airwaves. I have been preparing and recording sermons which have been broadcasted on two radio stations across Malawi. In that way we are not only able to reach our core group members who are unable to join the Bible studies on Zoom but also many others that we would have never reached in person. This is one of the silver-lining in the dark cloud of COVID-19. Our church plant is very thankful to University Reformed Church of East Lansing, Michigan (USA) for helping us shoulder the broadcasting costs.
We are also thankful to the Lord for Mission to the World (MTW) for sending us relief funds to assist families that have been financially affected by the pandemic. Like many parts of the world, we have individuals who have lost their businesses or jobs. We also have many people in our city who cannot afford to buy protective and sanitary items like soap, hand sanitizers, and face masks. Through a mercy ministry committee of CPC, which is comprised of some members of our core group, we have used these funds to buy these items and distribute them to the needy. As we do that, we have also been giving out gospel tracts so that we minister both in word and deed as the Bible encourages us in 1 John 3:17-19.
COVID-19 has posed many challenges but we are thankful to the Lord that it has also created more opportunities for us to share God’s word and show the love of Christ to the fearful, anxious, and needy. In all these we pray that God will be honored and his church strengthened. As Paul would say in Philippians 1:12, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” In the case of CPC, we substitute “what has happened to me” for COVID-19.
Rev. Confex Makhalira
Founder and Board Member of MRN