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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Columnist: Emmanuel Menka Agyekum, Contributor

Christology and social action: A gaze through the window of the coronavirus in Ghana

The world’s salvific quest has and continues to linger on amidst its multiplicity of challenges since the separation of humankind from God by the disobedience of the first man in the Garden of Eden.

The challenges that confront the modern man are no different from what the first generation under Adam’s leadership wallowed through. The re-occurrence of disasters (arguably man-made and natural); droughts, famine, tornados, wars, earthquakes, pandemics, floods, wildfires and the likes have been a part of the history of the fallen world; a world that needs to fully appropriate the redemptive provisions of God for it (Romans 8: 18 – 27).

The insurgence of another pandemic in December of the year 2019 like some of the worse ones in the world’s history thus; the peak of HIV/AIDS between 2005 – 2012, the Hong Kong Flu of 1968, the Asian Flu of 1956 – 1958, the dreaded Influenza of 1918, the Antonine plague of 165 AD amongst others is ravaging through the continents of the world, claiming lives, sending cold shivers down the spines of governments (including the so-called super powers), shredding all research and medical capabilities of the highest order aside pushing thousands into lockdowns.

This has not left the emerging markets and developing economies like that of Ghana and its compatriots in Africa, Sub of the Sahara in any enviable state as all the watchers of world economies predict very low or declined GDF growth for the world in 2020 culminating from containment efforts, job losses, reduced production, inflation and reduced trade, shaken markets amongst others.

The Church as an institution and an organism in this whole quagmire, through which the much needed soteriological relief is expected to affect the world, has not been left out of its share of the punches of the stubborn Coronavirus 2019. Amidst the jabs being thrown at it, the church has stood up to the occasion igniting the Christological imperatives as exemplified in the holy scriptures by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ while in bodily form as son of man on earth.

This paper attempts to delve into the classical position of Christ in respect of the God-honouring response of the Church and Christians in general in times of challenges that rock its communities of operation as against the church’s performance in these times.

Christ’s position on pandemics

In Luke 21:7–19, Jesus in reaction to the inquiry by His disciples paints a clear picture of what to expect (as a curtain raiser) in this world before His second glorious appearance. He states in verse 10–11; “Then He said to them “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven” (ESV).

The word “pestilence” goes beyond just the description of a disease with deadly ramifications to imply a mysterious, unknown disease that beats human understanding, knowledge and control. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also classified it as a “global pandemic”. This does not describe the disease but how extensive and prevalent it is geographically. The occurrence of COVID 19, obviously one of the signs that Jesus Christ expects us to see in the end time is inevitable.

It is clear that we are living in such times, the beginning of birth pangs, a pre-cursor to a new age; the age of the Messiah’s reign where there is real peace and prosperity free from the extremities and unnatural phenomenon for all who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

The general impact of Coronavirus on the lives of the masses

The pandemic has had and continue to have a hefty impact on the lives of the citizenry giving no regard to class or caste as even the creme de la crème are affected. Fear and its attendant effects are affecting the populace aside the effects of the restrictions.

The closure of the boarders continue to separate some families, a stressed market is having an effect on access to food and other basic supplies. The closure of schools, churches, mosques, the ban on general social gatherings has greatly shaken the routine with a new norm leaving the cliché “we are not in normal times” on the lips of the masses.

However, the contribution of government, civil society and the private sector has been huge in trying to ameliorate the sting of the suffering of the masses.

The church’s action

The church in Ghana has shown forth its worth in no mean a measure to the nation and the world at large in the wake of the COVID-19 ruckus. It has taken its rightful place as a principal stakeholder in the development of society, a reference point of godly wisdom and heavenly direction, partnering the political leadership (the state) in an attempt to go round the nation’s share of the huge global challenge at hand. It has lived to its Christological teachings.

1. Caring for the vulnerable (Matthew 25: 34 – 36): Food, water and basic supplies for the vulnerable, the poor and others in need in society irrespective of their tribe, sex, religion, age, political affiliation etc. This humanitarian gesture has and continues to bring great joy and life back to those who suffer hunger and other challenges.

2. Financial and logistical contributions: The church partnering government and the private sector has contributed huge sums of money into the COVID–19 Relief Fund set up by the government at the national level aside the many contributions to institutions across the length and breadth of the country.

The logistical support (vehicles for educations, PPE, Hand Sanitizers, Veronica buckets, health facilities, media platforms etc.) has also been massive with the giving out of the ultra-modern international conference facility of The Church of Pentecost at Gomoa Fetteh to government for use as an isolation center arguably tagged “the flagship support”

3. Zero tolerance for relational distancing: The social and physical distancing is key but relational distancing cannot be sacrificed with the knife of not meeting as usual in churches, schools, markets etc. The church has promoted phone calls, short messaging, video calls emails, voice notes, facebook live, television, radio and information center broadcast, online conferencing etc. as facilitated by today’s technology in keeping the much needed fellowship of believers as captured in Hebrews 10:25 keeping the hope and warmth amongst its populace.

4. Prayer: Having faith in Jesus’ admonishment in Matthew 6:9-13 and also in the words of I Timothy 2:1–2, II Chronicles 7:14, prayer has been raised and continues to be said for medics and paramedics, the infested, other front liners and the nation at large for God’s intervention, healing and relief.

This has seen a grand leadership touch as it is organized at individual, cell, denominational, ecumenical and even national levels. It must not cease, much of it is needed for the nation to brace through the storm.

5. Obedience and awareness creation: Relying on scripture (Matthew 22: 21 & Romans 13: 1 – 2), the leadership of the church has largely shown by example and continue to teach and encourage its members and the citizenry at large to be obedient to God by adhering to the directives of the government, the admonishing of the Health Authorities etc. on the management of the crisis.

6. Making Christ known: The verse 13 of Luke chapter 21 says “this will be an opportunity to bear witness”. It is God’s plan that the world will know and acknowledge Him as the Supreme One at all times even in the midst of pandemics. God expects Christians to preach Him to the world for their salvation in this COVID – 19 era. It is for this cause that the church cannot fail to step up to the charge despite the restrictions and limiting protocols of the day.

Conclusion

The church is performing creditably well in Ghana in these abnormal times of the pandemic. It is anticipated that the fire that has been ignited will not be quenched but will be wafted into flames to bring the people to the destination of total redemption from the effects of this pandemic, restoring “normal times” of healing, growth, transformation and development for the church, the nation and the world at large.

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