COVID-19: For such a time as this

What a whirlwind the last weeks have been. It feels like the world has been suddenly and fundamentally changed. The disruptions. The cancelled plans. The disappointments. The uncertain future. The distanced relationships. The livelihoods interrupted. The fear of disease. The fear of death. We don’t know what the world will look like after this. Indeed, we don’t know that there will be an after this, COVID-19 may be here to stay as the fifth seasonal virus.

It’s important, in such a time, to take measures to safeguard yourselves, your loved ones, and your communities. Listen to the medical community and follow public health guidelines. These guidelines are based on scientific understanding and chronological time. What the Greeks called Chronos (Χρόνος). We need to social distance to flatten the curve. Self-quarantine for 14 days. Hold out for three months for when the pandemic may peak. The virus may linger in air for up to 3 hours. Be aware that this may go on for as long as 18 months.

It’s also important, in such a time, to listen and respond to calling. This is the right moment for crucial action. This is an appointed time. This is God’s time. This is what the Greeks called Kairos (καιρός). How are we being called to act out God’s love? How are we being called to bring about healing and hope?

In January, we finished our strategic plans for Cambodia and Myanmar. COVID-19 was not in them. This quarter we had meetings to plan, proposals to write, relationships to grow, and momentum to build towards the future we envisioned. We had a clear outline of how we were going to walk alongside our partners in Cambodia over the next five years. Suddenly nothing is so clear.

There was the initial rush to safeguard our personnel and communities. For us that involved measures that are no doubt familiar to you now. Social distancing, disease control, working remotely, preparing for self isolation, developing contingency plans, and so on.

Later, after seeing two short volunteers off on their journey home at the airport, I found myself thinking about a verse from the book of Ester.

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14

I’ll share what the team here is doing later but I’d encourage everyone to think on this verse as well… Perhaps we have been put in place for such a time as this?

Instead of thinking of COVID-19 as a force that has intruded into your life and upended it, think of yourself as a force for healing and hope positioned for such a time as this.

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

COVID-19 has dominated social media and the news cycle but, buried in all the noise, I’ve seen images like the ones below.

Communities around the world are finding ways to offer healing and hope in this terrible situation. From converting shoe shops into mask factories to singing songs of community between buildings to sharing what they can with neighbors to sewing face masks for those in need.

Be safe. Don’t put yourself at risk of contagion. The world doesn’t need more people infected with COVID-19. But act. You are not alone. Now is the moment.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Emma Marie Hanna says:

    Thank you Charles.

    It seems to me, from my little part of the world, the brunt of the community is taking this seriously. We’ve self isolated and so on, however, my community is truly practicing love thy neighbor as you love yourself. People are being much kinder and considerate looking out for each other. They’re also looking out for the old order Mennonite’s who do not understand what’s happening. While there is much fear, the love feels stronger.

  2. I’ve also had the realization that this is the Kairos, in exactly the way you describe, and see around me here in Gettysburg that many others are acting in that spirit, as well. So much that has been built unsustainably and inequitably in our societies is necessarily collapsing under its own top-heavy weight. There will be a lot of rubble to clear, but I betcha anything we MDS-minded people will find much to salvage and recycle as we get to work building the Upside-Down Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

    When I was a student at Bethel College in North Newton, KS around 1970, Max Ediger was already a hero to us for his work in Vietnam. I’m pretty sure he visited the campus while I was there. He’d probably remember my friend, Dennis Koehn, who was then in the process of refusing to register with Selective Service and eventually serving time in prison. Both demonstrated a degree of conscience and commitment that have served as a beacon throughout my life.

  3. rose graber says:

    Thank you Charles!

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