If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works (James 2:15–18).
In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring ye ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
I’m convinced that this coronavirus outbreak is possibly the greatest outreach opportunity for the church worldwide.
Recently, my good friend Dr. Andrew Fabich, professor of microbiology at Truett McConnell University, wrote an article about ways to keep safe, avoid panic, and trust God as we watch and wait out the well-publicized coronavirus outbreak. In this follow-up piece, used with his and Truett McConnell University’s permission, Dr. Fabich challenges churches to get people involved in practical ways to do things the church should scripturally always be doing anyway, particularly in times of crisis.
I’m convinced that this coronavirus outbreak is possibly the greatest outreach opportunity for the church worldwide. The coronavirus has covered the globe and, thus, brought missions to our own turf. The church needs to respond to the current situation sensibly and centered around the gospel. Here are some things we should be doing during this time of worldwide panic.
- Put together a medical mission team in your church for a local response (kind of like Samaritan’s Purse, but a local effort). The beauty of such a team is that infectious disease outbreaks happen regularly. Having something in place will mobilize the church moving forward.
- Purchase as many personal hygiene products that are currently in high demand. We need to quit making memes about the shortages of toilet paper and hand sanitizer worldwide and begin to realize that people perceive these items as a need. Churches should stock up on these supplies for distribution to their local communities. Ideas for this include taking supplies to your community or putting together fliers indicating that your church is distributing free personal hygiene products. And if people quit overbuying these supplies, why wouldn’t the church not use the same items for its members during our weekly services? It just makes sense to promote good personal hygiene because it is ultimately derived from a biblical worldview.
- Have someone creative and biblical write a tract for distribution to each person receiving the personal hygiene products. What a travesty to meet people’s physical needs and neglect to tell them about their most important spiritual need: a relationship with the Creator Redeemer Jesus Christ. Here’s an idea of something you can include to answer hard questions in light of sickness and death.
Everyone is talking about the coronavirus, so why should the church remain silent and not offer solutions instead of bemoaning the current panic. The church is called to be salt and light to this world (Matthew 5:13–14). We can be salt by promoting personal hygiene during this time of crisis. And we can be light to those in spiritual darkness, exposing their sin problem and sharing Christ. I feel like we’ve left behind an important song in our hymnal that applies to our current situation.
Rescue the perishing
Care for the dying
Jesus is merciful
Jesus will save
I’m grateful for other believers, like Dr. Fabich, who are always looking for ways to emulate Christ through serving and, more importantly, to give others what they need most: the gospel, knowing the Lord will provide.
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness (2 Corinthians 9:10).