So much has changed in such a brief time. Our daily news cycle is filled with reports of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Government leaders, medical professionals, researchers, and scientists are diligently working to stem the tide of the contagion and to protect the citizens of their countries. We have all been impacted in great and small ways.
We have been advised by national, state, and municipal authorities to restrict our public gatherings, maintain social distance, and to observe rigorous health protocols. The threat is serious and real – immediate action is necessary to “flatten the curve” wherever possible. We believe it is essential that the church around the world do our part, even as the mission of the church continues.
We have been in ongoing communication with regional, field, and district leadership. We are hearing wonderful reports of how our churches are responding with compassion and creativity, being careful yet courageous. So many are doing their part to adapt because they understand that Christlike ministry extends much farther than the walls of a building. Crises often reveal our dependence on God and opportunities for ministry we could not see before. Thank you for allowing the light of your witness to shine brightly.
However, we also realize that there are many new challenges, unlike we have faced in our lifetime. Because the Church of the Nazarene is a global church, it is difficult to make comprehensive recommendations that fit in every situation. In our various countries, there are different government health protocols recommending restrictions on gatherings. While we believe in the vital importance of the gathering of the saints, due to the highly contagious nature of this virus and as a way to show our respect for governing authorities and to love our neighbors, we ask every local church to cooperate with and follow the recommendations from your nation, state, and municipality. Further, we are empowering district leadership to offer directives and provide guidelines to local churches in the matter of congregational gatherings in accordance with health department instructions. We will find our way through this time with God’s help and the strength of the Body of Christ.
We want to call the church to prayer. As one of our district superintendents said: “Pray now and often. Pray for peace. Pray for patience. Pray for learning. Pray for the Holy Spirit who is unbound by any of temporary restrictions to come over people in their homes. Pray for His power to flow out of us in Christlike compassion and conviction, so much that even though we aren’t gathering for worship according to our customs, we will experience the presence of Jesus and reflect Him in what we say and do.”
Finally, let us be reminded of God’s Word: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). The people of God do not live in fear and respond in panic. We know God will never leave us or forsake us. Perfect love casts out fear. Moreover, we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to respond in love and grace to our neighbor, regardless of our circumstances. We have been given a sound mind to make wise decisions and the fruit of the Spirit to give us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control as we follow Jesus and pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We pray for God’s healing of COVID-19, but we also pray that we will have the grace to be faithful to our mission, “To make Christlike disciples in the nations.” National borders may be temporarily closed, social distancing may be necessary for a time, but the gospel will not be deterred.
Grace and peace to you all,
The Board of General Superintendents
Eugénio R. Duarte
David W. Graves
David A. Busic
Gustavo A. Crocker
Filimão M. Chambo
Carla D. Sunberg