I read in the papers yesterday about the death toll from COVID-19 in Italy now exceeding China’s tally. And there are reports today of a possible outbreak in the Syrian refugee camps. Countless reports from all around the world form a narrative clearly marked “tragedy.” The really difficult news makes all the inconveniences—no live sporting events, no dining out, no worship gatherings—pale in comparison.
Social distancing makes it harder to help people and to comfort them. Even among our staff, memorial services and weddings have been put on hold. While technology gives us tools for staying connected, it’s not the same as holding hands or sharing a meal or giving a hug.
A newspaper columnist I read regularly, David Brooks, distinguishes between social connection and social solidarity. “Social connection means feeling empathetic toward others and being kind to them. Social solidarity is more tenacious. It’s an active commitment to the common good—the kind of thing needed in times like now.”
Frontier Fellowship staff are reaching out to our partners around the world to express concern, support, prayers and solidarity. We emailed an update on Tuesday to those on our frontier prayer mailing list, inviting intercession for our global partners (if you’d like to be added to this email list, contact firstname.lastname@example.org). We’re concerned for sisters and brothers in Africa and Asia whose COVID-19 curve is just beginning to emerge. We’re setting up an Emergency Relief Fund (more details coming next week) to help them when those needs inevitably surface and multiply.
We are people of hope because God is the God of mercy, grace, promises and answered prayer. Pray with us. Give as God enables you. We believe we are blessed to be a blessing. Know that we’re praying for you as well, and for all our church partners. Thank you for your compassion for the world’s peoples; thank you for your zeal that all may receive the Good News.
Partners, we all are in this together! Social solidarity can rise to spiritual solidarity. The love of Christ, according to the letter to the Ephesians, is wide and long and high and deep! I’m always encouraged by the apostle’s prayer in Ephesians 3:16-17, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…”
Grace and peace,
Richard L. Haney
P.S. We’ve been working on a blog series featuring the Buddhist world and our recent vision trip to Southeast Asia. In light of COVID-19, we’ve decided to put a brief pause on that project so we can focus on identifying the needs of our partners and ministry friends as they emerge over the next few weeks. We’ll keep you updated on what we learn, and plan to return to our Buddhist world blog series after Easter.
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