‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem’. Luke 24:46b-47.
So, now we know what a pandemic looks like, don’t we? All around the world, people are affected and infected; social distancing has become an everyday phrase, and coming out of lockdown a hot topic. A new App to alert us to encounters with infected people is now on trial on the Isle of Wight, and may be rolled out country-wide.
It sounds helpful, yet although such an App was used in South Korea, it has proved to be only effective so far as the compliance of the people involved. In South Korea, a woman has been identified who ignored the self-isolation required, went to her mega church as usual and was responsible for the ultimate infection of over four thousand people, and a few deaths. She was a super-spreader, like the business man from came home from Singapore, via a ski resort, and infected 400 people there in Austria, before bringing that strain of Covid 19 into the UK. To be fair, he was unaware of being infected, as it was in the early days of the pandemic.
I like the word super-spreader, and it is easy to see a correlation with evangelism. Imagine how the disciples felt when they were told to take the story of Jesus’ forgiveness to all nations. If they had been aware of just how vast the ‘all nations’ Jesus referred to was, well, they might have been thoroughly daunted, but the instruction was specific: ‘beginning in Jerusalem.’
We can look back in Church history and see super-spreaders of the Gospel: the first apostles were, and Paul was a super-spreader to the gentiles. Constantine I include, because he enabled the Church as the Body of Christ to worship openly and freely. John Wesley was one, Billy Graham spent his life super-spreading, and I am sure Nicky Gumbol is one through Alpha.
But if you look behind these evangelists, often it is an unknown, small town pastor, such as in the case of Billy Graham, or small fellowship group, as with John Wesley, or a group of friends, as Nicky Gumbol has told, who proclaimed the salvation through Jesus Christ that transformed their lives.
We are called to be witnesses to Christ in what we say and do with whoever we share life’s journey. Because we do not know how that may transform that person’s life, we need reminding that no effort we undertake for our Lord is ever futile in God’s sight.
And so, in this pandemic, we do what we can. Beginning in Basildon, we continue to keep our distance from those we love and cherish as well as those strangers we encounter. We speak with them if we can, and we hold them in our prayers, for no effort we take at this time is futile.
Finally, a word from Paul: ‘And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’ Amen