How the Church Has Responded to Similar Crises in the Past

By: Jim Shannon

We often hear the word “unprecedented” used to describe the COVID-19 pandemic we are facing. While it is true that certain aspects of this epidemic are unique to our time, we have many historical precedents from which to gain insight on how we, as God’s people, can and should respond. In short, the growth of the Church has been greatly accelerated on multiple occasions under circumstances much like ours. The key to that growth has been the Church’s response.

Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria, in describing the actions of Christians during a devastating 3rd century epidemic sweeping across the Roman Empire, wrote:

“Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains.”

Bishop Cyprian of Carthage added:

“There is nothing remarkable in cherishing merely our own people with the due attentions of love, but that one should do something more than heathen men or publicans, one who, overcoming evil with good, and practicing a merciful kindness like that of God, should love his enemies as well…Thus the good was done to all men, not merely to the household of faith.”

The resulting spiritual harvest eclipsed even the efforts of the Apostle Paul in the 1st century. We are seeing the Church rise up in similar fashion today. Across the world, unsung and unheralded, believers are following the ancient footsteps of those who have gone before. Our national partners in South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and beyond are standing in the gap where the social safety net has failed or is non-existent. We want to help. We are temporarily redeploying resources that would normally go towards training and travel to put it into the hands of front-line workers who are committed to providing sufferers with both physical and spiritual food. This does not represent a fundamental shift in our mission or long-term strategy. It is an opportunistic redeployment to carry the gospel faster and further under extraordinary circumstances. One of our teams in South Asia has reported over 14,000 gospel shares and 4,000 professions of faith in one week of such ministry. Now is the time to act!

We have set up regional matching funds for this effort. Simply find the region you’d like to give to from the list below and click on the link. Thank you for your prayers and support.

We would also love to pray for you too. If you have a request, please let us know by sending an email to May God bless you and keep you and may He be glorified in midst of these trying times.

Note: You can find a more detailed discussion of the historical precedents for the Church’s response to crises here.