I have noticed a marked change in people since the COVID-19 virus has appeared on the world stage. People are scared, confused, disoriented, despairing, uncertain, which has resulted in a an unsettling and rearranging of their worldview—the world has changed in a drastic way and has touched each person in a personal way through the disruption of their daily routines, loss of their job resulting in financial uncertainty, etc. Many people are searching for answers and how to make sense of it all, which is where we as God’s ambassadors come in. The Christian worldview is the ONLY worldview that addresses life’s most pressing questions of what it means to be human, purpose and meaning of life, ultimate destiny, and the problem of evil and pain. Whether in times of prosperity or in times of “famines and pestilence”, the Gospel remains “the Way the Truth and the Life”, a light that shines even brighter in the midst of the darkness of troubling times (John 14:6; John 1:5; Matt. 5:15).
I have found that the unsettling of many people’s worldview has brought about an increased openness to entering into spiritual conversations. I will highlight two such examples that I have personally experienced:
I work part-time for a transport company in which I have opportunities to engage in spiritual conversations with my co-workers throughout the day. Some are open to such conversations, others are not. However, in light of the COVID-19 event, those who before said that they weren’t interested, have begun to ask deeper life-issue questions, which in turn has led to deeper worldview conversations.
One such conversation began with a formerly ‘don’t waste your time’ colleague who asked me, “What do you think is happening? Do you think God has something to do with this?” [This was in a group of 8 people.] I replied, “Oh I see, now you want to talk about God,” which brought a few nervous laughs from the others. I then asked, “Are you saying that God’s to blame for this situation?” He replied, “No, but doesn’t the Bible say something about God’s judgments falling on people who don’t follow Him?” I said, “Yes, that has been the case at times throughout history, but more often than not, God allows life-changing events to occur to wake people up so as to get their attention and realign their priorities. God is love, and as such, He is a relational God who wants people to enter into a personal relationship with Him as He knows that that is the only way people will experience true peace and happiness. As C. S. Lewis once said, “God cannot give us a peace and happiness apart from Himself; there is no such thing, it does not exist.” I went on to say that sadly most people are too distracted to even think about God or the deeper issues of life, such as the origin of life, life’s meaning and purpose, and ultimate destiny, etc. I ended by saying, “I can think of no better answer than that of C. S. Lewis, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” [I have found that committing quotes to memory (such as the C. S. Lewis quotes) is very helpful when addressing peoples questions and inquiries.]
This was followed by a long, quiet, and reflective pause by all those present. The fellow sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Thank you for sharing that.” I have had a number of deeper conversations since that time which have been very rewarding. As a side note, I began to greet my colleagues when arriving for work in the morning with, “God is good all the time, all the time God is good.” (This is the theme of the movie series, “God is NOT Dead.” If you haven’t seen this series, I highly recommend it.) Now several of them greet me in the same way in the morning, which in itself is a major step of progress considering the atmosphere of the workplace.
Another exchange I had was with a cashier at No Frills. She was obviously stressed as her countenance was quite somber. Cashiers at super markets are very much on the “front lines” of the fight that we are now engaged in and I can’t help but admire them for being there so that the rest of us can still buy the essentials we need to carry on in our daily lives. They certainly need our encouragement and prayers. As she handed me the receipt, I said, “This is for you” and handed her a tract entitled, “Someone Cares For You.” This excellent tract from Crossway Publishers begins with:
She paused, opened the tract, and read for a few seconds. As she looked up she smiled and said, “Thank you so much!” This type of reaction mirrors that of almost every person I share a tract with. People are looking for a hope they can put their trust in and a peace that transcends circumstances. I have found tracts to be an essential evangelism tool that God uses to not only spread the truth of the Gospel message, but also act as an encouraging “lifter of spirits” to those who are stressed and downhearted. Tracts are also a great conversation starter. About half of those I offer a tract too will ask me, “oh, what is this about?”, a question that opens the door to share the truth and love of Christ with them. As Billy Graham so rightly said, “Nothing surpasses a tract for sowing the seed of the Good News.” Joey Hancock of the American Tract Society said, “Fifty-three percent of all who come to Christ worldwide come through the use of printed gospel literature. If we really care about the eternal salvation of those around us, how could we not carry tracts everywhere we go?” The ‘prince of preachers,’ Charles Spurgeon stated, “When preaching and private talk are not available, you need to have a tract ready…a touching gospel tract may be the seed of eternal life. Let each one of us, if we have done nothing for Christ, begin to do something now. The distribution of tracts is the first thing. Therefore, do not go out without your tracts.” [Tracts on various topics can be ordered from Crossway Publishers, here Let’s be prepared to sow the seeds of the Kingdom in the hearts and minds of those God brings across our path each day. As Paul exhorted Timothy, “preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season.” (2 Tim. 4:2)]
The following are excellent resources for personal reflection/devotions as well as evangelism equipping tools for becoming effective ambassadors for Christ during these unsettling times. “Conduct yourselves in wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Col. 4:5-6)
5 Tips for Living from Love, Not Fear-by Nathan Betts
Nathan Betts shares five tips for living in love and not fear during the COVID-19 pandemic-article, here
Coronavirus: A Biblical, Historical Perspective-by Christian Hofreiter
As COVID-19 suspends public life around the world, Austrian Christian Hofreiter reminds us of “the many times in history where the light of Christian charity has shone with dazzling brightness amidst dark times of infectious disease and societal upheaval-article, here
5 Lessons from Spurgeon’s Ministry in a Cholera Outbreak-by Geoff Chang-article, here
A World in Search of an Ending-by Cameron McAllister
We make sense of difficult or unstable situations by finding a fitting ending. But there seems to be no end in sight with the COVID-19 crisis. What can we do?-article here
Gospel Thoughts on Covid-19-Apologetics Canada-podcast here
Essential or Non-Essential-by Vlad Criznic-article, here
A Prayer of Lament over the Coronavirus Pandemic-by Trina Dofflemyer-article, here
Why Did God Send Covid-19-William Lane Craig
If God, Why the Coronavirus?-Vince Vitale-rzim.org
Pouring Out Our Care and Anxiety to God in Uncertain Times-Michael Ramsden-[I highly recommend Michael Ramsden’s “Take Five” video series that focus’ on navigating the challenges that we are now facing in light of the COVID-19 situation. The “Take Five” series can be found, here]