Reaching Out To Friends Amidst COVID-19
By Joshua Lim
COVID-19 has restricted all of our movements outside, and has as a result, cut off conventional forms of social interactions such as meeting each other face-to-face. As Christians, this affects the way we encourage fellow believers and evangelise to non-believers. We aren’t able to check up on fellow brothers and sisters in Christ over a meal or spread the good news in person through events, church or tracting. Despite that, fellowship with others should continue to remain in our lives. Some people may think that since we are transitioning out of “lockdown”, we do not need to think about ways to keep fellowship going. But this is a good opportunity for us to be prepared for extraordinary times that require us to adapt and find creative ways to help the people around us.
A recent bible study on Acts 4 has helped me to understand why and how we should react when faced with disruptions. The passage talks about how Peter and John stayed courageous and firm for the gospel despite questioning from the Jewish Council. The way these two uneducated men were able to stand up for Jesus with just the mere help of the Holy Spirit stunned even the Jewish leaders completely. I found it very inspiring as it encouraged me to overcome my fear of starting a conversation about Christ with a group of friends. I can’t do all of this by my own ability but I am empowered by the Holy Spirit to testify for Him.
Also, it got me thinking about how I should be responding to obstacles that prevent me from reaching out to the community. Challenges are inherent and normal when we share the gospel. I feel the difficulty everyone faces when trying to share, especially in a time like this. But by staying firm in the Word and trusting in the Spirit’s help, without giving any excuses such as our incompetence or even this crisis situation, we can grow stronger as a follower of Christ.
Ironically, this period has given me more time to sit down and fellowship with my fellow Christian friends. With the lack of school commitments, it gave me more time to connect with the Christian community in school, to read the Bible and pray for each other’s concerns over Zoom. Though we are apart, the fellowship we have in Christ is what is truly important; we still did have a good chat and bible study together. Maybe for the greater majority who are working from home, what about considering sparing just 30 minutes to one hour to catch up with fellow Christians? I know I may not understand your schedule or even understand how it’s like working. But small things like having a good catch-up call with a christian friend you know, or delivering something to those putting together the special item for service as a form of appreciation can touch their hearts in a very special way.
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas could still sing hymns and give praise to God even in jail. What more us, as we go on trying to encourage each other through this difficult period? Nothing should dampen our mood or stop us if we are truly wanting to connect with fellow Christians.
As for evangelism, I recently did something unorthodox. Ever heard of watch party evangelism? A few of us Christians met with some non-christians over Zoom to watch a short episode of The Return of Superman, featuring a celebrity dad trying to get a hold of his two sons. In short, it showed how the two kids kept disobeying their dad until they were sent out of the house. But their dad’s love was far greater than any mistakes they made, and he ultimately forgave them. This story parallels the gospel, and we were able to share how in real life, we have a God who loves us more than any sin we commit. We also asked them how they want to respond to the gospel. This crisis is a good reminder for us to embrace change and make the best of it. Technology is a very powerful tool, and I think it is a good challenge for us young and old to use it to our advantage.
Even after this virus blows over, there will still be “Jewish leaders” or inherent personal challenges that we will face when reaching out to the people around us. I want to encourage all of us to remain strong and rely solely on the Holy Spirit through it all. As 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 says,
“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
To end off, though this period may be tough, we are not alone. Besides the Lord, we have our friends, whom we should make an effort to touch each of their hearts, whether in the form of fellowship or evangelising.