In the last issue we covered the multi-dimensional impact—historical, social, political, economic, environmental, ecclesiological, and theological—of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this issue, we continue with one more pandemic-related article, looking at the overwhelming medical needs and how the church could contribute towards the alleviation of such pain and suffering in our world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many socioeconomic disparities between resource-rich and resource-poor areas across the world. In their article, ‘Kingdom Opportunities for Bridging COVID-19 Disparities’, three medical professionals, Stephen Ko, Paul Hudson, and Jennifer Jao, argue that such disparities have resulted in ‘fundamental inequalities in the healthcare system, access to knowledge, and psychosocial determinants of health’, which ‘play a role in differing morbidity, mortality, and long-term sequelae from COVID-19 in various communities’. In such times, they are convinced that the global church has a unique opportunity to respond holistically and collaboratively by standing in the gap, providing healthcare for the needy. Within our own limited resources, consider their helpful creative suggestions.
Hebert Palomino believes that God is concerned for our total well-being, even our mental health. One of his biblical bases for this is in 3 John 1:2, where John writes to Gaius ‘that you may enjoy good health’ and ‘even as your soul is getting along well’. As a mental health practitioner and Professor in Pastoral Care & Counseling, Hebert emphasizes ‘Building a Moveable Pulpit for Mental Health’ on the wholeness of daily living of the recipients. He looks to Jesus as the model and notes that ‘Jesus’ preaching made a deep, healthy, and powerful influence in the holistic well-being of his listeners’. In many parts of the world where there has been a looming mental health crisis, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the author challenges the church to play a significant role for the good health of all people. He concludes with some practical insights as a caregiver.
How can we care for people experiencing the turmoil of political conflicts and religious tensions? The people in Kashmir have been going through such turmoil, heightened by the recent repeal of ‘Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that guaranteed special autonomous status to Indian-administered Kashmir’ where a small minority of Christians live among majority Muslims. Resilience and hope are the key ingredients sustaining the Kashmiris as revealed in ‘Kashmir on the Cusp of a New Dawn’ by Jacob Daniel, an international speaker, apologist, and cultural analyst. Caring for them includes supporting them in prayer, providing counselling for the mentally ill, and also raising a voice for them. He appeals to the global church ‘to amplify its voice in assuring Christian believers of their unwavering support . . . . Sadly, Christians in other parts of the country and around the world are largely indifferent and silent, hesitant to raise their voice in solidarity with their fellow believers in Kashmir.’
‘What would be the future of cities in a post-COVID world?’ is a question many are asking today. For global missional churches, the importance of missions to the diaspora communities living in cities with global connections must not be underestimated. Through such, ‘The World’s Least Reached on Our Streets’ could be reached in the twenty-first century, writes Charles Rijnhart, serving in Nepal with Diaspora Missions Initiative. One ‘shortcoming in missional outreach in global gateway cities’ highlighted by Charles is the ‘lack of training and partnership with local urban churches in cross-cultural outreach’, including the diaspora churches. He strongly advocates that global missional churches should mobilize ‘local churches for cross-cultural ministry by partnering with diaspora churches within the city and providing financial resources which gives sustainability to those seeking to maintain a long-term presence’.
A similar approach—mobilizing and training local churches, using indigenous ways to reach the locals—is highly recommended in ‘Keys to Contextualized Church Planting in Thailand’ by D.J. Oden, a cross-cultural worker in SE Asia with Pioneers. Christian mission among Buddhists in Asia has generally resulted in few converts despite over 200 years of hard work and much prayer. One major factor is the way the gospel has been communicated. In his article, Oden describes how a growing movement towards Christ among Buddhists in Central Thailand is being ‘spearheaded by Thai Christians who seek to reach their people’ through contextualized evangelism, church-planting, discipleship, and leadership development. With compelling testimonies and analysis, he enlightens us to see that ‘the Spirit of God is at work among Thai people’.
We hope that you find this issue challenging as well as inspiring. Our goal is to deliver strategic and credible analysis, information, and insight regarding current and future trends and developments so that you as a leader and your team will be better equipped for the task of world evangelization. You can subscribe to this bi-monthly global analysis by going to the end of any article, providing your email address in the box that says, ‘Subscribe to Email alerts’ and clicking ‘subscribe’. And it is free.
Lausanne Global Analysis is also available in Portuguese, Spanish, and French. Please send any questions and comments about this issue to [email protected]. The next issue will be released in January 2021.