COVID-19 and the Church: perspectives from a Physician and Minister

COVID-19 has impacted me just like any other person living in the community. I have also been impacted as a Physician on the front-lines seeing and treating COVID-19 patients and seeing the devastation this disease can cause on people and their families. Then comes the impact to me as a Minister of the Gospel.


I have observed certain things about the Church’s response in COVID-19 that I want to summarize in this article. I want to be as brief as possible so bear with me if I do not get into details as I typically do. Feel free to ask for clarification if needed. The main purpose of this article is to review how we, as the Church, have responded as the people of God on earth today to COVID-19. By the Church, I mean the entire community of those who have believed in Christ, who are His hands and feet today.
There are certain things we have done very well as the Church and others we need to work on. Let me summarize them under these headings.

Prayer

The Church responded in prayer, and a fresh zeal for prayer has come upon many believers, which is a good thing. I sincerely believe the prayers of the Church made a difference. There are things not happening in the world today because of the presence of believers, who are carriers of the Spirit and the light of the world. Do not try to convince the unsaved about this. They will never understand it.
Let that fire for prayer burn. Jump in, if you have not yet joined the wagon of the entire community of believers seeking the Lord in prayer.

Comfort for the believers and the unsaved alike
In crisis, spirituality is heightened, and people want spiritual support. COVID-19 has caused global fear on a scale that none of us living has ever witnessed. The Church boldly came out with the message of “do not be afraid” when fear was almost taking the world hostage. I once wondered if fear would not cause more damage to certain people than the virus itself. Standing on the Word and encouraging others to control fear was a good thing we did.
Interestingly, I realized the majority of the Church was afraid, as fearful as the world that does not know God. It seems ministers were the those calling the rest of the Church not to be afraid. This should be a subtle warning to us. The average christian does not walk with the Word and the Spirit as the main ministers do. We might be building a ministry- or minister-centered community of believers. I think ministers should rethink the idea of ministry, and what Paul said about equipping the saints and not make them mere followers.

Divine healing


COVID-19 has forced me to rethink divine healing, where we are as a Church with divine healing and if we are ready for the next wave of similar diseases which will hit the world as the scriptures have said in these last days.
What contribution has the Church made to the world in handling COVID-19? I believe the greatest thing the Church has during this crisis, which the world does not have, is the Holy Spirit and the power He brings that heals human beings. The Church has done many other good things such as volunteer work, charity, helping with medical missions etc. These things are good. The world can do the same. As a Physician, I have seen the weakness and limitations of medical science in the face of COVID-19. And if you imagine that more such deadly diseases without medical treatments will come on the earth, then it should become obvious to you that science will not have the immediate solutions that it has given us for other diseases.


I think, as the Church, we have failed miserably in using the grace of divine healing given to us to help the world in an area that they would have cherished it the most. Social distancing was not a limitation. We have church services online. What if the Church had global online healing meetings with ministers who have been given the grace to operate in the gifts of healing and reach people in hospital beds and produce tangible healings that would have made doctors reconsider everything they had known about God and healing?


I know some of you might say I have heard of testimonies of healings. I have heard them too. We are surely kidding as a Church with many of these so-called “testimonies of healing”. I am a Physician and a Minister, and I know for a fact that divine healing is a reality both from the scriptures, in history and in contemporary times. However, the sad reality is that many of what we call divine healing and our so-called testimonies of healing are not divine healing at all. There are real cases of divine healing out there and it seems to be a lamp that is hit and placed under a bed as Jesus said. The Lord has put in my heart to start an arm of our ministry called “Medical Journal of Miracles” that will seek to critically analyze most of our so-called healings with scientific medical rigor to sift the wheat from the chaff and clearly bring out tangible cases of divine healing that the world and medical science should know.


I want to be brief here. We have a long way to go as the Church to see and prove to the world the results of divine healing we preach about. I realized I was not personally ready and I have a long way to do. I am assuring you, there has never been a time in our modern history where divine healing would have helped the world as this time. We have missed an opportunity as a Church. There are many reasons for our failure in this aspect, from simple immaturity in the faith to the way we do ministry as the body. I watched Facebook posts once of a minister asking for money to pray for protection or healing in times of COVID-19. As a Church, this and similar practices should make us ashamed at what we have become.

Is there any hope that one day, in times like this one, those amongst us who have been graced with the gifts of healing could even gather together and harness the power of technology and hold a healing service that anyone anywhere can access with tangible proofs of the supernatural healing of God?
What would happen if there was a continuous online healing service that people in hospital beds could FREELY access with evidence of healing that cannot be mistaken for expected medical results?
What do you think governments across the world will do if they find such a solution? I heard from the God’s general series how ambulances were brough to Aimee McPherson’s house because the hospitals realized there was something she had that solved their problems though they might not have liked the Jesus she preached.
Can we begin to think like this today as the body of Christ?

Prophecy


I think prophecy during COVID-19 has caused more confusion than help us as the Body of Christ and the world. I have done a lot of heart-searching as a believer and minister. Very early on in the crisis, a thought troubled me. When I saw the global impact of COVID-19, I was disturbed that not one single prophecy I heard last year clearly spoke about this. Again, I have read and watched many of those posted online. Yes, many prophets had some general information about the year, and some certain spoke about some form of crisis. However, if you have experienced the prophetic gift, and know-how astonishingly accurate the Spirit of God can reveal things through His prophets, it will trouble you that no such details were given to us.

My mind went back to the many end-of-prophecies I heard last year.
I do not think we should blame the prophets, because it is God who gives the insight to them into the future. Furthermore, I think it will be a terrible error if we start despising true prophets and the gift of prophecy.
If God is the Giver of prophetic insights, and He did not clearly tell the Church about such a devastating, the questions then should not be directed to the prophets but to the Lord Himself. Why did He withhold that information? Is He teaching us a lesson, to remind us of His purpose for prophecy and prophets in the New Testament?


After COVID-19 hit and its impact became clear, a new series of prophecies started coming forth. These prophecies were predicting when the crisis was going to end, with some givine exact dates while others are giving instructions of what should be done.


I think we need to be re-warned as a Church. Prophecy and Prophets today can predict the future; the prophets of old are a clear testimony of this fact. However, predicting the future is NOT a major role of prophets and prophecy in the New Testament. That does not mean prophets today cannot do so. Failure to recognize the shifting role of the prophet in the Old versus the New Testament is one of the major drivers of the chaos and confusion that has sadly filled the prophetic movement which in reality is a move of the Spirit of God that has been corrupted by our man-made effects.
Can we go back to the scriptures and revisit the Epistles to know God’s role for prophets in the New Testament? Predicting future events is not the MAJOR reason why prophets are in Church today.

Eschatology


Another problem is that of current events and end times prophecies in the scriptures. COVID-19 has eschatological lessons for us. It is interesting that the world will remember the Church more about two things :
A. Our attempts to use end times prophecy to explain what is happening in the world, including denying the existence of COVID-19.
B. Our desperate hunger to have church services

Theologians have correctly warned us about Endtimes Bible prophecies and told us about common sources of error:
A. Attempting to predict the time that events in the end times will occur. This mistake has occurred before, and is occurring again and will occur in the future.
B. Attempting to ascribe current events such as COVID-19 to specific end time prophecies noted in the scriptures.
We have made these mistakes and continue to make them. We need to be careful. We seem to have an insatiable desire to try to “figure out” the time or pick the right events. If you want to stay away from errors regarding the interpretation of end-times prophecies, watch for these two errors and avoid them.

An interesting eschatological phenomenon that is taking place is that some parts of the Church do not believe that COVID-19 is real, and they try to use some End time events in scripture or prophecies to explain their stand. If you were in my shoes, physician and minister, what would you think about this? It seems the Church has a long ugly history of attempting to interpret current events using Bible prophecies or even rejecting certain realities such as COVID-19. I had several forwarded messages to me of visions, prophecies , revelations etc trying to explain that COVID-19 does not exist or is due to 5G, etc etc. What would you say to believers after returing home from work and seeing the devastation of COVID-19 and read of some dream that a prophet had that COVID-19 is not real? I think we should be careful as a Church. We have the truth, but we must not blurr that truth by stretching it or taking it outside of its boundaries.

However, COVID-19 has eschatological significance. The Lord said events like these would take place. Secondly, it tells us that the world is getting ready for the reign of the AntiChrist and the mark of the beast. We must not be so blinded as to ignore the eschatological significance of things such as ID2020, etc. The world cannot understand these things, and as I said above, they think we are mad when we believe end-time prophecies. Christ is at the door, and that is a big lesson for us all to live and do what we have to do for the Lord quickly.

Church meetings and services


Let me end with this heading, though there are still many more things to write about this crisis.COVID-19 has shown us how important fellowship with other believers is. The Lord told us not to neglect to gather together and we are sure missing our gatherings together. When we get together again, we should cherish that privilege. God deals with us individually and as a community.
On the flip side, it seems we have elevated Church services or gatherings in our buildings to a place that is higher than it should be. Have we become too service or building-centered? We say the Church is not a local building and we are correct. It seems COVID-19 is revealing the truth that though we say the Church is not a building, that is truly not what we believe or practice.

COVID-19 has affected us all, but in the midst of this God is teaching the Church a lesson and calling us to be ready to deal with such crises, grow to maturity, be prepared for His coming and do that which He has commanded us to do quickly for the time is short.