OACI in a viral world – International Day of Prayer

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

OACI Prayer Day 2020

The past weeks have seen a virus spread faster and more extensively than ever before. If at first we thought it would be a repeat of Sars, which kept largely to the Far East of Asia, this one has leapt across frontiers and reached the farthest corners of the earth in just over two months.

OAC ministry is all about speaking to groups of people, whether on the street, in schools or in other places, wherever we find them or can get them to gather. We have always been keen to persuade people to come in close, partly by not shouting at them or using PA systems, at least unless absolutely necessary. Now, however, we are being asked by some governments to stay home, by others not to gather people together and by yet others, at least not to get people too close together.

As we gather in prayer this Friday – or any day now – we firstly want to pray for this crisis. We can pray in many ways. But mainly we need to pray for this devastating need which is all around us. And before we pray as such, maybe we should examine ourselves, realising our own weakness, sin and absolute dependency on the ONLY ONE who can sort out this mess, our lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST.

SARS-COV2, the virus which causes Covid-19. Picture from CDC, via Wikipedia.

The one thing that concerns OAC evangelists most is that there is a ‘virus’ greater than Corona. It’s the cause of 100% of all deaths. While there are many physical reasons why we might die, it is sin which pushes all of us relentlessly towards death. Yet we can also know forgiveness of sin and it is the privilege of evangelists to make people aware of this wonderful news, so that they can receive what Christ has done for them. So, while we are concerned not to bring more trouble into lives, we are also sorry that many of our usual ways of communicating eternal hope are now closing, for a time.

Martin Luther wrote at the time of an episode of the Black Death:
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God shall wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbour needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

One way in which the virus has already seriously affected OACI is that we have had to cancel our four-yearly International Conference. Getting people together is very important, since usually we work in small teams scattered widely across the face of the Earth. This year it cannot be. But we trust we will be able to return to other regular gathering activity soon. Pray on!

The virus family known as Corona viruses, was first given this name since under the microscope they looked like crowns, but it is now known that they actually look like WWI mines, the curse of shipping. indeed, the virus is certainly a big problem for all who are moving around. But Christ has also promised a crown to those who serve Him.  Let us then not waver in our commitment to continue sharing the good news ‘by all means possible, in as many parts as possible’!

Thanks for praying! May our prayer rise up to Almighty God and seek His intervention in the course of the virus.

Go here for more prayer requests!

Author: Chris Mathieson

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