To the Anabaptist Mennonites and Brethren in Christ around the globe
Peace and grace from your brothers and sisters gathered around Global Anabaptist Health Network,
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant disruption, pain, and loss.
We mourn with those who have lost loved ones and grieve the loss of livelihood for others.
We long to gather freely again, to share a meal, and worship without constraints because this is who we are; a beloved community.
In the midst of this, we remember our faith in a God who comforts the suffering and walks with us through all things. In the words of Christ who has already conquered, “Do not be afraid” (Matthew 28:10).
Resist sensational stories
As members of the health care community and as Christians, we recognize the fear and uncertainty. It is tempting to fuel these feelings with falsehood and sensational narratives of conspiracy. False stories gain our attention and grab our hearts like the words of false prophets. We should be careful not to bear false witness (Exodus 20:16).
The world gravitates to fear. But being motivated by fear is not the sign of following the way of Christ. We should reflect the faith to which we hold. The church should be known for love (John 13:35).
Care for the ill
As members of the health care community and as Christians, we care for the ill and protect the vulnerable (Matthew 25:44-45). We honour those who dedicate their lives and efforts to combat this virus, a common foe.
By the grace of God, we have been given tools that lessen the transmission and mortality of COVID-19. We are grateful to our brothers and sisters’ insights and hard work in science and in public health to provide choices that can meaningfully reduce sickness and death. We should accept their carefully considered advice.
We also honour those who care for the sick, bringing solace and healing into difficult moments. Many of our brothers and sisters provide safety and care.
Follow health recommendations
As members of the health care community and as Christians, we support the recommendation to wear masks and social distance. Once we scrambled for masks to protect ourselves. Now we wear masks to love our neighbors, keeping our breath from infecting others if we are unknowingly harboring the virus.
Maintaining physical distance for a time protects our communities. There is strong and consistent evidence that when we limit face-to-face interactions and avoid crowding, outbreaks settle and overwhelmed systems stabilize.
By following sound advice, our churches can counter the epidemic with truth and love and reduce the fear we feel while doing our part to move past these difficult times (Proverbs 19:20). Let us work together to persevere in love and embrace the truth.
Accept vaccination when offered
As members of the health care community and as Christians, we recognize that vaccines offer great hope for ending this pandemic. They offer personal protection and build resilience into our community and health systems.
Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have been working to bring about these interventions. They vigorously advocate for vaccination and accept it for themselves. Honour their work and example. Vaccination is a benefit that comes to us most powerfully if it is accepted broadly. We should also expose falsehoods about the harm vaccination could bring.
Though the world may seek self-protection out of selfishness, we embrace vaccination as a way forward in love, accepting in our own bodies the chance to protect our neighbours, brothers and sisters (Philippians 2:3).
Hope in God’s grace
This is a time of much uncertainty; our faith and hope will help us get through. When the dominant motivation is self-protection, let us be known by the opposite: love for the other.
There is hope in God’s grace; the path forward is together (Isaiah 40:31).
By caring for our brothers and sisters, our neighbours, and even our adversaries, the world will know we are Christians by our love.
By honouring those who have dedicated their lives to caring for the sick, and those finding the answers to the pandemic’s complex problems, the church is acting, believing and demonstrating the way of Christ in all things.
This time of disruption is an opportunity for us, as followers of Christ, to let our faith, hope and love be known to everyone.
Keep the faith!
—a Mennonite World Conference education resource prepared by the Steering Committee of the Global Anabaptist Health Network.
Please send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Recommended resources for church leaders
|Practical considerations and recommendations for religious leaders and faith-based communities in the context of COVID-19: interim guidance, 7 April 2020 |
The Global Anabaptist Health Network (GAHN) strives to be a global community of Anabaptist health organizations and professionals who strengthen the witness of the Anabaptist community of faith through mutual encouragement, peer learning, collaboration, and partnerships. We look forward to communicating with you and welcome your feedback. Connect with us at www.globalanabaptisthealthnetwork.org, on Facebook or send us an email to email@example.com.
Dely Ijil, MD
Communauté des Églises des Frères Mennonites au Congo (MB), DR Congo
Sandeep Patonda, MBBS, MD pediatrics, PGDHHM
Medical Superintendent, Dhamtari Christian Hospital, Dhamtari of The Mennonite Medical Board
Sunderganj Mennonite Church, Dhamtari, Chhattisgarh, India
Dr Pujianto, MPH
managing director, Mardi Rahayu Hospital, Kudus, Central Java, Indonesia
Mark Shelly, MD
Rochester Mennonite Fellowship, New York, USA
Henk Stenvers, MD
Doopsgezind Gemeente Naarden-Bussum, Netherlands
GAHN Steering Committee
MWC Mission Commission Networks Coordinator, MWC regional representative for Europe, and European Coordinator of Mennonite Conferences
Igreja Irmãos Menonitas de Portugal
Cate Michelle Desjardins, MDiv, MPH, BCC
Director, Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship, Germantown Mennonite Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Beth Good, PhD, APHN-BC, RN
Waynesboro Mennonite Church, Virginia, USA
Karen Lehman, NHA, MBA
President/CEO of Mennonite Health Services
College Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana, USA
Ray Martin, MPH
Executive Director Emeritus, Christian Connections for International Health
Murray Nickel, MD
Bakerview Church (Mennonite Brethren), Abbotsford, B.C., Canada
Rolando L. Santiago, PhD
Chief, Behavioral Health and Crisis Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Montgomery County, MD
Neffsville Mennonite Church, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA
Rick M Stiffney, PhD, MSA
former Executive Director of MHS and Owner/principal Integrated Leadership and Consultancy LLC
Pakisa K. Tshimika, MPH, DrPH
Executive Director, Mama Makeka House of Hope
Willow Avenue Mennonite Church (Mennonite Brethren), Clovis, California, USA
Ronald Yoder, MPIA
Park View Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA