COVID-19 Births a Hope-filled Initiative
When news of COVID-19 first hit the UK, none of us quite knew what to expect. But as cases rapidly increased, the leadership team at Pinner Baptist Church felt compelled to take action. How would we support the most vulnerable in our congregation? How would we continue with ‘normal’ church life? How would we remain connected?
Then, as the national situation deteriorated, we knew we had little time to decide how to act. Lockdown was rumoured to be imminent and it was clear that the only certain option we had was to pray.
What was God’s will for our church? And what was His will for the wider Church? It was from the place of prayer that God placed a key scripture in the hearts of the leaders:
‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15:13
Amidst the panic and fear created by the coronavirus and lockdown, this verse was a prophetic reminder that regardless of circumstances, we serve a faithful God of hope.
As a direct response to this call from the Lord, the Hope 15:13 initiative was born. Its goal was to provide practical and spiritual resources for churches anywhere in the world to connect and support their members, to equip them in sharing the gospel during this crisis, and for the wider Church to grow as a body.
Our mission began by encouraging Christians to follow a three-step framework: to 'pray' more intentionally; to 'prepare' to support others practically in COVID-secure ways; and to 'proclaim' the message of Jesus more boldly. The website soon also gained a blog, ‘Interpreting the Times’. Here, notable church leaders shared their sense of what the Lord was doing and saying in the midst of the pandemic and how He was calling us all to respond.
The bedrock throughout has undoubtedly been prayer and at every step of the development of Hope 15:13 we would stop to seek God’s will for the initiative (before long only over Zoom!), and it has grown exponentially since its launch in March. As lockdown began to lift, in prayer we felt led to prune the initiative and refocus on three new areas in helping Christians and churches navigate the changed world we live in. These are Hope’s Challenge – what God wants His Church to look like now and what leaders can do, Hope’s Response – what the new normal means for us as individuals and as communities, and Hope’s Message –relevant and creative ways of sharing the gospel.
We continue to be prayerful in all that we do and, as churches now begin to reopen, we have developed a ‘Daniel Fast’ resource, which will soon be available on our website
The future may remain unchartered, but what is certain as we continue to navigate this new challenging ‘normal’ is that we can be confident in the faithfulness of our God of hope throughout.