Francis Chan encouraged the Church to view the coronavirus pandemic as “one of our greatest opportunities to reach a lost world and show them we haven’t lost our love, joy, and peace” instead of succumbing to fear and anxiety.
“We can do all things through Christ, and that means even during this time,” Chan said in a March 20 video message posted on his Crazy Love YouTube channel.
“There needs to be this resilience in us as believers. I think that is what the world, in the church, is being shown right now is how vulnerable, how volatile we are that one little thing could mess things up.”
Chan stressed that for seven years, he’s been exhorting Christians to prepare to live out their faith and “thrive in their walk with God” regardless of the circumstances surrounding them.
“That’s been our heart for you guys as elders in the church,” he said. “There's going to come a day when we won't have the luxury of all the leaders being together with all of the people, and you need to be ready for that. It's kind of crazy. I've been preaching that for seven years. And then two weeks after I leave, you're living [that]. And the whole country is having to live that.”
“I believe it's God's grace on us to show us: ‘Am I prepared? Have I lost my love, my joy, my peace?’” he continued. “This is the fruit of the Spirit, guys, take advantage of this time. Don't miss this opportunity. This is one of our greatest opportunities for reaching out to a lost world and showing them that we haven't lost our love, joy, and peace.”
“Even at this moment, the enemy can't take that away from us,” he concluded. “We love the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Church is alive and well.”
The coronavirus pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China, has affected over 46,168 people in the United States as of Tuesday and led to 544 deaths, the CDC reports. Health officials have said “social distancing” is key to slowing the spread of the virus, prompting many churches around the country to suspend worship services. Many states have also imposed a ban on gatherings considered “non-essential.”
In February, Chan and his family moved to Hong Kong to become international missionaries. Opening his video message, the pastor admitted that he wished he could be in the United States right now “because everything is so crazy.”
“But I thought, well at least I could send you a quick video and just share some thoughts that God has put on my heart for the church during this time,” he said.
The Crazy Love author encouraged Christians to not lose their love for others amid the outbreak, offering the reminder that believers are “supposed to be people who are loving that are concerned that hundreds of people every day are dying and many headed to an eternity apart from Christ.”
“That’s my prayer for you guys,” he said. “Number one is that you stay loving, that during this time that you really be thinking, ‘God, I love you. What do you want me to do?’ Look at the others around you in love and [ask], ‘How can I serve these people?’ Because this is one of the greatest opportunities we've ever had as a Church.”
Second, Chan encouraged Christians to “rejoice in the Lord” despite difficult circumstances, adding: “I know it's a weird time. You can't gather together as a big church, but don't stop rejoicing over the fact that you can be alone in your room, even if you're isolated, and be in the presence of Almighty God.”
Finally, the pastor called on believers to not “lose your peace” or succumb to fear.
“The crux of everything we believe is that I don't have to fear death,” he emphasized. “The resurrection of Christ took away all of that fear. ... I sure hope that right now, you are so fearless for yourself. It not, the first thing you have to do is get alone with God and say, ‘Why this fear? You don't want me living like this.’”
“This is a time where we thank God and go, ‘God, it is so good that I am with you, and nothing, nothing can separate me from your love,” he concluded. “I'm loved by you and nothing can separate this — no disease, no death, no life, death, angels principalities, nothing can separate me from the love of God.’”