At a time when we are all experiencing the pandemic, generosity is what brings people of all races, faiths, and political views together across the globe. Generosity gives everyone the power to make a positive change in the lives of others and is a fundamental value anyone can act on. It gives us an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a tangible way.
The Christian Response to Pandemics
While for many people this is the first time they have experienced a pandemic; humanity has been dealing with pandemics for much of recorded history. When looking back, we can see a peculiar response from Christians during troubling times.
The city of Caesarea near the Mediterranean Sea dealt with many famines and wars. At the beginning of the 4th century came the plague of Justinian, which according to historical records killed roughly 26% of the known world’s inhabitants.
The general populations reaction was predictable, they flew to the surrounding fields to prevent infection.
Except one group decided to stay instead of run the hills: Christians.
Eusebius, a church historian who was located in Caesarea, recorded for us what the Christians did during this plague. Read this closely and slowly.
“Every day some continued caring for and burying the dead, for there were multitudes who had no one to care for them; others collected in one place those who were afflicted by the famine, throughout the entire city, and gave bread to them all; so that the thing became reported abroad among all men, and they glorified the God of the Christians; and, convinced by the facts themselves, confessed that they alone were truly pious and religious.” – Eusebius
Name of Christians was “on everyone’s lips”
It was because of this, Eusebius records, that an explosion in Christian conversion to faith were recorded. So much so that a Pagan emperor acknowledged that the Christians took care of their own, the Jews, and “our own”. Christian compassion amidst pestilence and disease caused so much impact on the population that many scholars attributed Christian expansion and growth to these very things.
Historically, Christians went out en masse to do whatever they could to help others during pandemics. In a modern age where we have first responders and medical professionals we can feel useless. Even though times have changed that does not mean you cannot assist monetarily. You can provide food to those who cannot work to eat.
“If the virus doesn’t kill us, hunger surely will”.
According to the United Nations, the virus threatens to kill more than 300,000 people in Africa and plunge tens of millions more into poverty. Further the World Health Organization predicts that the virus will cause disruption of medical deliveries – like essential mosquito nets – which will dramatically increase the prevalence of malaria (primarily affecting young children).
Imagine if you can the situation that many families in Africa and India face. They cannot go out because of the coronavirus lockdown, but they have no food or water at home. Further, since they are not working, they have no money to buy food … even if they could venture out to buy it. They desperately need help … our help…
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