After more than a month of Nation-wide lockdown and the improved flavor of home worship, there is still within me a longing for a fuller spiritual-fill from the seemingly absence-of-God scene. Lately, I am reminded of this verse: “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it. In that day the fair virgins and strong young men shall faint from thirst.” Amos 8:11-13 is not really about the lack of God’s Word but absence of hearing His Divine Counsel. We are desperate for soul-soup because a tiny virus has restrained our spiritual sight. When almost everything went hay-wired all of a sudden, how comforting it would be if God physically speak right in the face and guide us on the next course of action? Yet, I have learned one thing from this Covid-19 Lockdown: The utter emptiness and the restless soul when God is silent.
How much have we done as a mouth-piece of God during this Lockdown period in sharing the Word of God? Taking my local church as a sample in random assessment, Chakhesang Baptist Church Kohima (CBCK) is able to connect with about 53.89% households through WhatsApp communication, or about 443 out of the total 822 recorded households. The assessment is based on the Worship Programs and sermons shared to our members through various CBCK WhatsApp Groups.
Before the lockdown period we used to have approximately 1,590 people including Sunday School Children congregating in the Church on a usual given Sunday. On the other hand, the YouTube live streaming of the Pastors Worship on Sunday morning during this lockdown shows an average of 105 views per service between 10:00 am to 11:00 am. We cannot assess who are viewing alone and those viewing jointly as a family. The point is, even if we assume all 105 clicks are viewed by families and suppose that an average of six people shares one YouTube gadget, still, only 39.62% of the worshippers benefit from YouTube Live Stream as they worship together with Pastors on a given Sunday Morning. There is no concrete information on how many are following the other option of Sunday Home Worship Programs and sermon texts disseminated via WhatsApp. What we know is, there are some who are without the luxury of having family members worship together, view Live Worship through YouTube or listen to audio/video sermons on Smart Phones or other devices.
The above data roughly indicates that nearly half of the members benefit from technology, and thus have improved their home/family worship even during this stressful period. What about the remaining half who are almost out of the Church Radar? How are they nurturing their spiritual growth? We don’t really know. What went through recently is a paradox: the abundant flow of God’s Word yet scarcity of His divine leading. We hope the Nation-wide Lockdown and the threat of this virus may end soon, but such a time like this is just the beginning. Dearth of hearing the Truth is only getting louder.
Prosperity and material convenience leading to empty religiosity and immoral living on one hand, and exploitation of the poor on the other hand had made God raised a man by the name Amos to warn his people. When a generation forgets God, the consequence is the silence of God on His people. With the world becoming more exploitive, unjust and immoral we knowingly run
into a situation when we will face the famine of hearing God’s Word. We Nagas are not without exception. A greater impending judgment is upon humanity, not the wrath of a virus but the famine of God’s Divine Counsel. Now is the time to mend our ways. I end this writing by quoting the last verse from the book of Revelation: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”
Rev. Dr. Vetso Koza
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