It takes a village to respond to Covid-19

village green and signpost

Helen, a community worker at a church in Oxford diocese participating in the Partnership for Missional Church (PMC) journey, shares how PMC has affected her response to Covid-19

We are certainly living through frightening, unpredictable and uncomfortable times as the Covid-19 virus continues to spread around the world.

However, rather than being gripped by fear and uncertainty, I am continually being uplifted as I see the light, life and power of God at work among us during this season of lockdown.

Our church is at the point in the PMC journey where we’re starting to experiment, by partnering with others in the community.

Prompt response

When the government announced the lockdown, I had a real prompting from God that I was to coordinate a neighbourhood support group to assist those who were elderly, vulnerable or isolated within our community.

I was initially reluctant due to the amount of work that would be involved, but after further prompting, I responded to his call!

It started with a simple post on my personal Facebook page, asking if anyone would be interested in helping their vulnerable neighbours during lockdown, by running errands to the local shops, pharmacies, providing dog walking services and perhaps just providing a friendly phone call on a weekly basis.

“The PMC journey has really opened our eyes to noticing the character of God in others”

The response was phenomenal! I observed so clearly God’s heart of love and sacrifice in the words and actions of those who replied to my post.

Community character

I was correct in that setting up the Neighbourhood Support Group was a lot of work! Within a week we had a set up a Facebook group with 240 members, and had between two and four Street Reps for every road in our village, who had personally contacted, by letter, every resident on their street to let them know that they were there to serve.

As a Christian, I felt it was important that our culture as a community remained positive, life giving and encouraging for everyone, and that it didn’t move into a Village Grievance Forum! Christ’s values of loving our neighbour and each other are central to our mission.

We now have around 100 people actively serving our community, Christians and not yet Christians working side by side.

The PMC journey has really opened our eyes to noticing the character of God in others, welcoming them and truly valuing the gifts that God has placed within them.

Through this difficult lockdown process, God has highlighted so many people of peace, those with a heart of love, service and sacrifice, who may not know God personally yet. It is wonderful to be partnering with them.

God lifted up

Many people have come up to me and said “I think it’s great that the church is doing this!”, as I have been the face coordinating our response. The interesting thing about that is that I haven’t intentionally mentioned the church or God in this work over the past couple of months.

It is evident that God is being lifted up at this time, and that he is at the forefront of this work.

Several of our Street Reps asked me for prayer for their families, as I have been in conversation with them about other community matters.

I have been specifically called for wisdom and advice about upsetting family circumstances.

We have also noticed that several of our Street Reps have popped in to our Facebook Live Sunday services. It is SO wonderful to witness!

God is present among us… and he is most definitely at work!

Published 11 May 2020
Region
Europe, Middle East and North Africa

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