May 2020

I hope you’re all doing well with the current situation wherever you are. A lot has happened since my last update, so I’ll try to update you as best I can.

Like pretty much everyone else, we’ve been in lockdown now for a few weeks but we’re very thankful to God that New Zealand has done a relatively good job of containing the virus. As of 12 May we have less than 100 active cases and we seem to have a good grip on community spread. As a result, restrictions are gradually loosening here, with most businesses reopening on 14 May and schools reopening shortly afterwards. Domestic travel is now allowed as well, so we are hoping to get out of the city soon, which will be great after we had to cancel all our holiday plans for April.

Although I came down with a fairly bad fever in February, neither of us has been sick since we became aware of COVID in New Zealand. Also, despite working in the hospital, case numbers have been so low here that Christianne hasn’t had any contact with COVID patients. So, despite the difficult situation, we have lots to thankful for!

Church

Church life has been impacted in much the same way as seems to be the case in the UK, with everything moving online. Sunday services are pre-recorded to be posted on YouTube and I have discovered that the one thing I find more stressful than public speaking is speaking to a camera. It seems, though, that most of the church is tuning in and has been encouraged by the bible-teaching. 

We also decided to try youth group on Zoom and, despite my concerns that it would be chaos, we’ve found that it has worked really well. Obviously the social side of youth group has taken a hit, but we’ve been really encouraged by how well the kids have engaged with the bible studies – arguably better than when we were meeting in person!

My men’s bible study has continued to meet through Zoom as well and has even started to grow. Before I started attending, there were three guys meeting together – we are now up to seven. The studies themselves have been great to be involved in – I feel like we’re now getting deeper into the passages we are studying, and that there is more of an atmosphere of openness when it comes to discussing our lives and praying together. 

One particular thing to praise God for is the health of the elderly members of our church. Given their vulnerability, there was a concern that our church family could be quite badly hit by the virus – but as far as we are aware, nobody we know has come down with it.

Things to pray for

  • Praise God for the relatively low impact of the virus on New Zealand, Christchurch and our church family. Please continue to pray for the country as restrictions are loosened – that we wouldn’t have a severe second wave, that businesses will be able to safely remain open, and that the economy will recover from the impact of lockdown. Particularly pray for the vulnerable members of our church who, even if healthy, may be feeling anxious as the country starts to open up.
  • Thank God for the surprising positives to have come from doing church in lockdown – for growth in bible study involvement and improved engagement with youth group studies. Pray that these would continue when we start to meet in person again.
  • Pray for wisdom for our church leaders as they make decisions about the safest way for us to continue meeting.
  • We are scheduled to be flying back to the UK in July – pray that, just as when coming out to New Zealand, we would be content with whatever ends up happening, trusting that God is in control.

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