We recently caught up with Joseph in Kenya about the reality of COVID-19 for Life Groups. Joseph is concerned for his nation. Kenyans, like many others around the world, are no longer allowed to attend events with groups of people, including church and Life Groups. This has been difficult.
The churches are places of refuge for many. This season of isolation is difficult and the grief of lost social interaction and fellowship is challenging. However it is important to find alternative ways to keep community and to recognise the opportunity to reach out to others.
But, what does this mean for Life Groups? Until the government rules change, Joseph and other Dignity members are not travelling for Dignity. Life Group meetings have been suspended in line with the government advice so they are not contributing to the spread of the virus.
So what now?
Together with Joseph we explored ways to encourage and support Life Groups in this season. We even talked about how Life Groups can grow despite the current restrictions! Yes they cannot meet together in person, but this does not stop them still being God’s church in their community.
“This does not stop us from being the church because the church is not the building or the place where we meet. The church is the people. We can continue to be the church even when we cannot gather together.”
– extract from Dignity leaflet, ‘What is COVID-19’
Joseph believes that at least 1 person in each Life Group in Eastern Kenya will have access to a smart phone. He’s working to gather contacts and check if there are any groups without phones. He’ll send the information sheets we’ve written to each person with a smart phone and ask them to convey the information to the rest of their group.
This information will help Life Groups protect themselves and their communities, both from COVID-19 and from false rumours or malicious lies people spread.
The information sheets also contain simple ideas for how groups can continue to encourage each other and love the communities around them. As we know, the repercussions of COVID-19 can make life very difficult and it is likely that things will be even harder in poorer nations. Therefore, the power of community action is going to be even more important.
This is a challenging time for Life Groups but it is also an opportunity. We firmly believe God will use his people to reach others for him. Joseph thinks this opportunity can be a powerful one. To proactively support Life Groups and communities at a distance during this time will show how much God cares for them, both during peace and crisis, like Jesus looking for the one lost sheep. We are praying that the words and actions of Life Groups will help many people come to know Jesus.