(Note: On March 16th, the Czech Government instituted total quarantine until March 24th. See details at the end of this article about what that looks like practically in this country. This will obviously affect #10 below. Our church is utilizing ZOOM video conferencing for all home groups and prayer meetings. STRANGE TIMES!)
March 12, 2020
We live in the Czech Republic, where the government announced this week the closure of schools. There are confirmed cases of the coronavirus in every country in the European Union, health officials said Tuesday.
For some, the disruption to the daily grind is welcomed. For others, it will entail economic loss and financial stress. We all have the choice how to respond to disrupted schedules and imposed home-stays. I say, let’s make the most of this!
While reading the NY Times yesterday, the author mentioned his plans to make sure his Netflix and Disney Plus subscriptions were up-to-date. While on the tram yesterday in Prague I overheard American university students talking; Are you still drunk? (laughter) Am I still drunk? (laughter) Are WE still drunk? (uproarious laughter). They must have had a good time celebrating the announcement of school closures!
While binge-watching movies and partying might be tempting, I believe this interruption can be seen as OPPORTUNITY for His outpouring rather than self-indulgence. In every hardship, God has planted opportunities for those who are willing to inquire of Him.
Wake Up and Look Around
I believe the Church is in a John 4:35 (NLT, bold text mine) moment;
You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’
But I say, wake up and look around.
The fields are already ripe for harvest.
Another verse God has been speaking to me about is Revelation 3:18-19 (NLT, bold text mine) in the letter to the church of Laodicea;
So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire.
Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will
not be shamed by your nakedness,
and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.
I correct and discipline everyone I love.
So be diligent and turn from your indifference.
Consider for a moment the big picture. I don’t believe we, as followers of Jesus, can afford to zone out for days during such critical times. These are not the days of Netflix, but rather the days of eyes-fixed on God. May we seek Him for clarity, strategy, wisdom and opportunities. Being fully engaged with current events and moving through them prayerfully with God’s leading is what enhances the church’s relevance bringing transformation in all spheres of society in our day.
An excellent example of engagement and activation in the midst of crisis was Queen Esther in the bible. And it is no coincidence that Purim, the commemoration of Esther’s courage in saving God’s people from annihilation, was this week on March 10th! She is a shining example for the church, with the world begging the same question of us; “and who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, ESV).
Discovering Doors of Opportunity
Sensing that these days for many are simply preparation for what is yet to come, I’ve listed 19 positive responses to social isolation measures during the COVID-19 season. May the church not shrink back in fear, passivity or leisure.
- Consciously enter into God’s rest. Take an account of your heart and thought life. Are you being driven by panicky headlines and fear? Choose to be a person of peace, no matter what is going on around you.
- Heal the sick. In Matthew 10:1, Jesus commands his disciples to heal the sick, not pray for the sick. Interesting concept. He has given us authority as his disciples to heal in His name!
- Start a “Gratitude Journal.” Buy a special notebook and begin writing down everything you are thankful for daily. Determine now to thank God, no matter what. This spiritual discipline can transform lives!
- Ask God questions and listen. In a place of peace and gratitude, spend some time with the Lord and ask Him what He’s up to during these pandemic days. The bible says we are seated with Him in heavenly places ( 2:6). Let us see what’s happening in the world through the vantage point of His of love and compassion. We are called to understand the “times and seasons” in which we live. Pray for those in the medical field and governmental positions. He will help us to become proactive, not reactive.
- Choose fellowship over isolation. Thanks to the internet, you can still join others in worship, discussions and prayer meetings without even leaving your house. For example, PCF and other churches will live stream their services (see Prague Christian Fellowship FB group, Sunday, 11:00 CET), and a city-wide worship gathering called Overflow, will livestream their event (see Overflow Prague FB group, Monday,19:30 pm CET). Anyone globally can join these events and although it’s not the same as being there in person, they will be awesome! In Prague, there is a 30-person limit for gatherings. Time to get creative. Applications like Zoom are great for smaller meetings.
- Ask God how you can love the people in your life. He will show us creative opportunities and give us keys to unlock hearts and minds.
- Review your goals. Have you set goals for 2020? Now you may have time to evaluate how you’re doing in all areas of your life; physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, socially and financially.
- Tackle procrastination. Make a list of things which you have been putting off and then prioritize action items. This could be a great time to do those things you have been putting off.
- Utilize technology for good. Try out the YouVersion Bible app. Find a new bible reading plan and spend time in God’s Word. Or just pick up a hardcopy Bible and read away. Enjoy things like the “YouVersion Rest” playlist on YouTube.
- Invite someone over for coffee or dinner. Most of us have repeated, “Let’s do lunch!” many times, without following through. Make it happen, finally.
- Read that book. I’ve lost count of the books I’ve started yet never finished. Determine to finish reading your book. Better yet, read it with others so you can discuss later. Many people in our church read a book together recently called Draw the Circle, by Mark Batterson.
- Watch an exercise video. Prague is soggy outside and many are encouraged to stay indoors. Discover some amazing exercise classes and new motivation with videos and apps.
- Get some fresh air. Why not pack a lunch, drive to a beautiful location and take a nature walk? The change of scenery will inspire you and you’ll return home with a new perspective.
- Spend quality time with your immediate family. Put your devices aside and play an old-fashioned board game. Cook a delicious meal together. Browse through old photos and recount the famous stories from your grandparents. Don’t just “vegg” in front of a movie. Engage and create some cherished memories.
- Put on your creative hat. Write a story. Record videos for loved ones and send with personalized messages as the Lord leads. Get out the sketch pad or woodworking tools or dusty guitar. New parts of your brain will be activated, and inspiration will be birthed.
- Purge your home and let go of unused items. Watch some YouTube videos about how to simply your life and determine to let go of all that is hindering you from having a clear, productive mind; old clothes, expired food, excess possessions, etc. Start with one room and transform it. Then, move to the next.
- Create a “war room” for prayer and meditation. This became popularized after the 2015 movie, War Room. It doesn’t have to be a room or closet. It could even be a special corner or chair just for you and God.
- Help someone without expecting anything in return. There are always those who are worse-off than us. Bring a meal to someone. Call someone whom you know is lonely. Send a card to a senior citizen. It could completely change someone’s life!
- Most importantly, act in the opposite spirit! If society around you is stressed out and afraid, chose joy, faith and generosity. Take a deep breath and keep your eyes on eternity.
We are called to be the light of the world and the city on a hill (Matt. 5:14), not an ostrich with her head buried in the sand when she senses danger, making herself even more vulnerable to attack.
Let’s wake up, look around, see as God sees and seize our opportunity, Church!
The government of the Czech Republic has approved a nationwide quarantine that prohibits much free movement across the Czech Republic in ongoing efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus in the country.
The quarantine goes into effect at midnight tonight (March 16 at 0:00) and will last through March 24 at 6 a.m.
Under the quarantine, anyone living in the Czech Republic will be prohibited from travelling outside their residence except under a number of circumstances which notably include travelling to and from work and necessary journeys to procure food and supplies. See below for a full list of exceptions.
Individuals are also required to limit contact with others to the lowest degree possible. Anyone travelling is instructed to maintain a distance of at least two meters from other people and to use non-cash payments for hygienic reasons.
The sale of unwrapped bread has been restricted in efforts to minimize the risk of contamination.
According to Minister of Industry and Transport Karel Havlíček, accommodation services (both hotels and AirBnB-like services) with the exception of spa and school accommodation facilities have been prohibited. As have driving schools. Blue parking zones restricting parking to residents in Prague and other cities have been temporarily abolished.
Additionally, the operation of taxi services like Uber and Bolt has been suspended, with an exception for the transport food or electronics. Traditional taxi services may still operate, but only for the transport of those travelling under one of the exemptions to the quarantine.
The quarantine measures also recommend that employers facilitate the ability of their employees to work from home if at all possible, and restrict the performance of work to only urgently necessary tasks.
Employers are also recommended to promote paid holidays and paid leave for employees during the quarantine time as specified in work agreements.
Store owners are instructed to observe increased measures for ensuring hygiene, especially disinfection.
2,500 members of the Czech military and customs officers have been recalled to assist Czech police in ensuring the rules of quarantine are adhered to.
Only for the following reasons are individuals permitted to travel under the quarantine:
- To go to work or to pursue business or similar activity.
- “Absolutely” necessary journeys to see family or close relatives.
- To acquire necessary goods for living (food, medicine and medical devices, sanitary goods, cosmetics and other drugstore goods, animal food and other pet supplies) and related needs including banking and postal services.
- To provide such service for another person (e.g. volunteering).
- To travel to health, social, or veterinary care facilities, or escort relatives to such places.
- To attend to urgent official matters, including imprisonment, and to accompany loved ones to such matters.
- To provide services in support of: security, internal order, and crisis management; health protection, health or social care; spiritual care; public transport and other infrastructure; services to the public including supply and distribution; veterinary care.
- To attend funerals.
- To travel back to one’s place of residence.
- An exception for going outside for a walk in parks and nature, which was in an earlier draft of the quarantine but not the final version, was also discussed at the press conference held this evening.
“We don’t forbid anyone from taking a walk. It is possible to go to the park or to the countryside,” Interior Minister Jan Hamáček said.
At the same time, he criticized citizens who crowded in front of restaurant entrances after they had been closed to consume snacks and alcohol outside. “That seems irresponsible to me.”