EDITOR’S NOTE: Gaylon Moss serves with the Missouri Baptist Convention as director of Missouri Disaster Relief.
JEFFERSON CITY – With all of the recent coronavirus coverage, we thought it sensible to encourage Missouri Baptists to prepare. Wisdom teaches, “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions” (Prov. 22:3, NLT). Based on this posture of readiness and wisdom, it is appropriate for churches to consider the possibilities of disruption associated with a coronavirus outbreak.
It is our prayer that the virus is stopped; however, it is wise for us to prepare. If the outbreak ends soon and does not affect us to any large extent, then good, we will be more prepared for the next disruption, whether that be a local storm, car accident, or power outage. However, if the virus does affect us at the community level, then we will be more prepared to meet the challenge.
First, let us pray. Pray for an end to the outbreak, for those that are grieving the loss of loved ones, and for those that are suffering due to the virus. Pray for those in authority to make good decisions. Pray that God will give the scientists and pharmaceutical companies the ability to create and distribute vaccines and cures.
Work diligently to replace fear with faith. This potential outbreak will cause some to question their faith, but we are reminded, “the Lord is good and his love endures forever (Ps. 100:5, NIV). Also, we know that nothing separates us from Christ (Rom. 8:35ff, NLT). He is sovereign in all things and we trust him with our very lives.
Next, let us prepare. Get the facts, then create a posture of readiness. Having a plan for response is always better than having a reaction to response. We recommend that you follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. Already there is much being said on various platforms that is misinformed, misleading, and mischievous. Be careful not to get caught up in fear-mongering, rumors, and distractions.
If the coronavirus moves to the community level, local and state officials will decide which community interventions will need to take place. Some community measures include:
• Temporary closures or dismissals of childcare facilities and schools
• Social distancing measures which includes the workplace and mass gatherings.
It would be wise to consider how your church may be affected if staff are not working in the office but from home. Also, how will your church attendance and giving patterns change if community level measures are put in place.
The CDC webpage for the Coronavirus is helpful: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
The CDC recommends individuals and families follow everyday preventive measures:
• Voluntary Home Isolation: Stay home when you are sick with respiratory disease symptoms. At the present time, these symptoms are more likely due to influenza or other respiratory viruses than to COVID-19-related virus.
• Respiratory Etiquette: Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash can.
• Hand Hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
• Environmental Health Action: Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects
Routine use of these measures by individuals and their families will increase community resilience and readiness for responding to an outbreak.
Lastly, let us persevere. Whether we are preparing for the coronavirus or for some other disruption, doing good to help others can become difficult. Preparing when there is only scant evidence that our work will be needed can sap the strength of anyone. We trust you will be encouraged to press on, as the Apostle Paul reminds us, “Love…perseveres” (I Cor. 13:7, NIV).
The good news is that right now, time is on our side to begin thinking about what precautions we can take to mitigate a disruption to our church attendees, staff and community.