Following the labeling of the “essential” and “non-essential” services in which the church has been labelled as non-essential services, many have shared their views and thoughts supporting and kicking against the Governmental view of churches beign labelled unessential services.

Many Christains have bee left in awe as to What then could be said to as essential, if not the church?

This question begot the need to present this article, which is written with a little bit of bias, as a Jew, born and brought up amongst the Sabbath Day Observer of Nigeria, the church over the years has proven to deliver essential services on a weekly basis.

The Corona Virus Pandemic has no doubt changed the entire working system of the world and it has seemed like the world now turns in the opposite direction. The Church is not left out of this change as most form of worship has to be done virtually, with high-tech options such as email, ZOOM, Facetime, Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other social platforms, or low-tech options such as phone calls, cards, letters. But what cannot be changed is the most important platform of all – Prayer – we are able to connect with one another in faith and friendship.

Taking Nigeria as a case study, with major loopholes in the mental and psychological health system, most emotionally affected people have only one place to run to, The Church!

The Church minister to the spiritual, psychological, emotional and physical needs of their members and community.
20 years and counting beign an active member in the body of Christ, the Church has seen me through emotionally and psychologically, a service very difficult to find, but in the most developed regions of Nigeria, where even when available are difficult to access and purchase.

The Church participates in feeding schemes, and the supply and distribution of groceries, shelter and other essential items to their members and the underprivileged in their communities.

The Church has proven to be one of the major sources of aids to the public in times of need, a service which is essential for living.

What to do amidst the crisis?

In response, some Christians feel insulted and are clamoring for church gatherings to be deemed an “essential service.”

As believers, we know we’re called to swim upstream, with values that press against the current of society. Jesus warned that the world would hate us, and his apostles trained us to expect hostility.

But far too often, we overplay the persecution card, seeing a Nebuchadnezzar behind every law and a Pilate behind every regulation that we forget the situation isn’t pretty. We begin prophetic denouncements, and perceive conspiracy theories designed to silence the gospel and trample the truth.

As much as Christians love to claim persecution, the reality in this situation is far different. Churches aren’t being sidelined or insulted or anything close to “persecuted.” Believers across the world aren’t staying home and connecting online because society hates Christians but because societies around the world hate disease and death, two of the devilish heads Christ came to crush.

While demanding that church gatherings be deemed an “essential service” we must remember that the church is first an essential servant. The preserving power of Christ ensures that we the body will outlast every trial, which has seen us become the most mobile, agile, and flexible organism on the planet.

We would appeal with conviction and clarity, we would show the full respect due our appointed leaders, we would cheerfully trust God with the outcome, we would obey God rather than men, we would gather in the wisest ways we could find, we would worship in all the ways God’s assigned, and we would accept the necessary consequences, counting ourselves “blessed” as Jesus taught. We would do what so many before us have done, and done well.

But that’s not our situation, so that’s not today’s calling. Today’s calling is to honor God by remaining scattered, displaying the inseparable unity and creative fellowship of God’s Spirit across the healthy distances temporarily required by love.

Official regulations may keep calling our gatherings “non-essential” we know the truth, and this truth can set us free: we are an essential servant, displaying the kindness and care of God.

God was with Noah in the ark, with Abram in tents, with Joseph in prison, with Moses in the desert, with David in his cave, with Jonah in the deep, with Jeremiah underground, with Daniel and his lions, with Esther in Susa, with Peter in prison, with Paul under house arrest, and with John exiled on the island of Patmos.

God was with them, and he’ll be with us. The church will gather again, and it will be glorious.

-Samuel Uwom Tolanemugh

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