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Blog #7

Heavenly Father,
Thank you for this time you have given us to gather as a community of faith. We acknowledge that being able to do so is a luxury that many of our brothers and sisters in Christ do not have so we pray that this time is not taken for-granted. May the words that I speak and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, Abba, my strength, and my redeemer. Amen

Kia ora, Talofa, Malo e lelei, Namaste, Bula and Greetings! My name is Ramona and I am a Diverse Youth leader from Wesley Methodist Church, Papatoetoe. Thank you, again, for allowing me into your virtual bubbles; and welcome to mine.
The last few weeks have been interesting to say the least. Pandemics that cause global panic were a thing of the Bible, the subject of our history books, the catalyst for a poorly written Sci-Fi story but I never thought it would have become a part of our own. Before the lockdown, I was a self-proclaimed hermit who was in voluntary lockdown far before March 2020 so Jacinda Ardern announced the lockdown, I bragged about how easy the four weeks was going to be and the first week went by quickly.
Two weeks into the lockdown, I celebrated my 24th birthday and the cracks began to show because I missed my brother, sister-in-law and niece terribly. Three weeks in: I miss random trips to The Warehouse, hanging out with my friends and the freedom to escape my bubble when I want. But, surprisingly, of all the things I miss, I miss church the most. Last week, I drove past Wesley Papatoetoe on my way to work and I almost cried – not because I miss the building but because I miss the activities and the people that once filled it.
Church has played an integral part of each of our lives; in fact, most of us were born into it. For a large part of my childhood, I had no idea what going to church meant but I knew it was important because my parents woke me up early on a weekend for it; my mum would twist my hair into the tightest hairdo’s known to man; and I had to wear a dress made of shiny, lace and/or furry material.
As an adult, however, the definition of church changed. It was less about the place and more about the people; and the God who transformed them. I felt safe to come as I was because I wanted to be better than I am; I found a core group of people who desired to know God and make Him known just as I did; I felt empowered to serve; and I began the process of putting on the armour of God. Then Covid-19 happened. Our building closed, we don’t see each other anymore, our services have been moved online… it’s not the same.
Yet, while the routine has changed and the world is in chaos, I still feel a strong sense of contentment and peace; and I hope the same goes for you. If not, here are a few things for you to consider:

1. Check your armour.


In Ephesians 6: 10, Paul encourages us to be strong. Note: the most critical part of this verse is for us to be strong “in the Lord and in his mighty power”. The truth is: the flesh is weak (Mark 14: 38). We are easily tempted and discouraged. That is why we need to lean fully into the strength of the Lord whose “power is made perfect in weakness”

In the following verse, Paul implores us to put on all of God’s armour. Keyword: all. For an armour to be effective, you must wear all of it. Failing to do so is like putting on a helmet then getting shot in the chest.

So what does the full armour of God look like and why should you wear it?

  • Paul uses a belt to represent truth. Truth as part of an armour makes sense because satan is referred to as “father of lies” (John 8:44) and deception is revealed as “detestable” (Proverbs 6: 16-17) to God. We are encouraged to prioritise truth for our own sanctification and deliverance, and for those around us.
  • The breastplate is representative of God’s righteousness; while a breastplate protects our vital organs, what Jesus did for us on the cross guards our hearts against and secures us from attack.
  • Using shoes to symbolise peace that comes from the gospel, Paul suggests that the nature of our work as Christians leads us into territory torn by despair. But we are equipped with messages of grace that have the power to bring people to God.
  • The enemy works to sow doubt. Thus, Paul uses a shield to represent faith in Christ, who is our “author and perfecter” (Hebrews 12: 2); a faith that is precious, solid and significant.
  • The head is a critical part of the body and is where we discern between truth and deception. Paul writes that we must protect it by wearing the helmet of salvation.
  • Finally, the sword of the Spirit, the Word, which is the only offensive weapon in the armour of God. Much like the shoes of peace, Paul acknowledges that we will be taken to places of anger, despair and hopelessness – much like where we are now. But we are equipped with the sword of the Spirit who has the power to bring love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

2. Locked down, prayers up.


Paul writes that we must “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

Eph 6:18

I wonder, while we have adjusted to life in lockdown, how many of us have adjusted our prayer life. Before lockdown, we often found excuses not to pray. Too busy, too tired, too consumed… but now that all those distractions have been removed, albeit forcefully, how many of you have used that time in prayer for yourself, for your bubble, for your community, nation, leaders and the world?

3. Finally, you are an essential service.

Paul writes in Ephesians 6: 19-20, “And pray for me, too… I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.”
In a way, those of us in lockdown can relate to Paul who writes this letter to believers in Ephesus from the confinements of a cell. But what I admire most about Paul is, during this time, he does not sit idly by – waiting to resume his work when he is set free. No, Paul does the complete opposite. He doesn’t pray for his chains to be removed or to be set free. Instead, he asks for prayer – that God may continue to use Him regardless of his circumstances. Paul treats his ministry as an essential service.

How about you? Has this lockdown given you the excuse to put a pause on your ministry; or have you prayed and found other ways to answer God’s call? If Paul can do it in chains – with nothing but a pen, paper, a few friends and prayer… what is our excuse?

Some Questions to Consider:

  1. How strong has your Faith PPE been during this period? Have you checked it?
  2. Have you taken this time as an opportunity to connect with God more strongly?
  3. As it relates to your faith and call to serve, what essential services can you offer to others? What essential service do you require from others?
  4. Who are some people know to me that may need prayer over this same topic?

by Ramona Misilei | AMY Synod

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