So far, there have been over eleven hundred cases of COVID-19, and sixty deaths, in the region directly served by CBACC. The region remains in a state of high alert. All territories, to varying degrees, have implemented containment measures such as border closures, physical distancing requirements, the banning/discouragement of large gatherings, the closing of schools and non-essential businesses, etc.
The impact of these measures is being felt in our churches. While some smaller churches continue to meet in their church buildings, a significant number have moved online, using Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube. Interestingly, some of these online services report a higher attendance than one would have normally had in the church buildings, and there have been testimonies of persons coming to know Christ through attending online meetings. Of concern, however, is the fact that some believers, mainly older and economically disadvantaged persons, are unable to access online services. It is also of concern that some churches have no gathering at all, neither in person nor online.
The economic impact of COVID-19 containment measures is already being felt in the region. With many of our territories being heavily dependent on tourism, we have begun to experience the layoffs. Additionally, the current situation in New York will have an impact on remittances, on which many persons in the region depend. Most governments have announced relief measures of one kind or another to help those who have been affected by the economic slowdown. The general feeling is that difficult days are ahead.
Notwithstanding everything that is happening, the church remains positive, seeking to make use of every opportunity share the love of Christ in word and deed. I close with a few prayer requests:
- For believers who lack access to technology that they might not be cut off.
- For churches that are not meeting in any form that the flocks might not be scattered.
- For those who have been laid off that their needs might be met.
- For the home for senior citizens run by the assemblies in Jamaica that staff and residents might be kept safe.
- For our governments that they might act in wisdom, allowing necessary economic activity without jeopardizing the health of citizens.
- For our citizens that they might act responsibly, helping all of us to stay safe.