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Home  >  Features  >  The Coronavirus Diaries: 'My Identity in Christ Remains Unchanged'


The Coronavirus Diaries: 'My Identity in Christ Remains Unchanged'

Wednesday June 24 2020

Gary Brough, a Church of Scotland mission partner based in Mzuzu, Malawi, was in Scotland when the lockdown began. He reflects on the language of furlough and on being away from the work to which he is called.

The end of March was to be the beginning of our deputation and a 7-week frenzy of talks, meetings and reunions.

Instead, it marked the beginning of lockdown and furlough, back in Scotland but not as planned. I deleted all of the planned activities from our calendar. Concerts, conferences and coffees removed leaving a blank slate for home-schooling and Zoom Quizzes (a phenomenon I will not miss).

While the supermarket shelves were seeming sparse to many, to us, they seemed full of such variety. While we couldn’t reconnect with congregations, family and friends as planned – we could become reacquainted with some of our favourite foods. On my first visit to the shop, I approached the checkout worried that my trolley of cheese and chocolate wouldn’t meet the criteria for ‘essential shopping’.

Furlough. Isn’t it strange that a term usually reserved for leave for missionaries and the military is now so widely used?  Sometimes it feels like a label that’s not easy to wear. Only those who are not essential key workers are furloughed, right? Thankfully, as Christians, our identity is in Christ and not the things that we do. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10)

There are no furloughed workers or key workers in the good works God has prepared for us. As a family, we look forward to returning to Malawi and to the work which we feel called. As we wait, I’ve found it useful to remember that my identity in Christ remains unchanged by the circumstances of my employment or this pandemic.

This week, Malawians returned to the polls to elect a president after last year’s election result was overturned. Scenes of huge political rallies are hard to grasp in the current climate. However, political injustice cannot be left unchallenged, and the country longs for a just and fair government who will lead them through these difficult times.

As our identity in Christ is unchanged by this pandemic, so is the reality of injustice. While coronavirus prevention and lockdown have brought aspects of life to a halt, urgent needs continue. We’ve heard of gender-based violence, hunger and inequality increasing in the UK under lockdown. Coronavirus is fuelling these issues, and others, in Malawi too. As we see lockdown ease and coronavirus cases reduce, cases in Malawi are rising quickly.

The challenge in Malawi, and indeed here, is how do we not just ‘flatten the curve’ but also address the deep-rooted injustices that are being laid bare.

The Coronavirus Diaries: updates from Church of Scotland partners around the world

Argentina: Time in Between 
Jerusalem: Being Rather than Doing
Malawi: No Lockdown and an Election
Zambia: 'I will never leave you... or forsake you'
Czech Republic: The Covid Cover-up
Zambia: 'All Life is Sacred'
Israel/Palestine: 'The Air is Clear'
Nepal: 'Please Pray for Us'
Malawi: Tough Dilemmas
Italy: 'Together, We Will Get Through It'