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The Coronavirus Diaries: Passing the Light

Wednesday March 10

Farhana A Nazir, lecturer at Gujranwala Theological Seminary in Pakistan, reflects on the challenges of sharing the Gospel during the time of pandemic


The mission of enlightening the world with the Gospel has existed throughout history to fulfill the command what Jesus said: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

Sharing such light was challenging in the South Asian context (Pakistan). In 1857, Thomas Hunter, the first Scottish Missionary came to the area that is now Pakistan with the aim to share the Light of Christ. Unfortunately Hunter, his wife and child were murdered during the mutiny.

Though the Scottish mission was started enthusiastically, it quickly recognised the critical challenges. After a fearful pause, the Church of Scotland appealed to many others ‘To lift up and carry on the torch which had fallen from the hands of Pioneer Rev. Thomas Hunter.’ The “Torch” was passed to John Taylor and Robert Paterson, and later to many indigenous Pakistani people who are still sharing the light with others. I am one of those indigenous called ones who picked up the torch to pass it to others. Indeed it is still challenging but full of blessings and wonders!

In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus intentionally said that He is the “Light of the World” when He was speaking at the Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles, which was observed as a festival of lights. Traditionally, numerous lamps were lit in the Temple and there were processions with torches to remember the day of God’s providence of Israelites when they were on the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land (Exodus 3:14; 13:21). Jesus took the opportunity of His presence and said that He is the “True Light of the World.” Traditionally, the Light was one of the names of the Messiah (Isaiah 9:1; 42:6, 9). John proclaimed that Jesus comes from God, who is the light for all humanity (1 John 1:5) and is now present in the world.

The study of John 8:12 brings new encouragement to such context that is still needed to be enlightened, especially where there is the darkness of fear, despair, unfaithfulness, pandemic, loneliness, poverty, injustice and unrest.

Everyone has been threatened by the global pandemic since March 2020.  For me, it was a pause to reflect on the depth of the issue of how the majority of Pakistanis will cope with Covid-19. I appreciated many Christian sweepers who were not on holiday but were cleaning roads, streets, and hospitals along with medical people; I saluted their services of sharing the light of hope with love and care.  Many Christians stood to support them, as they became the most vulnerable community who can be easily affected by Covid-19. Many people, even doctors, have lost the light of healing and peace while helping all affected.

During the lockdown, many have put the candle in the window to show solidarity and hope for the family, friends, and the church. We follow the example of Jesus saying the Spirit has anointed me to proclaim and bring good news, freedom and light to the poor and oppressed (Luke 4:18-19). God is bringing people forward to pass the torch of peace that will be remained in this world.


Farhana A. Nazir is a Lecturer and Dean of Studies at Gujranwala Theological Seminary, Gujranwala, Pakistan

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

South Korea: 'It is Time For Christians to Hear the Marginalised'
Cuba: Keep Moving On
Canada: Cracks Have Been Exposed
Kenya: Leave No Child Behind
USA: Homes of Prayer
Mozambique: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
A Spaniard in Scotland: The Power of Movement
South Sudan: Being Positive
A Nigerian in Scotland: God is in Charge
Trinidad and Tobago: New Frontiers
Czech Republic: A Challenge for Everybody
Switzerland: An Outpouring of Solidarity and Creativity
The West Bank: A Landscape of Broken Dreams
Nepal: So Many Premature Goodbyes
Malawi: We Must Hold Each Other Close
Nigeria: A Fresh Spiritual Connectedness
Egypt: 'This Is A Time To Witness God'
Guyana: The Strength of our Connectedness
South Korea: A Harsh Reality
Zimbabwe: Convenience or a Wake-up Call?
Sri Lanka: Service is the Highest Form of Worship
USA: Testing Positive
Portugal: The Mission of the Church Has Not Changed
World Council of Churches: A New Dawn is Upon us
Hungary: Physically Distant but Close in Spirit
A German in Scotland: Something New Has Already Begun
Myanmar: We Will Overcome this Hardship
Ghana: This Too Shall Pass
Brazil: The Least We Can Do
Kenya: Caring for One Another in Christ
An Indian in Germany: A Time of Enrichment
Argentina: Time in Between
Malawi: 'My identity in Christ remains unchanged'
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'