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The Coronavirus Diaries: Life is Gradually Coming Back

Wednesday August 25 2021

Vincent Obinna, an elder in the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, describes the impact of the pandemic over the past 18 months

The year 2020 was received with high hopes of better conditions of living.

I remember the joy during the New Year’s Day service in my local church. Prayers were offered in thanksgiving and intercessions and supplications. Prophecies were declared and we all went home in full assurances that God had designed 2020 for great visitations upon the land and her people.

Just within the second quarter of the year, there was a downturn of events and alas, restriction orders from the government. Road blocks were mounted, interstate movement restrictions enforced; intrastate surveillance teams inaugurated and massive screenings embarked upon, yet to no avail.

Social distancing and a ban on public gatherings, churches closed and later on the government allowed church services with not more than fifty persons at a time. The conditions were that church services must last no more than an hour, hand washing facilities and sanitisers to be provided at the entrance of the church and that every worshipper must wear a face mask or shield. No more hand shaking or hugs in the church, even after communion services no exchange of the greetings of peace. It was an entirely a different experience.

Within the lockdown period, we lost two or three of our members, not as a result of Covid-19 but their funerals were held immediately and in full compliance with Covid-19 protocols. This denied a greater number of the church membership the opportunities of paying their last respects to the deceased.

In my locality, there were lots of varied opinions about the reality of the pandemic. Some saw it as a disease that cannot survive the hot weather we have, others saw it as a disease that God sent to punish the political group. The second opinion became so popular because the people that were the earlier victims of the pandemic were highly placed politicians. However, the reality dawned on us when the first announced victim was an elder of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria and a onetime President of the Men’s Christian Association (MCA) Afikpo/Unwana Presbytery of which I was the Vice President. He was a medical doctor who the church used extensively in educating the parishioners on Covid-19.

The impact of the pandemic on our parish life could better be imagined than expressed. Attendance to church services dropped, the finance of the church nosedived, the minister’s salaries and allowances were not paid. Debts piled up which the church is yet to recover from. The businesses of members got closed down, restrictions upon restrictions which altered the lifestyles of the people.

At present, life is gradually coming back to the church and the immediate environment and the church keeps praying that such experience should not arise the second time. The menace of the pandemic proved that truth: ‘by his own strength no man can prevail’ (1 Samuel 2:9)

Vincent Obinna is an elder in St Peter’s Parish, Amasiri Junction in the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria

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

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Malawi: A Crisis That Will Not Go Away
Kenya: Covid is Real
Belgium: Some Silver Linings
South Africa: Will We Keep Listening?
Zimbabwe: Untold Sufferings
A Deep and Inconsolable Loss: Tribute to Phumzile Mabizela
Malawi: This Was Very Real
Sri Lanka: Daily Numbers are Shocking
Jerusalem: Virtual Prisoners
Bangladesh: We Will Survive by the Grace of God
Nepal: Exhausting and Often Heartbreaking
Malawi: God Has Been Faithful to Us
France: Thankful For What I Have
India: Love Your Neighbours
A Nigerian in Scotland: Alone But Not Lonely
Taiwan: When We Work Together, We Achieve the Best Results
Hungary: We Mourn Each Loss
Zambia: Preparing for the Vaccine, and a Third Wave
World Communion of Reformed Churches: The 'Covid and Beyond' Church
Pakistan: Passing the Light
Lebanon: The Lord Will Not Forsake Us
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'