By Nyaradzo Bakari
AS the lockdown due to coronavirus (Covid19) continues, churches have made use of online platforms to reach out to their faithful during Easter.
Many churches across the globe have been live streaming Easter services since Good Friday on their websites and other social media platforms since gatherings were suspended.
Zimbabwe began its 21-day lockdown on Monday 30 March as a way of controlling the spread of coronavirus, which has so far killed 3 people in the country.
The Jehovah Tsebaoth Ministries (JTM) is also part of the churches in Zimbabwe that have adapted online services for members to follow from their homes during the lockdown.
JTM founder Apostle Grant Farah said a total shift to online worship was easy for them as a church as they had been making use of online platforms prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
“We have full engaged social media platforms and fortunately as a congregation we have for some time now been active on the social media platforms. We have a link sent on Whatsapp as it is one of the most popular and easily reachable platforms. We also have an active website where we post a lot of our teachings and announcements. When we started it was not very active but lately it has been very active and people are taking full advantage of the platforms,” he said.
“We also engaged a telecommunication system where we call our members. The sick call or send messages and we are able to engage them on a personal level and pray for them.”
Apostle Farah said his congregation celebrated Passover online from Good Friday and the turnout of the congregants was impressive.
“We have had a very impactful Passover banquet. We had Friday and Saturday online services in the evening and we kept the Passover banquet today with a Resurrection Sunday. From our statistics, the response has been overwhelming as we found that between 85 to 90 per cent of our congregation have been downloading the sermons. We had to make a few adjustments so that our sermons may be shorter to cater for the economic challenges people may have in terms of accessing data.”
He said the church was providing airtime for those who cannot afford and will be doing free CDs for those who have no gadgets to access social media.
The cleric urged people to follow government instructions and take precautions to prevent the spread of covid 19.
“We may never know the truth about the causes of the pandemic or where it’s coming from but from a Christian perspective, God would never send something like this as he is loving and merciful. God may have allowed this to happen but where he allows it he always makes provision for the redeemed to find security and refugee in Him,” he said.
“We are all confronted with this pandemic; it’s a reality and can affect anyone. As such we encourage our fellow brothers and sisters to be careful and observe all safety precautions. Even in the bible when there was a pandemic God would give instructions and some of the instructions were saying stay indoors. So we encourage congregants to stay home as instructed. We have been sending this message on social media too.
Prophet Shamba of the Followers of Christ Ministries, said technology offers an opportunity to get in touch with even more congregants accross the globe beyond their usual audience.
He said his church is taking advantage of this pandemic to win more souls and bring many people to the Lord.
“We have been given an opportunity to spread the word of God to many people. As Christians, we do not see tragedy, we see opportunity to spread the word of God and call nations to repent,” he said.
Other churches have resorted to sending sermons on Whatsapp platform and in several groups.
Christians who spoke to this publication said they appreciate this initiative because all they need is to hear the word of God whether online or offline.
“I love the word of God and with this lockdown we get to listen to it from home. Me and my family make time to watch online services and also share with our brothers and sisters who are not yet born again,” said Amanda Nyathi a member of the Forward in Faith Ministries.