When Joshua was preparing God’s people to cross the River Jordan and enter the promised land, he told the people to keep their eyes on the ark of the covenant of the Lord, being carried by the Levites, and when they move, to follow! Then, they were told, “you will know which way to go, because you have never been this way before.”
As I write this blog, the nations of the world are struggling to overcome a virus so small that no-one can see it. Fear has become society’s controlling force and severe governmental advice, new laws and economic remedies have swiftly followed. The simple fact is the world has never walked this way before and the leaders of the nations are making up the script as they go. Only President Trump of the world’s leaders has taken the spiritual initiative and called their nation to a day of prayer.
All of us in the Body of Christ need to be on our knees before the Lord, crying out to Him for our leaders, the medics and everyone who is fighting this virus and its effects, for this is a world crisis. We must all play our part.
Yesterday, in response to Government information and advice, the Executive Leadership of Ellel Ministries had to make the unprecedented decision to pause all operations at our centres in the UK for four months. It was a huge decision for us to close our doors to those who need the help, the training and the ministry which has become the core activity and spiritual DNA of our work.
But, just as the Israelites were told to go where the presence of the Lord was and to follow the ark of the covenant, we were also looking to follow where the Lord was leading. But what was He saying? How could pausing all our operations for four months help the people that God had called us to serve?
Even as we were wrestling with this decision to close our doors for four months, we were also becoming aware that this devastating crisis could become a God-given opportunity to support and encourage the wider Ellel family and beyond, by using the internet to provide Ellel Online. We were realising that by changing our strategy, in this unique season, we would be able reach many more people across the world, than could ever come through our doors! But we needed the Lord’s clear confirmation that this was where He was leading.
Then, right into our meeting came a texted word from an intercessor to one of our Exec members. They knew absolutely nothing about the decision we were wrestling with when they quoted to us John 4:35. “Do you not say, Four months more and then the harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
Immediately, we knew it was right to pause our centre activities for four months, but God was telling us not to wait four months before continuing operations to bring in His Kingdom harvest – for the time is NOW. This is a time of reaping, even as fear and panic is spreading across the world. For, in the middle of the crisis, there will be those who are turning to the Lord and crying out to Him. It is now that the harvest must be reaped!
We had been asking God to show us His way forward for the ministry, because we had never walked this way before. It was an awesome moment when we realised that God had spoken right into our situation.
Yes, there will be consequences of closing our doors for four months, especially in respect of our finances. For, without anyone coming on our courses, there will be no income from this source. And what about all our teams – and many other issues we will have to wrestle with? The potential problems are huge – but God has spoken, therefore, we need not fear.
We may not have gone this way before, but the coronavirus pandemic was not a surprise to God, even though it’s a season in history unlike any other that there has ever been. It is a spiritual war with an invisible enemy. There may be a physical virus to which mankind has no immunity, but as Paul so rightly said in Ephesians 6:12, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of darkness in the heavenly realms.”
So, as well as doing everything necessary to protect ourselves from the virus, we need also to heed Paul’s advice and put on the full armour of God – the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and have feet that are ready to take the Gospel to wherever there is one who is crying out to God for answers. We live in a world which has largely turned its back on God our Maker and His Son, our Saviour, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t millions of people who are still looking to God for an answer to the fear in their hearts and the issues in their lives.
These may be testing and challenging days – but they are also days of great opportunity for the Kingdom of God. We need to take every wise precaution physically to protect ourselves from the physical virus, but we need to be diligent also in using the armour of God to provide us with spiritual protection from everything that the enemy of souls wants to throw at mankind – and especially at God’s people.
Right now, our leaders at Ellel Grange are working on the details of an on-line programme of encouragement and teaching for the times in which we are now living. So, watch out for an email telling you how to link in with this new Ellel service. It’s coming very soon!
And may I ask you to pray for the ministry and our works across thirty-six different nations as they seek to minister faith and hope into the lives of people who are coming under the threat of a global wave of fear and panic. We may not have walked this way before, but, as children of God, we are stretching out our hands to the One who knows the way to go. May the Lord’s hand of protection and blessing be upon you and all the nations to which we belong.