Amidst COVID-19, Christian churches must step up to their responsibility

Story by RHONDOR DOWLAT-ROSTANT

A leading Pentecostal pastor is challenging his colleagues in other Christian churches, to step up to their responsibility to the nation, during this time of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Pastor Dr Winston Cuffie of Miracle Ministries International, churches must ensure the population is not paralysed by fear.

“We must guard against the fear factor, which from the standpoint of science or the supernatural, could rather severely exacerbate a vulnerable situation,” Dr Cuffie states yesterday. “Robust faith in God’s Word does the opposite.”

He added: “In certain instances, to get the point across, I may tell people: ‘You have to think positively, to get a negative result’ (to be tested negative for the virus!). As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7).”

In an official statement issued on Monday, the Curepe Pentecostal Empowerment Ministries International announced the suspension of all its services, meetings and upcoming events until further notice. The church said, however, they will continue to bring the Gospel on the airways: its radio programme continues every Tuesday at 5 am on Sky 99.5 FM; and Sunday’s morning television programme will continue to be broadcast.

“We continue to trust God for His guidance and direction,” the release stated. “Amidst the time of crisis, please remember to keep the nation—and the world—in much prayer as we, together, watch the unfolding of the COVID-19.”

However, Dr Cuffie believes that in challenges such as the current one, the church or place of worship is also a major health, healing and refuge centre for many people of faith.

He gave a few of the scriptural guidelines that influencing his perspective.

“ ‘In the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me’ (Ps. 27:5); ‘The just shall live by faith’ (Rom. 1:17); and, ‘…pray one for the other that you will be healed…if any is sick, pray, anointing with oil, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick’ (Jam. 5:15-16),” he points out. “Some people may elect to quarantine.”

Dr Cuffie said education and precaution are always very vital:

“This is essentially at the core of the Church’s responsibility, anyhow—whether the issue is spiritual, physical, moral, social, intellectual, scientific or otherwise,” he explains.

“In the case of COVID 19, we follow the same rule. The established philosophy and practice of Miracle Ministries International have always comprised a strong mix of ‘Divine Health and Divine Healing’, even more so within the past 20 years. We have always incorporated medical professionals, as well as proven natural health options, alongside faith-based approaches, in our services to the public. By the grace of God, we have enjoyed remarkable results. In the current scenario, the mode of our thrust is maintained, so there isn’t much of an issue, really,” Dr Cuffie said.

He added: “It may be sad, but the reality is that a ‘necessary evil’ of challenges like COVID-19, is that we are all forced to take some time out for more sober reflection on Almighty God, the sanctity—and fragility—of life, plus so much more we take for granted or defile, in the routines of life’s hustles. We come face-to-face with how much more vulnerable than invincible man is, when left to the mercy of his own limitations.”

The church leader assured that fervent prayer and support go out to the nation and all affected by COVID-19, globally: “We pray for the speedy end to this plague.”

Given the recent confirmation of five cases here in Trinidad and Tobago, several churches have opted to cancel masses and services and are resorting to online services for their respective congregations.