A strange Flu In early 2020, Corona virus was already a hype in the world mostly in a humorous way. When I was going through the symptoms of this new infection, it gave me a chill as it brought me to a previous event in October 2019. While transiting through Qatar (more than 80,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases presently), I was infected by a flu-virus. Unlike other flu I had ever experienced before, this was so different. Normally, when I catch a fever, it will be gone after a good-rest which includes a long overnight sleep and the worst of the fevers will only last another day. This time it was not leaving me even after the 3rd day and more strangely it was a low- temperature fever about 38.5oC which I do not remember experiencing before. I always had 39+ and I would sweat at night during the sleep & will recover the following day. On top of this strange fever, I could not breath a couple of nights as my nose was blocked and was literally breathing hard through my mouth as I woke up in suffocation!
I was in bed ('isolation') for 2 weeks of which the first week was very severe as I had lost the sensation of smell as well as taste in the following days so that I had to force myself to eat. In total the severe infection (cough) lasted about 4 weeks and my neighbors were joking that a flu could last for 6 weeks. I made an appointment with my GP who did all sorts of tests on my blood (10-12 if I remember correctly) which came all negative. He said to me I have 'scored A' in health and that he have no idea what was wrong when I was ill and we laughed it away! Later on retelling this story, some say it could be the same, but I really have no idea as it was strangely similar symptoms. I thank the Lord that I made it through that attack and glad that I did not infect anyone here due to my self-isolation!
This experience made me pray for those who were infected and are suffering from COVID-19. I thought I'd to do a spiritual battle against this 'plague' as I could empathize with those who're going through the same. I prayed God, please contain this in China, let no more than 10,000 be infected and the like... But, here is a time when I felt my prayers are not going anywhere as the infections (and death-toll) skyrocketed as days pass by spreading from one part to the other in quick succession. As I was pondering over these events, it brought me to another even which happened 12 years ago. It was my burn-out and quitting secular job for a full-time ministry. Personally, this was also a time of isolation (lock-down) and revival (recovery) where the Lord had changed my focus from self-centered achievement to Christ-centered mission.
The Year of new beginnings: Rethinking revival I had entered 2020 with lots of expectations; not because of the hype that it rhymed 'twenty- twenty'. A message from the Lord that “the Year of new beginnings” which started in 2019 will be continuing to the coming year was an exciting one to look forward to. On looking back, I did not know how things would be changing in the coming months. Since beginning of 2019, there were several joint event with different churches that were happening in the city. The focus for these events is to stir up a revival as a result of unity in the body of Christ and those activities continue to the present year.
By mid-Feb I had this strange thought that COVID-19 is going to be a global-disaster- phenomena as I was closely following the spreading of this new disease and how the global leaders were reacting to it. It was hard for many around me in accepting the fact that this could change life and that the Lord had a big plan to bring everyone back to Him through this. Right from the very word 'corona', which means crown, it was as if the Lord is requiring everyone to give back His Crown and Lordship which rightly belonged to Him alone. On the funny side: this is definitely a 'Crown' that anyone would gladly give to Jesus! People who didn’t had time before would be locked-down in their own homes that they have time to think, pray and come closer to God. Record sale of the Bible as well as words of faith like 'prayer' going high on search terms in Google are old stories now.
Someone with prophetic gift had told me in late 2019 to focus more on home-fellowships for the upcoming time. I didn’t take it too serious as I was already involved in house-prayer-meetings for a long time. When the global lock-down came to its full-grind in March'20, it was clear how significant the home-fellowships were going to be. Even though it has been in the incubation for a long time to have online sessions for those who're busy, it never really come to pass before as real meetings are always preferred. So most of the regular meetings that I was involved in with various churches immediately got a full launch into online meetings primarily on Zoom. Global Zoom sessions had since increased so many-fold so as now 'zooming' has become a byword.
One of the new things for me personally in 2020 was joining IFES-ISM in Nijmegen. But, my start with IFES and Corona-hitting the Netherlands were simultaneous events. As the whole country (& the world) went into a lock-down, all real-time meetings were canceled. On top of which, the students who were leading the meetings left the country which brought in some additional organizational hazards. Having been only a couple of times to the IFES bi-weekly meetings left me with only a handful names to be in touch. But, thanks to the already existing members who were present, the team could be reorganized in few weeks, but how to hold the meetings was still a question. After some discussions, it was also settled for Zoom as the platform to hold the online meetings. All these changes have a big-toll on the members. Only a fraction of the members who were present in pre-COVID-19 time are active right now. But we are thankful for those who're joining and the enthusiasm of the leadership to persevere. Many of our initial plans did not come to pass, but new creative ideas are implemented. We are now also piloting an Alpha on zoom with a teaser “An alpha a [Satur]day keeps the Corona away!”
In the course of time, this situation had me thinking about the 'revival' we were praying and working towards. Looking at so many incidents in the Bible in the light of the 'lock-down' and 'revival' which follows after-wards, gave an insight that with-out a 'lock-down' a.k.a. 'suffering and dying on the cross', there is no resurrection, even for Jesus! That the Lord wants all of us to be revived through this lock-down. I also arrived at the conclusion that this was an effective way to explain my burn-out to others who ask me what is it to be in a burnout. More over, everyone can now empathize to the the plight of the disabled among us, how hard it is for them to experience life in fullness. May this experience help all of us to pray and act for the release of modern-day-Slaves, help and be hospitable to the Refugees among us, and pray and advocate for the persecuted Believers in closed countries and may the Lord of revival bring a Spiritual- Awakening in us personally and collectively!