“…This will be your opportunity to bear witness.” —Luke 21:13
I imagine that you have heard quite a lot about Italy and the present situation of the spread of the new epidemic of Covid-19. The situation is serious. All schools are closed till April 3, and all Italy is now a “red zone.” This means that people are forbidden to go outside the cities (if not for work or other serious reasons) and all people must limit any move in the city itself.
Though the infection is more spread in the north, the virus is coming to the southern part of Italy as well. The real danger is not the mortality rate per se but the fact that, if a great number of people are infected, the health system could collapse and the hospitals will not be able to receive those who are in need of intensive care (between the 10 and the 20% of the infected).
The past Lord’s day, March 8, the great majority of evangelical churches did not meet. We canceled our evening service and services in Milazzo and Comiso. In order to have our morning service in the main church in Caltanissetta, we had to move the chairs to the prescribed distance and limit our interaction. As far as I know, none of the people who attend our church have been infected, but there is a high probability that it will happen soon (some of us may even be infected now but not showing the symptoms).
My last sermon was from Christ’s prophetic discourse on the true meaning of “the signs of the times.” It is amazing that we had an unprecedented number of “digital attenders” and views on our youtube channel. I gave a biblical perspective of this crisis and preached the Gospel!
The unbelievers are scared, and though many believers are concerned, we as a church are serene. We are resting in the perfect will of God and conscious that this situation is a new “opportunity to bear witness.” Two of my blog posts on “Worship in the Time of Coronavirus” have been widely read by many, and many members are witnessing about their faith.
All this may become a death stroke for the already suffering Italian and Sicilian economy and many are already losing their jobs. In these difficult times, this is not a minor “side effect.”
Since every gathering of people is now forbidden, the next Lord’s day I will preach in front of a few people while the great majority of the members follow from home. This is something that we never experienced, but we thank the Lord for the possibility to maintain a connection with the whole church and many others through the new media outlets.
A very happy note is that on February 23 we recognized the ministerial gifts and qualifications of Francesco Pollicino as an elder over the church in Milazzo. We hope to constitute officially the church in Milazzo in early May.
I will try to keep you informed about how the situation evolves. In the meantime, we appreciate your prayers.