The confinement in our homes is forcing millions to stop abruptly, cancel all our plans, and take time to look in the mirror.
Prayer and pastoral care online, workshops, Instagram humor, are some of the responses to the first days of confinement.
Spanish evangelical churches are aware that the quarantine time will challenging, and therefore creativity will be key to overcome it.
Prayer and pastoral care online, workshops, streaming services and even humor, are some of the responses to the crisis of the coronavirus.
SUNDAY WORSHIP AT HOME AND ONLINE
The limitation of movements decreed on Saturday, led many churches to prepare a service using social media. While the Brethen churches provided a guide on how to broadcast an event, Assemblies of God organised an online seminar on how to use the Zoom platform that was attended by over 130 participants.
Daniel Banyuls, Secretary General of the Spanish Baptist Union, said: “Around 40 Baptist churches shared their services online, streaming or on WhatsApp. This has never been done before, it is historical. It shows that there are changes in technological use”.
Others have used Sunday to enhance family worship. “We have prepared a crisis document on pastoral care of the church, even when everyone is at home. The focus is on prayer, care, training, and family worship. We use WhatsApp to communicate, because it is direct and fast”, explains Marcos Zapata, pastor of the Buenas Noticias (Good News) Church of Lugo and President of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance.
Maxi Álvarez, pastor of Buenas Noticias church in Ourense, commented that “the first great lesson that perhaps this crisis will teach us is that the church is not a place. Perhaps we will learn that we cannot continue to be temple-centered or worship service-centered. The center is Jesus, the important thing is the people”.
A Brethen church in Salamanca also commented on the experience of having online worship service. “It was an intense and urgent work, but we were able to take advantage of the experience of several brothers and sisters in managing video editing and using YouTube. In fact, some of them were really happy to be able to use their skills to serve the Lord and be useful to the church”, Rubén Lugilde told Spanish news website Protestante Digital.
Many churches are promoting prayer through WhatsApp groups, Facebook, or phone calls. In situations as tense as today, the churches are undoubtedly looking to seek God directly.
The platform “Spain We pray for you” developed an interesting initiative: it convened a joint prayer time on Monday, in which more than 50 evangelical leaders from all over the country participated from their homes. Hundreds of people followed the broadcast on YouTube and also commented, in a spirit of joint prayer.
The movemen 24/7 Prayer has also organised a prayer campaign for the coronavirus crisis from March 17 to 23.
Many pastors are using Whatsapp and other channels to keep in touch with members of their churches. “Each person is called, prayed for, we care about their life and health, thanks to the cellular structure of our churches”, says Marcos Zapata.
Other missionaries and pastors, such as Claudenir Martines, in Madrid, offer themselves “to pray for the sick and those infected by coronavirus, also for all those who need help or a word from God”.
Several ministries are also offering spaces for consueling. For example, the Madrid Evangelical Chaplaincy service is available to help. “If you live alone or isolated, and you feel that you need to share your daily life with someone, if the situation worries you, and you want someone to listen to you and share with you some words of encouragement and personal or spiritual edification, get in touch with us and one of our chaplains will talk to you”, explains Juan José Román, who is in charge of this service.
SERVICE AND VOLUNTEER WORK
Many churches in Madrid are encouraging their members to serve the city at this critical time. In recent days, many churches have shared with their member the convocation made by the regional authorithies, looking for volunteers to help in this crisis.
Other churches use perhaps more rudimentary systems, but just as effective to be around people who may need help, such as putting up a poster in the main entrance of the building, offering help to their neighbours.
Care is also extended to families in difficult situations. In the church of Pero Tarquis, Director General of Evangelical Focus, members are taking turns bringing food to a family whose mother cannot be home for work. “It is a way of showing how we are a community of love”, he points out.
In Fuerteventura (the Canary Islands), the church Modern Christian Mission has made its social bus “guaguaseo” and hostel available. “Due to the measures adopted by the Government of Spain in relation to the coronavirus crisis, we put ourselves at the disposal of the authorities, so that, if necessary, they can have our facilities to bring homeless or people at risk of social exclusion, who need shelter and food. The hostel will follow the recommended protection measures”, Pastor Ángel Hernández says.
CHILDREN, MUSIC, HUMOUR
Many parents with children at home are looking for resources to help them grow spiritually. The Revive Church in Cangas (Galicia) have launched two initiatives on YouTube. One helps children memorise Bible verses, the other shares stories of missionaries.
Music is also for these days of reclusion. "We have created a playlist on Spotify with the music we usually sing on Sundays, so that everyone can listen to it at home these days”. Some of the songs can be found on Youtube, some even in Karaoke format, to sing them following the lyrics.
Humor has also become a resource to overcome this time. The profile @yonotengoculto (I do not have worship service) shares funny messages on Instagram, to make this mandatory quarantine more bearable.
”The evangelical church in Spain is tremendously creative”, pastor and theologian José Hutter recently said in an interview. In the midst of this crisis, Spanish evangelicals face this challenge, maybe without many resources, but with determination and ingenuity.