The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth has been assigned by Christ Himself to spread the all-important message of resurrection and hope in God in all circumstances and situations of life in which human beings find themselves including disasters and catastrophes. The fundamental mandate of the church is to stand by all those in tribulations and catastrophic circumstances. The mandate of the Church is to educate, counsel and reprimand the people. For this reason, when all human endeavours have failed, the Church of God becomes the last hope/trust of nations living in confusion, frustration and fears.
When God’s people experience disasters, they expect to see and hear from the Church. It is in difficult and trying times that the Church is expected to lead the people in order to provide hope and faith to those who have lost them. It is during the time when people are scared and shaken that the Church is expected to allay their fears, because our God, the God that we serve has the power to protect and save us.
The Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa, since its inception in Lesotho in 1833, has founded its teachings (operations) on the fundamental pillars and tenets that have been referred to here above. The raison d’être for establishment of this church is to avail Basotho and Lesotho with peace as well as physical, economic and social well-being. From its inception henceforth, this church has been the pillar of strength for this nation in all sorts of challenges, praying for and with the people for God’s intervention. Our beliefs have their basis on these words: ’’ The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.’’ (Psalm145:18).
It is for this reason that we are unable to keep quite when the lives of the Basotho people are in danger. We have our basis on these references being cognizant of the fact that nowadays there is a great concern by nations and governments throughout the world regarding the spiraling of statistics of people infected with Coronavirus within a very short space of time.
We are informed that Coronavirus is a type of virus that attacks human lungs and, therefore, negatively affects people’s respiration. The existing Coronavirus is, otherwise, called COVID-19, i.e. Coronavirus Disease of 2019. This disease emerged in China in December, 2019, and currently has spread to the SADC countries, mainly our only neighbour the Republic of South Africa, wherein on the 18th March, 2020 116 people have been certified as infected.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and governments of the world including the government of Lesotho, have provided guidelines and procedures to follow in mitigating the rate of the spread of this pandemic as well as to put it to a halt.
The following are some of the ways in which this disease can be passed from one person to the next one:
- An infected person can spread the Virus/infection to a healthy person through: eye, nose and mouth via droplets produced when coughing or sneezing, close contact with an infected person and contact with contaminated surfaces, objects or items of personal use.
- The most common symptoms of COVID – 19 are mild and begin with a dry cough, fever, and general tiredness. Some people don’t have any symptoms but could still be infected and can pass the infection to others.
- The virus can survive on surfaces, such as tissues, for a few days; and someone touching such an object can contact the disease.
The majority of the people infected with COVID-19 have some usual symptoms of the common flu, while others do not show any symptoms and yet can still pass the disease to those around them. This virus can keep alive for days on surfaces where it settles, for example on doors, door knobs and several other working surfaces.
Just as with the Ministry of Health that has cautioned the nation on some important issues to consider in mitigating the rate of spread of this disease, the issues that include the following:
- Protecting yourself
- Protecting your loved ones
- Protecting your community
- Providing and receiving medical care if necessary;
The church recommends that the following are some of the steps and measures to be taken:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Wash hands thoroughly, frequently and regularly using water and soap or use alcohol based sanitizer
- Limit hand shaking instead wave or use the outside of the elbow if critical
- Keep about 1 meter distance from the next person and more critically for a person coughing or sneezing
- Limit travel or visits to crowded places
- Observe the cough etiquette by covering your mouth with the inside of the forearm not your hand
- Use a tissue only once and discard it safely
- Wipe surfaces regularly, e. g. door knobs, work stations, with disinfectant
- If coughing, sneezing, running a temperature, and having difficulty with breathing, immediately visit a health facility for examination and care
- If you have travelled outside the country/your area and/or had contact with someone who had been infected, please self-present to a health facility for screening and advise.
The Church, in accordance with its mandate on earth, and also that it is the final hope of the people, it also accepts that this disease is a global pandemic as has been declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and therefore, makes the following decisions for protection of its followers as well as the Basotho nation at large:
- Let us join hands as the entire nation to fight this disease. We cannot defeat this pandemic if we continue fighting our denominational and political battles.
- Let us currently put aside briefly (suspend) all our large congregational gatherings and meetings that involve great numbers of people, e.g. at Presbytery and Seboka (Synod) levels, as these are church structure at which numerous people congregate; however, commissions, boards and committees should continue to execute their duties and responsibilities as carefully and as safely as possible.
- The Parishes should continue to meet, however, caution should be exercised that large parishes with small accommodations, should be divided into two or more groups as is the case currently in some parishes.
- We order that for a brief period the Holy Communion and baptisms should be suspended as we continue to monitor this disease; we should not continue with them and later find out that in the process the members of the Church get infected.
- Pastors/religious ministers, evangelists and all church councils should work hand in glove with the Ministry of Health in using church buildings as places for educating the nation about this disease.
- At time the Israelis were attacked by the enemy, they called to God and He heard/listened to them. ’’And when they began singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who were invading Judah, so they were defeated” (II Chronicles 20:22).
- With all the hope in our God, we appeal to all to take the steps/procedure for prevention that the WHO and the Ministry of Health are propagating.
- All church members should frequently join in a prayer to fight against this pandemic. We support the government’s statement that we should all pray against this disease at 12:00 midnight and 12:00 noon every day until further notice.
- The Church reminds all the people that it is the responsibility of every individual to have information about ways of protection against this disease; and to mitigate the speed of spread of the infection where it has already occurred.
We conclude this statement by appealing to all people who believe in God to take care of themselves; in all our services and commitments, we should adopt measures that protect us. The God that we serve is a living God that is why Job says: “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end, he will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25). Could God Almighty protect and save His own people/creation!
K. Posholi (Rev.) T. S. Masemene (Rev.)
Executive Secretary Synod Moderator