The 2020 Convention of Men of Praise International Fellowship [MPIF] is a very unique one. Unique in the sense that it will be the first of its kind as most of its proceedings will be virtual and conference participants from all over the world will participate simultaneously through electronic devices.
By the end of the Accra Convention last year, participants returned home hoping and planning for the next conference to be hosted by MPIF Nigeria. However unforeseen global events especially the recent pandemic suddenly changed the planning and execution of the program. This article is aimed at highlighting how a global phenomena can affect Christians, churches and fellowships; attempt to proffer solutions as to how we can keep our meetings, fellowships going in spite of such challenges; keep our spirits and faith aglow not dampened by any devilish agenda aimed at destroying Christendom and humanity as a whole
In 2nd Timothy 3 1-3, the word of God clearly states that: “This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedience to parents unthankful unholy..”
Note the word in the last days and ‘perilous times’ this appears to be the time Apostle was talking about because the events of recent times are actually perilous. Also in the book of Revelation 16:1-10 : Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God so the first angel went and poured out his bowls on the earth and harmful and painful sores came upon the people…”
In Luke 21:26 CHRIST Himself was teaching about this time when He said: “People fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world for the power of heaven will be shaken…”
The above scriptural verses are indications that events as it is unfolding today were well predicted from the word of God and so Christians should not be surprised, rather prepare so as not to be distracted.
THE NEW NORMAL
Recently a lot of changes have taken place in our communities, homes, churches, fellowship and social life. We see some fascinating behavior emerge as part of our ‘New Normal’ meaning a previously unfamiliar or typical situation that has become standard, usual, or expected.
We are certainly living in difficult times after weeks of social distancing; living with the threat of COVID-19; tired, wearied and sometimes anxious of sensationalized news coverages and contradictory messages that is leaving many confused and dismayed; grief for people we have lost as well as employments and opportunities. The list appears almost endless!
This virus and its impact on our lives will remain with us .The challenges today is finding the resilience and creativity to continue to adapt to this new environment, improvising and constructing something better than what we lost; for example, this 2020 International Convention being held virtual – “The Lord gives back to those who believes in His goodness, so do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
CHALLENGES OF THE NEW NORMAL
This pandemic has revealed the single common vulnerability of human kind which knows no border, race or status. We who are but one of the specie on the planet earth must henceforth shun our urge for identity superiority or risk even more devastating pandemic. With this shattered illusion of differences arising from race, class etc., humanity cannot tolerate war and violence anymore as it threatens the peace and health of everyone everywhere.
What then are the challenges of the “NEW NORMAL” or what will the new normal mean for you in Men of Praise International Fellowship [MPIF]? Once crowded churches now sit empty as services have moved online. In one way society is adjusting to a new normal, live streaming through YouTube, Zoom, Facebook live and other online platforms is now become the norm with growing public response.
Difficult challenges have presented opportunities, the shift to online services has reached more people than ever before. The challenge for religious institutions is just to adjust to the new normal and try to figure out what that is going to look like and what member of their communities are going to expect from them.
Therefore in the light of the above, we of the Men of praise international fellowship [MPIF] should embrace and focus in the new normal in the following areas:
Monthly leadership meetings: Our monthly leadership meetings MUST go on irrespective of the situation on ground, since we don’t know when the pandemic will be over, let us continue to observe the COVID-19 protocol as stipulated by our various governments and by the world health organization . Invite people to our meetings and pray fervently against the sickness of the Egyptians.
Word encounter workshop: The new normal have ushered in a novel method of holding the monthly word encounter preview, both at the international level and at the chapter level. It has saved us cost of transporting participants to Port-Harcourt and the risk involved in travelling monthly, through the virtual workshop many people now participate at the grass root level with chapters being encouraged to join by providing necessary infrastructure and devices for virtual preview.
Interactive forums: Forums such as the coordinators interactive forum [CIF] which have become moribund can be revived through this new normal technology, so that leaders at the grass root level can interact and compare notes and encourage one another for the work to move on.
Finally brethren in as much as we conform to the new normal, we must not forget that we are a special specie of humans ,we are peculiar people, we are a chosen generation, and as bearers of the seed of God we must bear the fruit expected of us. We must not disconnect from our parent tree Isaiah 41:10: “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed for I am thy God, I will strengthen thee, yea I will help thee, yea I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.”
ELDER OKE OKORIE KALU [Umuahia Chapter Coordinator]