As I write this (16 April), South Africa is 21 days into a fairly strict lockdown. The lockdown has now been extended to the end of this month and possibly beyond. We’re allowed out for three things: groceries, medical needs, and collecting social grants. Exercise and care of mental health are not on that list.
If you’d like to pray for South Africa, here are four main points I would suggest. I’m not a politician or a medical expert or an economist, neither can or do I represent a whole country. It’s also worth saying that the situation is constantly changing.
- Please pray for gospel work in South Africa
The status of gospel work under lockdown in quite varied across our country. The smaller pockets of middle to upper economic prosperity mostly have access to the technology and bandwidth needed for Zoom (for instance) and to stream sermons etc. But far larger swathes of the country don’t have the resources to simply move gospel work online.
- Pray for a deep trust in the Lord for those more locked down than others, and those with no real access to technology and devices.
- Pray for practical loving of those people more immediately around us (family, roommates, neighbours etc), with a good witness of repentance and faith, gospel proclamation and good works.
- Pray for good use of technology by those who have it. We look forward to hearing stories in the coming months of how God uses that.
- Pray for all-round creativity and personal responsibility in getting the gospel message out in evangelism and edification and equipping. Give thanks that this virus may be helping many to reconsider less than ideal views and practises of discipleship and Christian community.
- Pray that COVID-19 will reveal the deep poverty of the ‘prosperity gospel’ as it faces this pandemic with cheap and empty hope and promises.
- Please pray for the Christian leadership in South Africa
- Pray for a real pastoral concern from Christian leaders for the people entrusted to their care.
- Pray that church and ministry leaders would set a clear focus on the character and work of our Triune God, and on what discipleship looks like under these circumstances. Pray they don’t leave their people guessing.
- Pray that Christian leaders would make good use of this time, avoiding both the extremes of idleness and idolatry.
- Pray for the leaders of households such as dads, mums, grandparents, or older siblings. Pray they would love and serve ‘their’ kids especially with the Word and reclaim some ministry that often entirely has been outsourced to ‘professionals’.
- Please pray for the government of South Africa
- Give thanks! Personally, overall I have found the response of the government encouraging – in particular the leadership of President Ramaphosa. They have made some clear and hard calls. But we know that there are vastly different opinions on the correct way to navigate this crisis.
- Pray for immense wisdom for the South African government. Like everywhere they are balancing the risks of the spread of the virus and the demise of our economy. South Africa’s economy was already sliding down pre-COVID-19. This lockdown and the pandemic is likely to accelerate that downfall.
- Pray against this pandemic being used for political and personal gain.
- Please pray for the poor of South Africa
South Africa has close to 8 million people living with HIV-AIDs. There are also extremely high rates of TB. This means many South Africans seem to be at great risk from the pandemic. We also already have a very high rate of unemployment. This lockdown has and will lead to the further loss of jobs. The knock-on effects are potentially disastrous.
- Please pray for the poor and poorest of South Africa. Economically and health-wise the real and potential threats to them are heartbreakingly immense. Oh Lord, have mercy!
- Give thanks and pray for the health professionals out on the front lines of medical care.
- Give thanks for the many individuals and organisations (including South African churches) which that are trying to love and serve the large number of poor and vulnerable individuals and communities.
Thank you for your prayers to our heavenly Father for the people of South Africa!