Caring for our brothers and sisters

To the Anabaptist Mennonites and Brethren in Christ around the globe 

Peace and grace from your brothers and sisters gathered around Global Anabaptist Health Network, 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant disruption, pain, and loss.  

We mourn with those who have lost loved ones and grieve the loss of livelihood for others.   

We long to gather freely again, to share a meal, and worship without constraints because this is who we are; a beloved community.  

In the midst of this, we remember our faith in a God who comforts the suffering and walks with us through all things. In the words of Christ who has already conquered, “Do not be afraid” (Matthew 28:10).  

Resist sensational stories 

As members of the health care community and as Christians, we recognize the fear and uncertainty. It is tempting to fuel these feelings with falsehood and sensational narratives of conspiracy. False stories gain our attention and grab our hearts like the words of false prophets. We should be careful not to bear false witness (Exodus 20:16).  

The world gravitates to fear. But being motivated by fear is not the sign of following the way of Christ. We should reflect the faith to which we hold. The church should be known for love (John 13:35). 

Care for the ill 

As members of the health care community and as Christians, we care for the ill and protect the vulnerable (Matthew 25:44-45). We honour those who dedicate their lives and efforts to combat this virus, a common foe.   

By the grace of God, we have been given tools that lessen the transmission and mortality of COVID-19. We are grateful to our brothers and sisters’ insights and hard work in science and in public health to provide choices that can meaningfully reduce sickness and death. We should accept their carefully considered advice.   

We also honour those who care for the sick, bringing solace and healing into difficult moments. Many of our brothers and sisters provide safety and care. 

Follow health recommendations 

As members of the health care community and as Christians, we support the recommendation to wear masks and social distance. Once we scrambled for masks to protect ourselves. Now we wear masks to love our neighbors, keeping our breath from infecting others if we are unknowingly harboring the virus.  

Maintaining physical distance for a time protects our communities. There is strong and consistent evidence that when we limit face-to-face interactions and avoid crowding, outbreaks settle and overwhelmed systems stabilize.  

By following sound advice, our churches can counter the epidemic with truth and love and reduce the fear we feel while doing our part to move past these difficult times (Proverbs 19:20). Let us work together to persevere in love and embrace the truth. 

Accept vaccination when offered 

As members of the health care community and as Christians, we recognize that vaccines offer great hope for ending this pandemic. They offer personal protection and build resilience into our community and health systems.  

Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have been working to bring about these interventions. They vigorously advocate for vaccination and accept it for themselves. Honour their work and example. Vaccination is a benefit that comes to us most powerfully if it is accepted broadly. We should also expose falsehoods about the harm vaccination could bring.  

Though the world may seek self-protection out of selfishness, we embrace vaccination as a way forward in love, accepting in our own bodies the chance to protect our neighbours, brothers and sisters (Philippians 2:3).  

Hope in God’s grace 

This is a time of much uncertainty; our faith and hope will help us get through. When the dominant motivation is self-protection, let us be known by the opposite: love for the other.  

There is hope in God’s grace; the path forward is together (Isaiah 40:31).  

By caring for our brothers and sisters, our neighbours, and even our adversaries, the world will know we are Christians by our love.  

By honouring those who have dedicated their lives to caring for the sick, and those finding the answers to the pandemic’s complex problems, the church is acting, believing and demonstrating the way of Christ in all things.  

This time of disruption is an opportunity for us, as followers of Christ, to let our faith, hope and love be known to everyone.  

Keep the faith! 

—a Mennonite World Conference education resource prepared by the Steering Committee of the Global Anabaptist Health Network.

 

Please send questions or comments to globalanabaptisthealthnetwork@gmail.com

Recommended resources for church leaders 


The Global Anabaptist Health Network (GAHN) strives to be a global community of Anabaptist health organizations and professionals who strengthen the witness of the Anabaptist community of faith through mutual encouragement, peer learning, collaboration, and partnerships. We look forward to communicating with you and welcome your feedback.  Connect with us at www.globalanabaptisthealthnetwork.org, on Facebook or send us an email to globalanabaptisthealthnetwork@gmail.com.


Signed by

Dely Ijil, MD
Communauté des Églises des Frères Mennonites au Congo (MB), DR Congo 

Sandeep Patonda, MBBS, MD pediatrics, PGDHHM 
Medical Superintendent, Dhamtari Christian Hospital, Dhamtari of The Mennonite Medical Board 
Sunderganj Mennonite Church, Dhamtari, Chhattisgarh, India

Dr Pujianto, MPH
managing director, Mardi Rahayu Hospital, Kudus, Central Java, Indonesia

Mark Shelly, MD
Rochester Mennonite Fellowship, New York, USA

Henk Stenvers, MD
Doopsgezind Gemeente Naarden-Bussum, Netherlands

GAHN Steering Committee
José Arrais
MWC Mission Commission Networks Coordinator, MWC regional representative for Europe, and European Coordinator of Mennonite Conferences
Igreja Irmãos Menonitas de Portugal

Cate Michelle Desjardins, MDiv, MPH, BCC
Director, Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship, Germantown Mennonite Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Beth Good, PhD, APHN-BC, RN
Waynesboro Mennonite Church, Virginia, USA 

Karen Lehman, NHA, MBA
President/CEO of Mennonite Health Services
College Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana, USA

Ray Martin, MPH
Executive Director Emeritus, Christian Connections for International Health

Murray Nickel, MD
Bakerview Church (Mennonite Brethren), Abbotsford, B.C., Canada

Rolando L. Santiago, PhD
Chief, Behavioral Health and Crisis Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Montgomery County, MD
Neffsville Mennonite Church, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA

Rick M Stiffney, PhD, MSA
former Executive Director of MHS and Owner/principal Integrated Leadership and Consultancy LLC

Pakisa K. Tshimika, MPH, DrPH
Executive Director, Mama Makeka House of Hope
Willow Avenue Mennonite Church (Mennonite Brethren), Clovis, California, USA

Ronald Yoder, MPIA
Park View Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA

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