Surfing the Second Wave

In this article, learning Mentor, Gareth Fitzpatrick, writes about a 'second wave' of the gospel.

As we approach a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic I am taken aback by how rapidly the virus has spread and caused so much devastation to so many in such a short space of time! Within a matter of months we have seen the virus spread from a few people in a city in China to become a global pandemic effecting at least 182 countries worldwide. This time last year we had never even heard of Covid-19, recently we passed the tragic landmark of 1,000,000 global Covid-19 related deaths.

This year I have learned a lot about how a virus like Covid-19 spreads. When we come into contact with a contaminated person or object and we then touch our mouth, nose and eyes the virus can be passed on. In an attempt to “manage the virus”, we are told to wash our hands, wear masks and maintain a safe distance for each other. The reason these measures have been enforced is so the government can reduce the “reproduction number” (RO). The higher the reproduction number, the faster the disease spreads and the greater increase in deaths.  However when the RO sits below 1 the spread of the virus can be managed and the danger of infection greatly reduces. The illustration below shows us why it is so important to keep the RO as low as possible. The difference between a RO of and 3 doesn’t appear to be much after one week, but if it continues on its trajectory the difference becomes striking: the RO of 3 results in 966 more cases that a RO of 2!

As an evangelist and a person passionate about seeing the gospel spread and change lives in our nation I can’t help but ask the question, “what is the current reproduction number across our churches in the UK?” From looking at the figures available it is clear that the RO is lower than 1 in the majority of our churches. By all appearances it seems that the virus of Christianity has been contained and managed.

In Matthew 28-18- 20 we read:

Then Jesus came to them [His disciples] and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations [italics added], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

What if we committed our efforts and energy on going out and “making disciples”? What if those disciples, in turn, took the call seriously to go and make disciples and so on? The only conclusion I can come to I that we would see the RO increase and the kingdom pandemic would increase much like the spread of Covid-19 that we have seen in 2020.

In the book of Acts we read about bunch of young men who did just that. As the disciples of Jesus ascended the stairs to the upper room it appeared that the virus had been contained. Jesus had recently been crucified and from the perspective of the Chief Priests and the Roman authorities it appeared that order had been resumed. However when the disciple of Jesus descended the stairs from the upper room on Pentecost they were infected by the Holy Spirit. In the following chapters we read about the exploits of the apostles as the beginning of a new pandemic is unleashed and spread throughout the known world.  We know these followers of Jesus as Christians and it is estimated that there are currently 2 billion in the world today!

It is time for a ‘second wave’ of the gospel in the UK, it is time for the reproduction number of disciples to rise and for people in our nation to know and experience the hope found in the good news of Jesus.  

It is time God’s people to seriously heed Jesus’s command to go and make disciples.