Christians are called to be representatives of Christ, not just in their homes but also within their workplaces. This means that Christian healthcare professionals working within secular institutions must navigate the challenging tensions between spiritual and professional commitments. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting them with unique circumstances for Christian healthcare workers to share the gospel with those around them.
Hospitals are environments of suffering and uncertainty, even more so as COVID-19 presents new fears for both patients and healthcare workers. Hospitals around the world have had to implement strict visitation policies to contain the spread of COVID-19. This includes allowing only one family member per patient inside the hospital at a time and deeming religious officials’ non-essential workers‘. These regulations, while necessary for containing the spread of COVID-19, are presenting emotional challenges for both patients and healthcare workers, as hospitals have become even more high-stress and fearful environments than usual. This is opening new doors for Christian healthcare professionals to make God’s truths known in places of fear and suffering.
In a time when Christians aren’t able to gather together in churches, there is a unique opportunity for us to show the world that the Christian church is not a place. Rather, it is a congregation of believers spread throughout occupations in society who are ready to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
One way that Christian doctors, nurses, midwives and other staff are doing this is by sharing a Christian understanding of hope amid suffering. Worldwide, people are facing the uncertainty and fear of illness and mortality, which has created new opportunities both for spiritual conversations and prayer. A Christian physician working in intensive care told CMF, ‘[I’m seeing] huge openness from [my] colleagues. Several are praying with us at 7 pm having never prayed in their life before.‘
Right now, Christians in secular hospitals are being presented with unique opportunities to share the Christian belief that God has dominion over all things, even in the fear and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ed, an A&E doctor, said in an interview with CMF, ‘We as Christians know that this is not our home, that we are just passing through. And that the greatest treasure in this life and the life-to-come is Jesus, and that’s never truer than when we’re in the midst of a crisis, and we’re facing our own mortality.‘
In the United States, even secular news outlets have picked up several stories of Christian doctors and nurses – like those at Vanderbilt University Hospital, Tennessee – gathering on the rooftops of their hospitals and praying together at the beginning of their shifts. At Cartersville Medical Center in Georgia, hundreds of medical staff and others in the community gathered in their cars in the hospital parking lot to pray for the patients and healthcare workers inside the hospital. The New York Times, a notoriously secular newspaper, has picked up Christian opinion pieces about the presence of God amidst pandemics
At a time when the world is searching for answers, Christian healthcare professionals working in the centres of fear and suffering have unique opportunities to make visible the Christian gospel of hope and salvation to the world.
Ana Worthington is a volunteer with CMF. She is a pre-med student at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, who would be completing a semester abroad at Cambridge University, were it not for the coronavirus.
If you are feeling in need of some spiritual encouragement during this time, tune in to our #COVID1900Prayer devotionals at 7 pm daily (until 24 May) on Facebook Live, and Instagram Live or catch up with earlier transmissions on our YouTube channel.