How do we give justice in a pandemic?
The onslaught of COVID-19 in the UK has highlighted the excessive inequality in the UK between those who lack access to the basics in life and those who have more than they can use. The 14 April Independent reported the story of Tom, a 54-year-old London construction worker who’d lost his job due to an injury: he’d been sleeping rough for five weeks prior to the lockdown.
At first, he managed by attending drop-in centres to shower, spending his days in cafes and pubs for shelter. At night, his refuge was a seat on a bus. But the lockdown changed all of that. Since the lockdown, he has been aimlessly walking the streets or finding himself tucked away in the corner of a park. Sometimes, if he is able, he finds a public toilet in a supermarket or train station that he can use. For food, his lifeline is the takeaway meal from several of the food kitchens that are open in London.
‘Tom is one of the hundreds of rough sleepers who have not yet been offered housing during the coronavirus pandemic,’ according to the charity Crisis, who say that there are an estimated 1,000 people across the country who are still sleeping rough. So many shops, offices, schools and places of worship remain closed – places of safety and warmth – yet there are still homeless people on our streets, which is heart-rending. But what are we, as Seventh-day Adventist Christians, doing to help these people? What are we doing to make their lives a little more bearable?
Our faith demands that we obey the laws of the land, providing they do not conflict with the laws of God; so we should stay home as much as possible: but are my bowels of compassion closed when I consider the needs of others?
As well as staying, I am encouraged to spray to ensure that surfaces are clean and hygienic on a regular basis. Recommendations in some quarters state that we should be disinfecting our work spaces every 20 minutes.
Someone recently likened the lockdown to ‘house arrest’. Just the thought of being inside all day, every day, is a toll, for many, on our mental well-being. We are encouraged to play; and ‘play’ can mean becoming an amateur baker, learning a new skill, or catching up on unread books.
And, of course, to pray is essential. Our online services on Zoom, Skype and other platforms have increased, and are absolutely vital at this time. Especially during a pandemic, we need to ‘pray without ceasing’.
But how does my brother or sister receive food if all I do is stay, spray, play and pray? How do the elderly receive their medications if they are not delivered by the pharmacist? What kind of life does an unemployed single mother experience if I simply shut the door, increase my hygiene practices, entertain myself and thank God that I am well? Administering justice means that there is less excess and therefore less deprivation. It means that, as a Christian, I make choices that are not only in the best interests of myself and my family, but also in the interests of my community, my country and humanity at large: not only for today, but also for the future.
Justice means that I sacrifice that luxury item so that I can contribute funds to those who are in need. It means being more frugal so that someone else can have a meal. It demands that I give consistently of my time, my talents and my resources so that the world can be a much better place. It’s as the prophet Micah states (Micah 6:8, NKJV): ‘What does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?’
While you stay, spray, play and pray, ask the Father to create in you a heart of justice, compassion and love for the needy, so that all may live as God intended.
Through the ‘I am Urban’ initiative, ADRA-UK are supporting 72 community hubs around the UK. If you wish to donate to our COVID-19 Emergency Response Appeal click our Donate button now!