As some churches close again amid coronavirus surges, something remarkable is happening: People are coming to Christ.
Two weeks ago, around 1,000 evangelical Christians gathered on California beach for baptisms and worship. Another gathering happened in Washington Square Park in New York City. Hundreds more are coming to Christ every week in central Georgia.
Why aren't more people talking about these revivals? In the midst of the worst economic crisis in recent history, record numbers of coronavirus cases worldwide and a surge in protest-related violence, we're seeing people turning from alcoholism to God. We're seeing marriages and families rebuilt. We're seeing people's lives being saved not just in hospitals, but on beaches and in parking lots.
This is something to celebrate.
These revivals prove we don't need church buildings for God to work in our communities. Iran, for example, has "the world's fastest-growing church" and yet no church buildings. Right now, thousands are turning to Christianity in what's being called a "pandemic of hope." Evangelical churches today are in almost "every neighborhood in Latin America." Contrary to popular belief, the evangelical movement is not a predominantly American one: 8 in 10 evangelicals actually live in Asia, Africa or South America. Christ is working around the world.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that "God put eternity" in the hearts of men. When everything around us—the stock markets, the protests, the politics—demanding that we focus our attention on the "now," God is demanding that we focus on the larger picture instead. And people are responding to this call.
To those whose Bible engagement has declined this year, I urge you: Look around. God has stepped out of our churches and into the streets. A few weeks ago, California Governor Newsom ordered people to stop singing in houses of worship. But political orders can't stop Jesus from moving among us. He is holding the hands of those in hospitals. He is sitting with those who are grieving. And He is singing with those who are worshiping.
Some will, undoubtedly, be critical of recent revivals and try to say that these revivals are endangering the safety of our communities. They likely won't know that in Georgia, sanitation stations are set up throughout the tent, and the rows are six feet apart. Masks are available. In California's "Saturate OC" movement, social distancing guidelines are in place. It is possible to safeguard the health of our neighbors and welcome them into the church at the same time.
In contrast, the protests that have overtaken our streets in recent weeks have devolved into violence and hatred. Many people are allowing fear and anger to build up in their hearts, and they are feeding their anxiety with negative news stories. Mental health has declined over the past several months. Drugs and alcohol have provided short-term relief but not lasting peace.
It seems to me we need more church in this country. In the midst of all the challenges we are facing, God is still King.
Timothy Head is the executive director for the Faith & Freedom Coalition.
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