Bahamians cannot come out on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic the same way they went into it, according to Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander, who firmly believes that Bahamians are at a juncture in life where they must hit the reset button.
“We must seek out the opportunities and silver linings associated with this time of reset,” said Fernander during a special prayer for the nation’s social distancing program, that was prerecorded the day of and aired across all television stations last night to conclude the National Day of Prayer and Fasting. No one was in the room together.
Every denomination was featured in the program.
“We must aspire to do and be more,” said Fernander. “We must now understand that God is in control, not man. This fact means that we must endeavor to live up to our greatest potential knowing that none of us knows the day or the hour that will be our last. Watching the economy and other earthly things, on which we depend, fold under pressure, should cause us to put our hope in things eternal.”
During yesterday’s day of prayer and fasting from sunrise to sunset, people were asked to not partake in food, soda and snacks, but were instead encouraged to drink water, 100 percent juice and tea.
Each hour of the day, beginning at 6 a.m., they were encouraged to focus their prayers on specific subjects – the prime minister and the government; healthcare professionals; healing for the afflicted; containment and eradication of COVID-19 locally; global hot spots; faith in the face of fear; the elderly and high risk; children; peace (against violence); adherence to warnings and curfews; economic recovery; and innovation and creativity in the aftermath of COVID-19.
At Bahamas Harvest Church (BHC), Pastor Mario Moxey led approximately 175 people in a 6 a.m. online prayer meeting to start the day. He encouraged his members, afterward, to follow the format for prayer and fasting set out for the remainder of the day. Each hour, people were asked to take a minute or two out of their day to offer up prayers to God for each listed target.
“This is a time for us to grow closer to God,” said Moxey. “I think for us as a nation, we have been reduced to the size of ourselves. No matter how much we have, no matter the position we hold, we all recognize there is something bigger than all of us in this, and we’re forced to look to heaven for our help.”
Moxey said in these trying times, many people – both secular and Christian – have reached out to him.
Yesterday’s National Day of Prayer and Fasting coincided with BHC’s regular day of prayer and fasting to recognize BHC’s 25 years as a church. Moxey and BHC members abandoned their church’s day of prayer to engage in the national one.
During Fernander’s words of encouragement, he reminded Bahamians that they are now living in ever-perilous times and that it seems that before they can recover from one thing, something else occurs to set the nation even further back. He recalled the devastation of Hurricane Dorian on Grand Bahama and Abaco in September 2019, which left many people displaced and struggling. And that not even a year later, The Bahamas is now faced with the spread of the new coronavirus – a potentially deadly disease that has caused the economy to come to a virtual standstill.
Up to yesterday, The Bahamas had five confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses. Worldwide, there have been 398,107 confirmed cases with 17,454 deaths.
The BCC chief said it’s in these times that people most need to depend on their faith in omnipresent, omniscient God.
“Those of us who have been through incredibly rough times before and came out on the other side, understand the importance of faith. It gives you peace of mind, endurance to press on and hope for a brighter tomorrow,” said the Christian Council chief.
Ruby-Ann Darling was among those people observing the National Day of Prayer, but she did it in her own way, rising at her usual time of 3 a.m. to meditate, then taking to her piano to play hymns of inspiration.
“As I played, the Lord inspired me to render praises to Him through music.”
She said her normal routine is to offer her petitions to God through song, playing hymn after hymn from memory.
During the National Day of Prayer and Fasting, Darling’s song selection focused on tunes that asked God to lead His people.
During his address, Fernander said the relatively rapid spread of the coronavirus demonstrates just how interconnected the world is and how something that started in the Far East could make its way to Bahamian shores.
He reminded Bahamians that they are all in the fight together.
“The government has put measures in place to limit our physical contact with one another to slow the spread of coronavirus and I take this time to ask that we do all in our power to adhere to these guidelines.”
The BCC chief said the mandated measures are an effort to slow the rate of spread in The Bahamas. And that the 24-hour curfew and social distancing, in effect, provide the opportune time for people to be creative at home with their families.
“Most of us now have the time to reconnect with the people we live with, and others over the phone or online. We now have ample time to study the Bible and to actually talk to God through thought and prayer. We now have time for self-care and to think about what our next move will be after these current circumstances pass.”
The author of the book “The Missing Peace” said he has been inspired to continue writing.
Remembering The Bahamas as a place with tight-knit communities, in which people loved each other and shared with each other, Fernander said these are times which call for a resurgence of those virtues.
“I implore you to help as much as you can, and to check on each other,” he said. “Our country is a small one and we should be able to lift each other up with the help of our God who has brought us this far. Together, we can accomplish anything because we have always put God first,” he said.
Fernander said one day, coronavirus and its deadly effects will only be a memory. He said when people recall these days in the future, it should be as a catalyst for positive change in individual lives, families and the nation. He encouraged people to continue to lean not on their own understanding, but on the Word of God and His promises to never leave or forsake them.