It comes as no surprise that the deadly coronavirus also known as COVID-19 has generated a lot of discussions on all (news) platforms worldwide.
For the past weeks, the pandemic has claimed many lives after it broke out from China, spreading its wings to Europe, America and other continents.
As of Monday, 30th March 2020, 8:37 GMT, the Coronavirus World meter shows that the number of infected cases globally was 724,436 with 34,009 recorded deaths and 152,065 recovered patients. In Ghana, the number of infected cases is 152 with 5 deaths and 2 recoveries.
Since the virus was first recorded in Wuhan-China, it has slowly found its way within the shores of the continent of African too. Countries like Rwanda, Nigeria, South Africa, Togo and my own Ghana have all have their fair share of the bitter cake.
Ghana recorded its first two cases on March 13, 2020. Just after that announcement was made by the Ghana Health Service, fear gripped most Ghanaians.
In a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19, the government has continuously kept outlining measures that aim at getting citizens and residents to stay safe. Schools, churches, mosques and all social gatherings were put on halt per the directives by President Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo-Addo in his address on the COVID-19 outbreak.
He further stressed that “Businesses and other workplaces can continue to operate but should observe prescribed social distancing between patrons and staff”.
With these directives, the life of the ordinary Ghanaian has totally changed. No church, mosque and even weekend hangout with families and friends.
As religious as we are as Ghanaians, many especially Christians have read a lot of spiritual meanings into this outbreak while others believe it is a punishment by nature out of human negligence.
Some say, it is the dawn of the end time while others hold that all these are tested to the second coming of Christ as the Holy Bible says. This has strengthened the faith of religious people especially Christians and has given meaning to what they believe in.
To say it succinctly, the impact of COVID-19 on religion has been enormous. Indeed, church activities will never be the same in this period of the outbreak.
My quest for answers as a young journalist in this difficult time led me to the General Overseer and founder of the Ablaze Mystery Chapel International, Bishop Dr. Alexander Oppong. In his first live video on Facebook during this outbreak on March 21, he said, “Anything beyond normal becomes spiritual”.
To the man of God, he believes strongly that the COVID-19 outbreak is not a curse from God as some people perceive it to be. He noted that the Creator takes no delight in sending an evil disease upon His people (Exodus 15:26).
Dr. Oppong says “viruses are created by God but the devil can inhibit the virus to create a pandemic in the lives of people. But God can use the same situation to get people’s attention to the fact that He is the Creator we have to serve”.
It’s clear that one cannot undermine the safety measures spelled out by health personnel, but prayer is the ultimate tool to eradicate the pandemic.
“We live in a fearful time in which everything has become suspicious. The days we live in feels like living in the valley of the shadows of death [Psalms 23:1-4],” these words of the founder of the International Central Gospel Church [ICGC], Pastor Mensa Otabil on March 22, 2020, we’re encouraging enough.
Pastor Otabil, during his sermon, underscored the spiritual path of the situation at hand and encouraged all believers to strengthen their faith and abide by the health measures spelled out for there is a brighter light at the end of the tunnel.
The first gentleman of the land, Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo-Addo has also shared more light on the spiritual backings of the outbreak. In his quest to prevent the spread of the virus, he called on all faith leaders in a breakfast meeting to pray to help curb the pandemic.
The President appealed to all Ghanaians to fast and pray for the disappearing of this deadly virus not only from Ghana but the world at large.
“Whilst we continue to adhere to these measures and ramp up our efforts to defeat this virus. I urge all of us, also to seek the face of the Almighty. So, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, I appeal to all Ghanaians, Christians, and Muslims, to observe a national day of fasting and prayer. Let us pray to God to protect our nation and save us from this pandemic,” he said.
Per the reviews and comments on news portals, the outbreak and eradication of the virus have become a two-way affair. One group believes solely on the scientific approach while others hold on to the spiritual dimension which affects the mindset of many people not to go by the health measures but pray and they will be safe.
At the end of the discussion, we can only pray for the world and keep abiding by the health measures outlined to help prevent this deadly virus and save the world.
The writer is a Student Journalist at the Ghana Institute of Journalism. Views in this piece remain hers and do not reflect that of this media organization.