Christians are uniting in ways never thought possible
5 MINUTE READ
At the commencement of the pandemic, we found ourselves in uncharted waters. How would we maintain personal communication and fellowship with members given health restrictions and a potential lockdown looming?
Face-to-face supper meetings, prayer meetings, even committee meetings were no longer possible as we watched COVID take its toll internationally and here in Australia. State dinners were cancelled and plans for a state conference were shelved.
Yet the restrictions imposed by the pandemic prompted us to explore new technologies which enabled us to reach out nationally and internationally to members as never before.
Our NSW committee began to communicate on a regular basis using WhatsApp, and we were able to meet monthly by Zoom. Members from Armidale, Coffs Harbour and the central Coast were able to join us on a regular basis.
“Love it or loathe it, Zoom has added a new dimension to our level of communication. Three years ago, most of us were oblivious to its existence.”
Love it or loathe it, Zoom has added a new dimension to our level of communication. Three years ago, most of us were oblivious to its existence. Yet now we use it in business, in professional pursuits or simply as a means of communicating with family and friends. How many family birthday parties have been celebrated via Zoom over these past two-and-a-half years?
The tyranny of distance in Australia has been largely overcome by these new technologies. Members can join us from cities, country and regional areas. Those who are incapacitated or otherwise restricted in their mobility have also been able to join us. We have taken courage from God’s word. ‘Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing. But let us encourage one another all the more as you see the day approaching.’ (Heb 10:25). It has also become clear to us that, as prophesied in Scripture, the Christian diaspora are uniting in a way never before thought possible.
On November 11, 2019, during the time of the drought and devastating bushfires, we called members to pray together nationally by Zoom. More than thirty attended that first meeting. Later that night, torrential rain fell in Newcastle and periods of record rain followed. Someone said that we should have prayed for rain in moderation. However, we prayed . . . it rained. We were encouraged by Christ’s words, “Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24)
We met again in prayer by Zoom in March 2020 to pray against the COVID pandemic. We prayed for the ill, for those who mourned, for healthcare workers and for those suffering from isolation. From that time on we have met regularly for prayer for an hour on Friday evenings; at the time of publishing – over 100 meetings.
In August 2020, we were joined by one of our missionaries in South Sudan. He had managed to log in on his mobile phone. We saw him sitting in a mud and thatched hut. He had been bitten by a scorpion and was suffering from malaria. We were able to pray with him, and for him and subsequently saw him restored to complete health. Some weeks later, he and his wife found a three-year-old boy abandoned by the side of a road, thought to be dead. They bathed him, fed him, and nursed him back to health. We rejoiced to see him smiling and secure in the arms of his newly adopted family.
We have also been able to pray for persecuted Christians in south Asia including a doctor who had been able to join us at our National gathering a few years ago. We prayed with them through trying times, and for their Christian patients who have undergone hardship. We have prayed for doctors who have joined us from the UK, from the US and from Europe looking for fellowship and prayer support.
“We saw remarkable answers to prayer.”
We also prayed for members on mission in central Asia who had contracted COVID and were overwhelmed by the demands of the pandemic. We saw remarkable answers to prayer and they themselves safely returned to their families in Australia.
In recent weeks, we have been able to contact and pray with members of the Christian Medical Fellowship in Ukraine. Only two weeks ago we were joined by one of our first responder nurses from the streets of Ukraine. She had been working around the clock in an underground bunker treating those suffering from the horrors of war. She told us of one patient who was to have his injured foot amputated. He was reduced to tears when he learned that those treating him had come all the way from Australia to help his people. We prayed for her during her tour of duty with Samaritan’s Purse – for safety, godly wisdom and courage.
Zoom has both enabled and enhanced the several webinars that we have conducted since the onset of the pandemic. Speakers from Australia and abroad have been able to address critical issues relevant to each of us in healthcare.
- In ‘What Keeps Me Awake at Night?’ speakers from around Australia discussed the challenges that face us personally and at a professional level in healthcare today.
- In ‘Your practice and the Law’ John Steenhoff principal lawyer of the Human Rights Law Alliance addressed pressing legal matters relevant to medical practice from Canberra.
- In ‘Faith Responses to the COVID Crisis’ speakers from around Australia and from Thailand spoke on how to survive spiritually and experience abundant blessing during and beyond COVID.
Bootcamps for new graduates held on Zoom assisted them to cope with challenges of internship even when face-to-face meetings were simply not an option.
Supper meetings have continued over the past two years. Up until COVID, these were strictly face-to-face affairs held in various parts of Sydney, largely in the Hills area. During COVID, supper meetings were conducted on Zoom with a few attending in person as restrictions permitted. Now hybrid meetings are possible with people attending face to face and others joining from around the state by Zoom. Recently there was a meeting with Dr Nadia Low. on furlough from North Sudan with her husband Chris. Sixteen attended in person and fourteen by Zoom. We will continue to conduct supper meetings in this manner to allow many more people to attend these functions from around Australia.
So, what of the future? We will continue to utilise these newly adopted technologies to expand and enhance the ministry of CMDFA.
The four pillars of our ministry are teaching, advocacy, mentoring, and pastoral care and fellowship. The emerging technologies such as Zoom, direct streaming, and social media may be seen as gifts from God. They are allowing us to proceed with renewed vigour and vision to tap into city, regional and rural areas. But there is much to be done. There are more than 100,000 registered doctors in Australia and up to 10% of these may well be committed Christians. Less than 6% of these (0.6% of the total registered doctors) are members of CMDFA. Many will be in need of fellowship and pastoral care. Our hope is that digital connection will help draw in and support those who might otherwise not be able to join us. Despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic over the past two years we may be assured of this:
“That in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28)
Dr Ern Crocker Dr Ern Crocker is a recently retired Nuclear Medicine Physician. He is currently the NSW State Chair of CMDFA. He is the author of three books: Nine Minutes Past Midnight, When Oceans Roar and most recently, The Man in White.