During the last two years we have all been faced with challenges due to the global pandemic of Covid-19. For me, living in Melbourne Australia, I believe at some point we were deemed to have had the most number of days being in the longest lockdown across the world. And to say the least I felt at times like I was living in a strange land and I didn’t know when we would get out of it. Personally, I chose to try new things to pass my time, jigsaw puzzles, knitting, colour-by-numbers painting, Lego, and I even restored a beautiful big dining table, sanding it back, restraining and varnishing it. I was quite proud of my accomplishments in these strange times. But I also spent much time in prayer, questioning, what is it that the Lord wants from us (SOMA) at this time?
Obviously with no travel allowed due to the pandemic, our mission organisation, who usually spends much of their time planning and doing ministry and mission abroad each year, needed to seek how we could be of use to God through these strange times? I was very aware that although I found myself in lockdown in my home, with my two daughters, I had no needs or massive worries. We were secure in our big house, with all our creature comforts, plenty of food on the table and apart from supporting each other through some times of mental strain, we were safe and well. Yet through social media I could see the devastation taking place in other countries, including one of SOMA’s partner countries, Nepal. As I sat comfortably at my computer, I witnessed my brothers and sisters in Christ suffering greatly in Nepal.
Many were being infected with Corona Virus, many were dying, food supply across the country, especially in the small distant villages, was scarce. Not only were they dealing with the pandemic, they were facing their yearly bout of natural disaster flooding as well. The Anglican church in Nepal were doing all they could to support their communities and the villages spread across the country, setting up medical camps to care for those suffering with the virus, delivering rice and food supplies to those without food, and sharing the love of God to all everyone they met. How could we (SOMA) possibly help them in their time of need.
Thankfully, God always makes a way to meets his children’s needs and this is where, with a bit of thinking outside the box, prayer, and guidance of the Holy Spirit comes in. So we knew that we couldn’t travel to do mission, but what had also taken place through this pandemic was, everyone was doing things ‘online’. Church was online, schools and businesses were all taking place online, so what was to stop us from doing mission and ministry online. I knew that the clergy in Nepal were gaining some spiritual support and meeting for monthly devotions online, yet there are also many woman leaders who work tirelessly in the Church of Nepal. Often when the men are away doing ministry in the villages they can be gone for days, even weeks, and the woman remain behind, caring for the church, their own families and the community around them. It was through this knowledge that God placed on my heart, that this is where God was calling SOMA to minister for a time such as this.
In February 2021 I arranged an online meetings with the Dean and Assistant Dean of Nepal, proposing that SOMA Australia facilitate a monthly online meeting with the Woman in leadership, in the Anglican Church of Nepal. This proposal was welcomed and endorsed, and a month or so later it began. The SOMA team to commit to this online ministry was made up with, Jill Lambert (NSW), Carolyn Goode (VIC) and myself (VIC). On the second Tuesday of every month we meet on zoom with, sometimes up to 40 women across Nepal. Although at times we have difficulty with language translations (which brings much laughter), we worship God, share in His word, and pray together. The time spent together is a blessing for all who participate, as God encourages, strengthens and empowers each to continue to work and ministries within the church, our families and communities, by the power of Christ living in us.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt over this time of travelling, what seems to be a strange land through this global pandemic is, God remains the same. It doesn’t matter, how many challenges we are going through, all the things we do not understand, our feelings of disconnect, ceasing to do things the ‘way we have always done them’… God remains the same! And God’s call on his children remains… ‘to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord your God – for your own wellbeing’, (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). Let us not stop seeking what God is asking of us, it may not look like anything we’ve done before, but as we turn to God seeking his will, may our love for him stimulate our love for others, that we may keep ministering, encouraging and strengthening each other, for a time such as this.
Please join us as we continue to pray for our brothers and sisters of Nepal, and please do pray for SOMA Australia, as we discern God’s will for us moving forward.
Shalom – Rev Liz Rankin, National Director