As I write this, Britain is beginning to feel the effects of the coronavirus with schools, churches, restaurants and shops all having been shut down. Four hundred and sixty-five people in Britain have died. By the time you read this, who knows where we will be?
So far most churches seem to have responded incredibly well to this crisis. Online services have become the new normal. The vast majority of believers seem to be taking Romans 13:1, 1 Corinthians 10:24 and 1 John 3:11 seriously – and are staying at home, and seeking to love and care for one another and their neighbours. There’s a prevailing sense that we’re in this together, and we have firm confidence that God is on the throne.
But the crisis has made this issue of the Magazine incredibly challenging to put together. I’m not complaining – my minor tribulations don’t compare with what doctors and nurses all around the globe are doing. But we’ve had to postpone several articles (such as one commending hospitality!), and replace them with newly commissioned articles that address the current crisis head-on.
That said, the truths we most need reminding of are eternal. The scriptures are relevant for every generation in every circumstance. Some articles, commissioned months ago, now seem remarkably prescient. As our authors echo scriptural truth, our prayer is God would speak his everlasting Word into our souls and draw us near to him.
As it happens, this issue is also the last that I will be responsible for. At Easter, I’m stepping down as editor of the Magazine, and also as the pastor of my church (though I’ll be remaining an elder). Instead, I’ll be taking up a new role – working from home! – with Samaritan’s Purse, the international disaster relief agency run by Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son. I’m pleased to do so – as I write this, Samaritan’s Purse has established a fully-staffed 68-bed field hospital in Cremona, Italy, complete with an ICU, ventilators and other equipment, to ease the pressure COVID-19 has brought on the local hospital.
I leave you in good hands, though. The Editorial Board is one of the best teams of people I have ever had the privilege of working with. They will continue to develop and strengthen the Magazine as they take things forward, which means my first job now I’ve finished as editor is to fill in my subscription form!