What happened when one minister offered to help others in lockdown

Virtue signalling is one of the perils of living in a lockdown like Sydney is, but one Christian minister cut through with an online offer of help that people actually responded to.

As the Sydney lockdown was increased late last week, the minister from a church in south-west Sydney posted on Facebook that “most of us are feeling frustrated, even exasperated … For some of you, this is not just frustration – but substantially more serious.”

“It could be that [financial] reserves become dangerous for you/your family. It could be that this is triggering real health issues, physical or mentally, for you. It could be that this is placing you in a prolonged position of danger within your own home.

“If anyone wants to chat, I’d love to listen, to pray with and for you and to be able to point you towards some of the good supports that I know of, that might be able to help you in this moment. PM me.”

Social media can feel flooded with such offers when major disasters or challenges impact society broadly. Cynics can dismiss them as hollow displays of good character but this one example of reaching out was taken as genuine.

He also was messaged by friends from high school, who sought his support – spiritually and personally.

When contacted by Eternity, the minister [who wished to remain anonymous, in case his post gave “the impression that I am virtue signalling”] confirmed that members of his congregation did seek out prayer.

He also was messaged by friends from high school, who sought his support – spiritually and personally.

“One girl from high school who isn’t a Christian asked for prayer … as a cooped-up single mum with three kids. Another non-Christian single friend from high school is going to have a Zoom dinner with our family this week.”

“It also prompted a phone call with a teenage dad with a loose connection to our church … and another chat with our ‘pseudo foster daughter’ – a girl who was homeless from 14-16, and lived with us for 18 months until she turned 18 just before COVID hit last year.”

Prayers, phone calls and steering people to social services were among the everyday acts this minister and his family were able to do for others.

Like many in the greater Sydney area, this minister’s “church community is doing it rough” with feelings of isolation and “hysteria” compelled by the ongoing COVID situation. His church leadership is seeking to keep their community focused on simple choices and truths.

“I think for us it is about helping people to use the moment to refresh, to not panic or wear themselves out chasing every COVID story; to pray and to ready themselves for when we can meet again,” the minister said.

“[We want to] help people to manage the uncertainty and the hysteria around them – and to find their faith firmly entrenched in Jesus right now; [that] seems to be key.”