Events are cancelled, but evangelism is still on the agenda for Christians across the Georges River Region. The 3:16 Mission carries on, with churches aiming to memorise and share John 3:16 with another person in 2020. This is a task Bishop Peter Lin believes is achievable despite the hurdles of the virus.
“There’s no less urgency now than there was before COVID-19,” Bishop Lin says. “We don’t want to take our foot off the pedal, because Jesus is still Lord and people are still under condemnation if they haven’t put their trust in him. We still want to trust the sovereignty of God... [he] is still working out his plans and purposes. We don’t want to ever think this thwarts God’s work in the world.”
“We don’t want to take our foot off the pedal, because Jesus is still Lord and people are still under condemnation”
He recognises that a lot of churches and ministry teams are doing it tough, trying to adjust to the limits of social distancing. “Once people settle into online ministry primarily, we are going to have to start rethinking and reigniting evangelism,” he says. “I’ve been praying we will be differently creative and be a bit bold. We need to help each other come up with good ideas and then share those ideas broadly.”
“I’ve been praying we will be differently creative and a bit bold.”
Opportunities to share the verse are still all around us, even during the pandemic. Bishop Lin moved house earlier this year, and says, “My removalist was helping me pack up my office and he saw my theological books. He asked me straight out whether I believed in exorcisms or not. Using his language, I said, ‘I believe that Satan can possess people, but I’m not scared about that, because I know the solution’. He goes, ‘Yeah?’ and so I said to him, ‘Can I show you something on my phone?’. I pulled out the John 3:16 app and said, ‘If you have Jesus, there’s no way that Satan can take hold of you because Jesus is far more powerful than the devil’.”
Bishop Lin is confident that there will be many tales of conversion to come out of the Coronavirus. “God’s still working, I’m sure of it. We just haven’t heard what he’s doing yet.”
People have still been sharing John 3:16. Here are a few stories:
Priscilla Khouchaba, St Barnabas’, Fairfield with Bossley Park
A timely hair appointment opened the door for Priscilla Khouchaba to use John 3:16 when chatting with her hairdresser. “We started talking about the state of the world due to COVID-19,” she says. “[The hairdresser] believes that if you are good then good things will happen to you. I explained I believe no one is good, and even if we tried our best to be good we still sin.
“The conversation went on and it led to me explaining how the Bible says we don’t need to be good because Jesus was perfect and if we only believe in him we will spend eternity in heaven with him.” This led to her hairdresser asking where in the Bible it says this, and Miss Khouchaba unpacked John 3:16.
“My hairdresser has two sons, and I asked her if she would ever give them up to die for anyone. She obviously said ‘No way’. Then I shared how that shows just how much God loved us. She seemed quite moved by this.”
Miss Khouchaba says she didn’t feel nervous to bring this up, as having reflected on John 3:16 in Bible study gave her the confidence to explain the gospel clearly.
“After, I felt encouraged and ashamed. I was super encouraged that God gave me the opportunity to share the gospel, and that she was so interested to hear about Jesus. I felt ashamed because I did not actually seriously think about sharing John 3:16 even though it was our church's mission.
“I too often forget how sharing the gospel is more important than everything else in this life. God is great and generously gives us these opportunities to share him with others.”
St Luke’s, Liverpool playgroup
COVID-19 meant that the Little Lambs playgroup that meets at St Luke’s, Liverpool wasn’t able to have its Easter celebration in person. Given that the group is made up of a mix of church and community families, the team decided to post its Easter celebration craft to each family. They specifically chose to use John 3:16 as the feature verse, explaining through the craft why Jesus came to Earth and what made Easter such a special holiday for Christians.
Jenny Yung, St Paul’s, Kogarah
Mrs Jenny Yung had the opportunity to use John 3:16 in her SRE lessons before they had to stop due to COVID-19.
“Although we only had three SRE lessons in Term 1, we managed to teach the Easter story using John 3:16,” she says. “There are a lot of interactive elements in the lessons and we try to involve the staff, so they can help the students to enjoy the music and participate in Bible story time.
“We have been so encouraged to see God at work in both students and teachers/carers. We are looking forward to starting SRE again after COVID-19.”