Holy Trinity Brompton pastor Nicky Gumbel and his wife Pippa are seeing an unprecedented openness to the Gospel during the coronavirus lockdown.
During an online Easter conference hosted by Rick Warren on Facebook, Gumbel spoke of the opportunities for the Gospel he’s seeing in the midst of the crisis.
“I’ve never known a time in my life when people are more open [to the Gospel] than they are now,” he said.
“There are no other distractions. There’s not football, there’s no sport. There’s no entertainment and people have time to hear the Gospel.”
He went on to call on the Church to ensure it does not let these opportunities pass by.
“People who would have never gone to church, the church is coming to them in their homes,” he said.
“People who would never have explored faith are coming to explore faith online. This is the most extraordinary time. This is not a moment to retreat, this is a moment for the Kingdom of God to advance.”
Pippa agreed as she spoke of the fear and isolation that the lockdown had caused for many people, with all sense of normality now gone.
“The good news of Jesus is never more needed,” she said.
“People feel as though everything has been taken from them and they are looking, like people were looking for Jesus when He was taken from them.”
Also joining in the broadcast was Bishop TD Jakes, pastor of the Potter’s House megachurch in Dallas, who recalled the peace Jesus had while in the boat during a storm.
He prayed that people experiencing anxiety because of the outbreak would know this peace.
“Nothing that is current in our news is shocking in Heaven. But You have a plan and You have a purpose, and that you orchestrate all things to the council of your own will,” he prayed.
Hillsong pastor Brian Houston noted how the global Church is having to adapt to the unprecedented changes thrown up by the pandemic.
“These are challenging days, no doubt about it, for the world. I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” he said.
“Who would have thought even just a month ago that at Easter all of us would be being innovative, coming up with new ways to take the Gospel out to thousand, [and] between us all millions.”
The UK has been in lockdown since March 23 and church buildings, like other public spaces, have been closed. As of Wednesday, there were over 55,000 cases in the UK, while more than 6,000 people have lost their lives.
Worldwide, the total confirmed cases is approaching 1.5 million, with 83,000 deaths. The US has the highest recorded number of cases, at over 400,000.