‘Coronavirus is not the end of the world’
By Manolo Gatt
Jehovah’s Witnesses all around the world have reacted quickly to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. Since the initial stages of this, now pandemic, rigorous measures have been taken including the suspension of all public religious activity including large assemblies as well as local meetings usually held in Kingdom Halls.
Locally, working very closely with the Civilian Contingencies Committee, we have implemented all recommended measures as and when required including the suspension of our main activity of going from house to house and public witnessing with our recognisable trolleys.
However, we have been using other means at our disposal such as video conferencing to continue to “meet together”, thus encouraging one another whilst also continuing, to the extent possible, to receive much needed spiritual instruction and comfort.
We of course continue in our determination to fully collaborate with the health authorities, which we thank for their invaluable work, as we endure these challenging times.
Please note that our website, JW.org, is open to everyone, where you can find encouraging and up building information for all age groups, including Bible-based movies which are very practical for our days.
In the meantime, our younger members are helping out as volunteers and are offering themselves to help their neighbours and the elderly going to supermarkets, pharmacies and taking them to the hospital to the doctor when they have an appointment.
We also very much take into consideration the needs of the deaf and the blind by providing them with programmes transmitted by video conference to their own homes in sign language by a team of translators and also Braille publications for those who need them.
Finally, although some people may say that Jehovah’s Witnesses are saying that the coronavirus is a sign of the end of the world, the fact is that we would never make such an affirmation.
What then? According to the Revised Standard Version (Catholic Edition), Jesus, responding to a question asked by his inquisitive disciples: “Tell us […] what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” Jesus answered, and we are quoting only in part: “There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences (epidemics)” (Luke 21:7, 11).
So it would be wrong to say that the Coronavirus is the sign of the end of the world. The truth is that epidemics and diseases have plagued and continue to plague the human race. As we all know humanity has been plagued in recent times, like “the Spanish flu” (1918-1919), that killed more than 40 million persons, the ‘simple flu’, that every year causes the death of between 250,000 and 500,000. Or aids that has infected more than 76 million persons and caused the death of 35 million with deceases related to this ailment. Only in 2016 1.8 million died because of Aids.
Therefore, what can certainly be said is that we are living in the time Jesus foretold when he answered his disciples question.
However, anyone that aims to take advantage of such a tremendous situation as the one we are experiencing today, so sad and tragic with its many deaths and economic instability, to frighten or intimidate the people that are our neighbours, does a great disservice to the real message of hope that the Bible highlights and Jesus taught us to pray for, saying: “Let your Kingdom come”.
That hope is the promise of a better world that everyone can aspire to where God Himself “will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things shall pass away.” And they will pass away. The Kingdom of God will accomplish this. (Matthew 6:9; Apocalypse 21:4; RSV Catholic Edition).
That is why Jesus wanted everyone to know about this, so he told his disciples that: “this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
This is the true essence of real Christianity.
Manolo Gatt is the Overseer Public Relations in the Gibraltar Congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses