I’m reading and listening attentively at the moment to the discussion about when the COVID 19 vaccination will commence its rollout in Australia. Especially as the European Union (EU) as one of our suppliers is muttering about limits and tariffs in delivering promised doses of the vaccines. It’s a fascinating conversation, and one through which I can’t help but wonder if the EU (and other suppliers?) are stalling? And might this be because Australia has done so well in containing the virus, that we have slipped, and are continuing to slip down the priority list?
It’s an interesting thought and one that I hope is not connected to our progress (or lack thereof) on factors such as setting climate change targets? Because here, the waters immediately begin to muddy as party politics threaten to direct our receiving the vaccines as conditional terms and arrangements arise. It seems to me that because we have achieved such extraordinarily good results in suppressing the virus, we have become victims of our own success.
I am reminded of a small but amazingly effective ministry that one of my churches contributed to: the community’s annual agricultural show. We staffed the ‘Lost Children’s’ tent. If children became separated from their parents or carers, and vice versa, our tent was a place of refuge for children or parents to come and wait in safety to be reunited with loved ones. We provided water, snacks and simple craft activities before sending the children off with an illustrated storybook of ‘The Lost Sheep’.
Located next door to the Show’s public address system, we could access that room for announcements when required that related to lost or found children. During the many years of this ministry, I’d like to think that we became pretty good at what we offered to the community and, with increasing access to mobile phone coverage, we did better and better in the ministry. To the point that it became something of a positive, though ironic reflection, that our success grew as numbers of people accessing the ministry dwindled! That was indeed our ‘price of success’!
So, as I continue to think about our nation’s possible ‘price of success’, let’s not allow this possibility to dent encouragement of our nation and each other as we say “Well done Australians everywhere, by complying to the directions of federal and state governments, we did it! We have pretty well overcome the pandemic! We have now become the envy of most of the rest of the world!” And I give thanks to God, governments of all persuasions and people everywhere for working together to suppress the pandemic.
As we encourage one another, I am proud too, of the fact that Australia is committed to funding and distributing COVID 19 vaccines throughout the island nations of our Pacific neighbours. Thus I am concerned, not so much for us, but for our friends across the Pacific who rely so much on tourism for their national income. I am also concerned that their health systems simply would not cope if this (or another) pandemic was to break out and take hold if/when they are forced to open their borders more widely. And, as for the continent of Africa?
I simply can’t allow my mind to go there. I am consoled only by the fact that the pandemic has not uniformly affected the whole continent. But neither can I remain at ease when I contemplate the severity with which some African leaders forced cruelly repressive practices upon their peoples to control the virus. Yes, while some testing for the virus has been undertaken, numbers remain extremely low only because so few people were able to pay the extravagant price required in order to be tested.
Therefore, I urge people everywhere to join me in prayer for the World Health Organization (WHO), World Leaders, Scientists, Researchers and Pharmaceutical Companies across the world to consider the needs of all people equally. To overcome this and any future pandemic we need a truly international, utterly humanitarian and governmentally bi-partisan approach to the care of our world’s greatest asset – and that is humanity.
From the wealthiest cities to the most remote villages across the world, I am pleading for nations and governments to undertake the most humane and generous approach to vaccinating people where possible. To do this, we need to view the world as God does. We are His children; created in His image and of all people are of equal importance to Him. How do I know this? Because God’s Word could not be any clearer than this:
“God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17 NLT)
So, let’s continue to give thanks to God for our success – and to pray for success internationally in overcoming the pandemic equally across the rest of the world.
Glynis Dickins has ministered in churches across the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Living through isolation with her husband Richard, she spends time reading, writing, knitting and walking their much loved chocolate lab x pointer doggie, Boomer.