This blog is long neglected now and I've been wondering about what to do with it. Should I shut it down? Should I just leave it as a souvenir of the last few years or should I delete it and move on to other things? Then with the lockdown being announced I thought I'd revive it for now and use it to keep a lockdown diary, so here goes...
We knew that at some point South Africa would go into lockdown, we just didn't think it would be quite this soon, especially given that at the time of writing we've only had 402 confirmed cases with no deaths. So, from midnight on Thursday it gets very real.
However, whether through good luck or good judgement, South Africa seems to have a lid on things in a way few other countries have/did. As such it probably makes sense to bring in the lockdown earlier than most other countries did with a view to really "flattening the curve".
There's also another massive reason behind this which makes a huge amount of sense. SA has one of (if not the) highest HIV rates in the world (around 13% of the population or 7.5m people) and this community will be more vulnerable to Covid-19 than just about any other population group. Although HIV is still heavily stigmatized here, it makes huge sense to protect this group. The fallout economically and socially of the HIV community being decimated would be colossal!
Then there are the other vulnerable groups, most notably the TB patients who are in the tens of thousands just here in the Western Cape. The WHO says there were over 300000 TB patients in SA in 2017, the last year records are available for.
Clearly SA needs some serious leadership and a coherent plan for flattening the curve and reducing the risks to our most vulnerable communities.
What does this mean for us, particularly for The Gathering?
Firstly, we have no choice but to close down all of our activities. Our Homework Club was on holiday anyway, and will only reopen once the schools are back. Our Sunday Gatherings will stop and we will have to be creative in making it possible for us to Gather in other ways. Unlike most churches, our community cannot afford the mobile data to watch a live stream, so we're a bit snookered right now. Answers on a postcard please.
Our biggest sadness is the closure of our Soup Kitchen after Thursday. We consider this an essential service as we regularly feed many of the neediest and most vulnerable in our community, but as it stands, the guidelines for the lockdown don't agree with us. We have a cunning plan which we need to put to our fellow leaders so hopefully we might be able to continue serving some of the housebound whom we regularly serve through the Soup Kitchen. We'll post an update when we can.
For now I guess we need to put on the full armour of God and stand. Stand in faith, stand on the truth and stand together in prayer.