In 2005, a BC Physician, Dr. Tim Foggin invited Bridges of Love to join in mobilizing Canadian Churches, to be prepared with a response to a Pandemic Influenza. Pandemic Preparedness is a vehicle for connecting the church with the community. Being prepared for a Pandemic is being prepared for any Emergency, demonstrating the love of Christ, within your community. Tim and I developed a discussion paper (GUIDE) which is intended as a starting point for your churches Pandemic Preparedness Plans.
We have had an introduction to a Pandemic Influenza with the out-break of the H1N1. We were very fortunate that the virus was not as virulent as had been previously predicted. We have been touched by the potential threat of such a disaster, however, so it is only good planning to keep preparing for any disaster which might occur. We know pandemics can occur again, so please do not give up the quest to have yourself, family, church or ministry prepared with a Christian response as we care for one another and our community.
2020 we were introduced to, COVID-19 Corona Virus. This has indeed been an unprecedented occurence and the process has been not as anticipated. Pandemic planning from all sectors seems to be uncertain for how to handle this out-break, so it has been a learning and challenging time. We continue to learn as this pandemic continues to unfold. Even though this documents were written many years ago and are based on an Influenza Pandemic, much of the information is still relevant for today's planning.
Of Churches, Pandemics, and Emergency Preparedness
A Discussion Paper by Timothy Foggin, MD & Marg Pollon (April 7, 2006)
Planning for an eventual pandemic is no longer an obscure function. While the timing of a pandemic cannot be predicted, the expected scope of its impact-duration, geography, public reaction, public health, social stability, economy-is such that it must be addressed proactively despite the many questions and uncertainties that remain. The beauty of such pandemic planning is that any entity which engages in such an exercise, from individual families to federal governments, automatically finds its capacity to respond to other emergencies, big and small, much enhanced.
Pandemics, nonetheless, are not typical emergencies. They do not affect one sector alone and cannot be qualified as simply being health emergencies. The widespread nature of the impact is such that no existing formal emergency response structure can be expected to address the many needs that will arise. It is therefore imperative that planners link with existing community structures, even though some of these may not yet have even considered the issue. Only by working through existing social networks-churches, schools, and places of employment-will it be possible to bring a relevant and timely response to the vast majority of Canadians who will be affected but not so ill as to require hospital-based care.
While schools and businesses have important roles to play in this regard, churches are especially well positioned to translate pandemic preparedness plans into a meaningful response at the most local of levels. Two characteristics of churches, particularly, make this so: church networks are broad (denominational and interdenominational networks span the country) and deep (the majority of churches have multiple community-based cell-groups); and Christian churches have built into them the double mandate of both loving God and also caring for their neighbours.
The most effective community-based response will likely come through existing and newly established mutual assistance groups in that each cell group is small (efficient), local (relevant), independent (resilient) yet connected (informed). Authoritative, timely, relevant situation updates could be readily disseminated to such cell group networks, as could be recommendations for self care. A program dedicated to the training of trainers for further multiplication of such cell-groups needs to be a core focus for planners.
A geographic informatics database system is needed in order to map out mutual assistance groups as they are formed, each one with the potential of serving as a portal into a neighborhood. Communities (be they city blocks or apartment blocks) that lack such direct point-person capacity can thus be identified and local residents sought and equipped for this purpose.
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LIVING IT OUT - Bridges of Love Ministry
It is easy for us to imagine that we will suddenly come to a point in our lives where we are fully prepared, but preparation is not suddenly accomplished.In fact, it is a process that must be steadily maintained. It is dangerous to become settled and complacent in our present level of experience. The Christian life requires preparation and more preparation. by Oswald Chambers
"Where do people go if you can't go to a hospital, if you can't get 911 to answer? They go to their faith facility. There is apathy out there, however, to a pandemic," Bishop Kirk Stevan Smith said. "Experts will tell you if a pandemic hits full bore, more people would die within the first year than have died, to date, from AIDS."
With continued talk of an Influenza Pandemic becoming a reality, Christians have an open door' of opportunity to provide a living demonstration that the Christian message is genuine. In a world lacking in integrity and character, the post-modern generation is searching desperately for something real and authentic. They will not take Christians seriously unless churches and para-church organizations demonstrate an authentic way of life-being communities that model the character of God in their relationships and mode of living.
The church's manner of speaking the truth must not be aligned to the techniques of modern propaganda," write Newbigin, "but must have the modesty, the sobriety, and the realism which are proper to a disciple of Jesus." The church is called to be a witness to the gospel through an authentic demonstration of love and unity.
In the days of the early church, the thing that most impressed their neighbours in the Roman Empire was the community of love they witnessed among believers. In every age, the most persuasive evidence for the gospel is not words or arguments but a living demonstration of God's character through Christians' love for one another, expressed in both their words and their actions. The gospel is not meant to be "a disembodied message," Newbigin writes. It is meant to be fleshed out in "a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it" - who exhibit in their relationships the beauty of God's character."
Whether a Pandemic comes or not is not the issue. We have before us an opportunity to engage in an activity that will not only strengthen the faith community but will be a authentic witness of God's existence, building lives and communities before a watching world.
Thank you for joining God's Work as we narrow the gap between our religious life and our ordinary life being 'salt' & 'light' as we build Bridges of Love.
Warmly in Christ's Love,
Bridges of Love Ministry
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GET READY…Putting Feet to our Faith
TEN STEPS FOR PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS FOR THE CHRISTAIN COMMUNITY
We don't have to be gifted or brilliant to be a servant and good neighbour.We just have to be willing... Chuck Swindoll
While the major sources of pandemic influenza planning can provide volumes of background information on the nature of the threat and make recommendations for a global or national response, it is the local response that will have the greatest impact on minimizing the effects of a pandemic. In fact, the larger and more widespread the pandemic, the more local the
response will have to be. Pandemic Influenza Planning by Vernon Dorisson
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PRACTICALLY SPEAKING...How can the local church respond?
We know in the days of the early church, the thing that most impressed their neighbours was the community of love they witnessed among believers. In every age, the most persuasive evidence for the gospel is not words or arguments but a living demonstration of God's character through Christian love for one another, expressed not only in word, but demonstrated in tangible and practical ways.
Reports state that government officials taking charge for a Pandemic will let the public know when to move into isolation or what they call the 'social distancing phase', as essential services are implemented. Will the orders to take refuge and seek isolation be our mandate? Will Christians retreat into seclusion for safety and protection against this devastating virus? Or will we help a neighbour who might be without food or needing assistance during a pandemic? Will we be prepared to step out with a touch of God's Love? How would Jesus respond if he were walking with us today?
Churches have an opportunity like never before to put our faith into action. A pandemic is a civic responsibility that everyone needs to address but as followers of Christ, we are to be His example, as the shining light in our community. How does that play out individually as well as corporately as the body of Christ? Are we willing to let down our nets and follow Him? Please join on a mission of joining hands with our Christian brothers and sisters to meet people where they are - our neighbours next door…