(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – As church members stay away from Saturday and Sunday services in droves to stave off the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), one bishop has chastised such Christians for being “cowardly, unbelieving”, warning they would end up in a lake of “fire and brimstone”.
“Today the church cowers in the presence of coronavirus that Jesus died for us to heal,” lamented Bishop Dr Romeon Facey, senior pastor at the Freedom Evangelical Association based in Portmore, St Catherine.
Church attendance dropped dramatically over the weekend, following advice from the health authorities that Jamaicans should avoid large gatherings — a method of social distancing that would help to slow the spread of the rampaging virus.
The health and wellness ministry has reported that confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have jumped from one to 13 since the first was announced on March 10, 2020, a woman who travelled from the United Kingdom.
Bishop Facey, who started his church eight years ago in Hannah Town, Kingston, with six members and moved to Portmore where it has grown to 300, said God allowed crisis to activate faith and to manifest the power of Christ. Members are said to travel from as far as Montego Bay, St James, for healing, prophecy and deliverance.
In his message to members via Facebook and WhatsApp Saturday, he complained that today, too many individuals whose faith has never been tested occupy pulpits.
“Instead of being a shepherd for the flock in a time of crisis, they have become a true representation of spiritual cowardice, fearmongers, and believe that the call to follow Christ is one of self-preservation.
“Think about Jesus in his day — there were no vaccines, flu shots, hand sanitisers, or Panadols. However, when every rabbi was quarantining the lepers (leprosy was incurable in the days of Jesus), he stretched his hand to touch the untouchable and said ‘be clean’.
“Even the woman with the issue of blood broke her quarantine to touch him at the hem of his garment. If she believed in the system, the woman would never have been healed. The question God is asking us is, ‘Do you believe in my word or the world system?’
“Apparently, the spirit of humanism has cultured too many believers who believe in the betterment of themselves and preservation of themselves, and not the glory of God.
“Paul went to Jerusalem even though they told him he would be chained; Peter went to Rome knowing he would be crucified upside down; John Wesley rode into danger to preach the Gospel until he died burnt out; William Tyndale translated the Bible into English knowing full well the Crown would burn him to death.
“Today so many leaders spit on these men’s sacrifices, hiding behind Facebook and online churches which are recommended by the Government. I thought the church listened to God when Government ideals is a contradiction to the word of God. Jesus say, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel’.
“Back in the days the Church fought dictators, wicked tyrants, hungry lions; lost all of their properties etc. Today the Church cowers in the presence of coronavirus that Jesus died for us to heal.
“You have become worldly whitewashed sepulchers, dead man’s bones without any resemblance of the ministry and nature of Christ, and if this continues we are on our way to hell. Rev 21:18 — But the cowardly, unbelieving… shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
However, despite the bishop’s harsh words, hand sanitisers were provided for worshippers attending Sunday services.