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Covid-19 and Belfast Pastors: Part 1
(Text as at 26/05/2020 21:51:50)
- Julie forwarded this Facebook video to our family WhatsApp group, having received it from Billericay Street Pastors. I tend to be suspicious of such items as they can be pious frauds, but this one seems to be genuine to the degree that the critical condition in intensive care – as of 23rd March 2020 – of Pastor Lee McClelland of Ark Church, Belfast (Facebook: The Ark Church Belfast), is mentioned in the account in the Belfast Telegraph Digital Edition (Belfast Telegraph: Northern Ireland pastor struck by Covid-19 'now making progress' in intensive care) of the condition of another Belfast Pastor – Mark McClurg of Newtownards Elim Church.
- I have my misgivings about such items, heart-warming though they may be in many ways, and it seems that most evangelical Christians would have no thoughts other than encouragement and praise. But I have my questions about what it is supposed to show about the mysterious workings of God.
- The video was a slightly shorter version of this one: The day God sent a Cleaner - Covid-19. Pastor Lee McClelland.
- The video is very emotionally-charged; maybe a bit too mawkish for London tastes, but no-doubt perfectly normal in Belfast Pentecostal circles. The Pastor is clearly very grateful for his “deliverance” – and it looks from his church Facebook page as though he’s now fully recovered. If it hadn’t been for the account of the can of Coke and prawn crackers at the end, I’d have had no reason to write anything on the topic, though I did bridle a bit at his surprise that God should have sent a “cleaner” to help him out. We’re all equal in God’s sight – it is said – and for all our Pastor knew the cleaner might have been a distinguished volunteer (Wittgenstein volunteered as a hospital orderly in World War II) – but in any case identified himself as a former missionary to Nigeria. At least he wasn’t an angel.
- Anyway, there’s nothing surprising that one Christian should encounter another in Belfast, but there’s the question of the can of Coke and the prawn cocktail crisps, which the Pastor yearns for as he improves – having been prayed for by the cleaner – and which the cleaner delivers, unasked, along with two oranges the following morning.
- Now, the message the Pastor draws from this is that “the Lord knows the desires of our hearts”, thereby implying that the desire of his heart was for a packet of crisps, though no-doubt the irony is unintentional.
- But the question this raises – as in all similar situations where the good, the bad and the ugly – believers and unbelievers – are dropping like flies – is why God should bother himself providing a Pastor with an unhealthy breakfast (we’re not told if our Pastor ate the oranges) when he could be sorting out the general mayhem. Why does this oddity not slap evangelical Christians in the face? Why didn’t God stop the Pastors from catching the disease in the first place? It’s as though a parent gave their child a good thrashing before bedtime for no reason at all, and then gave them a sweetie in the morning to make up for it.
- Now all this might be down to God’s “general providence”. Alternatively, it could be a selection-effect: the odds on this sort of thing happening can’t be that long (and did our Pastor really only yearn for Coke and prawn crisps, or would a Pepsi and pork scratchings have done just as well); and if they turn up you’d be inclined to let people know, and not otherwise.
- I suspect that these little “evidential miracles” are important to shore up the faith of the wavering in times of stress. But is God such that He can deliver crisps to encourage wavering pastors, but not vaccines or enough equipment to save lives?
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