‘When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.’ (Acts 2:1-4)
As we celebrate Pentecost, we remember a turning point in the Church’s history, but so much more than that. The story begins with the believers gathered together (probably praying, although this isn’t explicit in the text of Acts 2). Suddenly, the Holy Spirit breaks in, accompanied by a ‘violent wind’; untamed and unpredictable. And what follows is a story of what ordinary people can do when the Spirit fills them and empowers them. It’s a reminder of what God still does today.
The last couple of months have been hard. COVID-19 has thrown our everyday lives into disarray – not to mention the thousands who have tragically lost their lives – and there may still be dark days ahead, especially for our brothers and sisters in Africa, who have not yet felt the full weight of the pandemic.
But even in the midst of lockdown, God’s kingdom is advancing. More and more people have been attending church (albeit online) and searching for information and guidance on prayer. More practically, God is empowering his people to meet the most vital needs of their communities. Our partners have had to make dramatic changes to the focus of their operations, but God is clearly working through them. LVLE are setting up a series of handwashing stations throughout Goma, involving an extraordinary collaboration between themselves, civic authorities, local residents and street-living children. Wukwashi and APRECOM are serving families in their networks by providing soap, disinfectant, vital supplies and information about COVID-19. At the start of the year, our partners could not have known what was ahead. But, by his Spirit, God has led them to respond to the needs of the people around them, and he has empowered them for that response.
To be sure, times are hard and there is still genuine danger for those who contract COVID-19, especially if their health is vulnerable to start with. But God is at work. His kingdom is advancing. And he invites us to play our part in it all, empowered by his Spirit. As we celebrate Pentecost, maybe it’s time to lift our expectations, to remember who God is and what he can do, to remember what we can do through the Holy Spirit. We stand united as a global Church. We welcome the Spirit to move among us, untamed and unpredictable. And we look to God with expectation, asking that he will fill us with his Spirit and make us ready to follow where he leads us.