Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. (Psalm 115:1-3 NIV)
On 12th March 2020, the Minister of Health in Ghana, Dr. Kwaku Agyemang Manu announced to the Ghanaian public of the first cases of the novel corona virus infection recorded in the country. This was after weeks of uncertainty among Ghanaians regarding the spread of the virus in neighbouring countries. This was due to the devastating effects Covid-19 has had on superpowers like China and Italy. In the minds of most Ghanaians, countries with excellent medical facilities and emergency response systems were being “humbled” by the novel virus and thus, Ghana “stood no chance” in dealing with the situation if a case was recorded in the country. The government of Ghana initially banned travels to Ghana from countries with more than 200 cases of the coronavirus. In a press conference, the Minister of Information, Mr. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah stated, “All travel to Ghana is strongly discouraged”. Citizens and resident-permit holders were required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. This did not stop the importation of the virus. After recording 137 cases, the president declared a partial lockdown of the Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi Metropolis to help curb the spread. This did not however stop the spread as more cases were reported through routine surveillance and contact tracing embarked on by health professionals.
A post supposedly attributed to the Italian Prime Minister, Minister Giuseppe Conte reads; “We have lost control, we have killed the epidemic physically and mentally. Can’t understand what more we can do, all solutions are exhausted on ground. Our only hope remains up in the Sky, God rescue your people.” The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic at a news briefing on March 11, 2020.
On 19th March 2020, President Nana Akufo-Addo called on Christian leaders to seek the face of God amid the spread of the coronavirus pandemic across the country. He again declared 25th March 2020 a National Day of Prayer and Fasting against coronavirus. He also re-echoed the words of King Jehoshaphat when he was overawed by the enemies, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12). This was greeted with mixed sentiments among the populace. Some Ghanaians made mockery of the declarations. In the comments section of a popular news portal in the country, one poster said; “Ghanaians need economic stimulus package to save businesses and lessen the burden on our livelihood. Not fasting and praying at this time. We need to be Serious. Selfish and Greedy Leaders”. Yet another posted, “We need to change our attitude. We don’t need prayers but need to care for humanity”. Another posted, “Mr President, we are very pleased with your words but let us face the fact with honesty, prayers we know won’t do anything…”. A popular musician in Ghana, in an interview during the lockdown said, “It is now time for pastors and Christians to show that indeed their God is real by calling on Him (God) to heal just ten of the infected people.” The naysayers increased by the day.
But the church did not relent. Most church leaders declared fasting and prayers for their members. The Church of Pentecost in particular declared Friday as a day of fasting and prayers to call on God to intervene. After one such prayer sessions, the Chairman of The Church of Pentecost, Apostle Eric Nyamekye declared, “The roots of the virus have been uprooted and burnt.” This was also greeted with mockery when the cases kept going up each day.
Fast forward to 28th September 2020, Ghana had recorded 46,444 cases, 299 deaths and 45,646 recoveries with an active case count of 499. In percentage terms, only 0.15% of the population have been infected with the virus. 0.6% of those infected passed away while 98.3% have been clinically discharged. Only thirteen (13) countries in the world have better recovery rates than Ghana. In Africa, only Djibouti has a better recovery rate (98.7%). Djibouti however has 0.55% of its populace infected with the virus with 1.1% of those infected passing away. The total cases worldwide stand at 33,585,750 with 24,903,199 recoveries (74%) and 1,007,196 deaths (3%). In as much as we praise the government for its interventions, we cannot deny the hand of God in the impressive statistics stated above. Indeed, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a recent address to the nations bemoaned the fact that most Ghanaians were not adhering to the safety protocols put in place to help curb the spread such as the wearing of nose masks and social distancing. However, the number of active cases keep reducing although testing is still being carried out.
This might be an indication that the fewer active cases is not entirely the work of government and its agencies but something else is involved. That “something else” is God in action. Contrary to the mockery and doubts, God has shown again that “…the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b). This should increase our faith in Him and increase our appetite for prayer in our personal circumstances and also intercede for others. People will not stop ridiculing the church but the church (you and I) should stand strong, “so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10).
And so it has been today through the pandemic. When sceptics ridiculed and scorned at Christian leaders and the church saying, “Where is your so-called God who heals?” The answer is and has always been this: He is always with us and answers our cry anytime we call. We are His witnesses to the world. And we join voices with the Psalmist to sing;
The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory. (Psalm 97:1-6 NIV)
By Elder Eric Sitsofe Akude (firstname.lastname@example.org)