Seema Thomas reflects on how the lockdown, rather than stifling the initiatives of Jesus Youth Singapore, has encouraged more creativity to flourish.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the whole world to a stand-still. Disruption to normal life has affected everyone – young and old. Families are spending more time together, since parents are working from home and kids are doing home-based learning. Mundane tasks like cooking, cleaning and hanging up the clothes to dry have become family projects; giving everyone a chance to put themselves in each other’s shoes. We have found it within us to appreciate the so-called insignificant people in our lives – like the house maid, newspaper man, the gardener and even the occasional annoying neighbour who comes to visit. And it has been proven beyond doubt, that difficult situations like the one we are in now can dampen just the times, but not the spirit!

It is said that boredom sparks creativity; new avenues of the mind are being explored, new ways of spending time personally and collectively have emerged and communities have begun exploring new media platforms to connect for prayer, discussion and fellowship.

One young mother in Singapore started writing down the Bible word-for-word as she was reading, and has been able to connect to the living Word in the most surprising way! Her love for the Bible was triggered by a retreat that she attended before the Covid-19 crisis, but it became flesh for her when she was inspired to use every free minute during the day to continue writing the verses. With her husband now working from home, she has enough support to look after her two young kids and still find time to sit with her Bible, book and pen. Her prayer is that the Word of God may transform her completely and bless her with grace and direction in life.

The night vigil organised by Jesus Youth Singapore (JYSG) has been a source of grace and miracles for many; the community meets for sacraments and prayer overnight every second Saturday of the month and it is undoubtedly the most talked about event of the month. Since February this year, the team was forced to cancel the gathering for safety reasons and to enforce social distancing. But to cancel meant not having a source of input and fellowship, which inspired the team to think of an online platform where young people could still connect and spend the night in prayer. The first time, they divided slots among the people and offered different prayers until dawn. The next time, they improvised and had a whole programme planned using Zoom, which included Bible sharing, intercession and even a fun online quiz using ‘Kahoot’. To everyone’s utmost surprise, we even had overseas participants from Malaysia and Uganda who prayed with the Jesus Youth in Singapore! The team plans to build on this further in the coming months.

Crucis Singapura (CS) is a flagship event for JY Singapore and this is the 10th year of the annual Lenten event. During CS, young people are encouraged to walk barefoot across the length and breadth of Singapore, in paths forming the shape of a Cross, while praying the guided Way of the Cross. Over the last nine years, this event has brought together people of different ages and communities to partake in the suffering of the Lord and is usually held on the day before Palm Sunday so as to inspire a prayerful Holy Week. This year, however, the physical walk had to be cancelled; but the team was inspired to revamp and reload the event in a whole new way. What if we could invite Jesus Youth and friends all over the world to join us online in praying the Way of the Cross? What if we could use media to post our session online and make it accessible for all to watch and pray together? The media team took up this challenge and with the support of the content team and strong intercession, they launched Crucis Singapura 2020 – A Virtual Way of the Cross. The hour-long session that first went live on 4th April 2020, was packaged with touching testimonies and soul-stirring worship, all sequenced within a guided Way of the Cross. The pre-recorded video testimonies focused on the Jesus Youth lifestyle and living out the six pillars – by children, families and working professionals. Within the first few days, there were already about 1000+ views; the session stayed online for about six days until Good Friday. People from all over the globe sent feedback appreciating the content and remarked how wonderful it was that they were able to pray with Jesus Youth from across the world through this initiative. After this positive experience, the media team in JYSG has vowed to work more in the direction of using media to reach out to evangelise and to share the gospel to the world.

With the disaster of the pandemic looming above our heads, it certainly does not seem like a time to enjoy. But with the varied kind of personal and community initiatives coming up, one cannot help but smile and enjoy the moment. The hope is that the pandemic fades away, but the wonderful initiatives and good practices that have emerged may continue – until they are forced out by more creativity!

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Seema Thomas is a mother of two young kids and a medical engineer by profession. She lives in Singapore