Chief Apostle: “Just have courage—we will carry on!”
There is a curfew in France. Even Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider is housebound—and will also be without Holy Communion for weeks. But he has not become discouraged: “I know that God will not abandon His children, especially in difficult situations.”
“I take this crisis very seriously,” says the Church leader in an interview published today by the Church’s official news body nak.org. “Unfortunately there will still be many more victims. We share in the suffering of those affected, and we pray for them!”
As a result of the limitations imposed by the authorities, he has had to cancel all planned trips until 10 April 2020. “At present, no one knows how the situation will unfold after that. I will thus have to adjust to the situation just like everyone else.”
“Stay at home and make the best of the situation,” recommends the Chief Apostle to the members. He expresses his thanks to all those individuals on the front lines who are so committed to helping others. “It is truly beautiful to see how many people are prepared to help others in such situations.”
Recognising what is truly important
“I know that many members will have to do without Holy Communion until the end of this pandemic,” stresses the Church leader. “I share their suffering.” But there is no other way “to replace, in a fully valid manner, the celebration of Holy Communion in the fellowship of the believers,” he said in an interview with Church spokesperson, Peter Johanning.
Other approaches have indeed been discussed—for example to send previously consecrated wafers to the believers, or to have ministers take Communion on behalf of the congregation, as is the practice in services for the departed. However: “We must eat Christ’s body and drink His blood by worthily receiving the wafer consecrated and dispensed to us by a priestly minister,” he says in reference to the Seventh Article of Faith.
“We do not know why God has permitted such a situation,” says the Chief Apostle. “But I am certain that this time of spiritual deprivation will help us recognise more than ever just how important the divine services, the ministers, and Holy Communion are to us!”
Learning from our brothers and sisters
“It is such times in particular that we can learn from our members who have already experienced great suffering in the past,” he said as he recalled the plight of earthquake victims in Indonesia, who cannot protect themselves from this new danger, African refugees, who have been in a state of detention for years, Congolese victims of war, who lost everything overnight, and the Christians of West Africa, who are often killed just for attending a divine service.
However, the Chief Apostle’s intent here was not to downplay the corona virus crisis. “Quite the contrary!” The idea is to learn from our brothers and sisters in faith. “Why have they been able to remain so strong despite all of these challenges? It is because they are deeply rooted in Christ. Their love for the Lord—that is their secret!” What conclusions does he draw from this? “The most important thing we can do now is protect our relationship with Christ!”
Holding fast to love and trust
“However, particularly in these times of distress, let us trust in God,” appealed the Church leader. “Let us put our trust in God—He always knows how to give those who love Him that which is indispensable for their salvation!”
And, “let us remain firm in our love for God. The Lord will always find a special way to help those who love Him. “The promise of God remains: all things—even the corona crisis—work together for good to those who love God.”
“Just have courage,” says Chief Apostle Schneider, “we will carry on!”
Photo: Oliver Rütten