A taxi man running the Half-Way Tree to Downtown route urges two passengers on the back seat to avoid physical contact. With the midday news on blast, he speaks vehemently about the coronavirus signalling the end of the world, before blaming mankind.
The disease—which started in China in December has spread across the globe—infecting over one million people, killing more than 60,000 people and triggering a global recession. In Jamaica, friendly hellos are now replaced by paranoid stares above face masks, markers are placed on the floors of half-empty grocery stores to enforce social distancing, and people are told to work from home, with no end in sight.
But is this really the apocalypse?
Pastor Stephen Blake said no.
‘Only God knows when that will be.’—Pastor Stephen Blake
“It’s not the end of the Earth; the programme of religion is about fear so the only way many people will start praying and run to church is if they think it’s the end of the world. Only God knows when that will be,” Blake told BUZZ. “The Bible tells us in Matthew that we’re gonna get nuff warnings and signs before even the time comes. Just like you’d have a final exam, this would be like a midterm test, not even an exam.”
While Blake urged the public to take the virus seriously, he pointed to history while noting that “this too, shall pass.” He said: “It’s just the way how 2020 decide fi start. Just like the other 20s—1720, 1820, 1920—there was some form of virus weh kill people, unfortunately. …There was Chik-V, Ebola, disasters… Look at Haiti, all of them recover. Look to the past and see that people have survived, we will be okay. People are fretting about their job and income, but God will provide. God is reminding the world that He is in control. Just like how it became a pandemic, He can make it become nothing just like when some hurricanes were about to hit Jamaica and it turned at the last second.”
Listen to the authorities
Father Sean Major-Campbell said the most critical way to navigate the corona crisis is to listen to the advice of the government and Health Ministry. “The old adage says, ‘prayer and work conquer all’…My advice is pray if you are into prayer, eat well, live a clean life in mind and body, and live good with others,” he told BUZZ.
He also described the ‘end of the world’ conversation as a “fear-mongering strategy used by many pastors through centuries” and suggested that people exercise more faith. “What we may do is use the resources of our faith and observe that through the ages, people of faith did not give up in a time of despair. Instead, they were inspired by such prophets as Ezekiel whose vision reminded them that the seemingly impossible was possible with God,” he said.