S.C. Baptists contribute to COVID-19 ebook

Hope amid the COVID-19 crisis is the focus of a new ebook, “A Pandemic Proposal: Viral Vitality … Hope for the Human Soul” by former Baptist Press editor Art Toalston, with contributions from two South Carolina Baptists.

Even amid the horrors of a global pandemic, Toalston writes, “a distinct vitality” can be experienced “in our souls, in our circumstances, in our relationships, in the world within our sphere of influence, and in how we each move into the future beyond the sorrows of the present.”

Such an assertion “may seem glib or audacious,” Toalston acknowledges but believes a vitality in Christ “can enhance our daily lives even in a time of social upheaval and widespread grief. A coronavirus pandemic cannot alter God’s creation of the human soul.”

Keith Shorter and Redunda Noble are among 40-plus contributors who wrote brief reflections for the ebook’s concluding chapter — Shorter is pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley and a former president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Noble is a writer based in Anderson. Her husband, James Noble, is a professor of pastoral ministries at Anderson University.

Shorter, in his reflection, drew from Psalm 46, writing, “Life was normal, and then it wasn’t. Everyone could come and go as they pleased, and then they couldn’t. Faith in God was giving way to fear and panic. That is the backstory behind Psalm 46. When Hezekiah was king of Judah, the city of Jerusalem was surrounded by the Assyrian army, which was led by a man named Sennacherib. The entire capital city was shut down. In that setting, the author of Psalm 46 nevertheless made this confession in verse 1: ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’ (NIV). In a world of endless worry, constant bad news, and overwhelming problems, this verse was a timely reminder that what they were facing shouldn’t change who they were trusting. It’s possible to experience peace in a world filled with panic. God is there when the world gets turned upside down.”

Noble selected Proverbs 18, writing, “The current pandemic has left many feeling hopeless with nowhere to turn. It becomes even more difficult to find any hope when we see massive job loss, bare grocery store shelves, and closed schools. Even churches have suspended weekly worship. We live in unprecedented times. Yet, when everything in our world spirals out of control, instead of succumbing to fear, despair, or depression, run to the Lord. Make haste. Don’t walk, but run. As we read in Proverbs, chapter 18, verse 10: ‘The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe’ (NKJV). In running to Him, we find everything our souls need, most of all, hope. Fear and panic need not consume us when we face a world health crisis or troubles of any kind. Our confidence is in knowing Christ is the answer. When we run to Christ, our Strong Tower shows Himself as our mighty, impenetrable shield.”

Other contributors to the ebook, available at Amazon and other platforms, include former Southern Baptist Convention presidents Jimmy Draper and Jim Henry, and Doug Carver, former chief of chaplains for the U.S. Army and now director of chaplaincy for the North American Mission Board.