Stories of hope

Stories of hope from across Edinburgh during COVID-19

“God did amazing things on Easter Sunday. I was speaking to a non-Christian friend from school who said she tuned in to see me lead the Kid’s activities and hear the story of Easter. Then she sent a text saying that she cried watching it. She saw me doing something I love for the purpose of Jesus and that has really stirred something in her. She even made her boyfriend join the gathering too. She stayed for the 11 and she is just speechless. She has no idea what she feels but she knows she adored being part of a community she has never met showing amazing hope and realness. She knew she was watching with loads of other people a message that was special. God is real and he is alive.”

“I have faithfully shared the Sunday church online link in our neighbourhood WhatsApp group, and was a bit downhearted as I was not aware of anybody making a comment about it, but after putting an Easter Card and the message “Do you know my Jesus?” through the neighbours around my doors, I have had several Thank you messages for bringing hope to help overcome the media-generated fear, and one neighbour has been watching every week too!”

“We are aware of how privileged we are to be able to stay home and work from home easily, to have the provision of a house and garden and food available to us, to have kind neighbours and ability to call friends easily. We are adjusting to having to find different routines to make sense of all being home all the time. We have our moments of worry and fear but we’re mostly staying busy trying to parent the kids. We’ve had lots of opportunities to ask people if they want prayer, checking in on neighbours. Last week as I went out to do our food shop I texted some neighbours to see if they needed anything and our lovely next-door neighbour said it was such an answer to prayer because she had hurt her shoulder and couldn’t drive to get to the shops or carry things and it was her daughter’s birthday and she had wanted to get some things to celebrate and didn’t know how she’d manage until we asked. We were also able to get her some painkillers to help her shoulder. There’s not a lot of kids in our street so we’ve also been making rainbows to give to neighbours for them to put in their windows which we take round with the covid help cards. In coming weeks we’re hoping to feel bolder in how we speak about what God is asking us to do and offering prayer and hope to people.”

“Before lockdown started when I was visiting a Jewish friend and we were both high in anxiety and I felt prompted to ask her to pray with me so we both prayed together in Jewish and Christian prayer and felt an amazing sense of peace and then this lead to a conversation about what Easter meant and how Jesus is the fulfilment of Jewish/Abraham Law”

A poem written for our toddler group’s parents & carers’

“I set up a WhatsApp group with my neighbours (have lived in our house for 2 years and have never spoken to many of them). The connections and support between people has been amazing. I was able to share the link to the online church to all the homes around us, something I suspect I would never been able to do in other times.
I have also had the opportunity to offer to pray for work colleagues as they share their personal challenges related to COVID 19. I have found the courage to do so because of the prayers of others on Wednesday nights. I sense God opening doors and feel more courageous to push on them.
It was an absolute blessing to have the family prayed for by those in my breakout room last night. I felt immensely grateful and am so grateful to God for his presence, peace and the hope he brings. Thankyou Central Church.”

“A friend of ours from China was doing a film about Chinese people and Christianity, so we invited her to Alpha at Central last year – she came to that (asking really good questions!) and to a couple of our Community’s socials as well. She was curious but not really interested in going to church. She just told us that she’s been joining one of the Chinese churches in Edinburgh in their online bible studies and that she has found comfort in learning more about Jesus in the midst of this difficult times!”

“I was encouraged today to see that over the last 2 weeks my work has given out £500k to 14 local Edinburgh charities and NHS Lothian. The partners have also agreed to match employee contributions to charity so there has been a significant increase in giving. There are a number of the partners who are Christians that I’m sure have helped influenced this but it’s been encouraging to see common grace move my colleagues to love Edinburgh even in a time of financial crisis.”

“Yesterday evening at 8 pm, to the accompaniment of clapping, we opened our windows and sang ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ (quite loudly!). This morning our neighbour opposite phoned me up and said how nice it was to hear the singing, and that next Thursday she would like to join in as well! Also, some other neighbours a bit further down, who had been clapping, stayed outside to hear us finish our singing.”

“When I was travelling back home to the States, I was really encouraged and inspired by the way people went out of their way to help me with my baby son.  They helped me comfort him on take-off and landing, they helped me figure out where to drop the buggy off before boarding the plane, they helped me find the lift in the airport and all of it was completely unsolicited. I also met and talked to a woman on our layover, who I never would have spoken to outside of these circumstances – mostly because we don’t tend to talk to strangers nowadays! But I could tell her heart really needed companionship and so we spent the whole layover talking with each other and I really felt God’s prompt to serve and love her by being present for her. Lastly, in a time of real discouragement and sadness and even depression, I found relief in looking outside and seeing 15 deer in my parents’ garden. I was stopped in my tracks and reminded of God’s presence through His creation. I got the sense that He is here and He has not forgotten us. The number of deer gave me hope that God will see us through this and bless us abundantly.”

“Last week I printed off the coronavirus ‘My name is…’ cards offering to help and posted them through my neighbours doors and the flats opposite.

Yesterday a young woman I don’t know at all sent me a text from the flats opposite. It transpired she had the virus and was home alone. She asked me to go and get her a special machine to measure her O2 levels recommended by her doctor. I think God is giving me favour so I can reach out with the gospel to my neighbours. I am taking this time to press in close to him, to put him first and to love my neighbour as myself.”

“We’ve set up a street WhatsApp which has been great for helping each other out and spreading joy. We’ve done shopping for each other, celebrated birthdays with a street sing-a-long and shared spare jigsaw puzzles.”

 “My family and Jesus have made me feel better. Last night I was panicking but mum prayed for me and I went for a sleepover in my sister’s room and that made me feel better.”

“It is incredible but not surprising that God uses this season to open up conversations with our friends about Him. For me, because of an underlying health issue, I’m not able to be of as much practical use as I’d like to be but God is using me in the connections I have. Friends are more willing to be prayed for and I’m more open about praying for them. God is opening up conversations about what community can look like and I’m finding friends really wanting to reach out to others in the wider community where they wouldn’t have thought about this before.”

“I gifted a loo roll along with a wee card offering my assistance during this time to all my neighbours and one of them who is a nurse was incredibly grateful. Then when the “Candle of Hope” day of prayer was initiated, I put out an invitation along with the wee written prayer on our local community website for others to join in and rather than the pushback and negativity I expected, everyone responded positively and many shared their pictures of their own candles of hope even though they weren’t “religious!”

“My husband was put on furlough from his work and so we started making cut backs on expenditures. One of many things we cut out was my daughter’s piano lessons, taught by a member of Central. I opened up to her teacher and her response was, “I have been blessed so I would like to bless your daughter with free lessons.” This brought me to tears and I felt God’s love and presence surround me through the kindness and generosity of the piano teacher. Isaiah 41:10, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

“I’m working in A&E, often in the COVID area, and most of the patients I’m seeing are really panicked and fearful. I suppose Hospitals are a scary place at the best of times, but now they’re pretty terrifying, especially for the elderly or people with lung conditions. I’ve been finding that the simply staying calm, no matter what chaos is going on around me, goes a long way to comfort people. One thing that has stuck with me from the talk on Psalm 23 a few weeks back was the call for us to be a calming presence to those around us. We have a God who leads us beside still waters and restores our souls, and that peaceful presence flows through us.

I’ve been finding a lot of comfort in that fact that even when we feel powerless, He is still powerful. I have been praying that I would really know the ‘immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe’- to protect, to comfort, to calm and to heal. Also remembering that God is above it all.
“And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Eph 1:22)
Other things keeping me sane are managing to have a good laugh with my colleagues at least once a shift (usually at the top quality memes that are going around) and lots and lots of homemade Dishoom Chai.”

“I work as an Intensive Care Nurse, one of the people who operate the ventilators they keep talking about on the news. I was on holiday last week as the crisis unfolded and due back on shift on Monday. I felt sick with nerves as I went to bed on Sunday night. I woke up at 4am with a knot in my stomach, not knowing what the day ahead would bring. I picked up my bible (phone) and read a lent bible study I’m days behind on. The passage was on Jesus sleeping in a boat during the storm. The week before the crisis hit, I’d been to two different toddler groups who had both covered this story. I had fleetingly wondered if the coincidence meant something, but not knowing what was coming, I soon forgot. At 4am as I was about to walk into the Corona virus storm, I knew God was speaking to me. 

The shift was one of my worst in a long long time. I felt pretty emotional at times, but I was hugely comforted to know that God had told me not to fear before the day had even begun. I’m sure I’ll be coming back to those verses a few times before this crisis is over! 

Although the shift was tough, the kindness of strangers has touched me too.  The nurses in my ward are being donated meals by takeout companies to get them through their shifts. And so much chocolate we all swore it would take us days to eat, before eating the lot within a few hours. At home the atmosphere in the street seems different too. When we ran out of butter whilst baking this morning,  I only had to mention it on my new street WhatsApp group and there was some on my doorstep. 

This crisis is hitting each one of us hard in so many different ways. I feel so assured that at the very start of it God spoke to me to remind me that he is right there in this storm with us, asking us not to fear and reminding us of his sovereignty and power. And acts of kindness between strangers make the world seem less of a scary place too!” 

“In amongst the uncertainty of it all, there has been a wonderful opportunity to talk about death. My granddaughter is very worried that she brings germs home and may be the cause of my death because of mixing with people to a greater degree than I, so I was able to say that it was no problem to me. I am totally happy to go home to heaven if it is my time to go. I have no fear whatsoever. There’s nothing morbid about it, I’m happy to live – I love my life – but death will be a happy event for me. She cannot get her head around it! May Lord Jesus open the eyes of her understanding, this we pray Holy Spirit. So even in this, what the enemy meant for evil God will turn to good. Amen and amen.”