Thoughts on the turn of the year 2020/2021

Cooking in Janjanbureh January 2020

Jesus Christ says: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful!” Luke 6:36

A year ago, I was stunned that a year 2019 had gone by so quickly and I could not help as much as I would have liked. For 2020, I expressed my wish that it would be a good year. I quote myself: “I hope that we can all experience in 2020 that we don’t have to give up on our commitment to a hopeful future because there is God who helps our unbelief.”

Now I look back with gratitude on 2020, which went so differently for me from mid-March onward than I had expected. The Corona or Covid-19 virus cancelled all my expectations and plans. When I now look on my experiences, what happened in the area I was allowed to commit myself to, I realize that I received advice where I thought there was nothing I could do. I realize that I have been able to expand my network of relationships by more people than I ever intended. I am in weekly counselling, encouraging, collaborative relationships with more people online than ever before. Old relationships have been renewed; new friendships have been made across the globe. I was already looking for an opportunity to train online at the end of 2019, but there was no offer for me. However, in February, while I was still in South Africa, I got a call from an educational institution that wanted to employ me as a freelance online lecturer. Now, from April to December, I have been able to teach online for an average of over 100 hours per month, gaining methodological expertise that I can now use to train people in Africa.

By the end of 2019 I was desperate about my helplessness and put my trust in God, I wanted to believe Him that He will help. Looking back, I have so many stories to tell of how God intervened in situations where I thought nothing could be done. Therefore, I am filled with gratitude.

My experiences have also raised a new question for me related to friends, acquaintances, people I meet online around the world being in existential crisis because of Corona. The question is, what contribution can I make so that a crisis doesn’t cast such a spell over us, paralyze us, make our relationships impossible and bring us human suffering, tragedies and hardship as I am currently observing and have never seen before. I think of South Africa, for example, whose people of all ethnicities and social classes have become so dear to my heart. I think of West Africa, Senegal and The Gambia, where young people have just begun to see a perspective again which is now clouded again almost as if in one fell swoop. I am thinking of entrepreneurs in Germany who have to file for bankruptcy right now and of old people who are lonely at home or in a home not being allowed to be visited etc.. As a Christian, I am concerned about this. As a Christian, shouldn’t I be the one who can radiate hope, who can offer solutions? Surely as a Christian I cannot stand by and watch or even peddle conspiracy theories and doomsday scenarios?

My gratitude for the year 2020 in relation to how I personally fared now spurs me as a Christian to expect more for the year 2021 than what could be expected based on the Corona crisis. The annual motto for 2021, Jesus Christ says: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”, acts as a pointer to me and somehow telling me: Be merciful in 2021! Do not just show pity and concern, but open your heart, perceive the need of others, act accordingly and help to alleviate suffering. I will be very happy if even more people set out in 2021 and believe that a merciful God stands by us and helps us in the fight against the global crisis and inspires us to find solutions. In this spirit, I wish everyone a blessed New Year 2021.

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