Articles

GENEVA/LONDON - The United States could become the global epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, as Britain went into lockdown and Olympic organizers considered postponing the 2020 Tokyo Games.   

But the Chinese province of Hubei, where the virus was first identified in December, said it would lift travel restrictions on people leaving the region as the epidemic there eases.   

On the economic side, business activity collapsed from Australia and Japan to Western Europe at a record pace in March, with data for the United States later on Tuesday expected to be just as dire.   

"The coronavirus outbreak represents a major external shock to the macro outlook, akin to a large-scale natural disaster," analysts at BlackRock Investment Institute said.   

WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said in Geneva there had been a "very large acceleration" in coronavirus infections in the United States which had the potential of becoming the new epicenter.   

Over the past 24 hours, 85 percent of new cases were from Europe and the United States, she told reporters. Of those, 40 percent were from the United States.   

Asked whether the United States could become the new epicenter, Harris said: "We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential. We cannot say that is the case yet but it does have that potential."   

 London lockdown   

Some U.S. state and local officials have decried a lack of coordinated federal action, saying having localities act on their own has put them in competition for supplies.  

U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged the difficulty in a tweet.   

"The World Market for face masks and ventilators is Crazy. We are helping the states to get equipment, but it is not easy," he wrote.   

Confirmed coronavirus cases exceeded 377,000 across 194 countries and territories as of early Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, with over 16,500 deaths linked to the virus.   

Of the top 10 countries by case numbers, Italy had reported the highest fatality rate, at around 10%, which is reflective of its older population. The fatality rate globally is around 4.3%.   

Britain, believed by experts to be about two weeks behind Italy in the outbreak cycle, woke up on Tuesday to curbs on movement without precedent in peacetime after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the country to stay at home.   

The streets of the capital were eerily quiet as all but essential shops closed and people only went to work if it was essential.   

Johnson had resisted pressure to impose a full lockdown even as other European countries had done so, but was forced to change tack as projections showed the health system could become overwhelmed.  

Olympics under threat  

 A decision on whether to postpone this year's Tokyo Olympics for the first time will come in days, sources said on Tuesday. 

The July 24-Aug. 9 Olympics have been the last major sporting event left untouched as the epidemic put most of the world in virtual lockdown. 

The International Olympic Committee and Japan repeated their insistence that the event would go ahead as scheduled — and then their weekend announcement of a lengthy, one-month consultation over possible postponement — perplexed many.   

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach were to talk by phone on Tuesday.   

China's Hubei province, the original epicenter of the outbreak, will lift travel curbs on people leaving the area, but other regions will tighten controls as new cases double due to imported infections.   

The provincial capital Wuhan, which has been in total lockdown since Jan. 23, will see its travel restrictions lifted on April 8.   

However, the risk from overseas infections appears to be on the rise, prompting tougher screening and quarantine measures in major cities such as the capital Beijing. 

  

 

 

Read More
 

GENESIS 1:1-31

 
The Beginning
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  Read more
 

Meditation

God has delegated His rule, and it extends as far as man's faithfulness to obey God's law.
The perfect will of God is not manifest in the presence of death, disease, discord, or disaster. (Before the Fall)
 
Man's dominion is forfeited to Satan; the curse spreads through all the Earth, but God moves redemptively to recover man's lost estate.
 
After the flood, a renewed order is established. Animals now fear man. A cleansed realm for seeking first God's kingdom is established, and new hope dawns. Abraham demonstrates two key points: faith relationship with God and God's plan to restore man's "reign in life."
The Patriarchs reveal the duality of redemption: a restored relationship with God and rulership in life under God.
 
Man is now held accountable for Earth. The redeemed may partner with God and thereby decisively assist in the reestablishment in God's rule.
 

My Life Application

God rules what He has created, animals and mankind. Mankind then begins to have a relationship with his Creator God. Your relationship with Him is more valuable and necessary with every passing day. Call upon Him now more than ever for peace, rest and hope!
 

My Prayer and Praise

"Dear Father, I am so thankful that I can have a relationship with You who created me. You gave me skills, ability, talents, and trust in You. Help me to use them to minister to others in these troubling days. Thank you that I can come to You anytime and all the time. What a loving God! Amen."
 
Read More

WASHINGTON - U.S. lawmakers are racing to enact a massive rescue package to prop up an American economy increasingly paralyzed by efforts to contain the novel coronavirus.

Stock markets plunged last week — wiping out nearly all gains recorded during Donald Trump’s presidency — as activity in public places across the country ground to a halt.  

With factories, businesses, restaurants and schools shutting down and entire industries in shambles, workers are facing layoffs, cutbacks in hours or having to make the difficult choice of working while ill if they lack paid sick leave.  

Despite positive test results for lawmakers in both chambers that have forced self-quarantining measures, Democratic and Republican leaders say lawmakers must stay in Washington to finish work on an economic stimulus package.  

“The coronavirus is slowing our economy to a near standstill,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said on the Senate floor last week. “We're almost certainly anticipating a recession.” 

Lawmakers and the White House have devised a series of phases to rescue the U.S. economy. Here is a summary of what each phase has been designed to do.   

Phase One

Lawmakers initially focused on funding U.S. public health efforts to combat the coronavirus, passing an $8.3 billion package earlier this month. 

Trump asked Congress for little more than $2 billion in funding, with a plan to fund $535 million of that request by rerouting unused funds allocated to fight Ebola. Democrats pushed back on that plan and ultimately negotiated a bill with the White House that included $3 billion for coronavirus vaccine development and $1 billion for U.S. international aid efforts to combat the virus.  

Trump signed that bill on March 6.  

Phase Two 

The Democrat-majority House of Representatives took the lead on negotiating the first bill with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to address the devastating economic impact of the crisis.  

The Senate passed "phase two” of the bill last week by a 90-8 vote. The bill offers COVID-19 testing without cost, an extension of unemployment benefits to address the needs of workers who may be laid off due to the crisis, as well as paid sick leave for workers at some U.S. companies.  

Lower-income workers in the United States make up one-quarter of the American workforce that has no access to paid sick leave.  

The House-passed bill has several loopholes, which means the sick leave extension would not apply to companies with fewer than 50 employees or more than 500 workers. The bill also caps the amount of sick leave pay workers can collect.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky expressed reservations about the bill but encouraged Republicans to pass it.  

“I do not believe we should let perfection be the enemy of something that will help even a subset of workers,” McConnell said on the Senate floor last week. “The House bill has real shortcomings. It does not even begin to cover all of the Americans who will need help in the days ahead.” 

The Republican-majority Senate passed the bill last week, as it became clear that lawmakers would need to quickly work on passage of a more ambitious economic stimulus bill.  

Phase Three 

The Senate is taking the lead on working with the White House to craft a massive economic stimulus plan that could be nearing $2 trillion in cost. 

The Treasury Department proposed a direct deposit of $1200 to hundreds of millions of Americans, based on family and income size starting in April. Under that plan, the U.S. government would also offer billions of dollars in loans to small businesses teetering on the edge of financial ruin amid social distancing and quarantines. Republicans have also proposed $75 billion in aid to hospitals and health care providers. 

But Democrats have expressed concerns the bill does send enough money to hospitals and state and local governments. They are also arguing the legislation does not do enough to help lower and middle-class Americans hurt by the crisis, pushing back against Republicans’ proposal for a $500 billion fund controlled by the Treasury Department to aid the hardest-hit industries. 

“We want the workers to come first,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told news network CNN Sunday. “If a corporation is getting money because they need something, and airlines is the industry they're talking about, they’ve got to keep their employees, they've got to not cut the pay of their employees, and they should not do stock buybacks, increases in compensation for the top executives.”

Leverage over Republicans

Democrats have unexpected leverage in the Republican-majority Senate after Rand Paul of Kentucky became the first U.S. senator to test positive for the coronavirus. His absence – along with self-quarantining measures by Utah Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney – means McConnell must have Democrat votes to pass the measure.

Lawmakers are aiming to pass this new round of economic relief by the end of this week to calm an anxious public. But once the bill is passed in the Senate it would head over to the House of Representatives, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are drafting their own version of the economic assistance bill. 

“We'll be introducing our own bill and hopefully it will be compatible,” Pelosi said Sunday.

Identical legislation must pass both chambers before it can go to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

Despite warning signs negotiations could be much longer than expected, President Trump said the bill would provide much-needed assistance.

“Our goal is to get relief to Americans as quickly as possible so that families can get by and small businesses can keep workers on the payroll,” Trump told reporters Sunday. “This will help our economy, and you will see our economy skyrocket once this is over. I think it's going to skyrocket.”

Read More

“It is not enough to “go through it”. Let us “grow through it”.”

Bishop C. B. Peter MorganBishop C. B. Peter MorganThe whole world has been gripped in the threat of the Coronavirus strain called Covid-19. To date, over one hundred and eighty nations and territories across the globe have been inflicted with this heinous disease with over 1600 deaths and growing.  These are frightening statistics and it is frightening as there is no immediate solution that exists for this crisis. 

This pandemic has created another more ominous threat that has gripped the hearts and minds of peoples within each nation. That is the pandemic of fear. This reality is demanding just as urgent attention to ensure that the management of the health hazard, is not overwhelmed by the fear of it. If so, long after the natural virus is curbed, the emotional impact of fear will leave us more permanently damaged with a traumatic psychosis.

To whom must we, therefore, look for leadership to remedy this condition? Can governments or scientists or medical experts or media commentators or other service technocrats address this plight? Is there a people equipped with the antidote for fear, which must be applied in order to mitigate with urgency this crisis?

The answer is yes. There are such people. But they are to be found only among those who have an understanding of “fear” and who themselves have mastered it with a built-in antidotal immunity to counter its destructive effects.

 

Understanding Fear

There are three types of Fear which must be recognized and addressed.

Natural Fear: This is an instinctive awareness of any overwhelming threat to the life and security of us as human beings. It is a healthy consciousness that makes us cautious in handling real dangers to our physical health, our emotional and psychological wellbeing and our very security in the face of our natural limitations and finitude. But this can and must be mastered by efforts toward self-management along with corporate protective initiatives.

Phobic Fear: This is an irrational fear which has become a kind of psychotic dread which someone has characterized as “the fear of fear itself”. It is anxiety fed by imagined threats that have a little base in reality. However, it is subjectively embraced as a result of a traumatic incident or event in one’s life, which makes one afraid of what the Psalmist calls “the shadow of death” as if it were “death” itself. Again, in biblical parlance it is referred to as “a spirit of fear”, which cripples us, making us self-possessed and fearful of others, and become disoriented, confused and hallucinogenic in mind.

God Fearing: This is commonly referred to as “having the fear of the Lord”. It means having healthy respect, honor, and devotion toward the Divine Potentate. This comes from two conscious realities.

  • That God is more powerful, overwhelming and potentially dangerous than any of the other two “Fears”. This means one may very well have a dreaded fear of Him.
  • But, this fearful and awesome God does not in fact threaten us. On the contrary, He mitigates our fears.
    God is Empowering toward us hence strengthening us against all other dangers; He is Compassionate and Caring toward us hence forgiving us where we have offended Him; and He renews our mind with the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom needed to confront and solve all our problems and manage our environment including all our natural and phobic fears.

Hence we may conclude, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”  (1Jn.4:18)

 

Who Are These People, Equipped With the Antidote to Fear? 

They are the “sons of men” who have become “sons of God”. “As many as believed Him to them He gave the authority to be called “sons of God” (Jn.1:12).  In other words, they are who Jesus called the Ekklesia, or as we refer to them today as the Church. Interestingly, the Bible also defines them as “the Church of the firstborn”. It is to this company that the Bible is affirming, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (11Tim.1:7).

All of this has implications for us today in the midst of one of the most fearsome threats to humanity, the global epidemic of the coronavirus, Covid-19.  What then is expected of us as Christians in our setting, community, and nation?

 

Five Things to Avoid as The Church

  • Do not be confused by inaccurate information, skeptical criticisms, prejudicial commentaries, and sensational exaggerations. Avoid listening to them. Have knowledge of the facts, with correct data on the What? Where? When? How? of the virus. Examine carefully the plans put in place to address it.
  • Do not become self-righteous and religiously presumptuous assuming that you are safe because the Lord will protect His own while the rest of the people are left to suffer.
  • Do not become callous and uncaring, separating yourselves from those afflicted or who are otherwise suffering in the midst of the social threats, and the economic fallouts and the psychologically traumatized.
  • Do not become careless and insensitive and uncooperative to the general protocol and disciplined procedures instituted by governments and other civic authorities.
  • Do not be distracted by public prophetic pronouncements directing judgment against the unsaved especially with the claims that “these are the last days.” In fact, allow me to comment a bit more on this.

 

Note that both man and his environment have been under judgment since Adam because the wages of sin bring death. In any visitation of God, the focus is not so much on the judgment of God but rather on the opportunity for the redemption or deliverance of man. When God sent Moses to confront Pharaoh it was not because God wanted to bring judgment on Egypt, otherwise, He could have done so before. It is rather because the time had come for the liberation of His people in order to fulfill His covenant promise to them. They had begun to cry for help and this was in keeping with the timing of Moses’ preparation for the task. Pharaoh and Egypt were judged because they refused to respond to the prophetic demand, “Let My people go.” Hence the pestilences and plagues etc.   

 

There is a Day coming for the final judgment of all men. But today we must understand that the focus of God is not on judging the world, which we seem to relish doing, but rather on the need for the Church to become His instrument of redemption and liberation for the nations of the world. If the Church does not rise to the challenge they will naturally succumb to the same judgment of God which has been on the world from the beginning. 

 

Hence the Word declares:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already…” (Jn.3:16-18)

 

Do Not Just Go Through it; Grow Through It

This statement was expressed recently by Pastor Christopher of “GO FOR GOD FAMILY CHURCH” in Kingston Jamaica. It is therefore incumbent on the Church to note the following:

Be prepared to go back to basics. Rediscover the “essentials of Church”. You may need to “cut and prune” in order to bear more fruit. Some members may fall away as they succumb to fear, but whatever you do, remain on the Vine. Do not stray from His Presence.

Develop new Norms if the old ones no longer fit. Remember that traditional customs and ritualistic habits may need to be replaced by new ways of performing them, (eg. baptisms in bathtubs, baby blessings in private settings, and communion at the family dining table)

As you re-organize, bear in mind what you are producing is "New Wine," and this will require creating flexible "new wineskins" to contain the wine and out of which to serve it to people. Therefore be mindful of the following seven initiatives:

Seven Re-organizing Initiatives: 

  • Increase your potency as a “Spiritual Church” even though you are functioning as a “Virtual Church”.
  • Preserve your identity as a “Koinonaic Church” (Fellowshipping Church) rather than being “Technologically Driven”. In other words, let your “modus operandi” serve your raison d'êtres”.
  • Remain “Accountable and Responsive” to the Shepherd of the Flock so you do not become “Detached or Independent Units”.
  • Cherish any opportunity to Worship, Pray and Sanctify yourselves even in private so you do not abandon the “Devotional Spirit” of the Church. Remember that before Israel had a central Temple in the City they kept His Presence in the mobile Tabernacle that they carried with them wherever they went in the Wilderness.
  • Encourage families to be led by the Head of the home, as parents and children and extended relatives fellowship and study together. No wonder the first century Christians were known as the “Household of Faith”.
  • Remember, as the “Church of the Firstborn” you have the responsibility to become witnesses amongst your neighbors and within your communities. Let us seek to fulfill the will of our Father taking care of His other children (who are not yet Christians) and our Father’s property and business within everyman’s world.
  • The mandate of the Church must take the saints beyond the Sanctuary and between Sabbaths (Sundays) as exemplified by Christ when He said:
                                                                                       “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me
                                                                                          Because He has anointed Me
                                                                                        To preach the gospel to the poor;
                                                                                He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
                                                                                        To proclaim liberty to the captives
                                                                                        And recovery of sight to the blind,
                                                                                   To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 
                                                                       To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk.4:18-19).
                                                       

Conclusion

Today, the challenge we face in the midst of the pandemic plague is demanding of the Church that we do not succumb to the “spirit of fear” which cripples us, to condemn others and confuse our minds. Nor should we yield to the deceptive sin of pride, isolation, and escapism.  

We are being compelled to grow beyond “Church as Usual” to becoming the “Church Essential”. We must assume the responsibility to Disciple the Nation, Evangelize the People, and being Witnesses in every community. We must position ourselves to care for the disabled, the health-afflicted, the vulnerable elderly and the economically disadvantaged. Think of how your church can be effective in these areas and seek to develop programs.

This is a season for engagement not detachment.  It is a season for compassion and creativity, not a time to be critical or judgmental.  It is the season to mature and “grow through” not just to endure and “go through”.  When the dust settles, who we are and what we produce must stand.

 

Practical Application

Upon reflection, as you seek to address the issues mentioned above in this Paper:

  • List some of the practical ways in which you and your Church have sought to adjust?
  • How can or will you respond to the demands for organizational and operational change?
  • In what ways can you or will you become engaged in your community?
  • To what extent can you say you and your Church have or will become agents of change?
  • Whatever you do in word and indeed, can you say it is to the glory of God and for the wellbeing of the people?

Remember, “All things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Rom.8:28)

Read More
 

MARK 4:33-34

With many similar parables, Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
 
 

Meditation 

There are two dangers that the wise teacher must at all costs avoid.
 
 (a) He must avoid all self-display.   A teacher's duty is not to draw attention to himself but to draw attention to His subject. A love of self-display can make a man attempt to scintillate at the expense of truth. It can make him think more of clever ways of saying a thing than of the thing itself. Or it can make him so desirous of displaying his erudition that he becomes so obscure and elaborate and involved that the ordinary man cannot understand him at all. There is no virtue in talking over the head of an audience. As someone said, "The fact that a man shoots above the target only proves that he is a bad shot."A good teacher must be in love with his subject and not in love with himself.
 
 
(b) He must avoid a sense of superiorityTrue teaching does not consist of telling people things. It consists of learning together. It was Plato's idea that teaching simply meant extracting from people's minds and memories what they already knew. The teacher who stands on a pedestal and talks down will never be successful. True teaching consists in sharing and discovering truth together. It is a joint exploration of the countries of the mind.
 
There are certain qualities that he who would teach must ever seek to acquire.
 
(a) The teacher must possess understanding. One of the great difficulties of the expert is to understand why the non-expert finds a thing so difficult to understand or to do. It is necessary for the teacher to think with the learner's mind and to see with the learner's eyes.
(b) The teacher must possess patience. The Jewish Rabbi Hillel laid it down by saying, "An irritable man cannot teach." He insisted that the first essential of a teacher is that he must be even-tempered. The Jews laid it down that if a teacher found that his scholars did not understand a thing, he must begin again without rancor and irritation and explain it all over again. That is precisely what Jesus did all His life.
 

My Life Application

Make it your desire to be a gifted teacher and ask Jesus to help you. Remember, you need all that He has to offer.
 

My Prayer and Praise

"Dear Father, thank You for guiding me through life. Please continue giving me directions. I read how You taught Your disciples, and I desire that You teach me whatever I am to learn. Amen!"  
 
Read More

Italy is now ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic, surpassing China as the country with the most deaths from the disease. 

As of Thursday, Italian officials reported 3,405 coronavirus deaths while China’s death toll stood at 3,248. 

Over the last two days, Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began in December, has reported no new cases for the first time. 

Both Italy and China’s Hubei province imposed total lockdowns to stop the spread. But Italy has a large elderly population, and those 65 and older are highly susceptible to the coronavirus infection. 

Thirty-four new cases were reported elsewhere in mainland China Thursday. Authorities say people who came from other countries were infected with the virus.   

South Korea reported 152 new cases Thursday, a setback after reporting fewer than 100 new cases for four days in a row.  South Korea is the hardest-hit Asian country outside China.  

Another hard-hit country, Germany, reported a jump of 2,800 new cases Thursday. Officials there say the coronavirus could strike as many as 10 million Germans unless proper precautions are taken, including social distancing.  

Spain has closed all hotels and turned a four-star inn in Madrid into a makeshift hospital. 

In France, one of the world’s most anticipated entertainment events, the Cannes Film Festival, has been postponed from May until possibly July. 

Prince Albert of Monaco is the first head of state with a confirmed case of coronavirus. 

New Zealand and Australia are closing their shores to all foreign visitors. 

In North America, Mexico reported its first coronavirus death Thursday.  

Two U.S. representatives, Republican Mario Diaz-Balart and Democrat Ben McAdams, are the first members of Congress to test positive for coronavirus. Both are in self-quarantine.  

Late Thursday, a federal judge in Seattle rejected an appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union to free nine illegal migrants who the ACLU says are at risk for coronavirus because of their age and other health problems.  

The judge said that he was fully aware of the seriousness of the outbreak but that there was no evidence of the virus at the holding center and that conditions were adequate. 

And opera fans will have to do without their Puccini and Wagner for a while. New York’s Metropolitan Opera is canceling the rest of its season because of the outbreak. 

 

Read More

Rev. Newton GabbidonRev. Newton GabbidonThe coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is significantly impacting our world, and the continually changing situation has made this an unusually challenging time for everyone — a time that, for many, is filled with fear and uncertainty.

Because of the way things have accelerated with the virus, governments around the world have taken extraordinary steps to contain the spread of this highly infectious disease for which there remains no proven treatment.

Here in the United States, these steps include bans on public gatherings, social distancing, and other restrictions mandated by the federal and state governments based on strict guidelines provided by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) aimed at limiting exposure to the virus. 

New York State, which is fast becoming the epicenter of the pandemic here in the United States, currently bans all public gatherings of fifty persons or more. But the Federal government has gone a step further in recommending that persons avoid groups of more than ten persons and the elderly stay home.

Like many churches and Christian organizations here in New York and across the nation, facing these draconian restrictions, we at IPMI have seen our lives disrupted by this pandemic.

Please know, however, that while following these strict CDC guidelines to help protect ourselves and communities, you can count on IPMI doing what is right to mobilize united prayer for the United States and other nations facing significant challenges due to the pandemic.  

One of the ways we are seeking to do this during the ban on gatherings here in New York is through the Internet, using IPMI TV and other online forums like Zoom to host prayer meetings and other events. Also, IPMI will continue with our three monthly global prayer calls facilitated by leaders from twelve nations, including the United States.

To view IPMI's 2020 calendar of programs and events, click here   

Please note that we have canceled the March 28 and April 25, Monthly Prayer Meeting, and postponed the May 16 Pastors' and Leaders' Prayer Symposium scheduled for the New York Hilton. We will instead replace these prayer meetings with two online prayer meetings to commence at 5:30 PM ET.  We will also live-stream these prayer meetings to a global audience. 

Rev. Dr. Samuel Vassel, District Superintendent, Metro New York Church of the Nazarene, will join us as a special guest for the March 28, Prayer meeting.  Bishop C. B. Peter Morgan, Founding IPMI Advisory Board Member, and Dean of the Nazarene College and Seminary in Trinidad, will join us as a special guest for the April 25 Prayer meeting

Further updates about the March 28 and April 25 online prayer meetings and other upcoming meetings and events, will be posted here on our website.

We pray and trust that you and your loved ones will remain safe during this challenging global health crisis.

 

Newton Gabbidon

President & CEO

 

 

 

Read More

The bells are tolling in the villages of the north Italian region of Lombardy, registering yet another coronavirus death.  

North Italy has suffered epidemics before, albeit much more deadly contagions in the 17th and 18th centuries, which left more than 300,000 dead. But Italians never thought they would encounter again a contagion powerful enough to test their country to its limits.

Opinion polls suggest that more than 60% of Italians approve of the government lockdown. But cooped up in their homes for a second week, Italians are wondering how many more times the bells will toll sounare a morto (song of death). And how long the country will remain at a standstill because of a virus that first appeared nearly 9,000 kilometers away in a Chinese city most had never heard of.   

The Italian government, like its pre-industrial forerunners, has turned to the use of quarantines, first used by Venice in the 14th century to protect itself from plague epidemics.  

Quarantining was at the heart of a disease-abatement strategy that included isolation, sanitary cordons and extreme social regulation of the population. Without a vaccine — or as yet effective pharmaceutical therapy for those who suffer severe illness — there’s not much else to do, as Italy’s neighbors and the United States are also discovering.  

Hand-painted banners with the slogan, “Everything will be alright,” have started to appear in Italian cities. But many worry about the likely duration of the war against an invisible killer, and what the long-term consequences will be for their livelihoods and their country.  

They aren’t the only ones in Europe asking the same questions.

As scary, surreal and disruptive as it is now, the long-term political and economic consequences of the biggest public health challenge the continent has faced since the 1918 Spanish flu are likely to be huge.

Aside from quarantining, the past also has some possible lessons for Europe about how infectious diseases can leave a long-term imprint, say historians. They say plagues and pestilence have reshaped countries before, changing politics, contributing to instability, retarding economic development and altering social relations.

“Plague caused a shock to the economy of the Italian peninsula that might have been key in starting its relative decline compared with the emerging northern European countries,” noted Italian historian Guido Alfani in an academic paper on the impact of the 17th century plague.

In England, the long-term effects of the medieval Black Death were devastating and far-reaching, according to historian Tom James, with “agriculture, religion, economics and even social class affected. Medieval Britain was irreversibly changed,” he wrote in a 2017 commentary for the BBC. Historians say it reordered England’s social order by hastening the end of feudalism.

The Spanish flu epidemic, which killed tens of millions of people worldwide, including 500,000 Americans, affected the course of history — it may have contributed to the Western allies winning World War I, say some historians. German General Erich Ludendorff thought so, arguing years later that influenza had robbed him of victory.  

And it even affected the peace, argued British journalist Laura Spinney in her 2017 book “Pale Rider,” which studied the Spanish flu. Among other things, Spinney said the flu may have contributed to the massive stroke U.S. President Woodrow Wilson suffered as he was recovering from the viral infection.  

“That stroke left an indelible mark both on Wilson (leaving him paralyzed on the left side of his body) and on global politics,” Spinney wrote. An ailing U.S. president was unable to persuade Congress to join the League of Nations.

Historians and risk analysts caution that as no one knows how COVID-19 will play out — what the death toll or economic costs will be, or how well or badly individual governments may perform — they are sure it will leave an indelible mark.

Much of the impact of past contagions was due to demographic crises left in their wake — high death tolls caused social dislocation and labor shortages. Even worst-case scenarios suggest the coronavirus won’t cause a demographic crisis. But shutting down economies will have long-term ramifications, possibly a recession or depression, and will likely spawn political change.

“While the health challenges and economic consequences are potentially devastating, the political consequences are harder to foresee but might be the most long-lasting,” said John Scott, head of sustainability risk at the Zurich Insurance Group.  

“Voters may not be kind to politicians who fail in their basic duty to protect citizens,” he said in a note for the World Economic Forum.

For all of Europe’s political leaders and ruling parties, regardless of ideology, the pandemic and its economic fallout risks driving them from office if they’re seen to have bungled.

Many have already been forced into policy reversals. Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, who outlined Monday the biggest set of changes in the daily lives of Britons since World War II, has made large U-turns in the space of days.

This week, he made his biggest reversal following new modeling by disease experts at London’s Imperial College, which suggested that without a national shutdown the death toll would exceed 250,000.

In Europe, member states have been breaking with Brussels over border controls. European Union officials insisted that national governments should not close borders or stop the free movement of people within the so-called Schengen zone.  

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned that “each member state needs to live up to its full responsibility, and the EU as a whole needs to be determined, coordinated and united.”

Her advice has been ignored, with countries across the continent closing their borders.  

Some believe that the Schengen system of borderless travel will never be fully restored after the virus has been suppressed or run its course.  

Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, one of Italy’s worst-hit areas, told reporters that Europe’s borderless zone was “disappearing as we speak.”  

“Schengen no longer exists,” he said. "It will be remembered only in the history books.”  

He and others believe as the crisis deepens, member states will take other unilateral actions, setting the stage for a patchwork of national policies that will erode European unity and set back the cause of European federalism.

The Economist magazine also suggested last week that the coronavirus will play more to the agenda of populists, who decry globalization and have lamented the weakening of nation states.

But other observers say COVID-19 could have the reverse effect by trigging an uptick in multilateralism and greater cross-border solidarity, much as the Spanish flu prompted the ushering in of public health care systems and the first international agencies to combat disease.

How the fight goes against the virus is one thing. Another is how Europe copes with the likely economic slump that follows, and a debt crisis that might be triggered, analysts say.  

That, too, will reshape national and continental politics, much as the 2008 financial crash shattered the grip of mainstream parties on European politics.

 

Read More
MARK 4:26-29
The Parable of the Growing Seed
 
He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. Read more
 

Meditation

This is the only parable that Mark alone relates to us. The Kingdom of God literally means the reign of God, the day when His will is done as perfectly on earth as it is in heaven. That is the goal of God for the whole universe. This parable is short but it is filled with unmistakable truths.

Actually, this is the second parable Jesus used to teach the crowd. It followed logically from the Parable of the Sower (4:10).   It answered the implied question, "How is it that any seed grows on any soil?" Jesus' analogy suggests that just as there are three aspects to the growth of a natural seed, so also with the growth of a spiritual seed: 

(1) sowing, 

(2) growth, 

(3) harvest.

"So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground." Once the sower has done his work, much then depends on the receptiveness of the soil. But even this has an element of mystery to it.

Of the three aspects of this parable, the emphasis is clearly on the mystery of the growth. The Greek reads literally, "how not knows he." The analogy cannot be pressed to mean that Jesus as the Sower does not know how the seed grows. It is the audience to whom Jesus was speaking that needed instruction about the mystery of the kingdom of God. And a mystery it is indeed.

My Life Application

The Bible produces the desired results you want. Churches have typically erred theologically by emphasizing either the freedom and responsibility of man over the sovereignty of God or vice versa. The apostles themselves were satisfied to live with the mystery.   What about you?
 

MY Prayer and Praise

 
"Dear Father, please teach me all that You want me to know about what the difference is between Your sovereignty and that which is my responsibility. Amen!"  

 

Read More

WASHINGTON - A clinical trial evaluating a vaccine designed to protect against the new coronavirus will begin Monday, according to a government official.

The first participant in the trial will receive the experimental vaccine on Monday, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the trial has not been publicly announced yet. The National Institutes of Health is funding the trial, which is taking place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, the official said.

Public health officials say it will take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine.

Testing will begin with 45 young, healthy volunteers with different doses of shots co-developed by NIH and Moderna Inc. There’s no chance participants could get infected from the shots, because they don’t contain the virus itself. The goal is purely to check that the vaccines show no worrisome side effects, setting the stage for larger tests.

Dozens of research groups around the world are racing to create a vaccine as COVID-19 cases continue to grow. Importantly, they’re pursuing different types of vaccines — shots developed from new technologies that not only are faster to produce than traditional inoculations but might prove more potent. Some researchers even aim for temporary vaccines, such as shots that might guard people’s health a month or two at a time while longer-lasting protection is developed.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The worldwide outbreak has sickened more than 156,000 people and left more than 5,800 dead. The death toll in the United States is more than 50, while infections neared 3,000 across 49 states and the District of Columbia.

The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three weeks to six weeks to recover.

Read More

Follow Us Social networks

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Please type your full name.
Invalid email address.