THE Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has warned defiant churches that are ignoring the government’s directive to stop holding mass gatherings in light of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that they should take the call seriously to save lives.
This comes as some churches continue holding large services despite the government’s directive that there should not be gatherings of more than 100 people in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
It also comes as Zimbabwe on Monday recorded its first death from the deadly virus that has killed nearly 12 000 people across the globe while 292 142 have contracted the virus.
ZCC secretary-general Kenneth Mtata said churches have a responsibility of leading people to safety and should heed the call to stop large gatherings.
“We have a very big problem on our hands because if we get the statistics of deaths, for example, in Italy where over 600 people died in a single day and we are hearing messages from some Christians who are saying it’s not necessary for us to avoid gatherings.
“They are saying avoiding gatherings is a sign of cowardice and weakness.
“I think this is one of the most irresponsible communications that is coming from the Church,” Mtata said.
“If God sent angels to tell Joseph to flee with the son and mother to Egypt when King Herod wanted to destroy our saviour, how dare some Christians be defiant when the church is giving warnings that we flee with our lives and
preserve possibilities of losing lives?
“If the church is being given a warning that we must avoid coming together because there could be possibilities for infections, how can Christians be saying those who are avoiding gatherings are cowards and they do not have faith?
How can Christians be so irresponsible? Mtata asked.
Mtata further said that given the country’s poor health sector, the church needs to take preventive measures seriously.
This comes as there is growing concern that the government is ill prepared to deal with a massive outbreak of the virus.
“We need to rebuke this kind of thinking within the church and the church must lead the nation to take serious caution on what is before us.
“We are getting accurate information from other countries that if we do not prevent the spread of the virus with the kind of resources we have as a nation, we will not be able to treat infections if they multiply as is happening in other countries,” he said.
Mtata added that the church needs to come together and direct the nation to take precautions.
“This pandemic is serious and the church must take the lead and we must avoid this irresponsible kind of teaching that is based on complete ignorance and irresponsibility that is coming from people that are giving false assurances.
“We need to create the distance that we are being told to create and the church cannot be the one telling people the wrong information that it is an exercise of faith for people to come together in gatherings when we are clearly being told that this is the easiest way that the disease can be stopped from spreading,” he said.