Manoj Raithatha, minister at Pinner Baptist Church in London, is a man with a vision – a vision that simply grew out of a Lenten prayer meeting, and snowballed into a website with a selection of really useful resources, helping Christians respond to the coronavirus crisis.
Hope 15:13 is taken from Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Manoj’s own story is of a radical encounter with Jesus through the healing of his son. A Hindu by birth and a successful property entrepreneur, Manoj saw his world crumble in 2008 with the collapse of the financial markets and the hospitalisation of his son with breathing problems. The prayers of a local couple saw a miraculous intervention in his son’s life and Manoj committed his life to Jesus Christ.
Last November Manoj was inducted as lead Pastor at Pinner Baptist Church sensing that God was saying that the work he did would be beyond the local.
When I spoke to Manoj earlier this week he explained a group of Christians at the church felt called to pray for those impacted by the Coronavirus. It quickly became apparent that what had been created at a local prayer meeting was to become a tool God may be able to use to help other Christians and churches in these days of immense shaking. Manoj said, “in a world gripped with fear, we have a message of hope, joy and peace – one that needs to be heard and proclaimed. In Christ we can be secure in the knowledge that God is with us, both now in this lifetime and in eternity to come. This is Good News when so many are desperately searching for assurance.”
How does the Hope 15:13 initiative work?
The Hope 15:13 website, created quickly to help Christians respond to the coronavirus crisis, has a whole host of information which is grouped under three main themes:
Firstly, PRAY: Create space each day pray by yourself or with others, either online or in person.
Secondly, PREPARE: Consider how you can protect and support others.
Thirdly, PROCLAIM: Seek to share this hope as you connect with people every day.
A useful start for those wanting to think about how to reach neighbours and friends virtually is the downloadable evangelism sheet found here. Manoj spoke of the new openness people have during a time of crisis. There may be new opportunities to offer prayer or to explain hope in Jesus. With a wide range of social platforms the page makes suggestions about to engage on Facebook and Twitter or how to share your testimony on YouTube or Zoom.
The website also includes a page of lockdown ideas for coping with the enforced restrictions we are all faced with now and possibly for a considerable time. That might be learning how to knit, gardening or starting a virtual book club.
Manoj sensed that the COVID crisis could in fact lead to a new era of collaboration. Much of the content is being added to on a daily basis from across a spectrum of churches. We await to see how things unfold in the coming weeks.
Visit the Hope:13 website at www.hope1513.com
Revd Dr Benjamin Aldous, CTE Principal Officer for Mission and Evangelism.