COVID-19 National Vaccination
BPCIS Pastoral Word by Ps David Wong
As vaccination for COVID-19 is rolled out in Singapore, it is meeting with mixed reactions. This Pastoral Word seeks to help us respond from the biblical perspectives of trust in God and love for one another.
These words of the Reformer, Martin Luther, written during a deadly plague of his time, still speak to us today.
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others.”
Two thoughts undergird Luther’s course of action, both soundly founded upon Scriptural teaching. Firstly, we are commanded to love our neighbours as ourselves (Matthew 22:38-39). Anything we do that would endanger the health and life of people around us is irresponsible and unloving. Secondly, we are commanded to love God and entrust our lives to His care (Romans 8:38-39). Any inordinate fear of harm or death that betrays a lack of trust in God is unworthy of our Lord.
The pastors representing our eight BPCIS churches have been asked if they will receive the vaccine, and all have answered in the affirmative. The reasons given are as follows. Firstly, we are exhorted to submit to ruling authorities, especially when we believe they govern justly and act in our best interests (Romans 13:1-5).
Secondly, we are called to set an example for our flock (1 Peter 5:2-3). To stand back and let others go first and perhaps suffer ill effects is neither commendable nor defensible. Thirdly, we are reminded to look beyond the vaccine, even beyond scientists and politicians, to God the Giver and Sustainer of life for protection (Psalm 91:14-15).
We thank the Lord that Singapore has been spared the worst of the pandemic. We believe God has been gracious and merciful in answering the concerted prayers of our pastors and leaders who covenanted at a gathering in February last year at St Andrew’s Cathedral to pray every day at noon. We thank God also for the wise handling of the COVID-19 situation by our government leaders. The roll-out of the free and voluntary vaccination is part of their strategy which has worked well so far.
Notwithstanding, we understand that there are those who, for personal and valid reasons, may choose not to be vaccinated. We respect their decision, and urge all, however we may decide, to remain steadfast in trusting God and in loving one another.
May we continue to keep in prayer the many who are infected around the world, and those who have been affected by the loss of loved ones and livelihoods in this global crisis. In the midst of much uncertainty, may we echo the prayer of King Jehoshaphat, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? … We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20.12, ESV
Rev Dr David Wong
Bible-Presbyterian Church in Singapore