Canvas | Issue 89: Faces of Hope
Ashley Bloomfield: For many New Zealanders he is the “face of the COVID-19 response,” jumping from relative obscurity to household name in a matter of days. His face became a regular feature in our lives in this COVID-19 social-distancing, hand-sanitising, mask-wearing, alert-level-changing year.
After frequent appearances on our screens, and even on t-shirts, tote bags, ear-rings and hand towels, this reserved, steady doctor, the Director-General of Health (and follower of Jesus) became a face of hope and comfort for many. One writer described his press conference updates as “a daily dose of reassurance, delivered with the kind of calm, compassion and certainty we needed.” His sage advice helped to mobilise our “team of five million” to reduce the impact of the virus.
On the other side, we have seen the faces of the pandemic represent uncertainty, loss, fear, even death. We have seen the dejected faces of exhausted, despairing doctors, the anxious faces of those lining up for hardship benefits who can no longer afford necessities, the pleading faces of those who desperately long to spend precious moments with dying loved ones, but cannot travel to be with them.
Culturally and globally people can quickly become the “face” of something. It’s a known fact that we respond to human faces, whether through the marketing of celebrity endorsements, or the promotion of various political and humanitarian figures, such as Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr. These people represent certain values, and inspire us to live and act in certain ways. For many they are bearers of hope. They are stories that are told and retold.
In times of difficulty and discouragement, and especially in times of uncertainty, we search for the face of someone to connect with, someone in whom we can trust.
In 2 Corinthians 4:6, Paul writes: “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.”
As followers of Christ, we carry this light of the good news in our hearts; we are bearers of hope. We are not defined by negative experiences. We know this is not all there is. Our faces reflect the glory of Christ and the hope we find in the gospel.
As a Christian student movement, TSCF is a community of hope. As a team (of less than five million), we have sought to reflect the hope of the gospel amongst students during the hard months of social distancing, lockdowns and online meetings. In this issue of Canvas, we share stories of hope from students and staff around the country – stories that highlight the hope that anchors us.
Sarah Visser and Dave Hodgkinson share how God worked through Summit 2020: The Heavens Declare – our first ever national conference held online – and the beauty of his creation reflected in Psalm 19. Simon Sim and Otago students share the joy of seeing people encounter Jesus through the Mark Drama while in Alert Level 2. Scott Mackay describes the Spirit stirring amongst seeking students in the Manawatū. And students from around the country share their experience of God working in their lives during lockdown.
In the midst of the pandemic, our mission continues – to share this great treasure, the good news of Jesus Christ, with students throughout Aotearoa. To accomplish this mission, we need to tell our stories of hope. Let’s be faces of hope for each other, reflecting the glory of Christ. In him, “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” (Hebrews 6:19a)
Bex Allen, Communications Manager