“Touch” in a covid-19 world
by Laurie-Ann Copple
During all the covid restrictions, I missed the touch of children. The admonishments began a year ago in March 2020. Elbow bumps became the new hugs – if you’re in the same social bubble. Blowing kisses from a distance became the new kiss on the cheek or forehead. During my cancer journey, the intensity of children’s love took a deeper turn in intensity – especially among the children we loved in our Legacy Relay ministry here in Worcester. They were allowed to show their affection, support, prayers and a vulnerability that was a response to what I shared about my cancer journey. God used them to show his love – in the face of a child; in the faces of many children, one by one. I’ve often heard the saying that “there is no junior Holy Spirit.” It’s true. There is no age limit on being used as the hand and feet of Jesus. 1 Timothy 4:12 (Passion Translation) reminds young believers to not “be intimidated by those who are older than you; simply be the example they need to see by being faithful and true in all that you do. Speak the truth and live a life of purity and authentic love as you remain strong in your faith.”
God also wants the seniors to rise up and be counted too. Seniors are not supposed to just sit waiting around to die. Legacy Relay allows seniors from Worcester to pass on legacy skills and knowledge to young learners. We believe in this ministry – not only to benefit the children, but also the seniors. We become another pair of grandparents, aunts and uncles. Who knows what their family is like at home. Our Iris Western Cape supervisor Johan Fourie tells us often that “it’s all about family.” We bring people into family. It’s all about relationship – one by one.
Covid-19 fought the family and friendship bonds everywhere. Some family members are stuck or flung across different areas of the planet. Tony and I are still in South Africa long after our original visas expired (we’re now on medical visas actually). We are physically separated from our families. We never got the highly desired family holiday with Tony’s sisters last April 2020. We never got reunited with my dad and sister in Canada. But through it, we lean even more on Jesus. We connect with my dad via Skype direct to his landline phone. We WhatsApp my sister. We Skype call my friend Diane, and Messenger Video with my friend Mirjana and my stepson James. We Zoom call our Hillsong connect group, and our Harvest Family Network. Is it enough? We crave each other’s touch.
One special heart connect touch is through other ways to communicate, even with social distancing. It’s still an eye ball – to eye ball connection. This past weekend we were part of our weekly Mailbox Club in OVD township. These kids are hungry for connection, and a touch from God. They run to us when we begin singing. They listen to the teen leader Chantelle, with rapt attention as she reads the lesson in Afrikaans. She then translates stories from either or both Tony and myself. She’s a good leader to work with, although she is still learning. Tony and I lead in the worship singing and Chantelle hands out shakers to the kids who would best use them (although they share after each song). So this week, I was led to share about different ways of worshipping the Lord, and I read to them Psalm 150 from the Passion Translation, which reads as follows:
Psalm 150 “The Hallelujah Chorus”
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Praise God in his holy sanctuary!
Praise him in his stronghold in the sky!
2 Praise him for his mighty miracles!
Praise him for his magnificent greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpets blasting!
Praise him with piano and guitar!
4–5 Praise him with drums and dancing!
Praise him with loud clashing of cymbals!
Praise him upon the high-sounding cymbals!
6 Let everyone everywhere join in the crescendo
of ecstatic praise to God!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
I had the children dance, since they already sang earlier with us Then I shared that you can also worship the Lord by drawing and colouring. I shared four drawings that I knew would mean a lot to them. One was of Chantelle, another Bella (Bella’s cousin was in the audience). The other two were of Jesus with the kids from Vinkrivier (Chantelle said Robertson, which is the nearest large town), and two of those kids with a warrior angel, modelled by my father. It was an absolutely magical time. We played soaking music, which added to the effect. And during that time, I connected with a little boy. He didn’t know that much English, and I am not great on Afrikaans, but we still communicated. There was a heart connect that was as deep as any hug. I had the same connect with the six children who stayed behind. They were still pondering the drawing of Chantelle, their cousin. When I told them I loved them and blew kisses, they connected and felt loved. Love languages still connect people, although sadly “touch” has to be expressed in another way during this pandemic. But in the meantime, we can still connect. I am very thankful for that, and for the deep joy I felt when there was that deep connection with these children. May we all learn to play with and understand the joy and wonder of children.
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Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
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