In New Zealand, strict lockdowns and social distancing appear to be paying off. In less than two weeks, the island nation is showing signs that its efforts to contain the coronavirus are working. The number of new cases has fallen, despite a huge increase in testing.
There are more than 1,200 cases of coronavirus and only one person has reportedly died from the virus in New Zealand. Still, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is refusing to loosen the restrictions for the Easter holiday weekend and that includes Sunday services.
Michael Brown, the head of Shine TV, New Zealand's premier Christian television network, says it will be the first time in many people's memories that they will not be able to attend church on Easter Sunday.
"It's heartbreaking for churches and for Christians right across the country. Many churches have gone online and there are a number of innovative ways churches are looking to this including churches offering online prayer meetings, online small groups, via popular video chat groups and of course the streaming of church services as well. On Shine TV we'll be broadcasting Good Friday and Easter Service reflections as well."
"I think too, it's just an opportunity that the church is discovering that church was never really about the building but it is about the people," Brown said.
During one of the on-line zoom prayer meetings hosted by Church Unlimited, one of the participants prayed, "Lord, let your Kingdom expand during this crisis as people reconnect with you and discover you in a fresh and more meaningful way. We pray in Jesus' name!"
BELOW: AN on-line prayer meeting hosted by Church Unlimited
Brown says Shine TV has birthed a new show during this pandemic called "church at home" – basically, Sunday services recorded from homes across New Zealand.
"And at this time when New Zealanders are not able to leave their homes, they're not able to meet together or attend their regular church services, to be able to have the message of Hope, of Jesus and the Gospel broadcast into their homes is important now more than ever," Brown said.
Brown says the "Church at Home" broadcasts also include Live worship music and special services in the language of the country's indigenous people.
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