Confidence in Christ on the frontline part 2 | Evangelism in lockdown
This week we spoke to Abby Greenwell, a physiotherapist based in London and part of St Helen’s Bishopsgate church. She’s been helping to lead Christianity Explored on Zoom throughout lockdown.
Hello Abby! First off, can you tell me a bit about your experience of the pandemic?
I’m a respiratory physio at a big hospital in north London, so right from the start of the pandemic we were working with lots of Covid patients. I work in the Intensive Care Unit and my role involves helping with ventilation settings, clearing patients’ chests and then working with them to remove their tracheostomies and begin the rehab journey.
I found it all quite overwhelming at times. I had to re-do all the rotas for therapists in the hospital, which was a big and stressful job at the start of lockdown. We also had days where we were worried about running out of ventilators and oxygen, and patients seemed to keep coming through the doors. It was sad seeing patients die, and particularly heartbreaking when families weren’t able to visit.
But there was also a real feeling of camaraderie with everyone helping each other out and mucking in, regardless of their banding or status in the hospital. And as time went on patients started to recover and that was very rewarding.
We are returning to normal now, and it all feels like a bit of a dream. But we feel in limbo because we’re not yet out of the woods and don’t know what will happen next.
It sounds like you’ve had a lot on your plate! So why make time to lead on a Christianity Explored course with everything else that was going on?
I’ve been helping out with Christianity Explored for about 18 months and was already committed to leading in March before the pandemic hit and we decided to take it online.
I stuck to my commitment because I think it’s such a life-changing course. Seeing people dying each day was a big reminder of the urgency of sharing the gospel. I felt that helping at Christianity Explored was even more essential than my work on ITU.
Although it was tiring to come home and log into Zoom after a busy day, it was good to be out of work headspace and be reminded of the simple, powerful gospel during that time as we looked at Mark's Gospel each week.
What are some of the benefits and challenges of leading Christianity Explored online?
One challenge is definitely technical issues! I’ve had a few sessions where my internet connection has been a bit dodgy.
There have been lots of benefits but the main one is that we have had so many more people than usual sign up, and from all around the world. People have joined from Texas, South Africa, Canada, Singapore and Germany!
It’s great for those who might be too busy to come along in person. Some said they never would have committed to traveling into church every week, and there’s some form of anonymity which makes it less intimidating.
We will go back to meeting in person when we are allowed to, but we’d definitely like to keep offering Christianity Explored online in future too because of its popularity.
Do you have any top tips for people running Christianity Explored online?
It helps if you have a good internet connection!
Nominate an MC to welcome people when they first arrive into the main group. It helps if it’s someone who knows a bit about the people who have signed up.
Make all the leaders co-hosts on Zoom so they’re able to join different breakout groups, mute or un-mute people and admit people to the sessions.
Be intentional with getting to know the guests. As you don’t have the meal times to talk, build in some time just to chat at the beginning of your studies when you go into your breakout groups. We also offer an option for people to go back into their breakout groups after our formal time together has ended.
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