Rev Nathan Kiyaga, Torbay Area Dean at the Church of England:
I have been asked this question a few times over the last few months by people from all walks of life.
This is a serious question that should not be treated lightly.
Firstly, it is important to give thanks and credit to the human ingenuity in making the vaccine.
The drive to lead both for now and for the future, to adapt to complex situations and to imagine ways to overcome obstacles that are beyond our understanding is commendable.
Secondly, I commend you for making a decision for yourself whether to take the vaccine or not.
I respect all those who I have spoken to and the diversity of opinion that they share.
In one example, I spoke to a couple where one said 'yes' to the vaccine and the other said 'no'.
They share everything together and have been able to constructively disagree without losing the love and trust for one another.
So, what are my thoughts on the question above?
God has given us unique bodies that are able to fight several infections each day.
There are times when the external threat is much greater than the capacity of our inbuilt cells for various reasons.
Vaccines can boost the capacity of our inbuilt cells to stand firm in the face of an attack. This is why they are given.
In reading the statistics, within Torbay it seems that the majority of the people have felt that they need this extra support to thrive.
There are a few who may feel fully resourced for the battle at hand.
I believe that the question to reflect on is; how do we live with the diversity of opinion when it comes to vaccination?
May I propose the following considerations:
Share your opinion and position in love
I do believe that your viewpoint matters and it should be heard.
Please do share it in a way that allows those with similar or different views to engage with you.
There are times when we have to agree to disagree without falling out.
It is wise not to say anything to someone online that you are not able to say to them in person if love and wisdom requires you.
This is what we call loving your neighbour as you love yourself.
Be gentle with yourself and others
We are in the same storm even though our outlook and experiences might be different.
In a mental health survey of 700 people, we discovered that the majority have struggled with their mental health during this season.
Majority found talking about mental health awkward and also did not want to ask for help.
You may never know what the person next to you is going through.
Go gently on yourself and others.
I also urge you to talk about your wellbeing with someone you trust or a professional.
Do not suffer alone or ignore the other matters that are going on in your life.
Do not waste a perfect storm ignoring the healing and breakthrough that comes with it.
FInally,, I urge you to remain hopeful and not to give up.
In these tough times of uncertainties that may be personal or corporate, it is easy to give up.
Remain hopeful however dark it may feel.
In the Christian community, we say, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
If you are feeling weak, God can be trusted with your struggles.
Talk to him, walk into a church and ask for help.
Seek him and you will find him to guide you through this maze of life.
Corrie Ten Boom, an Auschwitz survivor, said: “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the train driver.”
The driver knows the destination. Remain hopeful that God will lead us through this battle field.
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