COVID-19 and Hope
Robert K. Brown, PhD
President, Star University
“Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired.”
Not since the flu pandemic of 1918, has a disease, such as COVID-19 impacted the entire world with such devastating results. Every continent, and virtually every country, has had their lifestyles and economies disrupted because of the virus. Most of the media in the western world have focused on the impacts felt in the United States and Europe. Widely overlooked is the destructive effects the virus is having on the continent of Africa.
Throughout Africa, there is a lack of food in some of the larger cities due to required closures and restrictions on travel including supplying markets with needed food and goods. It is predicted that COVID-19 will drag African economies into a decline of about 1.4% in GDP, with smaller economies, facing a decline of up to 7.8%. This decline is due to a slow down in exports and the losses to tax revenue which reduce the capacity of the government to extend public services necessary to respond to the crisis.
Additionally, crowded urban settlements have made physical distancing difficult and make African communities particularly susceptible to COVID-19. This is exacerbated by limited access to safe water, undernourishment, poorly funded health systems, and underlying health conditions like tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS.
Over the decades, many African communities have benefited from assistance from the West through agencies like USAID and from various non-profit and religious organizations. However, so much more is needed and it seems that events such as COVID-19 push back some of the gains made in various African countries over the years.
Yet, in spite of the despair brought on by this virus, one human commodity that must remain in large supply is that of hope; and hope is no where needed more than in Africa. Noted psychoanalyst and developmental theorist Erik Erikson, in his writings and research on human psycho-social development, identified hope as the first key foundational characteristic of one’s personality potentially obtained in the first twelve to eighteen months of an infant’s life. As shown in the quote above, Erikson maintained that hope is an “indispensable virtue” vital to “...the state of being alive.”
In an ancient song that is the Biblical book of Lamentations (3:19-22), the writer expresses great loss and despair over the manner in which his life has been turned upside down.
19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.
20 I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.
21 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.
How striking is the realization that the writer still found the ability to “...dare to hope...” when he remembered that the “...faithful love of the Lord never ends!”. Love is the source, especially God’s love, of our hope. Specifically, we know that God uses us to express His love for others. That is why, at this time, it is so important that we continue to express His love (which is action more than just an emotional response) to others—especially to those suffering great loss such as what is occurring throughout Africa so that hope is not diminished or lost.
Star University is continually looking for ways to expand its ability to help those in Africa learn the knowledge and skills that can transform their lives, their communities, and even their countries. We know that empowering individuals through the acquisition of relevant education can radically produce outcomes that significantly change lives. We provide our certification programs at a significantly reduced cost as an act of showing God’s love for those who have been historically disadvantaged and disenfranchised. For through the gaining of marketable skills, individuals can have hope in their future.
SU is currently serving rural and metropolitan communities in Nigeria. We have been asked to bring our much needed career training programs into Liberia, Kenya, Angola, Cameroon and South Africa within this next year. We can only do so with the support of organizations and individuals that to want to help restore hope in these African countries. A donation of $900 provides a full scholarship for an individual in one of our certification programs in digital media, social media marketing, or Christian ministry. Will you help us restore hope to so many in these African countries?
The year 2020 has been extremely difficult for millions around the world--including many that are reading this article. My prayer for you is the same that the Apostle Paul wrote he was praying for those in Rome.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.” (Romans 15:13)
Remember that, it is God because of His love for us that He tells us in the writings of Jeremiah:
11“...I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, New Living Translation)
Our prayer at Star University is that you will be greatly blessed in 2021 as you have your hope renewed in God and in His great love for you.