When it comes to being a Salvationist, there’s a lot to be proud of. One shining example is our emergency disaster services. Floods, fires, earthquakes and other tragedies are met with compassion and care by Salvationists from coast to coast. How we choose to help in times of crisis both glorifies God and shows the goodness of humanity.

We are living through unprecedented days, with more than one pandemic. The first, of course, is COVID-19, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. But the second is misinformation regarding the virus. Although we live in a golden age of information with easy access to facts, some are using communication platforms to share blatant lies. Please check your sources and see if the information you wish to share is verified by experts. The public health officials in charge of our national, provincial and municipal responses want to see you healthy and well. We should trust them. Masks work, not only to help prevent you from getting sick, but also to keep you from making others sick.

The third is selfishness. Some people are not taking the coronavirus seriously and seem to believe that if you simply don’t want to wear a mask in public, the world around you should respect that. A small but vocal group thinks the government is encroaching on personal freedom by making masks mandatory in public areas, rather than the result of needing to legislate common sense. Sadly, there are people in the church who are fighting against this common sense.

The story of the Good Samaritan is, in essence, an indictment of faith without love. Before the Samaritan came along and helped the stranger who had been robbed, beaten and left for dead, both a priest and a Levite had stepped around his body rather than stopping to offer assistance. These may have been holy men in the sense that they knew Scripture, but they are not the heroes of the story because they refused to go out of their way to help.

Similarly, we may have faith in God as the great physician to heal us and our family, but do we have love in our hearts if we put others at risk by not wearing a mask? Do you really want to be the person who spreads this disease to someone (who may in turn give it to someone else) and cause them to become severely ill, or even to die? The Bible teaches in 1 John 4:8 that “anyone that does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Are we acting out of love or our own self-interest?

I am using biblical examples and spiritual teaching because this is a Salvation Army platform, but this goes beyond faith to human decency. If non-believers are out in the community wearing masks to protect the medically vulnerable and be good neighbours, why wouldn’t those of us who profess faith in God—a faith that calls us to love our fellow man? To say you love God and humanity but refuse to wear a mask in public areas is the equivalent of not only walking around the beaten stranger, but giving him a kick as you pass. It is not loving, kind or just.

For the few who have respiratory issues that prevent them from wearing a mask, it’s safer to self-isolate at home. For the rest of us, there is no excuse for not having some type of face covering while out in public. Even if a surgical mask is out of the question (for instance, if you’re missing an ear), a scarf or other type of fabric wrap is better than nothing.

It isn’t comfortable. It isn’t fun. But it’s necessary. We are living in the middle of a plague, and we all need to act like it. Let’s ensure that The Salvation Army doesn’t only show up after earthquakes or floods to minister to people. Let’s also demonstrate our love by keeping our distance and wearing a mask. Stay safe.

Darryn Oldford is a senior soldier in Toronto.

Photo: Rattankun Thongbun/iStock via Getty Images Plus


On Saturday, August 8, 2020, Donna Kuntz said:

This is not a plague. The death rates worldwide have not gone up. Masks do not keep us safe. They do in fact cause respiratory problems and everyone is touching them and making sure they are germy. You need to do some research and quit trying to pass your personal opinion off as Biblically sound.


On Saturday, August 8, 2020, Eva Galvez said:

Thanks for publishing this article - a very important and practical one. Wearing a mask is lowering the risk of spreading the virus; it means we are thinking about others as God's Word teaches us. Hope we all do our part. Remembering that this is just for now, not forever. Keep Safe - Blessings to all!


On Saturday, August 8, 2020, Catherine McEwan said:

Right on Darrin we need to be responsible and wear masks


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