By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
WASHINGTON D.C. USA (BosNewsLife)– The influential Christian Emergency Network (CEN), told churches Saturday, October 24, they might have to offer alternative Sunday worship services, just hours after U.S. President Barack Obama declared the spreading H1N1 swine flu virus “a national emergency.”
“You may want to consider now how your church might offer alternative ways to meet on Sundays for a time period — email sermons? online services? radio feeds? This is just one way you can respond,” said CEN in an e-mail message to American churches and other supporters obtained by BosNewsLife.
More than 1,000 Americans have died from the flu since the H1N1 outbreak began earlier this year. Millions have been infected with the virus, according to U.S. officials. The World Health Organization says about 5,000 deaths attributed to H1N1 influenza have been reported worldwide.
A White House statement said the proclamation of a national emergency allows hospitals to request waivers of some government health-care rules on a case-by-case basis.
Earlier this week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate panel that $3 billion had been forwarded to hospitals around the country to help deal with the surge of flu-related hospitalizations.
CEN, which was set up after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks against the United States by Christian aid groups, churches and other organizations, also called for “the early self-quarantine” of anyone experiencing symptoms of the H1N1 swine flu virus.
“We encourage you to exercise good citizenship and heed the advice of washing your hands often, covering your coughs, calling emergency rooms before going in, having food and supplies on hand, and the list goes on as you’ve been hearing and reading,” CEN stressed.
CEN said it has been developing a strategy to help churches and individuals to deal with disasters. “God knows what is going on, and can help you be aware, ready, and then “there” to help others,” the group said.
“[Bible verse] I John 4:4-5 says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is He who overcomes the world, but He who believes that Jesus is the Son of God,” CEN added, quoting from the New King James Version.
CEN said its affiliated will continue to “train and equip churches to be spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically ready to network, prepare and mobilize Christians to respond to emergencies, big or small”, including with the H1N1 crisis. “The Ready Church Initiative prepares Christ-followers to help survivors of crisis and disasters recover while sensitively and effectively sharing the hope we have in Jesus Christ,” the group added.