I recently stumbled upon a reflection, written by a stranger, from a secular perspective, which I found really helpful:

We are all in the same storm,the gist of it implied, “but we are all in different boats.

No matter who we are, where we live, or what our life’s circumstances:

All of us are currently going through the same global pandemic.
But each of us is experiencing it in completely different ways.
And none of us knows when, or how, it will eventually come to an end.

So it might be premature for me to proclaim this, but I believe that God is on the move in a vast variety of boats, as the world battles through the storm of COVID-19.

I wrote recently of some of these ways in Six Reasons for Hope in the midst of Coronavirus, which seemed to resonate with many of my readers, and today I want to add to that post – by highlighting five signs that lockdown is unlocking the unexpected, when it comes to faith:

1. An unexpected surge in church attendance

A survey commissioned by Christian relief and development agency, Tearfund confirms a huge surge of new people attending church services online, for the first time, since the UK lockdown began.

Generally, around 5-7% of the nation attend a Sunday church service, at least once a month. But over the past couple of months, this figure has exponentially increased … to 24% of the British population.

That equates to almost one in four.

Most significantly, one in twenty of these new people, now attending church online, would never normally come near a church in – no pun intended – a month of Sundays!

2. An unexpected surge in people praying 

The same survey commissioned by Tearfund indicates that some three million new people have turned to prayer in the UK since lockdown began.

Even more encouraging is that this applies to young adults in particular – and to men more than women.

Yes, you read that right! The demographic leading the resurgence in church attendance are the supposedly post-Christian 18-34 year olds – and more than half of them are male! 

Perhaps it is best summed up by the headline in British national newspaper, The Guardian which, commenting on the research, proclaimed: ‘British public turn to prayer as one in four tune in to religious services‘ and then added the subtitle, ‘Young people lead resurgence of faith’.

3. An unexpected surge in Bible reading

British cultural and political magazine, The New Statesman, recently reported, ‘How Coronavirus is leading to a religious revival‘.

Included in the article is a reference to new data, showing that Bible app downloads have shot up globally:

“The top English-language Bible on Google Play and App Store was installed almost two million times, the highest amount ever recorded for March, according to Appfigures. Similarly, one of the UK’s largest online Christian bookstores, Eden, has seen physical Bible sales rise by 55% in April.”

4. An unexpected blessing that has gone viral without spreading the virus

A song, whose lyrics have been lifted straight from Scripture, has gone viral, with multiple versions, in multiple languages, being broadcast around the world. 

‘The Blessing’, a song written by Americans, Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes, is based on the words of the Aaronic blessing, which God gave Moses to speak over the Israelites, in Numbers 6 verses 24-26:

‘The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious t
o you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.’

The harmony – literal and metaphorical – between Christians from diverse and different denominations, ranging from The Kingdom Choir (made famous for featuring in a not-so-long-ago British Royal Wedding) to the Coptic Orthodox, from Hillsong to the Salvation Army, from Charismatic Catholic Renewal to Anglican …

The idea was the brainchild of Rev Tim Hughes, who has unpacked how it came about, and why he’s optimistic about it, in this interview with Premier Radio. It’s even been recognised by the British Prime Minister, who described it as a ‘sensational singing masterpiece‘!

But he is also keen to point out that, as well as singing this blessing over the nation, the churches included in the song have also provided practical blessing since COVID-19 closed the country down – through the provision of meals for the vulnerable, phone calls to the isolated, pharmacy delivery drops and hot meals to frontline hospital staff.

Here is the UK version:

If you’re not from the UK, other versions include: the South Africa blessing, the Zimbabwe blessing, the USA blessing, the French blessing, the German blessing, the Swahili blessing, the Luganda blessing, and there are no doubt many others too!

Many have listened and been moved unexpectedly to tears. Even those who don’t count themselves as, in any way, religious!

5. Unexpected stories of healing

And finally, there is some evidence that God is healing people who have contracted COVID-19, including this story from Peterborough, and this beautiful believer from Yeovil:

Let me encourage you to celebrate these ways in which God’s presence and power are at work in lockdown life, unlocking faith, in unexpected ways.

As Nicky Gumbel, pioneer of the Alpha Course and vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, one of the largest Anglican churches in the UK, recently said:

I’ve never known a time in my life, when people are more open [to the Gospel] than they are now.

How have you seen the lockdown unlock the unexpected?
In what ways are you seeing signs of faith at the moment?
I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!


Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay



  1. bettyboo76 Reply

    Great blog post, Jo! Thanks for compiling all of these really encouraging stories, songs and facts. I love the different versions of The Blessing. BBx

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