This morning at 7.45am (GMT) radio stations all across Europe joined together and played a classic song from the charts in the 1960s.  I don’t know if you heard it at all, but it is a song that I personally have sung many times.

Sometimes I have sung it in a time of victory, at others in times of defeat.  I have sung it as an anthem to the fallen, and as a song of hope for those who have been left behind. And this morning as the words and music echoed through my house, I sang again that song of hope in the midst of the darkness and the storm that our world is facing.  

Nobody could have imagined when the season commenced with the Boxing Day Woollen Cup match v Batley Bulldogs that within 3 months our country would have come to a virtual standstill; that the jam-packed shelves restocked after the Christmas rush would be emptied every day before lunchtime; that across the world nations are counting the cost of this Coronavirus Pandemic in the number of cases, the number of deaths, the number of business closing, the number of points dropped in the financial markets.  Nor could we have ever imagined that the whole of sport from the top levels of professionalism to the lowest grassroots levels would have been beaten into submission in its wake.  

We live in days that are unknown for many, many generations, if ever.  And yet there are signs of hope that have penetrated the darkness. For every person who has loaded up their shopping trolley unnecessarily (I still don’t get the deal with toilet rolls!) there have been another dozen who have shown care, compassion, kindness to strangers.  As a Salvation Army Officer who works week in and week out in the centre of Leeds, providing meals and food parcels in normal circumstances, these are proving to be really challenging times as the demands rise and the stocks dwindle. And yet new avenues of resources have arisen to enable us to not only continue but to also explore how we might step into the breach for other agencies who have had to cease functioning.  

As for our club, we wait patiently for news of when the season will recommence.  Some of us will contract Coronavirus. Some of us will be in self-isolation (me included!).  Some of us may even have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Yet all of us can show kindness.  We can all join together as the Rams family to ensure that the ones we sit or stand next to are well. And we can all join together to pray protection over our loved ones, that God would keep them safe.

The song that was played on the radio reminds us that in the darkest of situations and in the worst storms of life that we are not alone, that we do not need to be afraid of the dark and that we can walk on with hope in our hearts.

Should you be concerned about COVID-19 and need someone to speak to, you can contact me on cliff.allchin@salvationarmy.org.uk.  Please leave your name and number.