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Worship leader urges people to replace fear with faith amid lockdown

by Heather Preston

A Christian singer and songwriter has been encouraging South Africans to bring their anxieties to God as the country goes into a nationwide lockdown in response to the coronavirus.

A three week isolation period was enforced from midnight on Thursday as the number of confirmed cases rose above 1,000. 

The country's first two COVID-19 deaths were recorded on Friday morning.

The strict measures prohibit residents from all but essential movement, in a bid to "wage war against an invisible enemy", according to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Heinz Winckler, worship leader and winner of South African Idol says the lockdown has left many people feeling concerned.

"As a musician and singer, someone who makes a living out of live events, it's quite daunting and scary to be quite honest. Many of my colleagues are very worried about what the future looks like," he told Premier.

"The government has been very good at putting things in place to help small businesses and we're trying to figure out what effect does that have on the people in our industry."

He added that the next 21 days will be particularly challenging for the poor: "There's people that live in townships that are living in shacks on top of each other. Now they have to be house bound - there's maybe 10 people living in a shack, and your next door neighbours are one piece of wood away. 

"It is a very drastic new world we live in, and everyone's trying to adjust," he said. 

The South African government have created hygienic shelters for the homeless, according to Winckler to provide the vulnerable with temporary shelter during the crisis.

Despite the concerns Winckler has seen families and communities being brought together and the country forced to rest.

"Through all this tough stuff, there's some good that's happening - I'm seeing people help each other in amazing ways, people getting online and speaking encouraging words and helping people to have hope," he said.

Winckler has encouraged Christians not to give in to a spirit of fear but to bring their anxieties to God in prayer.

"I've been taking all the scriptures that are about stirring faith and laying down fear and just encouraging myself and then others as well because I think when people are fearful, they almost lose focus.

"Also, pray for the financial impact, that God will provide in supernatural ways for people through this time so that our economy won't be unrecognisable afterwards, but there's a way to rebuild when this is over," he said.

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