Listen: Sheridan Voysey chats to Katrina Roe
Former Hope 103.2 presenter Sheridan Voysey and his wife Merryn, living in Oxford, UK, are each playing a unique role in the fight against COVID-19.
Merryn, who works as a medical statistician at Oxford University, has found herself on the frontline of research, taking part in the race to find a working vaccine against the virus.
And Sheridan, whose work normally consists of a lot of live speaking engagements, is about to launch his first live-streamed, online retreat – on the topic of “who you can become when life doesn’t go as planned”. It’s a timely topic that he’s expecting will many people through what has become an unexpectedly tumultuous season.
Katrina Roe spoke to Sheridan on the phone to hear what their experience of lockdown has been like.
He said there are queues outside supermarkets; exercise outside is only allowed once per day – which is when the Voysey’s dog Rupert gets his walks; and no travel is allowed unless your work requires it.
“The whole country is on lockdown, in a sense,” Sheridan said. “Everything is shut down apart from empty buses that are driving around and the occasional car on the street. It’s quite surreal.”
He said the British response to social distancing is mostly compliant: “If people are not abiding by the rules, then people are coming down on them like a ton of bricks!”
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Across the country there’s much gratitude towards the famed National Health Service, with many joining in a national standing-ovation on the evening of March 27, and 750,000 UK citizens signing up to volunteer for jobs like delivering food and medicine, and phoning the isolated.
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As far as their own work goes, the Voyseys have had both wins and losses.
Merryn and her team at Oxford University have been “incredibly busy” working on a vaccine trial which launched just a few days ago – but Sheridan’s own work, which centres largely around live events, has come almost to a complete halt.
“I have pretty much lost my income for the rest of the year,” he said. I’ve had all speaking engagements one by one cancelled, up to about August.”
While Sheridan will be able to access support payments for the self-employed he has also found creative ways to adapt, planning his first ever online retreat for April and May, using tools like Livestream and Facebook.
“I haven’t done that before and I’m so looking forward to it,” he said. “We’ll be looking at who you can become when life doesn’t go as planned, which is probably timely! I wouldn’t be doing it if those speaking engagements were there.”
A Resurgence in Prayer Worldwide as People Seek Solid Ground
While many commentators are writing about how the pandemic could affect society politically and socially, Sheridan’s thoughts have turned to the topics he’s best known for: human relationships, and spirituality.
“I think [the pandemic has] exposed our individualism, and our general default of self-sufficiency,” he said. “Now we’re finding that we’re not self-sufficient, we really do need our neighbours, and for the first time in some cases we’re actually connecting with our neighbours.”
He said he was also fascinated to see, worldwide, a renewed interest in prayer.
“I think it’s a fascinating thing: when times get tough, and we realise that we’re not completely in control, then we realise we need to call out to a power higher than us.”
“A bit of research has just come across my desk this morning out of Europe, [showing] that Google searches for people looking to learn how to pray right now, have gone exponentially through the roof over these last two weeks – including very… ‘non-religious’ countries.
“I think it’s a fascinating thing: when times get tough, and we realise that we’re not completely in control, then we realise we need to call out to a power higher than us.
“I’m hoping that that is going to be transformational for people if they actually follow that through and find the God who is willing to listen to them.”
- Find out about Sheridan’s ‘Who You Can Become’ Online Retreat, a unique event to be conducted in five one-hour, online sessions over five weeks in April and May.
- Read and pray through Sheridan Voysey’s ‘breath prayer’, to help you build inner virtues / ‘fruits of the Holy Spirit’ – and find some calm.