Dear First Evangelical Free Church,
We live extraordinary times. The spread of the Coronavirus has put us all into situations that we’ve never had to cope with before. Each of you have seen the news reports, both worldwide and regional, about how quickly this virus has spread and about how difficult it has been to contain. What does this mean for us?
As a church with a mission of being and making disciples, nothing has changed. No disease will prevent what the Lord has called us to. The format of our services and programs will change, but not our efforts or our goals. Instead, I daresay that we have an opportunity to trust the Lord even while surrounded with uncertainty and fear. An opportunity to learn how to sacrificially love one another even without the blessing of gathering together. An opportunity to grow in the faith and continue our mission even in times like these. How will we do these things?
First, we will do them from a position of faith in our Savior. We live in a time when fear spreads nearly as quickly as disease. But we as Christians are called not to panic, not to fear, but to trust. Repeatedly in the Scriptures, the people of God are told to not fear. This happens in the context of death (Mark 5:35-36), and in the midst of very real storms (Mark 6:45-50). We are told in the Scriptures to not give in to anxiety in situations ranging from wondering where food and clothing will come from (Matthew 6:25-34), to concerns about what the future holds (Philippians 4:4-9). Brothers and sisters, take courage from the Word: whatever may happen in this life, our Lord is in control. He is good and faithful. No virus will remove you from His hand, no disease will keep you from His kingdom. While we pray for a cure, our ultimate hope is not in our own health or the economy, instead our hope and trust is that – because of Christ’s work – our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).
Second, we will need to be very intentional about loving one another during this time. It will be harder, more inconvenient, and not ideal. But sometimes isn’t that exactly what we need to shake us out of our routines and cause us to be stretched? One of the best ways to grow and be encouraged is, ironically, to encourage others. Don’t be isolated at this time – the Lord has given us the blessings of communication via letters, email, the internet, and phone calls: use them! Use these resources to spread the hope of Christ to one another. Don’t use them to spread fear and rumors, as so many in our culture are tempted to do; no, instead spread the Good News. Remind one another of what the Word says. Check in with each other and ask how you can be praying for each other. Develop a regular pattern of communicating with two or three other people in this church so that you can better pray for and encourage one another.
Friends, I’ll communicate more in the coming days about our church’s specific steps during this time, but most importantly: know and believe that the Lord is God, that He can be trusted, and that our King reigns over and above fear and disease, rumors and hardships.
Alongside you in Christ,