Unprecedented. That's a word I have heard and used frequently in recent days. We've never seen anything quite like this before in our context.
A very encouraging perspective was given to me this morning by Dr. Fili Chambo, our current jurisdictional General Superintendent. He grew up in the African nation of Mozambique. From the time he was 4 until he was 21, his country was under the scourge of a civil war. That meant people's lives and the life of the church were constantly facing uncertainty, disruption, and even being shut off from what they loved. And yet in the face of that he saw the church be unwavering in finding ways to be the faithful church of Jesus Christ. They looked to Jesus and His teaching as their foundation (see Matthew 7:24-27) and found that they could not only trust in this, but they could even rejoice.
Do we have a firm foundation? Can we face the current rains and winds of questions, fears, and frustrations? I believe we can. And even more, we can find new ways to rejoice in our trust in Jesus and point others to Him.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
Recognize that things are not normal now and we cannot operate as if they are.
Respect the guidelines that our governing authorities are calling for. Doing so will not only protect us from spreading a potentially deadly virus, but also project to our neighbors, communities, and unchurched friends that we care about them. In light of this, I urge to you to not disregard the recommendations that call for groups of 10 or more to not gather for at least the next 15 days. We must consider our witness at this extraordinary moment in time.
Reach Out to each other and to those in need. Look for ways to organize our congregations for prayer, contact, and encouragement without gathering as we usually do. Especially consider the elderly and those most isolated and vulnerable at this time.
Remember the gospel can be proclaimed with many different methods. The Apostle Paul preached the gospel boldly and profoundly with a pen in a prison cell. We can proclaim it through posts, video presentations, calls, texts, emails, and even a hand written letter or note.
Pray now and often. Pray for peace. Pray for patience. Pray for learning. Pray for the Holy Spirit who is unbound by any of these temporary restrictions to rain all over our people in their homes. Pray for His power to flow out of us in Christ-like compassion and conviction, so much so that even though we aren't gathering for worship according to our customs, we will experience the presence of Jesus and reflect Him in what we say and do.
Adapt to this changing situation. Don't waste your time being worried or being angry. Find new ways to make disciples. Find new ways to encourage financial giving. Find new ways to share the message. All of this will change us, but much, if not all, could be for the better. By the grace, power, wisdom, and love of God, we can come out on the other side of this more like Jesus, and pointing those around us to Him.
Numerous resources are available to help you. Take advantage of them. Share ideas and encouragement with one another via the South Texas District Pastors Facebook page or your own networks and text groups.
Expect an update on Friday March 20 regarding District Assembly and other communications as warranted.
Check out the attachment and links below and pass them along if you find them helpful.