On the way home from track practice yesterday, Emma asked me, “Have you ever experienced anything like this?” She was, of course, referring to the current worldwide pandemic involving COVID-19 or novel coronavirus. Jennifer and I already had talked about this earlier in the day, so I quickly responded that I had never been through anything of this nature.
We are living in unprecedented times, at least for us. This is not to say that the world has not experienced widespread disease before, because it has. But we have not personally experienced anything like this.
Before I write anything else, I want to point to two writings of the Apostle Paul. As believers, God and His Word guide us through everything, including times like these.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, (2 Timothy 1:6–8)
As we live out our faith and follow God’s calling on our lives, we must remember that He has given us a spirit of power, love and self-control … and NOT a spirit of fear.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8–9)
Paul and his ministry team were pushed to their limit. They thought for sure that it was their time to die. He realized that God had a purpose in this: to force them to rely on God and not on themselves. This is the mindset that we must strive for in the midst of all that is swirling around us.
In keeping with these truths from God, I want to let you know how He has guided me to lead our church at this point in the coronavirus pandemic.
1) Before we do anything else, I ask us to join together in praying for all who already have been affected by this virus. Those who are sick, those who are helping to care for the sick, and those who have lost loved ones. They need our prayer and support.
2) Spend some time with God and ask Him to calm your heart and mind. Ask Him to lead you. Reflect on Scriptures that help you keep the perspective that you are His child and He is in control, and that He has given you purpose … He has called you to be a light to those around you.
3) Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly. Find out if they need anything and if they do, help them as best you can. Our deacons are checking with those who are on their flock lists, as well and will be seeking to help anyone who is in need. If you have a need and cannot reach your deacon, or if you are a regular attender at Pea Ridge and haven’t yet been assigned a deacon, please contact me directly at email@example.com or 304-634-9197.
4) Remember that this virus affects people differently. Those who are elderly or have other underlying health conditions are more at risk for serious outcomes. People who are under 60 and otherwise healthy are much less likely to experience life-threatening circumstances. This virus is extremely contagious. It is important to keep your distance from others, and if you feel sick, seek treatment and testing. For more detailed information, visit the CDC COVID-19 information page: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
With these things in mind, we will not be opening our doors this Sunday. In one sense this breaks my heart, yet I am confident this is what God desires for us as a church at this time. Showing love in this situation means doing all we can to slow the spread of this virus, and not gathering together is in line with that demonstration of love. It feels very strange to write that because I am so passionate about believers coming together! Thankfully we can come together in other ways, even when we cannot be in the same room. That is what we will do for now.
– We plan to live stream the service on our Facebook page at 10:45 a.m. as we do each week. Join the service online!
– I am encouraging our groups to transition to virtual gatherings for now, using group texting, video conferencing and Facebook groups to share time together in the Word and in prayer, as well as supporting one another during this time. They will continue to receive the weekly discussion guides that go along with our reading plan in Romans.
– If you are not already set up to give online, visit the following link: https://pearidgebaptist.com/wordpress/give/
Our online giving service has served us well for several years. It is secure, trustworthy and simple. We recommend you use the bank transfer option because the fees associated are less than using a credit card. If you normally give in person during the service and are unable to attend, this is a great way to continue giving back to the Lord and enabling us to continue to minister in our community and beyond. You also are welcome to mail a check to:
Pea Ridge Baptist Church
5945 East Pea Ridge Road
Huntington, WV 25705
– We will continue to be the church. We will love God and love others. We will pray, serve others, share the Gospel and help those who are in need.
Please watch for updates from me and our church leadership as this situation unfolds in our country. As you probably already know, recommendations and mandates are changing almost hourly as the United States seeks to follow the right course of action. The goal right now to slow the spread of this virus so that we not reach a peak level of infection that would lead to our healthcare system being overwhelmed. Let’s walk by faith, seek God’s wisdom, pray for our leaders and healthcare workers, and remember our mission of making disciples.
With the love of Christ,