Like you, we've seen most of our summer plans go by the wayside. We had intended to visit many of our friends this summer, but as a result of the current situation related to the coronavirus, even meeting with local community members has become complicated. Not being able to attend church in person reminds me of a teaching that we gave the young believers when we were nurturing the growing church in our city in North Africa during the early 80s.
We had witnessed two church groups start to meet in the city, but both were broken up by threats and arrests by the police. As we began to meet again in new homes, I wanted to prepare the believers to be ready if police would again make our Sunday meetings difficult. I chose six young men who had sincere desire to serve the church, and I taught them principles from the New Testament that would help them lead believers through times of persecution. We started with Acts 2:42-47. We asked the question: "What were the essential functions of the first church, and what were their values?"
Over the weeks of our study, we concluded that all the functions of the church could be carried out without a Sunday meeting. One subject was how to keep in touch, even if we were followed by the secret police. Crucial keys we found were meeting together one-on-one and visiting each other in different places. Eighteen months later, when the police did discover our little group and began bringing in the believers for questioning (and beating some), there was fear, but many of the brothers and sisters kept in touch and didn’t lose their faith.
As I thought about the pandemic this week, it occurred to me that study from years ago was relevant to our situation today. We can still fulfill all the functions of the church without a physical meeting - we only need to think creatively and seek ways that are possible under the present circumstances. We all together are still the church, the body of Christ. We are his people, called to represent who he is to the world. We, of all people, should be lights in the world, encouraging others and seeking to show how Jesus can meet their deepest needs.
Even as we pray for our immediate neighbors, we can also lift up our eyes to those farther away, in the most neglected regions of the world. When we start feeling depressed and sorry for ourselves, it helps to read about what is happening in countries that do not have the resources we have in the U.S. One such place is the country of Yemen, which is in the midst of one of the worst humanitarian crises of our times. Here is a link that will help to understand and pray for the situation in Yemen (on the southwest corner of the Arabian Peninsula).
Photo by nappy from Pexels.