I had a conversation with a staff member of a church in Maryland. I was fascinated with how they have approached the issues facing their church from Covid. They cannot have any in person services at all. They haven’t for quite some time. Yet, they have used this opportunity to create new and innovative avenues to minister to their community. TO MINISTER TO THEIR COMMUNITY. The sense I got while we were talking was that they are using social media as a window…not just a screen. They called it a “village”.
A village! I love that!
One of the things that most struck me was what the Pastor is doing for the senior citizens in her church and the community at large. She saw a huge need in this particular people group, and rather than brush it under the rug she faced it head on. One of the reasons it struck me so hard is that many churches ignore the needs of senior citizens when they are able to meet in person, and so they have seemingly become invisible in this time of isolation. But this church didn’t let that stop them. This Pastor had her eyes wide open to the needs in her congregation. She got donations of used laptops and gave them to the seniors who did not have them…and then taught those seniors how to use Facebook and Zoom so they could participate in their village. They meet daily at noon to have lunch together. They do Bible studies and have conversations about whatever they want. An entire group of people who would have otherwise been sitting home alone all day, every day, with no outside interaction are now building community together. I can’t tell you how much I love this! They actually have a person online with the seniors who is there just to help them navigate Zoom or Facebook while they meet. They use the chat to give directions to them if they get stuck or have a problem. I’m telling you, I could have cried as this woman was talking to me. I know it sounds ridiculous of me, but the compassion and love for her community is just such a beautiful thing.
It really does take a village.
Not just to raise a child, but to care for every group of people in the church. This particular church has a private Facebook group, where members can interact daily through live videos. The Pastor will go live from time to time just to “check in” and see what everyone is doing. People jump in and just “chat” – and it makes them feel like they are not alone. Even though they live alone and have not been to work or out of the house in months.
Some other things they do in the Facebook village are daily morning workouts, Wednesday night bible studies, small groups, grief groups, and one-on-one counseling sessions with licensed counselors. All on Facebook! They use an online calendar to manage the whole thing. Maybe some of you are already doing this. If so, Kudos to you! But I have yet to see this done to this extent, and I know there is so much need for it.
The need is not over.
During the spring and summer I did a small group on Zoom, and it seemed to meet a need that women had during the shut down. I also did regular phone calls with some people who needed to pray with someone. That also met a need. What I’m realizing right now is that the needs still exist. In fact, with more shut downs looming, the needs may exist even more. I have read articles about seniors literally dying from isolation. I’ve read about young people struggling with anxiety at unheard of levels. I know we can start to feel helpless in the face of it all. But the truth is that we are not. In fact, we have the helper, the Holy Spirit, literally living on the inside of us. He gives us wisdom and leads us. All we have to do is make the choice to listen and follow.
So today I’m encouraging you to look around. Do you see a need? Choose to meet it. Make your own “village”. Take some food to an elderly neighbor. Send a text to a young person you know. Even the smallest of gestures can make a huge difference. The world looks very different right now, but it doesn’t mean we have to hide ourselves away in fear. This is the time for us to be Jesus to this chaotic and suffering world. Because perhaps we were born for such a time as this.
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”Esther 4:14