Following are messages from our young adults in essay and song, as they reflect on the theme:

Faith Walk During the Pandemic

Take time this week to read through each of them and respond to how what was presented speaks a word of inspiration to you.  

Sunday, August 22, 2021
Kelsey Pugh / During the 8:00am radio broadcast on August 22,2021
Wow! Who could have imagined at the start of 2020 what was headed our way; a tsunami called COVID-19 that was about to wash away almost every social norm we lived by. In March of 2020, I was furloughed due to COVID-related down-turn in the travel industry. Thankfully, I live with my mother, so the financial burden felt by many Americans left me unscathed. Like many, I spent most of my time glued to the news for any-and-all updates about what was referred to as a “once-in-a lifetime pandemic.” In between goofy statements by - thank God - our now previous president, I watched developments unfold that quickly changed how we live in the world. News sources took us along on a pandemic journey with daily statistics on the rate of infections, the lack of availability of ICU beds, and of course, the dreaded and horrific death count that just kept marching upward. Today it totals about 610,000 in the U.S. alone – 610,000 souls. 

People were hospitalized and unable to have their families with them during critical illnesses (and boy, do I know the importance of needing to be present with your loved one who is in the hospital). They suffered alone and too often died alone. I was able to see the effects of COVID in my personal life. At the beginning of the pandemic my grandpa was hospitalized with a severe infection, and like thousands of others, contracted COVID while in a rehabilitation center. Like most who die of this infectious disease, he had no family by his side to comfort and pray with him as he made his transition.

Everything took a pause for me during the pandemic and that included my spiritual growth. I could not settle into a spiritual habit, and I longed for the physical community of Church. Being in that sacred space reserved for praise and worship, fills my soul; being around the elders who have been a part of my life forever, fills my soul – and the absence of it leaves a definite void that I haven’t been able to fill. Nevertheless, God’s grace and the essence of who He is, hasn’t changed. I’ve had moments of overwhelming gratitude as I praise God for shelter, and food, and relative comfort amidst all of the hardships faced by so many.

The Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastics, chapter 3, states that for everything there is a season. Perhaps this is the season of breaking down and then building up. Just one short month ago this Statement of Occasion had the potential of being a post-pandemic reflection, but as we now battle the new Delta variant and the concerns about children and vaccinations, the need for future booster shots, etc., we must pause once more and yield to this disease. Through it all – the frightening facts, the ominous predictions, and all of the unknowns, God is the same today, tomorrow and forever. We must stand by the blessed assurance that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

In the infancy of this pandemic, Kitty O’Meara wrote a quiet, reflective poem. Many thought this untitled poem to be prophetic as she idealized what may happen within the body of humanity during the pandemic and how we might emerge after it. I will share an excerpt of her writing:

 And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And began to think differently…in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, the people made new choices, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully… 
Her hopes of positive change in the attitudes and behavior of mankind amid this pandemic – however satisfying or hopeful, don’t seem possible after all. Just mentioning the names Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Climate Change and the infamy of the January 6th insurrection remind us of the shortfalls of this society. But as Christians we have one Powerful Hope that is Eternal: Jesus Christ, our Savior, the same today, tomorrow and forever. Praise Be to God!

Monday, August 23, 2021
Ayana Woods / During the 8:00am radio broadcast on August 22,2021
Good morning, my name is Ayana Woods. In September I will be a
sophomore in college attending UCLA. Did I say attending, well, I have yet to step
foot on UCLA's campus as a college student. It has been 515 days since I was told
to take my books home and clean out my locker because I would “probably be
gone for a couple of weeks.” It’s been 14 months since the last day of my senior
year of high school and 10 months since I started my college career from my
computer at home. That in combination with all of the personal and global
challenges that I have encountered, the multiple vaccines, the emergence of the
delta variant, and the constant battle over mask regulations, it is safe to say a lot
has changed since March 2020.
Among other events that have occurred during the ongoing pandemic, I
have officially become a young adult. That means more responsibility both socially
and financially and more independence to make my own decisions. Young adults,
now is a critical time in which we build lasting relationships, discover our own
identities and how we want to present ourselves to the world. Even through a
pandemic we have undergone many life changes and discovered more about
ourselves than we knew before. We are more adaptable, resilient, and courageous
than we could have ever imagined, and the past year is a testament to that.
When I think about resilience and courage, I think about public figures like
Naomi Osaka, professional tennis player, who said “it’s okay not to be ok.” To me
this means that as young adults we must stay true to our feelings and share with
others when we are troubled, it's ok. We don’t have to be perfect. As young
adults, we have to know what we believe in and not concentrate on how many
likes or comments we receive on Instagram in order to feel valued. We do not
have to please others. Simone Biles, the US Olympic gymnast who has the most
World medals and most world gold medals, was courageous enough to take a
break in the middle of this year's Olympic games because she did not feel
comfortable performing a dangerous skill. She said, “I don't think you realize how
dangerous this is, nor do I have to explain why I put my health first. Physical health
is mental health.” Both Osaka and Biles’ statements show an important skill that all young adults must learn: setting boundaries and following them. They used their voices to stick up for themselves in very stressful situations with the entire world
watching them. As author Penny Reid said, “Don’t set yourself on fire trying to
keep others warm.” For the young adults here at Second Baptist or those who may
be listening to today’s broadcast, I encourage you to find your own voice and set
healthy boundaries about what you are willing to sacrifice. Of course this choice is
entirely up to you, but make sure that you are taking into consideration not only
physical wellbeing but your mental and emotional well-being as well .
Lastly I would like to address the community surrounding the young adults
in our church. The friends, family and loved ones who continue to watch us grow
up and mature. We love you! Truthfully, even as young adults we can't do this
alone. What Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka both had were people around them
that affirmed them and encouraged them to make healthy decisions. They had a
support system who listened to their needs and helped them achieve their wants.
We need you to continue to be that village for us, to encourage us, to love us,
remembering that we are bonded by the Love of Jesus Christ. So thank you all for
celebrating us, as we celebrate Young Adult Emphasis Day. I am excited to see how
much we grow by this time next year.
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
 Evan Wright / Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand /
During the 8:00am radio broadcast on August 22,2021
Time is filled with swift transition, / Naught of earth unmoved can stand,
Build your hopes on things eternal, / Hold to God’s unchanging hand.
Hold to God’s unchanging hand, / Hold to God’s unchanging hand;
Build your hopes on things eternal, / Hold to God’s unchanging hand.
Trust in Him who will not leave you, / Whatsoever years may bring,
If by earthly friends forsaken / Still more closely to Him cling.
Covet not this world’s vain riches / That so rapidly decay,
Seek to gain the heav’nly treasures, / They will never pass away.
When your journey is completed, / If to God you have been true,
Fair and bright the home in glory / Your enraptured soul will view.
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Raygina Smith / During the 8:00am radio broadcast on August 22,2021
Expect the Unexpected! A statement that grabs most attention! March 11, 2020 – was the day our world changed … The day the word “pandemic” became a reality. Throughout the past year and a half, it has been one of the most challenging seasons we have experienced nationwide. I don’t think anyone expected the unexpected of a Global pandemic! For me personally, this was certainly a challenging time from experiencing the grief from the loss of loved ones, staying connected with family members virtually, working remotely and strategizing ways to ensure my presentations with my students were engaging and interactive, maintaining my mental health, and growing a stronger connection with God was certainly a priority for me.

I was on the journey of building an active relationship with God. I knew Sundays to Sundays was certainly not an active relationship with God. During the pandemic it was even more challenging due to the fact that my Church home doors were closed for our safety, and Sunday Morning Streaming was all we had at the beginning. It was certainly a step, but daily is was my ultimate goal. During the pandemic I wanted to spend 30 to 40 minutes with God every day. Being that the world was completely shut down for most of us, our free time was robbed by social media- Instagram, Tik- Tok and streaming platforms like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu.

Especially during this challenging time, we were not created to live in fear. God wants us to live with boldness, confidence, peace, and impact. He’s given us tools in Scripture to help us anchor ourselves deeper into having faith in him. One of my favorite Bible verses is Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by Grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourself, it is the gift of God.”

Another important aspect during this challenging time for me is Godly Community. The pandemic helped me realize the importance of Godly Community. Who are the people in your Godly community? This is God’s plan for us. Your success is wrapped up in Godly Community. No one knows what you’re struggling with, they can’t force their way in; you have to let them in. You have to invite them into your life. It's important to have someone who has your back at all times to fight the enemy. It’s not about us seeing eye to eye on everything - it's about us seeing what the other doesn’t see; it's about realizing that my blind spots are things you can see clearly. Needing someone to see what you don’t see. Think about the kind of people you want in your life—people who inspire you to be better, to be more like Jesus. You are directly influenced by the people you spend the most time with.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
Are the people you’ve allowed into your life helping you grow? I’m challenging everyone, starting today, to reach out and invite a friend to get together whether it’s in person or virtual. Don’t set an agenda, just show up and enjoy one another’s company. Write down anything God showed you during your time together. We must continue to remain in Faith that God was and is still in Control! Remember that God is bigger and stronger than anything you’re facing. Rely more on his strength than your own. If you’re overwhelmed, give it to God, because his Hands are big enough to hold your worries, doubts, and fears.

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