"The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." Ps. 46:11
A Meditation for the Times
Shenandoah District
Daily Connection--
From the Heart
March 25, 2020
What You Will Find at shencob.org :

-Links to churches who have let us know of online experiences offered in lieu of corporate worship services
-Links to papers, articles, and official press releases dealing with the response to the coronavirus outbreak
-Links to previous meditations and prayers
Facing the Coronavirus

All our lives have been drastically altered by a tiny organism none of us can see without a powerful microscope. COVID 19 has upended our world in ways none of us ever imagined. How should we respond to such sudden and pervasive change?

For Christians, our first response should always be to seek God’s will in His Word. Never in our lifetimes has the truth of James 4:13-17 been more obviously displayed. “Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.”

The old saying, “One day at a time,” is really true every day and not just during hard times. One day is all any of us ever get and we aren’t even promised all of today. So let’s use what we have right now to do whatever good we can while we can.

Secondly, and even more importantly, let’s allow this pandemic to force us to face some questions we might otherwise never consider. Where is our security and peace? Are we depending on the government or medicine to save us? Are we looking to Wall Street or science to give us hope and purpose? If so, the events of the last few weeks reveal that such faith is ill-founded.

Human beings just like us faced monumental troubles thousands of years ago as well and one of them, King David, declared, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” We will not panic because a loving God is ultimately in control!

Whenever I hear “refuge,” I think of a secure castle on a high hill into which citizens may go and escape danger. God is that place for all who will come to Him through His Son Jesus. And He will protect us there with His mighty hand.

Later in Psalm 46, David goes on to give excellent advice in the midst of this crisis, “Be still, and know that I am God...The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Redeem some of this downtime to be still and know God. Remember that He is all-mighty. There is nothing beyond His permissive will or ability to stop. In the midst of the craziness, may we remember that God has not abdicated His throne, nor gone to sleep at the switch.

It’s critical to remember that there are those among us who have gone through much suffering. For example, those who went through WWII and its rationing and uncertainty. Let’s take the opportunity to learn from their stories and the resilience. In addition, humanity has gone through serious pandemics. In recent history it was smallpox and the flu pandemic of 1918-1919. Let’s learn from the stories of faith and ways of coping that came from those experiences. Continue to pray for all the sick, healthcare workers, first responders, and researchers and God’s special care on their behalf.

Contracting or even dying from this virus is not the worst that can happen. The worst is to die from any cause without Jesus. The virus of sin is 100% fatal and we’re all infected with it already. None of us will leave earth alive anyway unless Jesus comes first, so the most important thing is to be ready by accepting Him as our Savior now and by glorifying Him every day.

As we all face coronavirus together, may we use our sanitizer, practice social distancing, and be wise. More importantly, let us also consider the important questions it raises and seek our answers and our security in all-mighty God.

Blessings and health,
George Bowers

March 25, 2020
From the Desk of District Executive Minister John Jantzi
Greetings to all,

Following is a list of resources that could be of use to congregations and communities. We
will continue to compile resources and distribute them as we become aware of those. Keep us abreast
of the resources you are utilizing, and we will distribute. May God’s continued blessing rest upon
each of you.

STATE OF VIRGINIA
211 - Just like the 911 number, there is a number to find financial, housing, food assistance, and other types of help in Va. The number is 211. One may also access this on-line with by googling 211Virginia .

Text - Enter 877-877 in the address line (you may need to enter the number as a contact first). Enter FOOD or COVIDA in the message line you will be told of where the nearest summer feeding program is to you. These locations also may be providing food now or in the near future during this crisis.

Small Businesses - There is a phone number for small businesses impacted by COVID-19---a clearinghouse number to call 24-7 for information: (800) 659-2955.

Unemployment - If anyone has lost employment due to Coronavirus, Virginia leaders have encouraged you to go ahead and apply for unemployment even if your employer has not paid unemployment tax. Rules are changing rapidly, and coverage may be extended through the federal program.

Commonhelp.virginia.gov - A comprehensive website detailing services available to Virginians.

FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL
Practical, useful ideas and resources for congregations gleaned from Family Research Council appear below:

Ways to Gather

In this time of quarantining and social distancing, the church can still meet and gather together in different ways. While not every church needs to adopt all these practices, there are ways we can still "gather" in the days ahead while ensuring we don't contribute to the spread of the virus:

  • Livestream services and church gatherings to stay connected. Ways to use technology:
  • Facebook Live
  • YouTube Live
  • Communicate with older members through email and phone calls
  • Conduct staff meetings using Zoom, FaceTime and conference calls
  • Churches with more advanced technology should consider partnering with other churches and allowing them to use their facilities and technology to record services.
  • Set up a 30-day church calendar for prayer and fasting.
  • Meet in small groups instead of one large gathering.
  • Encourage church leaders to call each family 1-2 times a week to pray for them and stay connected
  • Record short videos and devotionals for members to send out on social media and email lists.

Ways to Serve
  • Offer benevolent funds to those facing financial hardship.
  • Provide housing for students who are being required to vacate school housing.
  • If possible, keep food pantries well-stocked and include cleaning and sanitizing products.
  • Think of creative ways to serve older members, such as picking up groceries and prescriptions. Establish a system for checking-in on those who may be living alone, the elderly, or other vulnerable people. Visit elderly members and pray at the windows of their homes.
  • Encourage youth groups and teens by keeping in regular contact with parents and students. Encourage students to serve home-bound members in ways that are helpful and in compliance with the latest CDC/State guidelines.
  • For veterans in your church, the Department of Veteran's Affairs has a resource page. Veterans are encouraged to consult this page.
Daily Prayer
LORD OUR SHEPHERD AND PROTECTOR

For our health care professionals,
Nurses, doctors, lab technicians, health care aides and all others;
We pray your protection and safety.

For our first responders,
Emergency vehicle drivers, medical technicians, law enforcement, and all others;
We pray for your protection and safety.

For those who work at providing items of necessity,
For clerks at supermarkets, for manufacturing personnel producing masks, ventilators and other necessary items;
We pray for your protection and safety.

For those charged with caring for our children;
For parents, child-care workers, and teachers and all others;
We pray for your protection and safety

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7 NIV).

John Jantzi
March 25, 2020
News and Events
A Zoom call for District pastors and leaders will provide an opportunity for mutual support and prayer. This call will be at 10 a.m. on Thurs., Mar. 26 . The link will be sent out on Tues. and Wed. Jon Prater and Kevin Daggett will host. Learn more about downloading the Zoom app for Windows here and for Mac products here .

Holy Week Worship Planning Webinar offered to ministers and worship planners. The Office of Ministry will host a Zoom webinar conversation on Mar. 26, at noon EST , focused on Holy Week worship planning. Register in advance here and join the webinar at the following link: http://www.brethren.org/news/2020/webinar-on-holy-week-planning.html .

Antioch will provide tech and logistical support for the needs listed below. If your congregation desires assistance with these items, call George Bowers at (540) 459-3661. If no one answers leave a message and your call will be returned. You may also e-mail George at gabowers@shentel.net .

1. Assistance in recording digitally
2. Assistance in posting to whatever platform the congregation might have
3. Assistance in helping create platforms
4. Record and transfer to CD beginning the week of March 29

We are grateful to Antioch for extending this offer.
Graphics through pixabay.com, unless noted otherwise.