Dear Church Family,
The coronavirus is clearly a worldwide crisis that is already affecting many in our own country. We cannot avoid the nightly news that tells us the virus is spreading rapidly. You may be wondering what are the practical steps we will take at Ebenezer? I would like to share with you what we are planning and how all of us should be responding as believers from a scriptural perspective.
Don’t Panic: What separates us from the world is that in the midst of all of this trouble we can have peace! We are commanded by God not to fear. One of the most used commands in Scripture for the believer is “fear not.” Some form of being fearless is used over 300 times. As believers we should not allow the turmoil of our lives and the difficulties (no matter how big they are) to cause us to fear. The Apostle Peter writes to believers who are experiencing incredible persecution from unbelievers. His instruction to them is, “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy” (1 Peter 3:14). May the same be true for all of us concerning the coronavirus.
Stay on Mission: Nothing, including the coronavirus, should cause us to lose focus on why we are still here. The Lord has called us to love one another and to be mission minded with the goal of making disciples. The Apostle Peter continues exhorting those who were experiencing life threatening persecution by commanding them to “always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:14-15). Applied to our situation, as believers we can stand strong and give the world the true hope of Jesus Christ. We have a unique opportunity to share the Gospel of Hope in the midst of a culture that is hypersensitive about sickness and death.
Be Smart: First, we must get the best information possible. Our church staff continues to consult our network of informed doctors and leaders as we institute practices to prevent the spread of any sickness, and strive to help our church family be loving and smart. For example, according to one doctor in our congregation, the coronavirus is especially susceptible to hand sanitizer, so we will be making it available for regular use.
Make Helpful Changes: When we gather at Ebenezer for weekly worship and activities, we would like to institute a few new practices. We don’t want to overreact but neither do we want to underreact. So, the following practices will be instituted at Ebenezer immediately:
Corporately at Ebenezer:
We are strengthening our already rigorous sanitization processes and procedures throughout the church with the following:
- The ushers will be opening the front doors for everyone as they enter the building on Sunday mornings to prevent “many hands” from touching the door.
- During our greeting times in the Sunday Worship services, we’ll ask you to greet those around you without using a handshake or hug for now.
- The back rail of each pew will be cleaned weekly.
- Door handles throughout the church will be sanitized many times throughout the week.
- Classroom tables & chairs will be sanitized several times throughout the week.
- As always, the nursery toys, counters, and tables will be disinfected every week and additional times as needed.
- Hand sanitizer will be available in the lobby.
- For communion we will use pre-filled and sealed cups with wafers instead of passing the open communion trays.
Personally at Ebenezer:
We ask that each of you do your part while attending Ebenezer in any capacity:
- Please do not let fear keep you from attending corporate worship services and activities.
- We ask that you be cautious about shaking hands and hugging at church for now.
- We ask that if you have a cold or are feeling sick in any way, that you stay home and watch the service on our website which is broadcast live every week at www.aplaceforyou.org/sermons. Please do not bring your sick children to church.
- For your own benefit, refrain from touching your face with your hands and teach your children the same.
- Please use the hand sanitizer available in the lobby.
- Please also wash your hands thoroughly in our restrooms.
Trust & Pray: Finally, may we view every affliction in life as an opportunity to trust the Lord. The Apostle Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 how to respond in the midst of affliction.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 – “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. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”
There are two lessons for us to learn in the midst of our affliction. 1) Affliction is designed to teach us that we are helpless in our own strength and we must depend and set our hope on God rather than ourselves. 2) Affliction teaches us to pray. May we never underestimate the power of the “prayers of many.” Our God is our refuge and strength and a very present help in times of trouble, therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea. (Psalm 46:1)
May the Lord continue to bless the ministry at Ebenezer Bible Fellowship Church. May we continue to be a beacon of hope for our community and a light unto the world.
Fearlessly Ministering With You,
Pastor Tim Gibson