Steve here….In Acts 28:30-31 we learn that the Apostle Paul was in “self-isolation” for two years while under house arrest in a rented home. The Scriptures are clear – he found ways to continue his mission to spread the Gospel. He spoke to Jewish leaders (Acts 28:17, 20, 22-24 TLB) and “some believed, and some didn’t.”
Most of us have witnessed or heard about the significantly increased viewership of our online worship services, from 2,000 viewers out west in Bonnyville, AB for their Easter service, to 1,500 viewers out east in Saint-Georges, QC for their online services. We hope more people are hearing the Good News through this pandemic. Are any responding?
I have been hearing a few stories and want to share them with you for your encouragement:
Virtual Community in Small Group Ministry
I heard from one of our churches out west who went virtual for their small group ministry. Participants were encouraged to invite other family and friends online. Over several weeks of Zoom meetings, they rejoice that six new members have made professions of faith.
Air Canada Employee Comes to Christ
Peter King, our senior Fellowship Chaplain at the Toronto Pearson Airport, sent me this wonderful testimony recently:
“An Air Canada employee who was placed on furlough due to the coronavirus pandemic reached out to our ministry by phone. As it turned out, “K” had misplaced her copy of a typewritten prayer that I had given her many years ago – one that had brought her much comfort. Yet what a joy it was for me to “follow up” with this lady by explaining the Gospel to her and leading her in a prayer of faith to accept Christ as her personal Saviour!”
Neighbour Finally Comes “to” Church
A woman who attends our Fellowship church in Whitehorse, YK has been witnessing to, and inviting her neighbour to church for five years, with no success. But the neighbour started to watch their online services during the COVID-19 crisis. Pastor Jeremy Norton was excited to announce she has given her life to Jesus, along with another pre-teen. Wonderful news!
Police Detective Investigates Christ
I heard from Pastor Karl Fortin from our church in Plessisville, QC during a video report. He was excited to share that a police detective recently came to Christ by watching their online services. The police officer wrote, “I’ve had an incredible week. I feel such a joy that I cannot describe. A joy so different, which I have never felt before. I accepted the Lord in my life, I’ve asked Him to forgive my sins and my way of life. I used to believe I was the lord of my life, but now I confess that the Lord is my King.” Pastor Karl asks for prayer for this new believer as they start to disciple him online. Karl also asks for prayer for three non-believers who are regularly watching online.
Dozens Come to Christ Among our Church Plants
In conversation recently with FEB Central’s Church Plant Director, Tom Haines, he shared some wonderful news. Here is Tom to tell you about it:
“I asked our church planters to share with me how many conversions that they had seen happen since the pandemic began. Five church planters got back to me in time for writing this brief update.
“One of our church planters, Leul Declarado, said something like this: ‘When you are feeling attacked the best defence is a great offence, so during this time we have doubled our effort in evangelism. We are doing more video calls, phone calls, text messages, and delivering of flyers. We are also offering help to our neighbours by buying groceries and other things they need and, most importantly, by offering prayer and counselling. The result of this evangelistic effort has been that locally, two entire families have trusted Christ, as well as four other individuals. Outside our community, but connected online, there have also been four other families who have trusted Christ: Two in southern Philippines, one in Italy, and one in Detroit, Michigan.’
“Among the other four church plants that responded, there were several other individuals and families that have also trusted Christ as a result of greater evangelistic effort. The total so far from these five church plants is 41 new followers of Christ who are being discipled. They represent people near and far, young, and old, married, and single. God is at work!”
What Have We Learned During the COVID-19 Crisis?
Have we learned anything as things get back to normal, whatever normal means post-COVID-19? Did we learn anything about amplifying and leveraging our approaches to get the Good News out there more widely? When I first read Tom’s emails, I got emotional! I rejoice in what the Lord is doing. People are unsettled in these uncertain times and a little more open to spiritual conversations. Most people are not going to come to our Sunday worship services, lady’s outreach events, youth groups or Alpha dinners. This in no way minimizes their importance or effectiveness. Many nets need to be used to draw in those ready and interested to hear about Jesus.
When our churches agree that their Sunday morning attendance may be 200 in the seats, but 2,000 online….it should change the way we think about reaching and serving our community. As people take their first steps in their renewed spiritual interest, most will not make that “first step” into our church facilities nor our church programs; most will make that “first step” online. Our churches must consider continuing a robust and intentional online presence from now on. Just thinking out loud….
When the Apostle Paul experienced “self-isolation” for two years, it was not a time to hide and be silent. He used his chains and rented house in a creative approach to become a platform to share Jesus. We should too!
A few weeks back I was talking to Pastor Steve Sheane from Bramalea Baptist, Brampton, ON and he was rejoicing that a Hindu man had just come to Christ that very week, due to their online presence.
We rejoice in the “much” fruit (John 15:5, 8) that the Lord is blessing us with in these days of COVID-19. Please feel free to send me your stories. I would love to hear about others who have come to Christ during our shared experience with this pandemic. Thanks.
Keep calm and keep social-distancing,