We continue to hear from our churches about their experiences during our shared COVID-19 experience. Here are several more stories to encourage you:
Our “El Redentor” church, a Spanish Fellowship church that meets in Vancouver, BC has been broadcasting their worship services since 2007. With COVID-19 they were already prepared for a growing online audience. Pastor David Rodriguez told us that they currently have 122,000 people subscribed to their YouTube channel. Over the past 13 years they have had almost 24 million views of their online worship services and one sermon preached several years ago, has received 2.1 million views in the Spanish-speaking world.
I encourage our churches to continue to resource their online presence as an effective means to continue to reach people with the Gospel.
Northlife Fellowship Church in Fort McMurray, AB was hit by the coronavirus, an oil crash, and then a massive flood that devastated the city’s downtown core. The church was flooded with devastating effects. Pastor Mark Usher reported that their soup kitchen, located in the basement of their church building, was flooded. With the help of church members, other churches in the area, and funding from an emergency FAIR appeal, the soup kitchen is currently running out of a trailer (provided by someone) in the church’s parking lot with several freezers provided by another nearby church and over $10,000 raised from among our Fellowship family. You can still give by donating online [click here].
Pastor Patrice Major of our church in Valleyfield, QC shared that in February 2020 the majority of their church family was organized into 13 small groups. To motivate church members participation, Patrice encouraged church members to participate by saying, “What would happen if an epidemic hit?”! A month later the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality and these new small groups became the critical means by which the church family has connected with one another. We may have a prophet in our midst?!
Two churches in our Pacific Region have sought to be a blessing within their community by distributing food. The “Gleaners Ministry” in Vernon, BC closed down during the pandemic. They turned over all their unused vegetables to our Emmanuel Church in Vernon who set up a trailer in their church parking lot to distribute food to needy families. Our church in Sooke, BC has a food bank and a nearby property where they have a thriving community garden project. Last year, they cultivated 5,500 lbs of vegetables which were distributed through their food bank. They have been providing healthy food to needy people during these uncertain days.
Two Fellowship churches in Granby, QC have been gathering together for a number of months. It started when our “Le Flambeau” Church was devastated by a fire last year and needed a place to meet. They gather with another Fellowship church in town. The two lead pastors have been sharing the preaching during COVID-19 and there is interest in making this a permanent arrangement. Pastor Serge Caron is also a Fellowship chaplain who serves at a local corrections institution. Contact with the prisoners has been difficult but he and Fellowship chaplain Adrien St. Jean visited a local half-way house for ex-inmates. The authorities expected a couple prisioners would visit them in the institution’s parking lot with social distancing restrictions being enforced. Instead all the residents went out to visit Serge and Adrien, excited to see their chaplains.
Carla Bellamy is the Life Groups Coordinator at Springvale Baptist Church in Stouffville, ON. She recently shared about the outreach efforts of one of her small groups, saying, “A group of families pooled their resources and bought a bunch of potted mums from someone who had ordered them for their store but then had to close due to COVID-19. This group of 14-15 families made notes, attached them to the flowers, and “secretly” left them on doorsteps throughout their neighbourhoods letting them know that they were loved and being prayed for during this scary time. This was early on in the lockdown so people were very unsure about what might happen locally and globally. These families asked themselves: what would it look like if Christians across our country believed that God had empowered them with his Holy Spirit to be witnesses in the very place where they live? Imagine how God would transform our communities if together we endeavoured to make Jesus known among our neighbours by praying, seeking, inviting, sharing, and investing. As the Church gives itself for the cause of global missions, may we not forget that fulfilling the Great Commission means not only crossing the world but also crossing the street. The response was overwhelming!”
Thank you to all our churches who have been seeking to reach into their communities during these days with COVID-19.