How are you? I know these past few weeks for many of you have been difficult as the Covid pandemic continues and difficult decisions about work, school, and family have to be made. I pray that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit will be with you during these times. (2 Cor. 13:14)
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters“
The lyrics of the old hymn “Shall We Gather at the River?” have taken on a literal meaning for us these past few months. The combination of no air conditioning in our house and our preference for meeting people outdoors because of Covid-19 has moved much of our ministry to the river park around the corner from our house. Even though we did this out of necessity we marvel at how God used these times.
We are terrible at bringing our camera/phone with us so allow me to paint a few pictures for you.
Scene 1: Jesse and the dad who we mentioned in our last newsletter (the one who started reading the Bible) are sitting on camping chairs with feet emerged in the river while watching the kids play. They are deep in discussion over the last video from the Alpha Course series they have done together. As they talk one of the moms who we have become friends with through river play stays close by seemingly listening to all that is being shared about Jesus.
River time = discipleship and evangelism
Scene 2: Jesse and I, together with our Christian friends from the area take our regular prayer meeting down to the river. As we share and pray we are inspired to have communion together. I rush back home, grab the elements, and return for riverside worship and communion.
River time = fellowship, prayer, worship, communion, encouraging
Scene 3: It’s Friday evening and we are having a riverside picnic with the family we have an intentional meal with every Friday night. I notice the family that we have seen many times at the river are lingering nearby. Taking the opportunity to disciple our friends (who aren’t Christians yet), we invite the family to join us. Again there is more than enough food and Jesus loved is revealed.
River time= discipleship and outreach
Scene 4: Our kids are going nuts, Jesse’s allergies are acting up, there is a temporary pause in the rain we have been experiencing for days because of a typhoon so we make a mad dash for the river. After sanity and airways are restored we head home. On the way, we meet a friend from another church in our general area. We take the opportunity to briefly dream together what a church expression as vibrant as the early church might look like in our corner of the world. We all leave the conversation with excitement that God is preparing big things for His body in the city of Ome.
River time = encouraging and exhorting one another
Especially during this time of COVID, we are so thankful that “church” doesn’t need to happen exclusively in a church. I think that because all of these stories happened in normal, public places we have set the precedent for those we are discipling that Christianity is not something that is reserved for a few hours in a specific place once a week. Rather Jesus can be part of every activity in every place we go.