Been Through This Before!

"Coronavirus wasn’t our first experience dealing with a global pandemic. Here are some of the lessons we learned and ways to receive God's encouragement: Just like when Jesus came to the disciples in the boat, during the storm, He is still saying to us, “Be of good cheer, It is I, do not be afraid.” (Mark 6:50)"

Anonymous VM Leader

This story was shared with us by one of our Vineyard Missions leaders who needs to remain anonymous because of the high-risk location he visited.

Vineyard Missions

Equipping churches to participate in God's global mission.

VM offers a re-blog (with permission & editing) from a VUSA long-term cross-cultural worker in China:

It is our hope and prayer that this blog finds you well. These are trying and uncertain times. We’ve been through many storms in life. Just like when Jesus came to the disciples in the boat, during the storm, He is still saying to us, “Be of good cheer, It is I, do not be afraid.” (Mark 6:50)

We know that every company and ministry you have ever known has sent you their response to COVID-19. M* and I wanted to share some encouragement from our experience living through the impact of Coronavirus, twice. In China, we lived through the shutdowns and restrictions, and now we are living it here in the U.S.

But Covid wasn’t our first experience dealing with a global pandemic. The first pandemic of the 21st century was Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). SARS originated in China. We lived in China throughout the SARS saga. Now we find ourselves reflecting on those times during this current crisis. Here are some of the lessons we learned and ways to receive God’s encouragement:

Follow The Voice Of The Lord And Listen To No Others

In times of pandemic, many decisions arise and seem like they carry the consequences of life and death. Paralyzing fear can make going to the grocery store a stressful task. It is important to make decisions based on God’s leading.

Overdosing on the news is a strong tendency during a crisis. People seem to be glued to the news to watch every development. At some point, this becomes a voice that can cloud out God’s voice. Find news sources that just give you the facts. The opinions of various news agencies will arouse anger and probably even more fear than reasonable caution.

When we first heard there was a new virus on the spread our initial reaction was to stay put. We had lived through SARS and God used us to care for many people. However, I felt God indicating this time was different. M and I sought the Lord and found peace in a decision to go to Thailand. On February 4th we left our home in one Asian nation and headed to Thailand.

We assumed we would remain in Thailand to wait out the storm. After failing twice to secure housing, we again went to the Lord in prayer. I felt the Lord saying to return to the States for our daughter, C*, a college student in Florida. M agreed on this, and on February 20th we returned to the U.S. At that time there was no indication that COVID-19 would impact the U.S. the way it has.

When we made the decision to follow that leading we did not know that in two-weeks C’s school would be shut down and she would be stranded in Florida. Just this past weekend M and I drove to Florida and back to bring her home. We also brought two other students to our state to be reunited with their families.

Don’t Fill The Newfound Void With Busyness. Take on one task at a time and finish it. Most westerners don’t know anything but the culture of busyness. Staying busy is a value in America. People seem to think that their lives are more important if they are busy. At times like this, we can think we have all the time in the world, thus taking on new tasks, and when this is all over we can find ourselves busier than before the crisis! Enjoy this season for what it is.

Claim and proclaim the promises of God’s protection found in Scripture. During the SARS pandemic we regularly read, meditated on, claimed, and proclaimed Psalms 91. Through meditating on scripture and making it your proclamation, the Word comes to life. As we practice this discipline we begin to take great comfort in God’s promises.

Share the source of your stability and peace of mind with others. This is a great time to encourage others. Many people in your circles of influence don’t know the peace of God like you do. They don’t have the anchoring presence of God in their lives. Trying times can rock even the strongest of Christians to the core. Your friends and family need to know the peace and joy that carries you through the tough times.

Work hard to make this great quality family time. Fight the urge to let your kids stay online all day. Combat the boredom with creativity. Play board games and read books together instead of watching TV. Teach your children the word of God. Pray and worship together. Exercise together. What a great opportunity this time is to invest in your marriage and your children!

Increase your communion with God. This is the time to just relax and rest in the presence of God. Put into practice spiritual disciplines that help you to abide in God’s presence. Play some good worship songs and sing along with all your heart. Try solitude and silence. Meditate on scripture through Lectio Divina. Pray in the Spirit. Connect with God in the ways that work for you and maybe even in some new ways. You will find God doing great work in your heart and bringing you into peaceful places. Psalm 23:2, He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams.”

Fight to avoid temptation. Whether it’s temptation to boredom eat or to spend the time complaining and gossiping, remember the enemy wants this to be idle time for you. When we are idle in our time and not intentional on how we will spend it we become passive and can succumb to temptation. Remember the old adage “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.” When our minds are running idle we are more likely to passively accept one of the many streams of garbage that flow around us. People want more than toilet paper and guns right now, porn consumption is on the rise. If you’ve fallen into sin please repent.

Fight to avoid discouragement. Not only do we need to aggressively fight discouragement we also need to fight anxiety, worry, and general feelings of doom. Doing all the things we mentioned above will help greatly with this. In addition, we need to regularly fight the battle in our minds by rejecting every thought that originates from sources other than God. In spiritual warfare, we are to pull down every thought that exalts itself above the knowledge of Christ. This means we don’t entertain the thoughts that flash before our minds bringing worry and fear. We replace those thoughts with the truth about how great God is and what he says about his children.

This will end. We can tell you from experience with SARS and H1N1 that this will stop. Please don’t give up hope. Press on. I look forward to hearing testimonies from believers on how God is using this time.

Here are a few of the scriptures we’ve used to get you started:

Psalm 91. Assurance of God’s Protection

  1. You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
    who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

  2. will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
    my God, in whom I trust.”

  3. For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence;

  4. he will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

  5. You will not fear the terror of the night,
    or the arrow that flies by day,

  6. or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

  7. A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.

  8. You will only look with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

  9. Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
    the Most High your dwelling place,

  10. no evil shall befall you,
    no scourge come near your tent.

  11. For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.

  12. On their hands they will bear you up,
    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.

  13. You will tread on the lion and the adder,
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

  14. Those who love me, I will deliver;
    I will protect those who know my name.

  15. When they call to me, I will answer them;
    I will be with them in trouble,
    I will rescue them and honor them.

  16. With long life I will satisfy them,
    and show them my salvation.

Philippians 4:8. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

1 Corinthians 10:13. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5. Indeed, we live as human beings,but we do not wage war according to human standards; for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.

*Names were removed to protect this family’s anonymity.

Written by a Vineyard USA long-term cross-cultural worker.
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