Dear GCI Family and Friends,
The “Hope Avenue” of ministry has been our guiding theme this year, and the crescendo was going to be the Denominational Celebration. (In the April 1st issue we shared the news that we will postpone this until the summer of 2021.)
Another initiative that we have been promoting in 2020 is the GCI Worship Calendar. Through the combined efforts of the Superintendents, Regional Directors and Media Team, we were anticipating special gatherings around Holy Week and Easter, and to our shock and dismay much of the world has been on an extended self-quarantine lockdown.
So, what has the Lord been up to? Has he somehow forgotten our plans in GCI? Should I join the laments of the Old Testament Psalmist?
My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’ (Psalm 42:3)
There are a few of our members and their church families who have experienced the loss of loved ones at the hands of COVID-19, so I want to be careful not to move past the reality of grief too quickly. Where there has been loss of life, grief is multiplied when friends and family are not able to gather for a funeral service and celebration of their loved one’s life. Our hearts go out to you, and we lift prayers of comfort.
So where is our God? In the pattern of many Psalms, the grief, mourning and despair are turned to joy, hope and faith when the psalmist recalls what the Lord has done in the past, and how he is with them in the present circumstance. The same is true today. Let me express to you some of the tangible ways I have found hope.
I had the privilege of speaking with our six Superintendents around the globe and I was encouraged to hear their stories of how the pastors and churches in their areas are managing. I’m happy to share that each superintendent and their families are safe and healthy. I also found it interesting to discover how many of us have children who serve in the healthcare field. We seek your prayers for them and the other front-line workers. (Eugene Guzon estimates that in the Filipino members scattered around the world, there are some 170 doctors and nurses.) I am proud that our small denomination has such strong representation in the healthcare world.
The Superintendents expressed how many of their pastors and churches have shared online gatherings—inclusive of Sunday services, small group studies, game nights, youth meetings and the like. Not only do members have access to meetings online with their home congregation, many are accessing neighboring churches in their region, country and across the world. Staying home has spawned a new level of creativity and connectivity that we have not experienced before.
Having personally participated in online meetings for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, I was more than pleased to see that the initiative to promote our GCI Worship Calendar is happening. It wasn’t how I envisioned, nor could I have anticipated to what degree GCI would access Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, WhatsApp and other social media platforms, but here we are.
We are finding hope during the pandemic, and why should we be surprised? Hope has a name: Jesus. His name is being proclaimed online and it is incredibly hopeful to see how we are communicating with many people beyond our regular members. May we continue building and forming these relationships.
Our Denominational Celebration is delayed, and yet it will go on. The prayerful planning and hard work that has been done to this point will serve us well as we rejoin the final preparations next year. Hope is still the theme, and I praise our Triune God for always supplying hope even through difficult times.
Always looking to our Hope,