“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah (17:7-8) (ESV).
As I was reading, meditating and praying in my personal devotion time God has put something in my heart through His word concerning this challenging and difficult time of pandemic. I just wanted to share with you briefly what He taught me through the above verses. It would say that:
- We must trust in the Lord regardless.
- Tough times will come (drought).
- Those that trust in the Lord will tap into Jesus for their strength (water)
- Those who trust is the Lord will still be fruitful when everyone else is not. (their trees will still have leaves and bear fruit).
And I just take this opportunity to encourage all our partners and friends all over the world to continue trusting our God even in this difficult time. The roots of our lives are not taped into earthly things but into God, the living water. So, nothing can stop us to bear fruits in any kinds of circumstances. We, as Unite 4 Africa team by God’s grace we are keep continuing bearing fruits even in this tough season of Covid-19 pandemic.
Even though, we have hold back most of our plans for 2020 due to the Corona virus; we have been doing great things in the past month mainly to mobilize our church leaders to help them to respond to the pandemic. The followings are some of things we have done in the past month.
1. Helping churches to respond to the pandemic.
Due to the drastic and radical measures that have been taken to respond to the Coronavirus by various stakeholders, it has been critical for us that to help our churches realign what they are doing as soon as possible. Unite 4 Africa has affirmed the measures being taken by our governments and at the same time encourage the churches we are working with to actively promote social distancing to curb the spread of the virus across Africa.
If churches take seriously social distancing and we have agreed on cancelling all gatherings. However, we coach our leaders to rethink how they are to do church differently.
2. Encouraging our leaders to set up a regular meeting and we have prepared the guideline for the meeting.
We believe that drastic times require drastic measures. So, we have encouraged our leaders to set up a meeting in a smaller groups using virtual platforms so that the different ideas being shared can spur everyone in the group.
Here are some guidelines that we have prepared for us and for our leaders to setting one up in a virtual setting:
- Establish a regular day and time each week that will suit your Group members.
- Establish an agreed upon platform to use for the meeting – a few options are Zoom/Skype/WhatsApp/Google chat.
- Send out your Zoom/Skype/WhatsApp/Google chat details and make sure that everyone understands how to use the preferred platform for the meeting. Have one on one meetings before the scheduled meeting with those who are not sure on how to use the platform.
- Have your first meeting regardless of who has committed to join. Don’t get into a habit of rescheduling meetings; this does not encourage the overall commitment of the leaders.
- Be punctual in starting and ending the meetings.
- Restrict the meetings to 1 hour. If you keep to this time each week there will be more chance of people committing weekly. If the leaders feel that it carries on and there is inconsistency in the timing of the meetings they are more likely not to commit or be regular.
- Send out an agenda a day or two before each meeting. Timing for this agenda going out should be dependent on your culture. If you send out the agenda two days before, then you should send out a meeting reminder a day before.
- All Unite 4 Africa Ethiopia and our church listed agenda ideas are open to your input and should be adapted to suit your group on a given week.
- After the first meeting, follow-up with all those that never gave apologies for not attending. Create some form of accountability within the group.
- In addition to these weekly group meetings, it should be our aim to have a personal 1-on-1 meeting with everyone that shows interest and commitment to growth. These people are often identified by their attendance to the group meetings. During the COVID-19 crisis, you might want to do this much more regularly than just once a month. Bi-weekly would be advised.
- Where the Lord directs you to follow individuals that are not showing interest or commitment, follow His lead and be patient with them. Even if they are not showing interest in growing at the moment, they will come around in the Lord’s timing.
We have also formulated some questions to help our leaders to consider during the meeting such as:
- How are you and your family coping with the changes that have taken place as a result of the Coronavirus?
- What are you doing to help your disciples adjust to the new normal?
- What leadership challenges are you facing?
- What are you doing to deal with these?
- Pray together around specific things that have been raised.
Since, most of our African leaders use the social media mostly WhatsApp, Facebook and Telegram; so far we have created 5 different main groups such as:
- U4A African Leadership WhatsApp group – Contains 4 Top African Leadership
- Master Trainers Telegram group – Contains 14 leaders.
- Emmanuel & U4A Ethiopia Lead Team Telegram group – Contains 11 members.
- Eth. Emmanuel Pastors’ Telegram group – contains 116 members.
- Eth. & U4A Regional Leaders WhatsApp group – Contains 7 members.
The above groups are top main groups that we have established to reach out our leaders during this difficult time. There are also hundreds of other groups that have established locally by our regional and local leaders to serve other leaders under their overseers. Apart from those social media groups we also do direct phone calls to encourage our leaders who are serving in the remote areas and do not have access for social medias.
3. Helping the needy
This pandemic has also a ripple effect on the lives of our leaders and their families. Since, the price of food and other basic necessity items getting increased during this crisis; and the income of our local churches has affected due to the closing of church doors; most of our leaders are struggling to feed their families.
So, from the business I have; my wife and I have decided to support some of our leaders & their families who are critically affected and we have spent 500USD. Though, we chose 12 leaders and bought: –
- 10 kg of wheat flour
- 5 liter of food oil
- 1 set of carton of pasta/spaghetti
- 1 set of carton macaroni
- 5 kg sugar, tea and the like…
We thank God for the opportunity that He has given us to become a blessing during this crisis.
I am really excited about the opportunities God has been leading us in during this crisis. It is critical that we speak through how to do church in response to what is taking place in each of our countries and globally as a result of COVID-19.
It cannot be business as usual and unless we are proactive in rethinking how to do church in the midst of this, we will miss a God-given opportunity. Too many churches seem to think that all they need to do is get out a sermon once a week to their people. We must remember that Jesus has not been caught by or surprise by COVID-19 and is able to help us navigate how to effectively live out His character and priorities in these times.
May we together spur one another on as we pray for discernment to know how Jesus would have us do ministry. It would be good for us to chat through ideas of what we are thinking or doing in our respective ministries in response to the changed world we now live in.
Samson W. /Pst/
Vice – president of U4A and Ethiopia Director