Lives got upended, economies are suffering, families are coping, but
The Ministry Continues!
This time it’s Rebeca coming at you with an update from what we’ve been up to during April and May.
Considering we’ve been on lockdown for 2 months now, we’ve actually stayed pretty busy.
We are doing most of our youth group meetings on-line and, although it’s not the same, we are very thankful we can still continue our Bible studies and chats. We are going through the book of Acts, which is what the youth wanted. We can’t wait for the quarantine to be over, though, so we can see our students in person and hug them, because it’s been way too long!
We are trying to be a bit more creative in our meetings, but the distance makes that more difficult. We did a bake off with some of the girls, which was fun. Some of you probably saw those pictures on Facebook.
Just like with the youth meetings, we’ve had to transfer the church services to the on-line medium as well. So David, me, my dad, my brother, and one other member from church have gone to the church building to do services every Sunday morning, and on Good Friday. I’ve been singing and David has been in charge of the technical part of doing the recording. We miss meeting with everyone in person and fellowshipping together, so very much! But, there’s been an upside to this: there have been people who’ve never come to church services who have been watching on-line and have been enjoying it.
Doing Awana on line has presented its own set of challenges, of course, but we’ve adjusted there too. Us leaders have been doing challenges for the kids, as well as weekly Bible lessons. Alina, my sister-in-law, and I have done the video editing for them and posted them on our Awana’s Facebook page.
We’ve also been trying to help as best we can, with phone calls to the elderly and food for those who’ve needed it during this quarantine. It’s not much, but we try.
MAY UPDATES – DAVID'S INPUT
Since this update involves two months, the above is our "lockdown" news. Now some news about the relaxed measures that took place in mid-May! We've met with masks on, in person, these past two weeks of youth group and three weeks of morning/evening Sunday services, and that has been great! We're still maintaining social distancing, wearing masks (sometimes), and recording the message portions through Facebook Live – with a projected loosening of quarantine measures at the end of July/beginning of August. Until then, we need to maintain two meters distance between family groups, wear face-masks inside and outside, and restrict meetings: four people inside, 500 people outside.
Of course, all that flies out the window for now-open bars, businesses, restaurants with terraces, and grocery stores, as many measures are exercised while others appear to be "fluid." Going to the grocery store and having our temperature checked at the door is a new experience we couldn't have imagined before this quarantine.
Speaking of quarantine, I’d like to share a bit about how that has been going on here in Romania and for us, personally.
As you probably know, we live in an apartment. Compared to other apartments here, it’s relatively big, since we have 3 bedrooms. But, it’s still small for us :) It tends to get a little crazy being stuck inside all the time. It’s been challenging for all 4 of us, even though we are used to being with each other a lot – homeschooling and doing ministry and all that. It was still nice to be able to get out every day and do things outside the apartment. We are thankful that we can go to my brother’s house once or twice a week, so we can get out in the yard and let the cousins play together. It has certainly made things easier, especially for Chàris who is a sociable, outdoors-kind-of-girl.
A lot of people are being affected by the quarantine, just like in the States and everywhere else. So very many people were living paycheck to paycheck, and more so now, since they haven’t had one in 2 months. Romania still has thousands of children who live in abject poverty: no indoor plumbing, no sanitation, no education, horrible living conditions. It’s extremely sad.
The healthcare system in Romania isn’t any better. This pandemic has brought to the forefront so many things that are wrong in our hospitals, corruption being the main one. So many of them are incredibly unsanitary, unchanged since the time of communism, with personnel that expect bribes to provide health services and steal the hospital's materials. Obviously, they are not all like that, but too many of them are, and it makes people scared to even go to the hospital. They are afraid they won’t be treated properly, or at all, and will come home from the hospital with several diseases they didn’t have going in.
I know I certainly hope we never have to end up in a public hospital here in Romania.
Just like everywhere else, the economy is going to crash. So many people are going to be affected by this. We live in one of the poorest parts of Romania as it is. Most of the people in the church and those we minister to barely make enough to get by each month. It’s only bound to get worse and we pray that God gives us the wisdom and resources to know how to help.
The quarantine officially ended May 15th and a week later the state of alert ended too.
Since half of May looked the same all March and April, we just figured we would do both months together. But thankfully the latter half of May has looked different for us.
We were able to start church services outside, socially distanced, with as many precautions as we could take. We’ve been doing morning and evening, as usual, and God has been gracious to keep the rain at bay, although it’s been raining a lot here. It has been so good to be able to meet as a body again, to see how everyone is doing and to worship together, even though we’ve had to keep social distancing. David got to preach again this Sunday morning, for the first time since the quarantine began.
We've met with the youth group in person for the past two weeks, and that has been wonderful!! Being together in person is so much better than on line. We also took a Saturday to go to the forest with the youth and explore and take pictures. We hope to do it again, and maybe even do a day trip to the mountains soon. David has been enjoying filming and editing videos for Youth for Christ Romania's fund-raising event called Run4Mission, and you can find out more by clicking the link, or watch the videos on our VIDEO PAGE.
The churches in this area have been blessed with a gift donation from an organization called Children’s Hunger Fund, and our church bought a lot of food that we’ve already been giving out to those in need. This past Saturday the youth and adults unloaded the food, distributed some, and we started sharing the next day. We're so thankful for CHF's generosity making it possible to meet so many needs.
We don’t know what this summer is going to look like. We've had to cancel most Awana activities, VBS, and the camps, because they cannot be run with the restrictions in place right now. Parents also won’t be able to afford to pay anything for the kids’ camp and we don’t have the budget for that either. We are trying to be very responsive to country- and area-wide laws and the concerns of parents regarding their kids. All activities depend on the restrictions in place at the time.
We know things are really hard in the States too. We are watching with such a heavy part all that is happening, and praying very hard for the future of our nation, and for our repentance as a people. We would like to know how this has affected your family and how we can pray for you.
Here’s how we could use your prayers:
– For wisdom and grace to continue doing our ministry, in quarantine and out of it
– For the families who will be affected by the economic collapse, especially in the church
– For resources for our family, as well as for us to help others however we can
You are all in our family evening prayers, and we appreciate all of you so very much for your continued encouragement and support. God bless you all and provide for all of your daily needs.
Prayer, Praise, & People
Here's a snapshot of the ministry right now:
Find out a little more about each of these by visiting our website/blog here!
This quarantine has shown us much good (and some not good) about technology. Many of us could say with Kip, from Napoleon Dynamite, that we love technology, but not as much as you (you see). But still, we love technology... always and forever...
Always and forever.
David is an extrovert and wants to be around other people and give hugs, which you can't do online! Rebeca is an introvert that's fine being alone, or with the family, but even she needs time with others! So... necessity is the mother of invention!
Teachers have adapted like rockstars to distance learning. Parents have rediscovered the beauty of family time, whether it's familiy dinners, Snapchat laugh sessions with the kids, or re-discovering (and introducing their kids to) old childhood movie favorites. And local churches, of course, are learning how to do a building-less ministry here in 2020.
Our use of Zoom technology, What's App technology, and Facebook technology for youth events and church services has opened up great avenues for ministry in the modern church. We learned a lot about our tech as we used the technology we've got to meet with, and meet the needs of, those we love. First, if we had inexhaustible resources we could do some truly amazing things, right? But since most of us aren't independently wealthy I'm sure we all learned to make do to make ministry happen even under restriction! I would love to see the browser history of pastors all over the world in the middle of February: "How do I fix my sound? How do I fix my lighting?" 🤣
The beauty of this quarantine – how it forced us into our home and forced us to face the importance of others – changes the way we do ministry. Some things will never change, and shouldn't change, but we have been shown the essential need of being adaptable. When you cannot meet people in person, you learn how important other people are to your own health and well-being. When you're kept from worshipping together, you see how necessary the influence of the Christian Body, and the sharpening other believers provide, can be. And when you're separated from your family by different doors, or even different countries, the use of technology can be a real lifesaver!
I wonder, if Jesus sent out a Zoom link inviting people to join a call, how many internet servers across the world would absolutely crash at the bandwidth! Can you imagine what Paul and Peter would say about our ability to talk to people about Jesus who are miles away? What could the Apostle John have done with a laptop and an internet connection on Patmos?!
Now hold up, before you start thinking Jesus chose the wrong time to come to earth!
We've also seen technological struggles because of this quarantine. The use of pornography and sexual exploitation has skyrocketed. Suicide, child and spousal abuse, and depression have also increased. We've known for years that our media and minds aren't as objective as we would hope, and misinformation is a constant threat to the truth. But even this great growth of evil is a good thing for us as Christians. This time has shown us all that there are many needs that cannot be ignored. There is no more need to hunt for a sermon illustration or an example of what's good or what's bad, either.
We hope that we will use this technology for good in the future and not lose the lessons learned in these past months. Use technology for the good it provides, but never forget that pixels can't replace people. May technology continue to draw us together, as a tool to share Christ, share our lives, and share each others' burdens.
What "Non-Negotiable Rules of Video Conferencing" are you going to make sure you teach your kids?
We're not only using technology for our meetings, but to create videos used for Youth for Christ events like Run4Mission. Click on these pictures to go to our VIDEOS page and watch these videos. They're supposed to be funny, so I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I did making them!