God’s hand seen despite pandemic closures
When the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified in Wuhan, Hubei province, China two years ago this month, no one imagined the devastation that would ensue: more than five million deaths around the world, economic collapse with millions without jobs and financial support, declining education, increasing mental health cases and more.
As the virus stealthily moved around the world and cases of COVID-19 began to increase, Adventist Church leaders responded quickly to address vital concerns related to the Church’s continuing mission in the face of to nationwide bottlenecks and to adapting internal operations to ensure that work can continue in a transparent manner. and safe for employees.
âThere are many things that had to be addressed,â said Ted NC Wilson, president of the General Conference (GC) of Seventh-day Adventists. These included reducing and eliminating the travel of itinerant staff, establishing public health protocols for employees, reassessing finances and budget, postponing the General Conference session, learning from the virtual conduct of large meetings, etc.
Juan Prestol-PuesÃ¡n, former GC Treasurer, adds: âThe timing required rapid learning, in-depth analysis and a positive, optimistic, hopeful and resilient attitude. The unwritten decision was “we will remain financially viable, survive the crisis without affecting the core mission, and adapt our operations to meet those goals.”
Prestol-PuesÃ¡n continues: âThese three elements of survival have been broken down into several pieces and strategies and although we have prayed and sought the direction of God, it was only later in the year that we saw the wisdom of what we have done. “
See the hand of God
Despite public health concerns and local protocol temporarily closing world church headquarters except for absolutely essential services, administrators viewed God’s care in various ways.
Dr Peter Landless, director of health ministries for the GC, said that at the onset of the pandemic, due to communication with other global health organizations, the Church was able to bring all staff back on the road. in the United States before the country’s borders and major theft hubs closed, avoiding workers quarantined abroad indefinitely.
Another blessing, according to Lori Yingling, director of human resources for the GC, was the amount of IT resources available due to the planning of the General Conference session. âWe were able to close the building with just one day’s notice to our employees,â she says, âasking them to come and pick up essential work and lend a desktop or laptop computer so they could work from home. Their health was our top priority. Then it was about educating them on how to access our servers, recording the precise working time of our hourly staff through our online timing system, and educating managers on how to supervise at distance.
GC employees were already using the Zoom electronic platform for occasional meetings, so there was no need to look for a virtual communications solution – it was already in place. Wilson says, “God definitely helped his church to adapt almost immediately to the use of Zoom and other electronic connections in order to keep the global church community together.”
Providentially, Prestol-PuesÃ¡n notes, âthe GC had maintained an adequate level of working capitalâ¦ which enabled it to withstand the financial impact. Credits to divisions, attached unions and institutions were neither delayed nor reduced; operations were not interrupted; and the staff received their salaries and allowances on time, [even] while funding was dwindling. We give all credit to the Lord.
In the months following the COVID-19 outbreak, GC employees have continued to creatively reach out to people for Jesus on a global scale. Yingling says, âI think the Church’s mission exploded during COVID-19! We used the media: TV, radio, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. much deeper, bringing more people to Christ. Employees developed games, podcasts, wrote books and more, which continued to advance the mission. ”
Time spent at home has also enabled staff to do more virtual worship services around the world each week. Yingling says, âWe continue to do virtual weeks of prayer, online evangelism, small group meetings, and more. The pandemic has forced us to adopt a new way of working which on its own may have taken us years to adopt. ”
Mission the priority
Now that the church headquarters has reopened and travel has carefully resumed for essential purposes, the primary focus, framed within the framework of safety and responsible practices, is the Mission Ahead.
Wilson said, âThe Lord told us that we would have plagues andâ¦ these indicate that the return of Christ is at hand. God uses his Bible-believing sons and daughters, following the Spirit of prophecy and praying to fulfill the last great proclamation to this dying world. The world is ready and waiting for this message of hope and salvation in Christ. Many church members recognize that the end is imminent and that we must be diligent in our missionary evangelism work.
In the midst of this terrible health crisis which has claimed the lives of so many people and continues to turn into various tensions, we can be encouraged: Jesus is coming! He âcalls us not to be afraid and to place our confidence in him because nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8: 31-39). âThe Lord himself walks before you and will be with you; He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. â(Deuteronomy 31: 8; also John 16:33) Let us put our hope in Jesus and be encouraged in him because he has overcome the world!