Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)
Sometimes with cold, sometimes with a little sun, sometimes with a lot of interruption of the sounds around us, distractions, and even with not so comfortable chairs, sometimes with so many spectators that left some of us standing without a chair. At other times sharing evangelistic tracts to those who passed by or were taking their children or dogs to the park, and also at the top of our lungs preaching Jesus through a megaphone trying to reach the ears of those who were at home or around the park. Even through our masks, distancing and antibacterial alcohol we wanted to let everyone know that there is hope in times of crisis – that there is a God who is alive and working in the midst of such a chilling world scenario. This is the small scenario that I can describe for you, so that you can know a little about the missionary and church work of the Grace and Truth Baptist Mission in Villa Victoria, Lima, Peru, in a small park of the same sector in the context of a pandemic. And you may ask, why are they meeting in a park? Because church buildings are closed.
It is clear the world is going through a time of “integral crisis.” When I say integral, I mean it is a crisis in every sense, not only in a health crisis but also in the spiritual, emotional, mental, social, and relational part of each person.
What is the church of God doing in the face of this crisis? As a mission, and together with our leaders Deiser Campos and Josemir de Campos and children and other members, we have been implementing a work for the Lord based on communion and spiritual formation among the members of this church. Also, with courage and willingness, we have been doing discipleship with caution in a personal way and by phone call. We have also offered evangelism of impact or person to person as a sign of compassion toward those who do not know the Lord in this context of crisis.
We have simply decided that if God is not in crisis, we should not be either. On the contrary, it is our duty to spread and reflect our Lord Jesus Christ in the hope, confidence, faith, courage, and strength that only He can give – knowing that is what the world needs. We are not a church that retreats in the face of the crisis. We are not a mission that is silent or remains as a part of the spiritual problem in this context of pandemic. We have decided to believe in the Lord and trust Him, to communicate the strength and faith that the world needs. We have this confidence: “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad.” (Psalm 126:3, NKJV). Oh yes, God has done and will do great things with those sons and daughters who take a risk in this context of crisis. We are not like unbelievers. Although we are human and capable of feeling the turmoil of the crisis in the world, above that we are called to be light.
– You are the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14, NKJV)
– And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:5, NKJV)
– For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ (Acts 13:47, NKJV)
– Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16, NKJV)
We are willing to die to ourselves in order to prudently fulfill the will of our God. Our life in Christ does not make us a lazy, negligent, or careless church. On the contrary, it awakens us, exhorts us, and makes us active to live righteous lives and to do good. I want to end by communicating to you that we are joyful about the way in which God continues to manifest himself through the new and old believers within the mission. It is a blessing to continue to grow in times of crisis. The truth of the matter is that if we do not serve today in the conditions we have, unfortunately we are not likely to do it when all this passes. The problem is not the current condition – the problem is our unwillingness to serve with obedience, care, and great caution in this time. If God is not still and silent now, neither should we be.
May God bless, enlighten, and guide your lives. We love you in the Lord.
For Reflection and Discussion
- What steps can you and your community take to be a church that does not retreat in a crisis?
- What do you think it means to be the “light” in the midst of these dark times?