It was March 13th that things really started to change up here. We had heard of one or two churches choosing to close, but really not many. We were praying fervently to have wisdom in response to COVID 19. A pandemic is new to us. We wanted to have a balance of wisdom and faith.
That Friday, March 13th we headed up to the church and disinfected EVERYTHING! We wiped down hymnals and door handles and the water fountain. It was spic and span clean!
On Sunday we had a great service!! There were a couple of families that chose to stay home, and we completely understood. But, we did have 4 visitors come and also a man joined the church! Hallelujah! Sunday afternoon we went back and re disinfected everything for the evening service. If you've ever been to our church you would know that our people are very friendly and loving. Even though we encouraged no hand shaking, there were plenty of hugs instead. :o)
Monday things started to change. Cases were picking up in Florida of people infected with Corona Virus. My husband seemed to be extra burdened. He worked out in his garden, but I could tell his heart was heavy. He needed space outside to think things through. He was deep in thought and prayer through most of the day. Counties started putting out orders of no gatherings more than 50. We average about 55 on Wednesday nights, and we figured we would be a little down so we decided to proceed for Wednesday night services.
Until Tuesday evening. Our county put out an order of no gatherings over 10 and were encouraging people to just stay home. My husband begged God to show him what to do. This has been a hard decision! And I'm sure your Pastor had a difficult time too. The thought about not meeting with your people for a long period of time comes with costs. My husband thought of the newly saved in our church or those just coming back to God, they need to be spiritually fed! He knows it would be so easy for them to get out of the new habit of being faithful to church. He was also concerned about the fellowship that we all so desperately need. He was just burdened in many ways. After the new order came out, he felt like it was necessary for us to cancel our services for now. There were tears. Plenty of them. But, when my husband made the decision, God gave him such peace. He knew it was of the Lord. So thankful for peace!
Since it was Wednesday, we needed to let everyone know the plan. We emailed some of the farther away ones, and the rest we divided into 3 groups. We had Joshua take a 1/3, the director for our OWLS ministry (seniors) take a 1/3 and Patrick and I took the rest. We tried to discreetly drop off packets and keep contact to a minimum. But as we visited, people's hearts were understanding, but broken. Which is the best response. We are going to miss church!!
Then, we put the sign on the door explaining everything. Then, more tears.
We decided to put all our services online. We have no internet at the church. So, we have been going up the day before to record services. I think it's the only time the preacher's kids are allowed to sit in the back! The boys think they are security. ;o) It's nice to get out the house since we are staying in our home (and yard) most of the time. I'll tell you, it's a little awkward! Joshua is working on a blooper reel...it's going to be quite long! Singing to a laptop or a phone is WEIRD. But, it's working. My husband is doing a fabulous job of being adaptable! You can find daily devotions and messages here on our website.
Freedom Joy on the other hand is as content as could be. Children really are good examples to us, aren't they?