Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).
Christ calls his followers to be his hands and feet — in their communities and around the world. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, churches from throughout the Converge movement are answering that call by stepping up and sharing Jesus’ love with people in tangible and practical ways.
Bay area acts fast
When the crisis struck the San Francisco Bay area, Grace Church in Tracy was already offering free meals on-site. Then they quickly launched a new ministry to allow their community’s most vulnerable people to get groceries delivered free to their home.
“We wanted to alleviate the stress and strain and anxiety that people are going through,” said discipleship pastor Chris Lovelace.
Once the virus hit, people at his church wanted to help, Loveless said, but many did not know what they could do. Grace’s emergency shopping and delivery service allowed every person to serve, whether by shopping and delivery, prayer or logistics.
“When people are on mission for God, they dive in and grow in their faith, because they’re on the go. And Jesus tells us to go,” Lovelace said. “A lot of people wait until they’re perfect to go. But it’s great because you see a lot of people growing in their faith while they’re on the go.”
Another highlight, according to Lovelace, has been seeing other churches in Tracy who’ve heard what Grace is doing start a similar ministry.
“This crisis has unified our city’s churches. We’re not worried whether or not this is a Grace thing; it’s a church thing.”
Hoosiers help their heroes
The unifying effect of the pandemic is also displayed in Indianapolis. Heartland Church and 17 other local churches partnered to purchase 200,000 N95 masks for hospitals, first responders and long-term care facilities in the area.
“We love our medical community and thank them for their tireless service in this crisis,” Heartland pastor Darryn Scheske said. “Because of the giving of people at Heartland Church, we were able to step up immediately and provide $50,000 to fund these needed masks.
“I think now is the greatest opportunity for us to be the ‘big C’ church. We all sit in different buildings, but now we’re all at home. There’s a chance for us all to come together and do something compassionate.”
Besides helping the medical community, Heartland has also:
Provided 1000 children weekend food backpacks for six weeks through the Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County.
Transported food for 3870 families to seven food pantries.
Supplied 1000 elderly and homebound people a 30-day supply of meals through Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County.
Providing hope — and meals — on the West Coast
This past January, Seattle and Washington state were among the first in the U.S. to be hit by a COVID-19 outbreak. The Life Care Center of Kirkland, a suburb east of Seattle, had many of the state’s first coronavirus cases.
During the crisis, Kirkland’s Northshore Community Church found opportunities to continue being a church that comes together for its neighbors. Northshore provided more than 2000 meals and care packages for Life Care’s staff and residents.
“We believe a lot of people are in fear right now, and it’s a chance for us to come together as a community to spread love at this time, especially when our neighbors need it the most,” said Reagan Wiltfong, Northshore’s communication project manager.
Michael Smith serves as Converge’s content specialist. He has nearly two decades in the newspaper publishing industry. Michael worked as a copy editor and designer for the Tampa Tribune for more than a dozen years. He also was a member of the editorial staff of Florida Baptist Witness and other publications across the Southeast.