“But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10
To My Dear SCF Community,
In the middle of one of the greatest recorded tests a person could encounter, Job shouts out a cry of faith, “God knows what is happening with me. When he has tested me, I will come out as gold.”
These are difficult days of challenge and uncertainty. We are concerned for ourselves and others as our lives are disrupted and shaken. We are all struggling with the loss of community. For those in China, staying inside and “waiting it out”; for those who are leaving China are also leaving community, and then there are friends who are part of our community who were out and couldn’t get back in – feeling cut off from community. As the leaders of SCF we are responding, captured in 4 words which arise in our hearts . . . Care, Community, Content and Prayer.
Care – Now is the time to care for one another. Some of the CGs are already meeting online using tools like WeChat, ZOOM, and YouVersion. We are also looking into ways to use these same tools for “one on one” soul care – Being available to listen and pray with people who are feeling alone and isolated. Which leads me to say this VERY important thing: Everything SCF is doing, everything we are wanting to communicate will appear on our website (www.shanghaifellowship.org) and in our e-newsletter. I am asking if you haven’t already subscribed to our e-newsletter, please do! You could also check with your WeChat friends to see if they are currently receiving this newsletter and if not, encourage them to sign up. (write to firstname.lastname@example.org)
These are unprecedented times we are living in, really amazing stuff. Now is the time to act on an impulse, if you think of someone and you are wondering how they are doing, text them, WeChat them or however you like to connect, but do it! Go ahead and ask, “How are you? I was thinking about you. How can I pray for you? Then listen.
Content – Last weekend we created an online experience that was shared “live” at (www.shanghaicommunityfellowship.churchonline.org) We listened to a podcast conversation on the value of a personal prayer life, especially when facing the unexpected. I was joined by guests Adam Antoniewicz (SCF elder) and Ruth de Pater. Each weekend we will offer two types of teaching content, a biblical teaching and a teaching on how to apply our faith, especially at this time. The Biblical teaching will be posted “live” each Sunday at 2pm and 4pm (China time) and have the feature which allows listeners to respond and interact with each other in “real time” – people can send prayer requests and receive prayer as well. Ignite Kids ministry has already added new content to their page on the website and other ministries will be doing the same. We are also making recommendations from the Right Now Media library suitable for personal enrichment or with a few friends. A Right Now Media subscription is free; see more information below on how to get your free membership.
Community – Don’t be alone; don’t go days without talking to anyone. We will be looking for people to start new online groups as well as to pray for others. For some, “online community” just isn’t the same as “face to face”, siting across the table or at the altar fellowship but be together we must! Press through the resistance and WeChat someone! This may be the time to take down that obscure icon you use for your WeChat identity and use a “real” picture of yourself. We miss seeing what you look like!!
Prayer – We value and treasure the times we can be together to pray and to pray for each other but this was never meant to take the place of personal prayer; you and God talking and listening, abiding in his presence. If this is something new to you and or if you want to “freshen up” your daily quiet time, I recommend the www.prayercourse.org site. There are a lot of resources for prayer on this site and they are easy to use, including a pattern to pray the Lord’s Prayer in 30 minutes each day (If 30 minutes feels a little overwhelming, there is another patter called P.R.A.Y. which takes 10 minutes). I would also check out the resources on how to pray for others, i.e. intercession. Our friends need our prayers, SCF needs your prayers, Wuhan needs our prayers, China needs our prayers – there is no place our prayers cannot reach because we are praying to a great God who is Spirit and the Spirit can go where he wills. The Spirit of God can visit a research lab or a hospital or the offices of the highest authorities!
In prayer we “toss all of our cares onto God because we know that He cares for us” (1 Peter 5:7)
Love one another and love deeply.
With much love for you,
Pastor Dale and Becky
The Values of “Being-There”
February 12, 2020.
Like all of you we have been working from home, adjusting to a new way of doing things and wondering when things will go back to normal. (We are also praying! Praying for the leaders of China and Shanghai, praying for Wuhan, for those who are sick and for those who care for them) The SCF staff has met online and the SCF elders have met too. Our concern is to continue to serve and meet the needs of our community, a community that is either scattered across the globe or experiencing some sort of “self-quarantine”.
We have launched an online experience around teaching from the Bible (Sundays at 2pm and 4pm; shanghaicommunityfellowship.churchonline.org), we are offering a free subscription to Right Now Media which provides resources for just about any kind of Christian study you want to pursue; a weekly QQ list of worship songs and a way to receive prayer online. Several Community Groups have already started to meet online using ZOOM, (zoom.us) and we will soon be offering some of the workshops that were on the calendar but now via ZOOM instead of in a “room”!
With all of this activity and scrambling to “cover” all that we want to “cover”, I am asking, we are asking . . . Are there any gaps? Did we miss anything? Why does it feel like we are missing something?
Then it came to me; I am missing real, “in-person” contact with people in general and my friends. All of the digitally created community is good, I am grateful for it if for no other reason than it’s better than nothing! This experience has started me thinking about the value of “being there” which led me to something God did for us. The one big word that describes God’s “being there” for us is incarnation. When what we needed was his being with us God didn’t offer a ZOOM meeting or a WeChat text while he remained in heaven.
To quote theologian Scot McKnight; “The incarnation, God-becoming-body-and-flesh-and-blood, was about God’s sharing himself with humans so that humans could enjoy the presence of God and be in union with God. God loves into incarnational indwelling. Incarnation is about the indwelling.”
Jesus came to be with us so he could dwell in us. The ministry we offer to each other as Christ followers is the word of Christ in us – his love and our love offered to each other. But can love be communicated digitally? I hope so. We will soon find out!
Until we can meet again,