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Personal From Ministerial and Member Services: October 14, 2021

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Personal From Ministerial and Member Services

October 14, 2021

Challenging Times

There is no question in my mind that we have been living in unprecedented times these past nearly two years in the modern era of God’s Church. At the same time, had we been alive one century ago and organized as we are today in the United Church of God, we would have been facing, most likely, even more challenging times.

Without widespread global travel as we have today and with a much lower worldwide population, it is estimated that as many as 50 million people died from the 1918-1919 worldwide pandemic.

The point I am attempting to make is that although unprecedented in our lifetimes, it wasn’t that long ago when an even greater plague was upon the earth.

That being noted, it does not minimize one bit the suffering, heartache and death that we in God’s Church are facing today.

The reality is that we have not experienced anything like this pandemic in our lifetimes. This pandemic has affected the Church in ways we have never seen before.

As you have likely heard, we have now experienced the death of a beloved longtime pastor, Randy D’Alessandro, directly stemming from the pandemic. We are all stunned, shocked by this death as Mr. D, as he was often referred to, was doing fine just a few short weeks ago.

You may recall that the first death mentioned in our fellowship directly related to COVID-19 was in the British Isles in April 2020, Ossie McKay. A number of others have died from COVID-19 since that time, primarily elderly members. Every death of one of God’s children is painful and precious in God’s sight—and ours as well.

Of course, we are all aware of the saying “hindsight is 20/20,” highlighting the fact that we always see things more clearly once events have already transpired. Although many of us enjoyed an absolutely inspiring and uplifting Feast of Tabernacles, the reality is that many in the Church, in one respect, paid a heavy price despite their desire to obey God and serve Him.

Thousands traveled to various Feast sites in the United States and around the world (although to a much lesser degree than in years past) with a desire to observe these days to the LORD. I have a difficult time finding any fault in our sincere desire to do so.

Nevertheless, this does not lessen the pain and heartache many of us are experiencing due to loved ones, and perhaps ourselves, becoming sick, suffering and even dying.

As I mentioned in last week’s personal in the eNews, “now is the time to unite in prayer as never before.” I realize now I should have said, “now is the time to unite in prayer and fasting as never before.”

Becoming alarmed at various reports I was hearing around the United States, I decided it would be prudent to survey our pastors in a desire to see just how widespread sickness is among our congregations. I believe it is always best to know, as closely as possible, the true reality—the truth about any given situation. Knowing the truth makes our prayers more meaningful.

The truth is that many are now sick among us and some have even died. The vast majority of our members who became sick just before, during, and after the Feast have recovered, or are on their way to complete recovery. But a significant number have suffered, are still suffering, and some may have a long road to full recovery.

This is why I would ask every one of us to unite in prayer and fasting as we face these trials together. Truly, when one member of the Body of Christ suffers, we should all suffer along with them. And we should show that genuine love for them through our prayers and fasting.

As Mr. Kubik has pointed out repeatedly and in today’s eNews personal, we should all take special care and do our very best to quarantine when we may suspect something is not quite right with us health-wise. Do your best to be sure, without becoming paranoid or unbalanced, that you are not passing along this virus. We understand that no one among us would intentionally want to cause another person to become sick.

No doubt, that is one of the lessons God wants us to understand and learn from these health trials. We do have an effect and an impact upon one another both physically and spiritually. We ought not take that fact lightly.

We are all attempting to do the best we know how in uncharted waters without all the necessary information and a complete picture readily available to us.

One thing I have said often in regard to COVID-19 is that “it seems there are no guarantees.” Since Satan is the author of confusion, it seems that he does have his hand in all of the confusion resulting from this pandemic.

The truth is that we should all be humbled by our inadequacy to completely understand or solve this situation. Certainly God is in no way inadequate, and He knows exactly what is happening and why. We should all do the best we know how to do while relying upon God for the wisdom and guidance He chooses to provide. May God lead, guide and direct us, and may we humbly follow Him as we continue to navigate these turbulent waters.

Since I am waiting upon some of our pastors to respond to the survey, I will wait until next week to share the results. Suffice it to say, that many, many of our brethren need our prayers, our compassion, and our genuine acts of service and love. Please pray for all those you are specifically aware of and ask God to intervene for the many you may not know of who are still struggling with serious health issues of all sorts, not just those associated with the pandemic.

Long before the Feast this year, I was keenly aware that we are not yet living in the days we picture by observing the Feast. Many thousands upon thousands of God’s children have suffered from various trials, health or otherwise throughout the ages. We shall continue to suffer up to the time of Christ’s return and the establishment of His glorious kingdom, when one day “He will wipe away every tear”!

May you all have a very meaningful Sabbath!