The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, not latter-day saints, should be at the forefront of leading society. Sadly, she has taken backseat and even become statist and selfish in her approach to almost everything she should be salt and light in the society. However, with the coronavirus outbreak and the impending martial law coming our way, the Church I attend in South Carolina, Holly Ridge Presbyterian Church, has decided to voice what Scripture commands of us as believers and that is to demonstrate love for one another and not to fear, to pray, repent and be grateful to God for His ways are beyond ours and higher than ours.
This is why I would like to share the following letter with you that was sent out by our elder, Michael Ware.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As matters in the world are developing quickly around the coronavirus Covid-19, the leadership of Holly Ridge wanted to address our church body with a few principles and several applications along with some counsel at this time. Please take time to read this thoroughly and aloud to your family. The Covid-19 outbreak is a rapidly changing and developing situation in our world today and one with which we need to stay current and in good communication. I have spent a good bit of time this week in trying to sort through the hype and overreactions in order to find good data from which we can make wise decisions that will glorify God. I counseled with a fairly broad group throughout the week and read a good bit of material of how this virus is affecting the world and our immediate culture around us. As it turns out, this is a great opportunity for us to see God shine forth in glory and for us, His people, to reset some of our ways and our thinking. Though we do not relish the difficult trial this virus is causing, God is sovereign and, in ways known to Him, this is a good thing for God’s people and the Church.
As we move forward from where we are today, let me remind us of a few principles that will help us. Please take time to read this in full so we will all be on the same page including some measures I will get to toward the end.
- Biblical Principles and Application to Govern our Spirits
- God is sovereign and in control of this situation. He has a purpose behind this virus and He will be glorified. Everything God does is for the good of His people. The Psalmist clearly declares, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!” (Psalms 84:11-12) This is a time to soak in the Psalms and allow God to encourage you in His promises and in the Truth of Who He is. This is about Him more than us!
- This is a time to love, and not to fear. “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). This biblical love is what sets God’s people apart from the rest of the world. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) Love will be expressed in sacrificial service. Some of you will be called to the front lines of this viral war. In doing so, do it as unto the Lord serving the Lord gladly. Others will be called on to help the elderly and those who are weak. We are all called and saved to love God, to love our neighbor, and to love one another. The more you love, the more fear is driven out. The Christian way to glory is through sufferings, and the way to victory is always through the cross. Therefore, deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Jesus.
- This is a time to pray, repent, and be grateful to God. “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy– meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:5-8). During the coming weeks God will likely show us ways in which we can repent of sins, perhaps some of which we were not even aware. Hopefully, this will be a time of reflection, of putting things in perspective and a time of great spiritual growth. As we pull together in greater community to serve one another we will see more clearly our past faults and negligence, our ungrateful hearts, and our prideful self-reliant presumptions. Hopefully, we will see how much we need one another to the extent that we become more thankful for our community and every individual member that makes it up. Rather than gossiping and fault finding with one another’s weaknesses, we can be thankful for the good and strength each member has and brings. Rather than being so wasteful with the material goods we’ve grown use to, let us learn how to be better stewards and less wasteful of the things we do have and have previously taken for granted.
- Current Update and Status Report of the Coronavirus COVID-19
Dr. Matthew Clark has been watching epidemics and studying them as a point of personal fascination for over 20 years. I thought his counsel to the CPC elders yesterday was good and helpful and so I pass it along to you.
[From Matt’s email]
Today’s study has brought me to today’s conclusions . . . This coronavirus pandemic, if the reports are not fabricated, is by far the most significant global public health episode since the 1918 influenza pandemic.
The best info I can get my hands on:
- This disease is very contagious. Worse than seasonal influenza but not as bad as measles. Over the course of time, without an effective vaccine, most of the population will be infected, guesses are around 50-60%.
- The United States has failed to contain this virus. Community spread is underway. The cat is out of the bag.
- High risk of death is amongst the elderly and also those with underlying medical problems. This virus doesn’t kill the young and healthy. While the overall case fatality rate is between 2-4%, that number is much, much lower for the young and healthy and much higher for the elderly and the sick. (14.8% in patients aged ≥80 years; 8.0% in patients aged 70-79 years; 60-69 years of age (3.5%) Under 60 years of age (less than 1%).
Case fatality rate was elevated among those with preexisting comorbid conditions—10.5% for cardiovascular disease, 7.3% for diabetes, 6.3% for chronic respiratory disease, 6.0% for hypertension, and 5.6% for cancer. And, In Italy, where the death toll from the virus stood at 52 as of March 4, the fatalities were all in people over age 60.)
- Total societal lock-down stopped the disease in China and other eastern jurisdictions with experience with SARS from the past. Such lock-down is underway in Italy.
- The economic and social and political impacts of societal lock-down are mostly negative and unpredictable.
- The American health care system will be unable to care for all these severely ill folks if they hit the hospitals all at once.
My Conclusions at this point:
- Total societal lock-down including cancellation of Christian worship is NOT necessary to avoid deaths.
- Loving shepherding instruction of the church, helping everyone to see the wisdom of the elderly and the sick staying home and allowing the young and the healthy to watch after their needs until things settle down. But, this will be a voluntary decision for each individual and family.
- Public Christian worship goes on. Using technology will be temporarily acceptable for live streaming the worship.
- Stay home if you’ve had fever with respiratory symptoms within the last 14 days.
- Considering cancelling all other Foothills activities at this time, other than worship, until things calm down. Considering…
III. Holly Ridge’s Current Applications and Counsel
- We will continue to meet this Lord’s Day.
- We would like to implement a voluntary selective sequestration of the elderly and those with underlying medical problems.
- This means that we highly recommend the elderly and those with underlying medical problems to stay inside until the viral storm blows over.
- This means that we encourage them to stay home from church and from all other outside errands.
- These categories of peoples are at much higher risks for death if contracted.
- Allow the younger – who are not in mortal danger to serve the elderly in running errands, grocery shopping, etc. for them
- This will be a good opportunity to pull together to serve
- We will need to come up with some protocols for those care-givers so germs are contained and not spread to those they serve.
- Those with fevers, colds, etc. for the past 14 days should stay home and not attend worship
- As mentioned in 2b, this is a wonderful opportunity for the younger generation to serve the elderly.
- We may need to organize this a bit as time goes forward to ensure we are meeting all the needs of all our people who need to stay in.
- This will be a difficult thing for our high-risk people to stay in for a while, so we need to rise up and serve them in a high-level capacity.
- This may require a reorganization of priorities and activities in order to serve effectively and thoroughly.
- Stock up on some necessary items and network among ourselves for needed items. We are already behind the curve on this one, so time is of the essence.
- Because of the manner in which this epidemic effects the population, businesses, and the macro-economics of society, many items we take for granted will be increasingly hard to find. For instance, go try to find some toilet paper today. Almost all Wal-Mart stores in the Greenville/Spartanburg area were out yesterday.
- Tom Penning’s doctor recommended getting 3 months of drug prescriptions filled as soon as possible.
- Consider what your essentials are and go get stocked up today if able.
- If you run out of anything, use this email list to share your need so we can implement our community to pool our resources and find items among our community for your household needs.
- Keep a good sense of humor, trust the Lord, remain thankful, and keep the focus of your thoughts on those virtues from above.
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy– meditate on these things.
– (Philippians 4:5-8)
Saints, this is a test for our church, but one that can work in wonderful ways in our body and into our broader community around us if we respond correctly. The Lord has directed this virus into the world at this time and we should not fear. Let it do it’s work in our hearts and through our hands to those around us. Let us become closer knit together and draw closer to God. His name is to be praised!
The LORD is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works. All Your works shall praise You, O LORD, And Your saints shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, And talk of Your power, To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, And the glorious majesty of His kingdom. (Psalms 145:9-12)
In Christ’s service,
(for the Session)
I have had both Michael and Matt on the radio before to discuss a couple of topics. Here are those interviews if you are interested.
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