Guest post by Grant Caldwell, Director of Local Missions
While cancellations and social distancing might have little effect on many, this comes at a great cost for many of the families we serve through our local ministries. A lack of schools for an additional week after Spring Break means that students are missing five days of provided breakfast and lunch. A lack of youth programming means that students will have more free time with less safe places to go. Closures are going to have a direct effect on hourly wage earners without paid sick leave. The health care facilities we work with are not going to isolate but be on the front lines of caring for people. While our natural inclination is going to be to retreat into safety, my prayer for Christ Church is to step forward into Christian love and service.
Here is where we currently stand:
Our missions strategy is to listen first, act second, and that is no different in crisis. We will be partner-led in our response and work through our trusted relationships to serve families. I’ve been in direct contact with the leaders of our ministry partners, and they are working through their own plans currently. For our ministry partners in Binghampton specifically, we are working to coordinate a comprehensive response between ministry partners to serve families in the best way. While we are partner-led, they are neighbor-led, so they are waiting and listening for how this is impacting families specifically.
Shelby County Schools has announced that they will provide pre-packaged meals to students under the age of 18 during the additional week they are out of school. They have not shared locations for these drop-offs, but we are prayerful that there will be locations in proximity to the families we serve.
For now, we’re asking you to be in prayer for this situation and all who will be impacted by these disruptions. If you have not had the opportunity to access our Lenten Prayer Guide, For the City, To the Nations, we invite you to join in prayer for our ministry partners. Days 9-25 guide you through specific prayers for our ministry partners in the city. The guide can be accessed here. While prayer is our first step, it surely will not be our only step. We will update the church as opportunities arise to pray, give and go to serve the least of these.
One of my favorite characters in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia is a minor character in The Horse and His Boy, King Lune. At one point, King Lune is describing to his son what it means to lead, and he states, “For this is what it means to be king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat.” For 2,000 years, Christ followers have modeled this by being the first in every moment of crisis and the last in every retreat. The pagan Roman emperors couldn’t understand why the early church cared for their sick. The reformers were the ones who stayed in the midst of the plague. Even the history of our city is shaped by selfless Christ followers who served in the midst of a Yellow Fever epidemic.
While our natural inclination is going to be to retreat into safety, my prayer for Christ Church is to step forward into Christian love and service. May we be faithful with our response as we show a watching world what it means to follow our King Jesus who modeled this leadership to us by leaving the perfection of heaven to empty Himself and take the form of a servant (Philippians 2:5-11).