Before offering some practical information on behalf of The U.S. Foursquare Church, I would like to share my heart with you.
I have my leather Bible opened in front of me today. I needed the paper version, not the digital one. I even chose to mark a particular passage of Scripture that will keep reminding me of a holy hope that is based on the foundation of God’s Word, not a hope that’s based on what I read in the news this morning, or the latest turn in the stock market. I know too well that I can read tragic news today or see the stock market plunge. I must anchor my life in something that will not be moved in a season of storms or in a season of success.
The early disciples sure learned that the “fire” of Pentecost would be tested by the “fire” of a burning stake from an angry mob. The story that so moved me all of yesterday and through the night was the one in Acts 27, where they were transporting the Apostle Paul, as a prisoner, to Rome. Yes, they were headed to Italy. We couldn’t get there today due to obvious reasons. They traveled the old-fashioned way, aboard a boat, the Alexandrian.
Their journey reminded me of the present season. Lots of debate about the prospects of the future. Some were cautious, and some wanted to plow ahead, despite Paul’s admonitions. After all, he could be judged to have had selfish motives of wanting to wait. Nothing good could come from him going to Rome.
They were ultimately battered by a Nor’easter storm. They threw their cargo overboard and even their fishing tackle. They did everything they knew to do to save their lives and the ship. Paul spoke up in the middle of this fiasco. He reminded them that they had forsook his advice. Facing his friends and his enemies, he gave them this charge, which I will paraphrase: “I know you have given up hope. But I have a holy hope. Because I have heard from the Lord. Not a past word, but a present one. He wants you to know that this storm will pass. But you can’t panic, you can’t jump overboard. Stay with the ship. And to those who will trust Him, He will save them. Not one of you, who trusts in Him, will be lost. Not one!”
The whole world is going through a storm now. It’s unprecedented. Many people are so afraid. Some people’s jobs are being threatened. People are sick and dying. The future seems so unclear. As leaders, trusting God must begin with us. God uses us to point the way for others when they can’t see the way. Get a Word from God. Paul’s life was spared. Everyone on the boat was spared. Though, Paul soon faced an execution, God took the seeds of his life, and experiences and words, and planted them in good soil. Even today, thousands of years later, we still find holy hope in them.
Through this holy hope, we stand in solidarity with our global family, all of the U.S. workers (including missionaries and area missionaries) as well as national leaders who are linked with us, serving around the world, who also are navigating this complicated time and in need of support and hope. Next week you will receive additional communications from Foursquare Disaster Relief (FDR) outlining more practical ways that we as The Foursquare Church can engage and love our global community in these uncertain days.
In the meantime, stay with the ship. Get a Word from God. Trust Him with your future. I’ll finish with Paul’s closing words in Acts 27:25 (TLB):
“So take courage! For I believe God! It will be just as he said!”
Call to Prayer
Everybody to their battle stations. All hands on deck. Continue to pray and labor with us.
- Pray against the spread of the virus.
- Pray for the divine healing of those affected.
- Pray for the church to find its voice in the midst of chaos and confusion.
- Pray for extraordinary finances and generosity during this crisis.
- Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to empower witnesses throughout the world to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Let’s work until the day is done. There is coming a nightfall, when no one can work (John 9:4). The world needs us.
Foursquare Leader Prayer, sent each Monday, will focus on the season we are in. This coming Monday, President-Elect Randy Remington will have a word of encouragement and challenge for you on our “Unshakable Kingdom.” Please pray through these prayer points daily to target our spiritual responses to the current crisis.
Four Important Updates
Next week, we are releasing the 40% tithe return back to churches who qualify. The checks will total around $6 million. God was good to allow us to plan for these days. The ICFG board has removed all guidelines for these funds during this uncertain season. We trust you. We know that you’ll use this seed money to help other churches, cover shortfalls, sow generously into your community, and help expand the gospel around the globe. We look forward to the stories of God’s miraculous touch on your stewarding of these funds.
The ICFG board, district supervisors, and officers are asking you to be gracious adherents of the national, state and local recommendations and are expecting compliance with national, state and local laws. We are called to be good citizens and our witness of living “under authority” will be our clear and compelling testimony of our care and concern for the world, their health and their safety (see Titus 3:1-2, NLT). The recommendations are not targeted at the Church or our ability to preach or share the gospel. “Preach,” just do it in ways that the old foundations would not allow. New streams will burst forth with new life. Think creatively. Your District will be resourcing you with stories about what other churches are doing to give ideas to consider. There are also helps for technology they will share with you. Read through your district’s email communications and check their website. Also review the CDC’s resources for community and faith-based leaders, as well as Foursquare’s Legal Q&A.
Global Summit Cancelled
It’s not a coincidence that our theme this year focuses on Jesus, our Soon-Coming King. We are being “Compelled” to share His love and story with the world. Though we have cancelled our Global Summit and Global Council meetings, we will still find creative ways to connect with our global family. A Global Prayer Network already allows us to do that.
Foursquare Connection 2020 Update
An announcement next week regarding Foursquare Connection 2020 will follow a call with our ICFG board. We encourage you to hold off on booking tickets or making additional plans until a decision is made. We will communicate on March 26 concerning that decision. Randy, myself, and the board appreciate your prayers as we consider alternate options for connecting and resourcing.
The Church was wired for this day. It’s what we were purposed for. We are the light on a hill. Every major persecution or crisis in history has found the Church stronger, more effective, and leading the way with hope, compassion and courage. Today is no different. We must allow new wineskins to emerge to allow Jesus to pour “new wine” in us.
COVID-19 Church Online Summit is a two-day digital summit on March 26 & 27 for churches and church leaders responding to COVID-19 presented by the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College and National Association of Evangelicals. Learn from leaders around the world about how your church can respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Register here.
HR Ministry Solutions provides up-to-date news, CDC information and practical tools that speak to your church staff’s human resources needs. Download HR forms, find tips for managing your team and get equipped to lead well in the midst of crisis. Get HR resources here.
National Association of Evangelicals offers more tools for responding to the COVID-19 crisis including various communication plan guidelines, responses and updates from other denominations and practical resources for leading your community. Find NAE resources here.
“4 Urgent Considerations For Churches Canceling Their Services,” from Outreach magazine, offers helpful ideas as you transition from in-person services to online interactions with your congregation. Read the article.
Tips for Healthy Churches (COVID-19 Safety) Facebook Group. Stay connected with other Foursquare leaders, get resourced and remain up to date with announcements, news and other happenings within our Foursquare family. Join the group.