Greetings from Slovakia! Some of you have written to ask – how are we doing?
As well as we could hope, given the situation with the Coronavirus in Europe. Many of you in the U.S. are already starting to experience the reality we’ve been living with for more than a week now – schools are closed for weeks if not months, stores are all closed except groceries and pharmacies, all public events have been cancelled, and church services and meetings are forbidden. International travel is mostly banned. We can still leave our homes if we want, but the government is encouraging people to stay home and practice social distancing when they go out.
Schools closed, churches closed… That means almost all our regular ministry work is impossible right now.
What does ministry look like in times like this – when so much of what we do comes in face-to-face personal contact?
It means protecting others by isolating ourselves and doing what we can to stay healthy. We’ve voluntarily canceled all our activities and are staying home as much as possible. It’s not easy, but we are usually in personal contact with hundreds of people each week. Our simple actions are multiplied across those networks, and we don’t want to be responsible for bringing this virus to a community or family.
It means staying connected, even when it’s not easy. We’re checking in on our local friends and ministry contacts – helping them stay connected in a time of anxiety and isolation, and offering help where we’re able. (Photo: Games with the church youth group, before and after the current quarantine)
It means redefining “presence.” We can’t gather together in person, but technology makes it possible to gather virtually. We believe the Church has a lot to learn about this, and God can work through even a global crisis like this to help us learn how to be more present with each other. (Photo: Virtual worship with our English Community Group)
It means using what you have to help where you can. While there are plenty of debates about the effectiveness of face masks, the reality is you’re required to wear one here when you go to almost any store or office. Masks are hard to find, and the Roma population particularly has a hard time getting them. Tanya’s been sewing masks for our family and others, and we’ll take some to the Roma communities as we’re able… and hoping to help enable them to make their own.
That in Slovakia – and all over the world – people will make responsible decisions that can help bring this pandemic under control. Two weeks ago most people here thought COVID-19 was just an overblown social media phenomenon… now our country is shut down and we wish we’d acted sooner. Please start now – make good decisions that can protect you and others.
For Roma communities – Slovakia is a small and mostly rural country, so the effect will hopefully not be as great here. But the real challenge will come when the virus hits Roma communities, where hygiene is typically problematic and many already have health issues.
That all of us would use these uncertain times to be more present, to be more loving and to be more still (something we all seem to have a hard time doing).
And finally, please remember to love graciously and give generously – things that are always necessary, especially in times of anxiety and uncertainty.
We’re particularly concerned about the CBF Offering for Global Missions, which keeps us and other CBF Field Personnel on the field. Click on this link or on the image to give now.
We’re thankful for your partnership, and we pray God would bring peace into your families and into our troubled world.
With our love and thanks,