COVID-19 Updates | Service Livestream (5 Dec)| Register for Worship (11/12 Dec)

 

Register for Christmas Eve Service (24 Dec, 5pm)

 

Caring Amid Covid-19: A Pastoral Note to GBC’s Care Group Leaders

Pastor Eugene, on behalf of the pastors and elders, urges the Care Group Leaders to maintain our bonds of community.

So between the death of Christ and the Last Day it is only by a gracious anticipation of the last things that Christians are privileged to live in visible fellowship with other Christians. It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world to share God’s Word and sacrament. Not all Christians receive this blessing. The imprisoned, the sick, the scattered lonely, the proclaimers of the Gospel in heathen lands stand alone. They know that visible fellowship is a blessing.”

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together 

The church, by definition, is a gathered assembly of Jesus’ followers. As God’s people, it is our joy to be able to come together regularly. This is a reason why the current situation is so challenging for us: We have been unable to physically gather as a church. 

Taking the right precautions to safeguard our health and that of others is wise, loving and socially responsible. Yet we must not neglect Christian fellowship. In times like this, we should be even more intentional about maintaining our bonds of community. 

Our Care Groups play an especially important role in ensuring that we remain connected with one another. Given that we are unable to congregate in larger gatherings, meeting in small groups becomes even more crucial for continuing our mutual discipleship and encouragement. 

CG leaders, the pastors-elders are very grateful for your faithful ministry. We want to encourage you to continue in the grace of God. May we not grow weary of doing good, for we will reap in due season if we do not give up (Gal 6:10). God is glorified by your work of faith, labour of love and steadfastness of hope. 

In times like this, what are some ways we can care for one another? 

1. Strengthen one another’s trust in God

In times of crisis, we can easily be overwhelmed by worry. Many of us are inundated with information and news (some fake) concerning Covid-19. In such an environment, it is not surprising that uncertainties and anxieties abound. A number of your CG members may be wrestling with fears: such as fears of suffering, sickness and death, fears of losing a job and livelihood, fears of loneliness and helplessness, and fears of the loss of security or control. 

We ourselves need to be strengthened in God’s grace. The resources needed to encourage others do not come from us. So resist the inclination to be self-sufficient. Humility positions us to receive grace from God: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Pet 5:6-7) We have an opportunity to model radical dependence on God for the members of our CGs. By acknowledging our own need for God’s help, we encourage others to also draw near to our gracious Father. 

So be in God’s word regularly. Scripture should guide how we respond to our circumstances. Allow God’s truth to refresh our hearts, shape our thoughts and attitudes, and lead our actions. Remember the words of Psalm 91: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (vv. 1-2) 

When times are tough, people’s hearts may be particularly soft to spiritual matters. Listen and speak sensitively to your group members, who may be more willing to share vulnerably and transparently about their struggles during this time. “Encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” (1 Thess 5:14b) 

This is an opportune moment for us to speak God’s truth in love to one another. Encourage your group to meditate on Scripture passages like Romans 8. This text reminds us that, crisis or not, God is still in control and he is always good. And no trial shall ever separate us from God’s love for us in Christ. The truths of the gospel are our anchor amid the storms of life: 

Romans 5:1-5
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” 

Jeremiah 17:7-8
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.” 

Let the word of Christ also dwell richly in our prayers with and for one another. Beyond praying for our physical wellbeing and circumstances, pray also for our spiritual health and hearts to be strengthened in Christ. Pray that we would have wisdom, grace and strength to press on in faith. When we feel our faith is frail, let us cry out to God for help: “Do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Php 4:6-7) 

Pray through the Psalms, or intercede with the words of the Apostle Paul’s prayers: May we “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:19a)! May we be “filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.” (Col 1:9-10a) 

May God’s word also dwell in us through “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col 3:16b) Although we are unable to sing congregationally, we can continue to give voice to God’s truth in our hearts. We can also encourage one another with the lyrics of our songs. This helpful article suggests 25 hymns we can sing in difficult times

2. Persevere in love for one another

Tough times may cause us to become self-focused and self-centred, as we become preoccupied with our own interests and wellbeing. May Christ’s sacrificial love compel us to move towards one another in self-giving service! “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1 Jn 3:16) 

Tough times present us with more opportunities to love one another. So let’s encourage our group members to be proactive in practically caring for others. There is much we can do to serve one another, even if we cannot meet face-to-face. For example: 

  • Write notes to thank and encourage GBC members who are healthcare workers and at the frontlines of the fight against the virus. 
  • Send care packages to GBC members who cannot leave the home because they have been quarantined or are serving their stay-home-notice. 
  • Help less mobile members with grocery shopping and meals. 
  • Mobilise our CG members to call or send messages to other church members to find out how they are doing and to encourage them. 

The world’s economies have been badly hit by the pandemic. Some of us may encounter financial challenges as a result. The church is ready to help. Do share any member-care needs you know of with the Member Care team @ membercare@gracebaptistchurch.sg. Allow us to be the church in how we help provide for one another’s needs. “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 Jn 3:17-18) 

3. Keep connecting with one another

Encourage your group members to follow the Sunday services online. While technology is no substitute for a physical gathering, we can nonetheless come together virtually to praise God and listen to his word. This helps us to stay connected with our fellow members in the body of Christ. 

We encourage CGs to consider meeting virtually using applications like Zoom or Google Hangouts. Come together online to study the word or have a “mini” prayer meeting. Keeping safe distance does not mean social isolation. And it certainly should not lead to spiritual distancing. Whether we are able to physically gather or not, it is vital for us to remain relationally connected to one another as brothers and sisters in the same household of God. God uses our relationships with one another as channels of his grace. 

So let’s keep connecting. Come alongside one another for prayer and mutual encouragement. In our trials, God gives us grace to strengthen one another in Christ: “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph 4:15-16) 

CG leaders, the pastors-elders also want to stay connected with you throughout these challenging times. Do share your joys and burdens with us, so that we can pray and work together to shepherd God’s church. May we all continue in the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit! 

GBC’s Pastors-Elders