Unprecedented… it’s a word I’ve use a lot the past week or so. I can tell you when we left for Spring Break, I couldn’t have imagined the fast sweeping changes that were less than a week away. For our students “unprecedented” meant that in person classes were cancelled for the remainder of the semester. It meant no more people in and out of the ROC House. Unprecedented meant all of our ROC events were cancelled until further notice.
But here’s the thing; while each of us is trying to cope with the unprecedented events that have unfolded, one thing remains true… this situation has never caught God off-guard. I keep going back to a quote by Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom who said “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Actually I believe that in many ways this current situation with the Coronavirus may be a great opportunity for the Church to shine.
So how has ROC responded? Well, let me begin by saying what an incredible Board of Directors we have. Their love for Jesus and our students is beyond amazing. With their guidance the ROC Staff and I have been working tirelessly to continue to meet the spiritual needs of our students. For example, last night we did something unprecedented as well… we held our first virtual Crosswalk. While it was no substitute for meeting in person, it was incredible to see the faces of so many people we love. In the coming weeks we will continue to refine the process and make it better, adding worship music, online chat discussions, and more. But it doesn’t stop there. We will continue with our weekly ROC Podcast. Instead of recording in the high-tech podcast studio of Schoonover Center, we will instead record over the phone and possibly in my low-tech garage! We will also be adding weekly video driven devotions for students (and our supporters) to watch at their leisure.
Last night in my virtual message, I encouraged our student to compare the two trees referenced in Jeremiah 17:5-8. Have we put down roots that will sustain us in unprecedented times OR will we wither and fade like the first tree?
We talked about 3 ways that we could develop roots that anchor us in tough times. First, we Look to Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to fix “our eyes on Jesus.” In times like these we can easily fix our eyes on other things, our worries, our fears, our concerns, but ultimately none of these things are going to help us make it through. Secondly, we are encouraged to Lean into God. Proverbs 3 tells us not to lean on our own understanding, but to trust in the Lord. In times like these we want to lean into things that provide us reassurance, but if what you are leaning into isn’t God but rather the government, your ability to stockpile supplies, or even your own strength, then we are setting ourselves up to fail. Let’s lean into the only one who is certain, steady, and does not change. Finally, we encouraged our students to Listen to the Spirit. Paul writes to Timothy and reminds him that the Lord did not give us a Spirit of Fear but of Power, Love, and Self-discipline. In times like these it’s easy to forget that… BUT what if… what if in the midst of all the uncertainty and scariness that God’s people chose not to fear, but rather chose to use our current situation as a means to bring the Kingdom of God near to those who needed it most. Think about that. If you tossed out all of your fears and started listening for the Spirit, what would it be whispering in your ear? Who needs your love, your help, your support right now? How about we all start there. If we do, I have a suspicion that our fear and worry will fade and God’s glory will be shown.
Before I wrap up, let me mention a couple really incredible things. First, we had an awesome experience serving with Crossroads Missions in Piedras Negras, Mexico. Check out this months’ Spotlight to read Tami Downs’ (mother of ROC Students Dava and Courtney) perspective on both ROC and the trip. Secondly, in case you missed the announcement, ROC is growing!!! This fall we will be planting a second ministry on the campus of the University of Rio Grande. We are beyond excited about this new opportunity. Please be praying for us in the weeks and months to come as we prepare to launch.
Finally, as I wrap up, may I just ask you to be praying for our students? This has been a rough time for them. Many have lost jobs, lost study-abroad opportunities, been forced out of dorms, and more. Please pray for comfort, guidance, and God’s provision for them. If you happen to know a college student, why not even check in on them to hear how they are handing it? As always, thank you for your love and generosity in providing for the needs of the ministry or ROC.