September Update

Belong, Become, Be Sent… if you’ve been reading our monthly updates for any length of time, you might recognize these as ROC’s 3 Core Values. These 3 values drive everything we do (both during “normal” times as well as in the midst of a worldwide pandemic). I have to admit that Covid-19 has certainly been challenging in that it has required us to totally rethink the means by which we go about fulfilling our mission, but it definitely has not prevented us from doing so. We’ve shifted worship and teaching to Zoom and YouTube, Bible studies meet virtually and in small groups in apartments and locations around Athens and Rio Grande, and checking in on our friends and community members is accomplished with phone calls and facetime. “Different” would be a good word, not necessarily bad, just a lot different.

In the midst of all, this I am continually reminded that God is both good and still in control. Here are a couple examples of this. First, we continue to grow (both in numbers and in faith). I’m amazed at the ways that God has brought new people into the community. Some of them have personal connections, but others simply “found” us online. Secondly, our student leaders have stepped up in amazing ways during this strange time in order to propel forward the community they love so much. They are leading Bible studies, coming up with creative ways to reach others, and caring for our community members by checking in on them. Finally, I am blown away by the ways that God had been preparing us for this challenge before we were even aware of what He was doing. Long before Covid-19, God had opened up doors for us to move to an online presence. In addition to renovating our website and starting a podcast, we’d been working on video design and editing as well as utilizing social media to share our content. I can assure you, nobody knew at the time how vital these functions would become to continuing our mission. Thank you, Lord!

As I’ve mentioned before, it was never our goal to plant a new ministry in the midst of a pandemic, but this has not hindered God’s faithfulness. As I write these words, our ROC at Rio Coordinator, Noelle Mash is doing the last of her packing in order to move into her new apartment at Central Christian Church in Gallipolis, which will allow her to expand her time on campus. We’ve been making some great contacts at Rio since classes resumed. During move-in ROC staff and volunteers handed out freezer pops on a couple hot days in late August. We had an absolute blast getting to meet the staff and students there. Also, on Wednesday of this week our ROC worship team will be heading to Rio for our first Outdoor Worship Night at Rio. Please be praying that God would bless all these efforts and more as we seek to expand His Kingdom.

Left- part of the ROC group gathered for a Zoom meeting. Right- ROC at Rio Student President Kristi McKnight during the popsicle outreach during move-in.

Speaking of Worship Nights, one of the highlights of the last few weeks for me was our Outdoor Worship Night at OU. With current Covid-19 guidelines from both the state of Ohio and the university, we felt that gathering as a larger group indoors was probably unadvisable, so we instead chose to meet outdoors at the Scripps Amphitheater. Our ROC worship team and my good friend Chad Dodson led our community in worship throughout the evening. Additionally, our students shared Scripture, testimonies, and much more. Although many of our community members are still spread out all over the state, it was great to see so many faces in person, while being able to stream the service online to those far away. It was a great evening.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support for the ministry of ROC during a time when both are greatly valued and appreciated. Please also continue to pray for God’s wisdom and guidance during this time.