Is God Leveraging COVID to Prepare the Congregations?

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Has Coronavirus affected your spiritual community? I bet it has. Probably your spiritual community met weekly for a worship service with dozens of participants, if not hundreds or more. Then along came COVID-19 and things changed.

In Israel, there were drastic shutdowns during which we couldn’t go more than 100 meters from our house, and we experienced our first Passover in which no one was permitted “to go out of the door of his house until morning” (Exodus 12:22).  We learned how to meet on “Zoom.” We learned how to keep it communal by using Zoom’s breakout rooms for socializing even when we couldn’t meet physically.

Eventually, restrictions eased so that we could gather outdoors in a park overlooking the Knesset and Israeli Supreme Court. In September, a second wave of infections shut everything down again. Begrudgingly, we went back to Zoom since only groups of 20 people or less were permitted to meet together face to face – even outside. We decided if 20 people could still gather, we would form three groups of 20 (adults) and meet outdoors in three different locations. This plan continued to be a blessing until the cold, rainy weather arrived.

Thankfully, not one congregant has contracted COVID-19! It hasn’t been easy to walk the line of meeting in groups safely and continuing to live life as a light in the darkness, while not putting others at risk.

In an elders meeting in early November, we were praying and discussing how to continue during the winter. Asher received Acts 20:20 which says, “I did not shrink back from proclaiming to you anything that was profitable, teaching you publicly as well as from house to house.”

We felt strongly to not become a “Zoom only” community, while obeying the law, which dictates that only ten people maximum can gather together inside. We are now meeting in small house groups in several geographic areas in Jerusalem and just outside Jerusalem. The congregants gather in homes every other week, and then everyone meets digitally by Zoom on the alternate week. The Zoom meetings allow for the whole community to “gather” as one, including those who are abroad, those who are in self-quarantine because of high risk, and those who just live far enough apart that it is hard to attend a home meeting.

It’s amazing what God has done in the midst of COVID-19. We’ve gone from a community almost completely based on a large, weekly meeting in a building, to a community that can meet online, outdoors together, outdoors in smaller groups, or in homes in groups of just a few families each. All of this transformation happened in less than a year.

We long to meet together in larger settings, with the powerful worship in our hall with our sound system, etc. But we are also really enjoying the intimacy of just 10 of us in a home, worshiping “unamplified” together. We are being knit tightly together, and we are now better prepared for end-times challenges and end-times revival than we were before the virus.

What has God been birthing in your life and your communities? We’d love to hear from you.

Blessings in Yeshua’s Love,

Jonathan, on behalf of the Elders of Congregation Ahavat Yeshua (The Love of Yeshua).

jonathan@ahavatyeshua.co.il

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