AGORA Ministries COVID-19 UPDATE
JESUS IS… STILL LORD
My father-in-law and founder of AGORA, Edgar Ackerman, used an interesting greeting when he encountered people. He would say, “Jesus is…” and he would pause waiting for a response before he finished the sentence, “…STILL Lord!” It was always humorous to hear people’s responses to this not so traditional greeting. He would ask this to everyone from pastors, to the cashier at the grocery store. The responses varied from excitement to total confusion, it was fun to watch.
I am 46 years old and have never seen this unprecedented shutdown of normal life and uncertainty that has come on so fast. In this season Edgar’s greeting is still completely true, “Jesus is… STILL LORD!” As I remember these words it reminds me of the words of David in the Psalms.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” —Psalm 23:4
Even in these crazy times our Lord is in control, He is STILL Lord, and He will comfort me even though we are in a dark valley. The hope, truth, and joy of a believer is that we are redeemed, we are saved, and He will comfort us through all things.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13
The practical day to day realties right now are real, they are not fake, they are not something to ignore, but they are not what our hope stands on or what our thoughts should linger on. You see as David wrote Psalms 23 and Edgar spoke his greeting, they were saying that no matter the uncertainty, no matter the fear, no matter the circumstance it does not change that Jesus is, and always will be, STILL Lord!! And in this He is “with me”, He brings “comfort” and He will direct and provide for me.
My prayer for all of us is: Lord you are in control! My faith and trust are in you! Holy Spirit would you bring comfort and strength; and Lord, may my hope always be in you!
Update on AGORA’s Day to Day
It is our heart and passion to serve those in highest need in our city. However, we also recognize that if we were to increase the possible spread of this virus to our staff or those we serve, it would cause greater harm rather than good. Therefore, we have suspended all ministry gatherings for the month of March and will reevaluate resuming after that. Please note that all gatherings have been suspended. Our staff is not “off”. But in light of not being able to gather, we will be creative in how we do the ministry.
What a blessing to live in a day and age that we have amazing technology at our fingertips! Through video conferencing we have been able to meet as a leadership team, as a whole staff, and in ministry specific teams. Our charge is to do ministry and to find ways of how we can do this creatively, safely, and compassionately to serve our community during this time. Here are some of the ideas we came up with and will be deploying in the next couple of weeks.
Food Ministries: This is a huge need but many of our elderly come to this and they are at highest risk. Therefore, we are currently finding the best practices for delivery of food, so that it is safe for our staff and those we deliver to.
Youth, Kid’s, Education/Mentoring and Women’s Ministry: We will begin doing some Facebook watch parties, and other social media events. We will arrange for prizes and games via mobile devices while students are at home. We will write notes, letters, and call our people to talk, encourage, and pray with them.
Staff Development/Training: This year we started the AGORA Urban Leadership and Discipleship course. We meet every Monday to learn about leadership from the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative. On Friday’s we learn about a discipleship or Bible related teaching. We will continue this via video conferencing and online. Over the last 6 months we have deployed an online course builder on our website and our staff will be going through Abuse Awareness Training and other leadership and learning courses.
There is a famous English proverb that says, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” The side effect to these uncertain times is that we cannot just sit in our traditional patterns. We need to adapt, change, and be creative. As AGORA is preparing to expand to other inner-cities and send staff to other locations, this time makes us practice the experience of being disconnected geographically but staying in unity, purpose, and collaboration. Using modern tools to do this is a great thing and we believe it will produce results for His Kingdom!
It is our prayer that you would be at peace, and have joy, and comfort through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is… Still Lord,
Executive Director/ Lead Pastor
Spring Missions Teams
We had 2 weeks of missions trips scheduled. The first week of missions trip was amazing! We have Chi Alpha students from 4 universities. We canceled the second camp due to the Coronavirus.
One of the key components of our camps is teaching students the need to serve with the hands. They sanded storage containers for our staff housing, painted, prepared the area of our building for staff offices, and much more.
Sharing the love and hope of Christ with our community is vital to our mission. The students shared with homeless, 3 days of kid’s ministry in 2 different locations, and one on one praying for people downtown.
We prepare our missions trips so that the teams leave changed and have grown from the experience. Each team member is challenged to take their commitment home and live their best life for the Lord.
Microsoft Teams in Action
AGORA Flickr Gallery