by Garth Leno
WINDSOR, ONTARIO – Although God’s work of redemption has begun, and his victory is sure, we still live in a world that is terribly broken. It does not function the way God planned when he put all things in place by the power of his word. The Coronavirus pandemic has turned the spotlight on that truth and on the church, like nothing else in recent history. Let’s not waste this opportunity.
No passage of Scripture underscores the current brokenness of our world and our culture better than Romans 8. The Coronavirus pandemic magnifies the brokenness we see all around us. The creation is subjected to futility. It’s in bondage to corruption, groaning in the pains of childbirth. There is a constant, merciless, unforgiving senselessness to life in a fallen world. The pandemic amplifies this ever-present futility a thousand-fold for most of us and most of our churches.
The Gathering in Windsor, Ontario is a Send Network church planted by God’s grace in 2014. We are determined to focus on the gospel and not waste the virus. We don’t want to squander the opportunities God gives us to share the love and majesty of Jesus because of the virus, not in spite of it.
As a local church we aim to move and minister every day according to the grace of God.
We have been able to provide some financial support to an assisted living residence in our city where many residents tested positive for Covid. We came alongside two church plants in our area and presented them with a cheque. We gifted more money to a local organization that works with the homeless.
The Gathering Church celebrated an anniversary during the pandemic, and we gave away gifts to every car that stopped in for our Drive-By Birthday Party. At Christmas our generous people collected dozens and dozens of requested items like coats, mittens, hats, scarves, sweaters, food, and hygiene items for two groups that minister to people in the downtown core of our city.
We assembled “baskets of encouragement” and delivered them to people struggling with the lockdown, and later, with the help of a locally-owned bakery, we made up bags of cookies with a letter of encouragement and delivered them to some of our most vulnerable friends to remind them of the hope we have in Jesus. Recently, we provided lunch for eight group homes in the area and for the staff and nurses who are working at one of the largest Covid vaccination centers here.
We are seeking God’s wisdom daily to understand how he wants us to address the fear people have about the Coronavirus. We don’t want to waste the virus!
So, we seek His wisdom to understand how we can speak to people boldly about something far worse than COVID-19, and that is their sin which can result, not in a fever and chills, but eternal separation from God our Father.
If you are infected with the coronavirus, you may experience severe symptoms and even end up on a ventilator. In comparison, the consequence of living in sin, without hope, and without God (Ephesians 2:12) is far worse. The wages of sin is death – sure and certain eternal separation from God.
So we must not waste this opportunity to share the love of Jesus with as many as possible. God has opened a door for us (1 Corinthians 16:9) to speak to people openly, and many times they begin the conversation with fear and worry. We know One who can help. Let’s guide the conversation to Him.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Garth Leno lives in Windsor, Ontario Canada, with his wife and one daughter, Jamie. Two more children, Nathan and Kristin, are married with families of their own. Garth is the senior pastor at The Gathering which he planted with friends in 2014. He is also on the Send Canada Advisory Board. He has a master’s degree in church planting from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and D.Min from Bethel Theological Seminary.