The Sweet Home Adventist Church has been alive and well during the pandemic. Despite all the social distancing guidelines, God is showing us how to do what we can, with what we have, where we are and how to still meet all the regulations. So what have we been doing in Sweet Home, Oregon?
We are having regular prayer conference calls through which we spend an hour in prayer together. We are learning just how sweet that hour of prayer can be and how powerful the prayers are. We had pastors from all over led our Hour of Prayer on Jan. 1. The pastors chose the topics they wanted to lead, and it truly was a sweet hour of prayer.
We had a mini work bee in the gym/fellowship hall to spiff the facility up. The large space benefited from so many working together at once. We had fun and made a big difference. The only hitch there might be is that our pastor will have a crick in his neck from dusting the ceilings.
For the Pay It Forward Challenge, women of the church were invited to come by the church to pick a gift box. Each woman was asked to do random acts of kindness and pay the gift forward through the end of the year. One by one they came, looked through the gift boxes. When they found the one that spoke to their heart, it was theirs. The bonus was they could wave at each other and visit from afar as they came and went. Our community felt a big impact from this small event.
We also provided a Thanksgiving brown bag lunch for the people at a homeless encampment just down the hill from us. Each bag had sandwiches, chips, fresh fruit, pasta salad, pickles, cranberry sauce and cupcakes. Also included was a bag of daily living essentials with everything from socks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand/foot warmers, masks, wet wipes, silverware for their lunch, etc.
But that wasn't all. Merlin and Vonda Beerman of Revelation Publications donated Steps to Christ books with study guides for each person. Jan Forrester, who runs a water bottle ministry, donated bottles of water for each person with GLOW (Giving Light to Our World) literature, candy, masks and a tag with Scripture on one side and "Can I pray for you?" on the other. She now has the names of the people in the encampment and will praying for them by name.
Then someone donated $10 for EVERY Thanksgiving lunch and gift bag. And THEN (it just keeps getting better and better) the South Santiam Pathfinders delivered the food and gifts. The kids also handed out with sweatshirts and jackets for those who could use them. They made a point to talk to the people, look them in the eye and make them feel valued.
In December we took on the Christmas Challenge. Members brought new gloves, caps, socks, hand and feet warmers, scarves, and daily living essentials for Christmas comfort bags and gave generous donations to purchase needed supplies. Forrester again provided bottled water, masks, candy and literature.
Deliveries were made by driving through the church parking lot at designated times and dropping off their donations without getting out of their cars. Once the final supply deliveries were made, everything was packaged and prayed over by Les Jones, Sweet Home Church pastor, during the church service. Then Pathfinders delivered the Christmas comfort to the homeless encampment.
The church and Pathfinders are gearing up for a Valentine delivery. We will be delivering cookies and Subway gift cards to our friends at the encampment. With each visit we are blessed by their friendship and their appreciation of our fellowship.
Yes, things have changed, and Satan wants you to think there is absolutely nothing you can be doing to reach out, but that is just not true. If you ask God to show you what you can do, with what you have, where you are, He will. You can claim Is. 43:18–19: He is going to do something new. Won’t you see it? If He can make a roadway in the wilderness and streams in the desert, He's got this.
Don’t let Satan win.