The Baptists, like many others since March 2020, have been surprised by the world wide spread of pandemic Covid-19. However, many have learned that an obstacle eventually could be turned into an opportunity…
Baptist Church Planting
The EBF together with its mission partners facilitate about 40 indigenous church planters who work in 23 nations of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. They all have delivered reports from the ministry in the first half of 2020.
All of them have written that the pandemic Covid-19 has influenced their work as various restrictions, like distancing and a ban on face to face meetings or even curfew in some countries, were imposed by governments on people. The restrictions for meetings were temporary and the church planters wrote that they have restarted meetings within the range of legal rules.
Some of them informed that the pandemic has limited their activities and they had to change plans. But at the same time even new opportunities began opening up, especially via internet. This certainly can’t replace the real fellowship but thanks to technology the leaders could stay in touch with their people and even make new contacts. Below are some excerpts from the current ministry reports.
The church planter Fatjon from Albania wrote:
“Lockdown caused by Covid-19 was a big obstacle for our work. Due to lockdown, was not possible to meet each other personally, but new way for outreach was that everyone of us shared his testimony through videos published on Facebook. This was an encouragement for one another but also possibility for others to hear the Gospel. We were able to reach some new people who could hear from these videos how God changed our lives. The result is a large number of views that resulted in many new contacts. God helped us that an obstacle could be eventually turned into an opportunity…”
The church planter Kumar from Cyprus shared:
“Due to Covid 19 pandemic issue, there wasn’t much happening in the first half of 2020. From December 2019 until February 2020 there was constant increase in attendance, reaching up to forty-five and the meeting hall was crowded. In March 2020 there was an order from Government to close all religious centers and no face to face gatherings were allowed. From 1st June 2020 all religious centers were reopened, but still with strict restrictions, and our first service gathered as many as 10 believers.”
The church planter Edmond from Iraq delivered his report in May 2020 and the picture below was taken when the meetings were allowed:
“Since the beginning of year 2020, the general situation in Iraq was still unstable due to demonstrations and the threat of Coronavirus. The fellowship was totally affected in March, when the Iraqi government announced the curfew all over the country and the lockdown affected particularly big cities, like Baghdad. For people’s safety, we continue to follow up with all the fellowship members by phone. Due to the current situation some of them began facing challenges as the virus situation badly affected their jobs. We try to help the poorest families by giving them food packages.”
The church planter Richard from Slovakia informed:
“The pandemic offered a chance to step up our social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. Therefore, we made a plan for weekly posts, not only sermons but also other inspirational images from our lives. Right after the first sermon we were able to tell how many people watched and after a few weeks we gained more and more followers mainly on Facebook and Instagram. There were many positive and encouraging feedback responses. But all of the social media also comes with cons. The fact that we couldn’t personally meet was quite frustrating. During Covid we had more time to educate ourselves by reading books or listening to podcasts. This was a good way to prepare for the summer camp that is at hand.”
The church planter Tansel from Turkey reported:
“Due to the pandemic's effect on our relationships with the believers here, we created a calling list, so that we could be regularly in touch. Thanks to this list, we call each of the people in our church at least once a week. Along with this, every week Wednesday night we have a ZOOM online meeting. The goal of this meeting is to see each other, pray, worship our God and learn from God's Word. We are also using an app called Wunderlist by which everyone in our church service group may be contacted.”
The church planter Alexandr from Ukraine said in his report (the picture below was taken before Covid):
“Our church got involved in social ministry during the time of quarantine. We distributed face masks, food bags, hand sanitizers along with New Testaments. Is anything impossible for our God? Who can get the water from the stone? Who can make a sinner the child of God? Only God! "He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river" (Psalm 105:41). We prayed for Vladimir who had been prisoned, as his mother pleaded that God would change her son. Praise be to God Vladimir got saved and was baptized!!! As the summer came and the lockdown was lifted, so we started doing church picnics which bring much blessing to our fellowship. Such a time is really good for building up the group and sharing our thoughts inspired from the Bible. Informal events help our church plant to develop friendship between individuals.”
It is a special joy to witness and be a part of this fruitful work! It is really uplifting to know how the Baptist leaders react to obstacles and turn them into opportunities!
the church planters will continue their work valiantly despite different obstacles,
the people who are new contacts will become sincere disciples of Christ,
the mission partners will be able to continue cooperation with EBF in facilitating the indigenous church planters.
Planting new churches together! For the glory of God!