During this past Easter season, I was listening to the song, “In Christ Alone”, by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, having been blessed by it many times. Then coming to the third stanza –
“Here in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again.”
But this time, it took on even greater emotion, amidst all of what is taking place in each of our lives and at Bethesda Mission during the COVID-19 virus. While we found ways to meditate and remember our Savior over Easter, it just wasn’t the same. I reflected on David, running and escaping to the caves, longing to be in the tabernacle, rejoicing and praising God with others: “These things I remember, as I pour out my soul, how I used to go to the house of God, under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise, among the festive throng.” (Psalm 42:4)
While experiencing a contagious virus, isolation, loneliness, racial unrest, 6 months of events unprecedented in decades and perhaps in our lifetimes, any normalcy has been severely disrupted and elusive. Inside the ministries of this House of Mercy called Bethesda, the intensity of these events has been acutely experienced.
Bursting forth profoundly and powerfully captures the desire of the hearts of our staff and guests, and may I presumptuously say, for our volunteers and donors. We are excited to burst forth from the months of being quarantined and cordoned off from each other, our communities, our work, of being able to minister much more effectively to each man, woman and child God brings to our doors and into each of our lives.
Hear the hearts of our Directors who have been walking through the intensity of the wilderness of this pandemic with their staff and guests, seeking and finding streams of living water, experiencing God’s everlasting love and faithfulness in newfound fresh touches from our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Don Koch, Men’s Shelter Director of Social Services
“For months during the initial COVID-19 restrictions, we were not able to take new guests at the Men’s Shelter. Existing guests remained here and we ministered to them and saw God working in their lives through those trying times. Now moving forward, we have been taking new men again for some time and we have the privilege to see new lives impacted and changed. I have always believed contact = impact. We see in Matthew 8:1-3 “a man with leprosy came and knelt before Jesus and said ‘Lord if you are willing you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man and said ‘I am willing, be clean’ and immediately he was cleansed of leprosy.” Jesus met this man’s need through contact. As believers we are called to be Christ’s representatives here on the earth, to have contact with those in need and with the Holy Spirit in and upon us we see lives transformed.”
Shelley Brooks, Director of Women’s Mission
“For most people, the challenge was in the ‘unknowing.’ Unknowing what to do or not to do; wondering how to keep people safe; how to keep business and the life of the guests flowing; and how many homeless people needed help but had no way to access assistance. The ‘unknowing’ became a ‘trust and obey’ moment of time for us at the Women’s Mission. When you don’t know you “be still and know that I am God.” You wind up not even asking the ‘why’ questions, you just sit before Jesus on the throne and trust that you are in the palm of His hand. This was a time of growth, internally and spiritually for our women and staff. We wound up enjoying the time to be still and pray for our families, essential workers, our volunteers, and our world, realizing that God’s ways are so much higher and greater than ours and that ultimately, God’s plan of redemption is at work through a world-wide pandemic.”
Andre Cooper, Director of Community Center
“The biggest struggle we saw was the separation. We are a ministry that is built on relationships. That means the people that God has called here are people who thrive on relationships. We have seen families and staff struggle emotionally because of the isolation. We have all struggled with our purpose when we are being kept from what God has called us to do. In the midst of the struggle, God is always faithful. I believe we will be stronger because of this. We had to be reminded that our hope and satisfaction is in the Lord. In the midst of “losing” the whole world, it seems, we didn’t lose our soul. God has once again showed us that we are more than conquerors. We have an expectation of God “bursting forth” a renewed thirst for Him and a new hunger to do His work.”
Dave Hicks, Director of Outreach
“Outreach Ministry continues to navigate challenges from COVID-19 that acutely affects scheduling and building use restrictions, doing so through God’s wisdom, flexibility in creative scheduling and willingness to pivot systems based on daily needs. Regardless of virus related difficulties, God is creating a movement in the Mechanicsburg-based warehouse with a wider than ever breadth of food bag church participation, fresh partnerships like the USDA “Farm to Family” pre-packed produce, meat and milk boxes all focused on sharing the love of Jesus and impacting our neighbors in Central Pennsylvania. Outreach is excited to find more men, women and children in need and step into the gap with God’s love.”
Restricting access to our Shelters and Community Center thwarts our ability to reach men, women and kids who desperately need the life changing services and programs Bethesda Mission offers every day. So we continue to delicately walk through the protocols and restrictions to do our best to provide a safe environment. But it is the antithesis of who we are, and who you are, as your heart’s desire is to serve the underprivileged. Slowly things are opening up and we’ll see the number of men, women and kids increase, and it can’t happen quickly enough.
Going into the last quarter of the year, represents 3 months when 40% of our income is realized. I sincerely request your prayerful consideration of what God would have you provide to sustain and help this ministry thrive as we move into 2021. Thank you for prayers and gifts!
P.S. Due to COVID-19, we are redirecting our annual Banquet Celebration from the Radisson to the Men’s Shelter Chapel. The program will be shared online with a small audience in physical attendance. Many elements of the Banquet program will be experienced, celebrating what God has done in the life of this House of Mercy over the past year. The details were mailed in August and are available on our website. Don’t miss tuning in!
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