Lockdown Reflection

When strict lockdown Level 5 began in South Africa 110 days ago, I think we all felt a very real level of "now what?" in relation to church life.  Our soup kitchen and Homework Club were thriving, going from strength to strength and I was excitedly preparing my Gathering Ground ladies group with training for a big year ahead. The Gathering had been consistently receiving prophetic words and pictures from God about expansion and birthing pains and getting ready for all the new that was to come. Lockdown certainly did not seem to fit at all with any of this, and I personally spent a lot of time initially asking God, had we heard Him wrongly? and, what are you doing in this Lord?

However, as days turned into weeks and we all started to adapt to the ''new normal" I saw something and realised something very beautiful was happening amongst us.  We had started to morph from The Gathering Church, a thriving family, missional church to The Gathering Church, a church without walls, yet unconstrained by Corona virus, or anything else that sought to come against us. Every single one of us has picked up their new mantle and is running with a gusto that can only come from God.  Faith has been ignited, and it is, funnily enough (!), as if we had been preparing for this for a very long time!  This does not mean that life is easy.  Most, if not all of us are still facing salary cuts, retrenchment, self isolation from COVID-19, increasing pressure in our work places, schooling children from home, or sending them back to the new thing that has become school, and is very scary at times. Many are still having to run the daily risk of exposure as they travel to work by minibus taxi, where no social distancing can occur.

We still cannot meet together on a Sunday, Wednesday prayer evenings, for Homework Club or Gathering Ground, as we are unable to meet the very stringent and necessary hygiene protocol to allow this.  However, God is releasing a new spirit of generosity and love for our fellow man that is quite beautiful.  We are seeing a huge increase of generosity in financial and practical giving.  Every member of the church is not only feeding their own family but also reaching out to those around them, providing food, clothing, prayer and love.  Beyond our immediate neighbours, as the church has strengthened and raised its eyes to heaven, we have been able to provide over 60 families in Firgrove and beyond with much needed food aid, meals, food vouchers, Street Sleepers, clothing and weekly soup at our kitchen.

Our Wednesday evening prayer meetings via WhatsApp have become 100% attended power houses of prayer and encouragement and many are learning to pray in a new and deep way.  Sunday WhatsApp church is a revelation, building a depth and a strength, faith and courage that enables us to seek strength from our Source, so that we can continue to lead our families and love our neighbours.

What we thought was impending disaster for our small expression of the church of God has in fact released something quite extraordinary and beautiful as The Gathering has been released outside of its walls!  I am more than confident that this is in fact our training and birthing ground for all that God has for us beyond the Coranavirus days.  Glory to God!

This is part of a new series of blog posts in which I stop ranting about the things I cannot change and focus on the positives of what God is doing, in and through The Gathering at this time, and what better way to start than with a great reflection piece from Paula.

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