Connect and Encourage

by John Martin

We are living in uncertain times. Most of us are having to adapt to a new (and hopefully temporary) way of living as we practice social distancing and remaining safe-at-home. Some of us are struggling with illness and others with the loss of income. Even our ability to gather as the Body of Christ has changed and it is very easy to become fearful and discouraged.

This past weekend as I was laying out my schedule for the week and realizing that much of what I do is hindered or had to change due to our current circumstances I asked God, “What can I do?” Without my knowing it, our founder and president was praying much the same thing and both of us received the same answer: connect and encourage!

As I prayed and went into my quiet time God laid two passages of scripture on my heart. The first was Hebrews 3:13: Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today”, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – Hebrews 3:13 NIV

The idea is that we come alongside one another and urge one another on. So, I asked God, “What can I do, what can I share that will help to encourage our team at NLW?” This is when God laid the second passage of scripture on my heart. The second passage was Psalm 119:89-95:
Forever, O Lord, your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands. They stand this day according to Your ordinances. For all things are Your servants. If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have revived me. I am Yours, save me; for I have sought Your precepts. The wicked wait for me to destroy me; I shall diligently consider Your testimonies. – Psalm 119:89-95 NASB

Just like us, the Psalmist David faced times of discouragement and disillusionment in his life. There were days when his circumstances threatened to overwhelm him, and he struggled just to pray. Sound familiar? Perhaps, as the warning from Hebrews tells us, your heart is in danger of being overwhelmed and hardened by these uncertain times. But look at the words from these verses of Psalm 119 for in them we find encouragement and the key to living victoriously in these perilous times!

Forever, O Lord, your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands. They stand this day according to Your ordinances. God is still the same faithful God He has always been! Our circumstances or how we feel about our current situation has not changed God one bit! He is still on the throne and He still loves us and will provide our every need! COVID-19, social isolation, the church being unable to meet in person nor the economic problems we face caught Him by surprise! He is still the same God who stilled the storm just at His words! He is still the same God who led Israel from captivity, who walked with the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace and who fed thousands with just a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread! He has been faithful from the beginning and He will remain faithful until the end. It is settled and God still stands.

For all things are Your servants. Do you believe that God is bigger than the Coronavirus? Do you believe that the economy is under His feet? Do you trust that God is in control of the situation and holds all things in His hand? He does!

If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have revived me. I am Yours, save me; for I have sought Your precepts. The wicked wait for me to destroy me; I shall diligently consider Your testimonies. Because the psalmist had spent time delighting in God’s word, he had the assurance that he would be able to persevere amid his struggles. David was so convinced of this fact that he stated he “would have perished” had it not been for his “delight” in God’s law. If you are concerned about the events of today, if you are struggling with depression and are beginning to feel overwhelmed then I encourage you to spend time in God’s word. Within the pages of his book are testimony after testimony of God’s faithfulness and provision. Diligently consider His testimonies and delight in His word!

I shared these passages with our staff and Dwayne led a discussion in how we can connect with our community and encourage them during this difficult time. What came next was one of the most exciting and productive staff meetings we have had in a long time (and for those of you who know the staff God has blessed us with, you know that is saying a lot)! During the month of April, we are going to continue to pray, praise and progress as we focus on connecting and encouraging. Here are some of the things to watch for:

  • We want to pray for you! If you have a prayer request please send them via email to prayer@nlwinternational.com Our team will commit to praying for each requests submitted and unless you ask us not to, we may share some requests with our community at large.
  • We want to partner with you and pass on what we have learned. Perhaps for the first time in your ministry you are trying to connect with people in other ways than face-to-face interaction. Due to the nature of our ministry we have been building online communities for some time! Now we know that we still have a lot to learn and we don’t claim to be perfect when it comes to building online communities, but we are willing to pass on what we have learned and help you to build your own online communities. Beginning next Wednesday, April 8th, we will host a weekly webinar (exact topics to be announced) at 11:00 AM Central. The webinars will be designed to help you better understand the importance of building online community and offer some practical steps to help you be successful!
  • We want to praise with you! We will be meeting with our members of our community weekly and come together with them a couple of times in the coming month to host an online praise gathering. These are not intended to replace the gathering of your local church but rather to offer another opportunity to gather and praise our God in an online setting with brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world. We have done a couple of these in the past and they have been tremendously inspiring while allowing us to fellowship with one another in Christian love. Our first praise gathering will be on Friday, April 10th (be on the lookout for more information).

We still plan to continue to work with church leaders to help provide them with resources and training in whole-life worship. We will still book events and make visits as the situation permits. We will still connect with our community and answer questions or offer advice where we can. While it may not be “business as usual”, we plan to continue to minister and fulfill the mission God has called us to. We hope to join with you in the days and weeks to come to connect with and encourage one another as diligently pray and delight in His word!

Blessings and please let us know how we can help!