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April 9 will be the 75th anniversary of the death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor who led German resistance. As the Allies were closing in on Nazi Germany, Hitler ordered Bonhoeffer’s execution and he was hanged at the age of 39.

Bonhoeffer is an important figure for all of us who are trying to live lives of kindness, generosity and compassion in an emerging culture that is dominated by strident and hostile ideologies. Bonhoeffer, who refused to sign an oath of allegiance to the Nazi regime, was banned from speaking, writing or preaching. In his book, “Ethics,” he wrote: “What is worse than doing evil is being evil… to lie is wrong, but what is worse than the lie is the liar, for the liar contaminates everything he says, because everything he says is meant to further a cause that is false.”
The greatest examples from history who resisted evil with measured resistance —Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bonhoeffer — did so with servant leadership…

by Chuck Cantoya

As I began to grasp the uncertainty of the global pandemic, a question popped into my head: How would I really like my life to play out? Gut reaction: I’d like things to happen according to (my) plan in a well-ordered, no surprise manner. Then it hit me – that’s a life that requires no faith whatsoever.

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Baptism Continues, Though Rome Church Services Canceled

Since Italy is a country that has experienced years of decreasing birth rates and is now considered an elderly country; the death rate in Italy is reflecting that reality. Currently travel is severely restricted, and stores and restaurants are all to remain closed until further notice. Only grocery stores and pharmacies are permitted to remain open, with some industries operating with restrictions. Going to a friend’s house for lunch or dinner is not allowed.

IMB church planter Reid Karr baptizes new believer, Akille De Chirico. The baptism took place in De Chirico’s home when the church was not able to meet due to the coronavirus outbreak. Church members watched the baptism online via a livestream.

These restrictions are of course having a significant impact on religious and church meetings of any kind. Churches have had to cancel services and find creative ways to meet and have community. Modern technology has been a huge blessing and help for many seeking corporate worship.

On Sunday, March 8 in Rome, Italy, the evangelical churches Breccia di Roma San Paolo and Breccia di Roma centro (downtown) were to meet together to celebrate the baptism of Akille De Chirico. Akille was adopted as a young boy from Ethiopia into an Italian family. His family has loved him unconditionally and walked with him through good times and difficult times. His father is a faithful pastor and his mother is a dedicated nurse.

Akille spent his childhood in a home where the gospel was taught and lived, and he followed his family to church where the gospel was faithfully preached. For Akille, however, Christianity was just one religion among many and had no claim to absolute truth. Akille began attending the church plant Breccia di Roma San Paolo in September 2018. The Lord built on the foundation of his many years of exposure to the gospel and opened his eyes to the exclusive truth claims of the good news of Jesus Christ. The Lord revealed to Akille that forgiveness of sins, redemption, salvation and eternal life are found in Christ alone. Akille made the decision to follow his profession of faith in Jesus with believer’s baptism.

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Reid Karr is a church planter in Europe. He lives in Rome, Italy, with his wife, Stephanie, and three daughters.

Reid Karr is a church planter with the IMB, serving in Italy

Yesterday, I “preached” my second sermon sitting at my desk at Converge Church. It is very strange not preaching during the Sunday Morning Worship Service. May the church be the church and may the followers of Jesus be salt and light in this world. Last week, I began a sermon series on the Gospel of Mark. Below is a link to today’s message:

Setting the Stage for the Arrival of Jesus

Based on Mark 1.1-8.

Bryan

 

 

Fighting Fear in Uncertain Times – Annie Holmquist

Recently a friend asked me, “What’s it like over there?”

“Pretty quiet,” I replied. “Rainy. Normal. Looking out the window, life seems fine.”

It’s when one looks away from the peaceful window scene and begins looking at headlines that the sky seems to be falling. Whether it’s the threat of viruses, the implosion of the stock market, a potential job loss, or even the next election, fear creeps in quickly.

How do we handle that fear? Do we dismiss it entirely and become flippant in our response to life’s challenges? Do we yield to it, hunkering down and putting the Y2K preppers of yore to shame?

It’s a delicate balancing act, particularly when we are facing the unknown. Yet we are not the first to wrestle with the reality of fear, nor will we be the last.

Take Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A German theologian and pastor in the 1930s, Bonhoeffer became famous for resisting the Nazi regime and for his role in an attempted assassination of Hitler, actions for which he paid the ultimate price.

The winds of change were beginning to roar in early 1933. Hitler’s rise to German Chancellor, the burning of the Reichstag, and the rise of the Third Reich were fast approaching. Bonhoeffer likely sensed the fear these changes caused and sought to comfort his congregation, describing the warning signs and dangers that fear brings:

1. Fear Destroys

Fear gnaws away at the inmost being of a person. “It hollows out their insides, until their resistance and strength are spent and they suddenly break down,” Bonhoeffer explained. It also destroys their connections to God and others that are vital in the face of need and danger.

2. Fear Mocks

When a person is in the grip of fear, “fear leers” at that person, blasting him with mocking words:

Here we are all by our­selves, you and I, now I’m showing you my true face. And anyone who has seen naked fear revealed, who has been its victim in terrifying loneliness— fear of an important decision; fear of a heavy stroke of fate, losing one’s job, an illness; fear of a vice that one can no longer resist, to which one is enslaved; fear of disgrace; fear of another person; fear of dying—that per­son knows that fear is only one of the faces of evil itself, one form by which the world, at enmity with God, grasps for someone.

3. Fear Weakens

“Fear takes away a person’s humanity,” Bonhoeffer explains, distorting him and taking away his dignity. “This is not what the creature made by God looks like—this per­son belongs to the devil, this enslaved, broken-down, sick creature.”

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be the church

Even though most church buildings are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, many pastors and members are busier than ever. Church leaders and volunteers throughout America are stepping up to serve their communities during a fearful time of unprecedented disruptions and long-term lockdowns. These churches are showing the world what it means to be the church.

At the outset, many congregations are providing food to schoolchildren, assisting homeless people, and coordinating with local relief agencies. And they’re emphasizing safety at every step, following advice about social distancing and reducing exposure…

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Due to guidance from the CDC’s 15-day plan, as well as local and state orders and advisories, Genesis Health Clubs will temporarily close all health clubs, effective March 17th. We plan to reopen as soon as possible, following local, state, and national guidance. Members will receive a prorated credit to their accounts for the days we were closed and we hope to announce a reopening date for each market soon.

In the nearly 30 years of owning Genesis Health Clubs, I could never imagine having to send a message like this or even contemplate this happening – Exercise is such a major part of our lives that it is essential we keep moving! I am so sorry that this is inconveniencing your workouts. We will be launching a series of work out at home group exercise videos and blog content tomorrow in order to keep our members fit until they can rejoin us in the club.

We share a deep commitment to health and fitness, and we encourage any member who experiences a fever, dry cough or any other symptoms to follow CDC advice in seeking medical attention. We hope to see everyone happy and healthy and ready to workout in the club soon.

Yours in Health,

Rodney Steven II

Church Cancelled Tomorrow

In an abundance of caution, the elders have decided to cancel our services tomorrow.  No, our city has not seen the ”community spread” that is feared.  However, in view of our significant senior demographic, in a spirit of cooperation with our community, and to help keep down the potential impact on our medical community, it seems prudent.

The elders have already initiated a conversation about how to continue to minister to you depending on how this plays out.  We are so blessed with online teaching and inspiration, as well as the ability to connect with each other using various digital means.  I encourage you to reach out to at least one person you will miss seeing tomorrow in church!

Please remember too, that at our web site (Convergechurchomaha.org) you have the opportunity to listen to past sermons and continue your regular discipline of giving.  Thank you for your faithfulness in that regard.

In the days ahead, we’ll be monitoring not only the news, but what we’re hearing from you.  Please feel free to reach out to Pastor Bryan or Pastor Mike—or any of the elders for that matter!  That’s especially true if you have any contact with this virus or are having difficulty because of the disruption.

Thanks for your patience and grace as we work our way through this together.  We’re all being forced to make decisions without much precedent.  President Trump has called on people to pray tomorrow.  That is NOT a difficult decision!  We are especially prepared to serve our country in that respect.  Let’s pray for a merciful reduction in the spread of this virus.  And let’s pray that the fear and heartache people are experiencing will open hearts for revival!

By Stephanie Martin

nano silver

Health officials emphasize there’s currently no cure, treatment, or vaccine for COVID-19, which has killed 22 Americans and infected almost 600. Worldwide, the death toll is approaching 4,000.

Bakker Touts Nano Silver Solution

For more than a decade, Bakker’s TV show and website have promoted Nano Silver Solution, which comes in various forms and reportedly builds the immune system. On the February 12 episode of The Jim Bakker Show, guest Sherrill Sellman, introduced as a “board-certified integrative naturopath,” implied the product could effectively treat the current outbreak. “Let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus,” she said, “but it’s been tested on other strains of the coronavirus, and it has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours.”

The show’s website also contains an article titled “Covid-19 Coronavirus, building immunity, staying healthy and the benefits of Silver Solution.” It includes quotes from Sellman about the importance of maintaining a strong immune system, plus references to “documented government studies that have been done on Silver Solution.” The article promises: “We will soon be providing a couple of these studies on our website.”

Although Bakker’s site touts the “natural, God-given actions” of silver, experts say it can make other medications less effective and can permanently turn skin gray or blue. The National Institutes of Health says silver not only is an unproven dietary supplement but “can be dangerous to your health.”

These Products Are a Threat, Officials Say

The FDA, which has given Bakker and the other companies two days to respond, calls “the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products” a “threat to the public health.” In particular, it’s concerned that fake remedies may cause patients to stop or delay recommended treatment. The FDA is extra-aggressive about scams “during a significant public health issue,” says Commissioner Stephen Hahn.

Letitia James, the New York attorney general who sent Bakker a cease-and-desist letter, warns: “In addition to being mindful about our health, we must also beware of unscrupulous actors who attempt to take advantage of this fear and anxiety to scam or deceive consumers.” James’ office gave Bakker 10 days to comply with the order, which states: “Your show’s segment may mislead consumers as to the effectiveness of the Silver Solution product in protecting against the current outbreak.”

Lisa Landau, health-care-bureau chief for the New York AG’s office, says she’s “extremely concerned” about Sellman’s interview.

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