Now is the time for everyone to look out for their neighbors

Contributed Community

By Chet Thomas

Even though I am no longer a resident of Morgan County, I still consider it to be my home. I am thankful that we have the ability to keep up with what’s going on “back home.”  

How has the pandemic affected my world?

You think you have everything planned out in detail, and then something comes clear out of the blue to blow all of those plans right out of the water. 

Like most, I was not too terribly worried about this at first. Then, on Thursday, March the 12, I received a text from our church’s youth leader that El Salvador had closed its borders, and therefore the mission trip that she was leading there, set to leave the next day, was canceled.  That was when I realized that we had a serious problem on our hands. 

I still wasn’t too worried, even when our church attendance the following Sunday was extremely low, though an exceptionally large number of online participants mostly offset this.

The next day on Monday, I had a video conference call with someone from the Florida Baptist Convention along with a number of other local pastors. Several of them commented on how they were either going to an online-only format, or were suspending services all together. Somewhere between worship services on Sunday and the meeting on Monday is when I began to see where this was headed.

A couple of observations:

I have seen the not-so-nice side to humanity: stores have had to limit toilet paper (toilet paper) to two per customer due to hoarding. When a local grocery store opened up the morning after they didn’t receive their expected shipment, they had sheriff deputies standing by in case there was a riot when this was announced to the crowd that had lined up to get in early. (There wasn’t, thank heavens.)

I have also seen the best in some people: a young couple in our church volunteered to go get groceries for any elderly person in our congregation that couldn’t get out and even when we were lined up around the building at Sam’s Club to get toilet paper, everyone was calm and friendly (one nice lady even helped us get a cart).

While we had plans for the next several months, everything, and I mean everything, is up in the air. No one knows how long this will go on, or what things will look like when it is done. Right now, our family is focused on getting through each week, and seeing how this develops.

For our church, at the moment, our biggest challenge is to continue to do the same things that we have been doing, but now we have to do them in a different way. A great deal of out of the box thinking has been necessary. 

Thankfully, technology opens some doors that simply weren’t there 10 years ago. Facebook has been a godsend.

My wife and I are also looking forward to spending some more quality time with each other and our kids (Netflix and Disney plus have been godsends, too). 

Looking ahead, I shudder to think of the economic impact of all of this. While we will eventually weather the pandemic, many businesses will close, or at least downsize, and that means a lot of people out of work. The ripple effect throughout the rest of the economy will be considerable, to say the least. Everyone needs to look out for their neighbor, and remember the parable of the sheep and the goats, where they were divided based on how they responded to “the least of these.”

Praying for you all!

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