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Fellowship Concerning COVID-19

March 17, 2020 | Posted by jamesshau in Uncategorized

Fellowship Concerning the Coronavirus

Practical Guidelines

Scripture & Ministry Portions

PDF: Further Fellowship | Revised Guidelines | Scripture & MinistryInitial fellowship | Coworkers’ Message in 2003 in Facing SARS | Stop the Spread of Germs

Fellowship Concerning COVID-19

Update 2020-03-17

Pursuant to County’s order to “shelter in place”, all our meetings are now online. Please find the information and schedule here.

A Prayer on the National Day of Prayer 2020-03-15

Further Fellowship 2020-03-07

Dear saints in Cupertino,

The situation with the coronavirtus has evolved greatly since our initial fellowship at the beginning of February. It is now right here around us in the community of Santa Clara County. We all are concerned and rightfully so. 

The greatest fear factor is the unknown, the what-ifs. Psalm 91 5-7 aptly likens pestilence to terror by night and arrows flying by day. But actually nothing happens by chance (Matt.10:29-31; cf. 1 Kings 22:30, 34). We are the most blessed people being kept in the Lord’s hands and under the Father’s loving care for His eternal purpose (John 10:28-29; 1 Pet.1:5Rom.8:28-39). Let’s remind one another to turn to Him, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb.12:2), and to cast our fear and anxiety on Him (1 Pet.5:7).

In accordance with the latest new guidelines from Santa Clara County Public Health Department, we also updated the section of the practical guidelines for all the saints to please follow. One key point in the County’s guidelines is the need of social distancing. The guidelines basically, for the time being, discourage all non-essential social gatherings, while very explicit in the stance that now it is not yet time to stop the essential, such as, closing down schools. Are then the church gatherings essential? 

We believe they are, according to the word of God. The church gatherings are the “dinner table” of the divine family (1 Cor.11:20b; Eph.2:19), the heavenly school of God’s kingdom (Matt.28:19-20), the work of eternal value of our true employment (John 6:27; vs. Matt.20:3). We therefore encourage the saints to continue “our assembling together” (Heb.10:24-25). Yet at the same time we also understand that each of us is in a different personal situation measured out by the Lord. We do not make it a requirement, much less a “standard” of any sort. We should all let the peace of Christ arbitrate in our hearts (Col.3:15) and decide before the Lord whether or not we ourselves should attend the church meetings, and let others decide it before Him. “Bearing one another in love to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace” (Eph.4:1-3) is the number one virtue required in the practical church life. This is to truly honor the Lord and to care for His Body. 

Lastly but most importantly, “First of all … prayers”! (1 Tim.2:1) Pray to commit ourselves and our loved ones to the Lord’s wise hands. Pray for one another for all the saints to be delivered from the enemy’s flaming darts and be saved into all the benefits (Psa.103:2), all the good (Psa.68:19; Rom.8:28) that God is working into us using the situation. Pray for the seekers and unbelievers around us also that they will turn from the vanity and insecurity of the world to God into His unshakable kingdom! (Heb.12:27-28)

Praise Him,

Your brothers in Cupertino  March 7, 2020

Regarding White House/CDC’s guidance on Santa Clara County 2020-03-11

In particular, regarding the point for  “Every Community and Faith-based Organization”:

“Consider canceling faith-based and community gatherings of any size or move to video-accessible venues or postpone/cancel.”  

We considered the suggestion, in compliance with the guidance, and understood the common point of view regarding church gatherings as non-essential religious activities, just as sporting events or the like. Our fellowship and guidelines for the saints remain the same. The brothers are in fellowship considering the feasibility of providing streaming access to Lord’s Day meetings for the saints who need to stay home.

Updates as of 2020-03-02

  • Summary of latest CDC updates (as of March 2, 2020 according CDC’s summary and risk assessment)
    • During the week of February 23, CDC reported community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 in California (in two places), Oregon and Washington.
    • “For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.”
    • “People in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported [including Santa Clara County] are at elevated though still relatively low risk of exposure (updated 3/7 to: ) with increase in risk dependent on the location.”
  • On the “Practical Guidelines”: We advise self quarantine for two weeks for people traveling from countries/areas against which CDC advises travel health notices of various levels; that is, as of 2020-03-02: China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, **most of Europe** ; 2020-03-12 update also removed Japan, and Hong Kong, but declared global outbreak notice. Thus we should use care for all travelling.

We continue to remind and encourage the saints to turn and cast our anxiety on the Lord “by prayer and petition with thanksgiving” (Phi.4:6-7; John 14:27; Isa.26:3).

2020-03-05: Santa Clara County issued new guidelines. We encourage the saints to follow, paying especially attention to taking care of the high-risk group of people.

Initial Fellowship 2020-01-30

Dear saints in Cupertino,

We understand the concern of the saints regarding the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (named “2019-nCoV”) that was first detected in Wuhan City, China. For the welfare of all the saints with our families and friends, the leading brothers are closely following the updates and recommendations according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/).

According to the present situation (as of February 3, 2020 according CDC’s summary and risk assessment):

   “… at this time this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.”

   “For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV is considered low.”

The brothers put together in the section below “Practical Guidelines” for the saints and church gatherings. We exhort all the saints to please follow the guidelines for the sake of the welfare of all, and for our peace and joy and the enjoyment of the Lord together in the church as His testimony on earth.

In addition, we feel that this is an opportunity for us all to be equipped and built up with the truth in the word of God that we the church may be “the pillar and base of the truth” (1 Tim.3:15), unshakable, abounding in faith and love. We thus prepare another section below “Scripture & Ministry Portions”.

Lastly, we feel that this is also an opportunity for us to be perfected and built up in love (1 John 4:12, 17). “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (v.18a) Let’s shepherd and help one another to turn to the Lord, casting our anxiety on Him (1 Pet.5:7). Let’s also care for one another practically, maintaining good hygiene for one another. Let’s care for the feelings of one another, especially for the gospel friends and the young/new ones who may not yet have faith as strong. Let’s exercise to bear one another in love in the Lord even in case of others’ “perceived” negligences.  Love “covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor.13:7)

Finally, brothers, rejoice, be perfected, be comforted, think the same thing, be at peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Cor.13:11)

Amen,

Your brothers in Cupertino  January 30, 2020

 

Practical Guidelines

As believers, we know and trust our heavenly Father’s unconditional love and care for His church and every single one of His children. In Psalm 91:

   5 You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day,

   6 Or of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

   7 A thousand will fall at Your side, And ten thousand at Your right hand; But it will not come near to You.

Yet the word of God is so balanced that the Lord Jesus Himself also says in Matt.4:7b, ”`You shall not test the Lord your God.” in response to the devil’s quoting from verses 11-12 of the very same psalm.

This word safeguards us from going to the extremes of blind superstition and of the lust for religious miracles. Rather, we should be sober-minded in taking care of our human responsibility, not willfully nor carelessly violating God’s law of nature in His creation.

We therefore exhort all the saints to please follow the following guidelines:

  • Please exercise to maintain good health and hygiene personally and in your family.

 

  • Update 2020-03-17

 

Pursuant to County’s order to “shelter in place”, all our meetings are now online. Please find the information and schedule here.

  • If coming from infected areas (specifically China at this moment), please follow the government guidelines to self quarantine for 2 weeks. Please take care of this also for the friends/visiting saints whom you are inviting to the church gatherings.

Update 2020-03-02: We advise self quarantine for people traveling within the past two weeks from countries/areas against which CDC advises travel health notices of various levels; that is, as of 2020-03-02: China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, **most of Europe**; 2020-03-12 update also removed Japan, and Hong Kong, but declared global outbreak notice. Thus we should use care for all travelling.

  • If any one feels sick,

    • Please stay home. Do NOT come to the gatherings of the saints.

    • Besides getting rest and, if needed, medical help, please remain in fellowship with related saints through various means while avoiding direct in-person contacts.

  • New 2020-03-07: Follow  Santa Clara County Public Health Department’s guidelines, especially related to social distancing.
    • Besides saints in the higher risk groups, we encourage additionally all saints, to stay “away from crowded social gatherings of people as much as possible such as parades, conferences, sporting events, and concerts”, or the like, for the health of all, especially those of the household of the faith.
    • Please pay particular attention to the section on “Guidance for the general public”, especially relating to avoid visiting to hospitals, longer-care facilities, nursing homes, and emergency rooms. + Airports per County 03-11.
  • Revised 2020-03-07:  Based on what we receive of the Holy Bible (Heb.10:24-25; 1 Cor.11:17-22; 1 Cor.14), we believe the gatherings of the church are as essential as work, school, and family dinners. 
    • We encourage the saints to continue “our own assembling together”, while diligently following all the guidelines above, 
    • At the same time, we should also respect the feelings of one another, each having his own personal situations before the Lord. There should be no condemnation nor criticism on, but instead rich mutual care in His grace and love for, those who do not feel to come to the meetings, nor to those who feel to sit further away in the meetings. Let the peace of Christ arbitrate in our hearts! (Col.3:15)

Scripture & Ministry Portions

  • Coworker’s fellowship in 2003 as the churches in Taiwan facing SARS:

  • Messages for Building Up New Believers (3), Chapter 39, “Illness” by W.N.

 

1 Thes.5:23 And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

24 Faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it.

Matt.10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for an assarion? And not one of them will fall to the earth apart from your Father.

30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

31 Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.

1 Pet.5:7 Casting all your anxiety on Him because it matters to Him concerning you.

Phil.4:6 In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

  7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every man’s understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

Rom.8:34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ Jesus who died and, rather, who was raised, who is also at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?

36 As it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we have been accounted as sheep for slaughter.”

37 But in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us.

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor things present nor things to come nor powers

39 Nor height nor depth nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rom.14:15 For if because of food [or, flu] your brother is wounded, you no longer walk according to love. Do not destroy by your food that man for whom Christ died.

Rom.15:1 But we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those who are weak and not to please ourselves.

2 Let each of us please his neighbor with a view to what is good for building up.

Heb.10:24 And let us consider one another so as to incite one another to love and good works,

25 Not abandoning our own assembling together, as the custom with some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more as you see the day drawing near.

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