For some reason, lately I’ve been thinking about our rights and things that are certain. John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” That’s good news! Anytime, but especially in days like these. Our hope is in Someone who never changes, and promises to give us everything that matters most and lasts – no matter what our circumstances, and based, not on our strength or will – but His! Verse 13 continues, we are given the right to become and live as God’s children because we’re, “13 …born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
It’s important to remember in these uncertain times that our lives are not found in the things of this world, but in the hands of a loving Father who “…works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). With that in mind, we know that whatever hardships we encounter they won’t last, and even if the worst happens, it will turn out for the best.
So, last week someone asked me about what happened to First Baptist Elma (then called Elma Baptist) during the Spanish Influenza outbreak in the early 1900s. Our records indicate that in 1918 the church closed October 13 through November 24. Not a good time in the history of the world or our country. Millions died, partly because people didn’t isolate quickly or extensively as WWI raged and young men were forced to travel and lodge in close quarters. Eventually public gatherings were prohibited and churches like ours were closed. Yet, after the quarantine Elma Baptist experienced growth – people believed for the first time and were baptized. We don’t know why God is allowing COVID–19, but He can use it to turn us and our neighbors to Him, for His glory.
That said, as we adjust to this season, here are a few updates. The church office, in compliance with Governor Inslee’s mandate, will be closed. Charlotte can still receive messages and prayers requests through emailing her at the church address, through private messaging, and by calling her (if you can’t reach her another way). You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call or text at 360-470-8406. Further, you can still stop by to pick things up – but Charlotte and I will be limiting our presence on campus as much as possible.
In any case, even though we are not able to gather physically, we can still connect through technology. There’s a bit of learning curve in this regard for many of us – but elder training and some life groups are starting to connect via ZOOM. Likewise, we are continuing to work on ways to experience a live service on Sunday mornings through YouTube or Facebook. That said, audio sermons will continue to be posted by Sunday mornings. I encourage you and your family to take part.
With that in mind, please continue to text me questions, prayer requests, and praises or stories of God’s faithfulness. We miss you, and love you – and look forward to seeing you soon, according to God’s good purposes.
Because of Christ,
Gunnar began serving as pastor at First Baptist Church, Elma in July 2012. He and his wife Corrine – and their three children Trinity, Eli, and Ian moved to Washington with a vision to help build a vibrant community of people who know the truth of God’s love for them in Christ, and express that love as they gather, and go out into the world. A veteran of youth, college, and young adult ministries for almost twenty years – Gunnar enjoys being in God’s Word, obsessing over sports, and spending time outdoors with his family.