God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Update #6 - Saturday, May 23

Hi Living Faith Family,

This update is longer than usual, but it’s been a while and there’s a number of things to share. Thanks for taking the time to read.

This week the governor announced that churches can resume in-person gatherings soon. This was both surprising and exciting. She referenced some details and we are reviewing more specific guidance that officials have begun to release.  Our elders and leaders are prayerful as we consider what this all means for us.

One thing I know for sure - the church of God has not been closed during this pandemic.  Sure, our building in Warwick has been - but in so many ways God has been teaching us that the “we are the church” slogan is powerfully true and living right now.  You have been the hands and feet of Christ to your families, neighborhoods and communities.  In some ways, our church has been more alive than ever - even while we miss worshiping together.

So, what are our plans for reopening the church building?  To be honest, we don’t know yet.  There are a lot of things to prayerfully take into account.  I ask for your prayers. We are beginning to plan, coordinate logistics and think through scheduling - but at the same time we are waiting on the LORD to give us a peaceable sense of “when.”

I shared with the elders yesterday that I was reminded of Noah and his ark construction project.  He knew it was going to rain someday, but didn’t know when.  His responsibility was to build the ark.  Then one day God said “go get the animals” and that was his new assignment.  He prepared.  He got ready.  And when God said “Noah, it’s time!” he was good to go! Noah didn’t know all of the details ahead of time, but Noah was faithful with what he knew.

So, we are planning and preparing.  We've put together a “reopening team” to lead the way.  That team will craft a plan and start enlisting the help we need.  As their plan comes together, we will share it with you. And we’re waiting on God.

I know some of you are very eager to return to the building.  I know some of you are a little hesitant to return.  I know some of you are concerned about your kids, some your older parents. Having these concerns, being eager, or being hesitant doesn’t mean some of you have more or less faith than others - it’s just the way it is right now.  I get it.  We’ve all been going through a very trying time and are processing each new part of this differently.  That’s okay.

In the meantime, here are a few things we know.  

  • We are going to keep live-streaming on Sunday services. We know that there may even be a time where we have more people in the room but still a sizable online presence. We hope you can tune in and worship together.
  • We are going to keep running home fellowships and prayer meetings throughout the week (virtually for now with hopes to resume in-person soon).
  • Sooner than later, we are going to start meeting together at homes (likely outside). These smaller outdoor gatherings will help us work towards our larger indoor ones.  These small groups are not a lesser option than the larger Sunday gathering - they are where the church really thrives. 
  • We also would like to open up some homes and invite folks to watch the Sunday services together. This was happening as we first started the quarantine and now we will open those gatherings up again.
  • God is always at work.

In addition, I want to report that in this season, we've seen greater generosity than ever before.  Not only have we been able to continue covering expenses (praise God!) but we've been able to help families in need and support those caring for others.  That's amazing.  During a global pandemic, rather than closing your fists, you’ve opened your hands.  I am very thankful for the maturity of faith on display, that despite not going to a church building weekly you still are faithful in giving. Thank you.

As a result, this week we are starting a few campaigns to serve and bless our community.  First, we have an opportunity to provide lunches for some front line medical workers as a “thank you” for all their selfless work.  Second, we are planning to continue helping  families in some of the hardest communities with groceries and more. And third, we are sending cards, notes, pictures to residents in a local senior assisted living center.

Lastly, I want to urge and appeal to each one of us to practice love and patience with each other.  This is really important.  You are likely going to have a different opinion, timetable, thought, or idea than someone else in this beautifully diverse body we call Living Faith Christian Church. That’s okay.  Different doesn’t mean wrong. We need to practice love for one another right now.  Thank you for your patience with me and our leadership team. Our desire is to love you and honor God. Thank you for your prayers.

If there is anything we can do for you, please let me know.  I love and miss you and can’t wait to be together again

With love & hope
Pastor Victor 

Update #5 - Tuesday, March 24

Hey family. I wanted to give you an update on a few things.

  1. Tonight we are launching our Living Faith At Home web page which will serve as our hub for fellowship and connection during the COVID-19 challenges we are facing. 
  2. Our midweek fellowships are all meeting virtually (video/audio) and we want to extend an invitation to anyone who wants to participate. "Face to face" connection is very important right now, as you all know. The At Home page will have times and links to all of the fellowships.  We're also starting a few prayer times as well as you'll see.
  3. Sunday we launched a new facebook group  that will have a lot of the same information but also allow our church community to encourage each other. It is a private group for privacy sake, but you're welcome to send a request to join if you aren't already a member.  It's a group just for our Living Faith community.
  4. We're continuing to pray at 8pm each night. I hope this has been a blessing to you. Prayer is certainly needed.
  5. We're going to have another meet up for all of the kids after our live stream on Sunday. Marcy will be sending info out to parents later this week.

A word of encouragement before I close - You aren't alone. 

God is working in some tremendous ways right now. I think one of the ways He is working in particular, is to show us where we are weak. Where we have depended on other things rather than Him. That's a good thing for us to recognize because it allows us to dig in a bit and grow in our relationship with Him.   Some of us are sad because we are disconnected from loved ones.  Some of us are afraid because of the onslaught of sometimes confusing info from various sources. Some of us are freaking out a little bit every time we (or someone else!) coughs or sneezes. Bring these emotions and worries and concerns to your Father. Use this time where everything has slowed down, to be with Him.

"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10

With you in love,
Pastor Victor

Update #4 - Thursday, March 19

Hey family. I wanted to give you a few updates mid week.

First off, you are all amazing. The amount of love and support I've seen everyone give one another and their neighbors is inspiring.  God is working through His people in wonderful ways.  Last night many of us gathered for home fellowships (mostly via webcast) and it was great to "see" each other once again.  Interpersonal connection is really important right now - even while we practice "social distancing".  We all left refreshed and refocused just by hearing each other's voices and being together.

Here are some updates:
  • We're not going to be gathering together in person on Sunday's for a bit but we will be webcasting live on Sundays at 10am.  You can go to LivingFaithRI.org/live to watch and you should also subscribe to our YouTube channel so you'll always know when we're broadcasting.
  • The noon Bible study is on hold for the time being as well.
  • Home Fellowships are not cancelled. We have set up each home fellowship to be able to gather virtually. I can not encourage strongly enough for you to participate in this.  If you are (or have ever been) a part of a home fellowship, contact your coordinator to learn how to get connected. You can easily join from your phone, tablet or computer.
  • If you would like to join one of our fellowships - please let us know! Everyone is welcome (and encouraged) to join us! We are planning to start new groups in the coming weeks so that as many people as possible can be connected. Here's our contact info:
    • Phone: 401-739-2444
    • Email - info@livingfaithri.org
    • Website - LivingFaithRI.org
    • Facebook - Facebook.com/livingfaithri 
    • Together Page (a place to submit prayer requests, testimonies, share needs or ways you want to help) - LivingFaithRI.org/together
  • And as you know, we're continuing our 8pm nightly prayer each night this week.

Brothers and sisters, this is season we are in is not going to end in the next few days. It's going to be a while. We're at the beginning stages - I've been praying a lot for patience and long-suffering, cause I know I'm going to need it.  But God is going to be with us every step of the way. We're all in the process of learning to live within new limits, at a new pace. It's going to take some time and we're going to have a lot of good moments and challenging ones too. That's okay. Life has always been about living one moment at a time. Walking by faith has always been about taking one step at a time.  We're just more aware of that now.

You are not alone.  God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

your friend and brother,
Pastor Victor

Update #3 - Saturday, March 14

Hey family. We're going to cancel our service for tomorrow, March 15th.

After the recent update from state officials, it seems like the wise move.  This isn't a decision based on fear or quenching the spirit - but a decision based on kindness, love and safety of everyone.

That being said, we want to encourage you to gather together as a family Sunday and worship.    Tomorrow, we will post a message and share some things online. Remember, we don't go to church, we are the church.  

A couple things to leave you with for tonight:

1. We will keep the form below open for the foreseeable future. I know parents will be making adjustments with kids home from school.  I know seniors are going to avoid the grocery store. I know some of you can't work from home like others can.  I know some of you are afraid.    

We live in an extraordinary time.  While we are practicing "social-distancing" and all, we are still able to talk, hear each others voices and keep in touch.  With that in mind, let's use it for good and gospel work.  Share your needs and prayer requests for sure.  But also if you know of ways to help or have a testimony to share too.  You can find this at the bottom of this page but also at a dedication page, LivingFaithRI.org/together.

2. Let's use this time not to just veg-out - but to draw closer to the LORD and each other.  It's very tempting right now to just watch movies and browse the web.  However, that's going to get old and stale quickly.  Rest and have fun.  But let's also be spiritually vigilant and use this time to draw near to God.  Pressure is going to increase on your marriage, with your children, on your finances.  Now is the time stay close to our Father.

Starting tomorrow evening, I want to call for one week of nightly prayer at 8pm.  This will be a time to pause and pray for your family, neighbors, our state, nation and world.  Take these moments each night to praise and thank God and also lift you hearts to Him.  We'll talk more about this tomorrow.

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

with love,
Pastor Victor

Update #2 - Friday, March 13

Good Afternoon Family. I just wanted to give you another update in light of our Sunday service and the coronavirus concerns. As of this post, officials have encouraged the postponement of large gatherings of over 250. In our case, there is not guidance to cancel, but continued precautionary steps to take. Here are a few announcements/reminders

  1. God is always at work.
  2. We will be having service this Sunday - However, as a precaution, we will not be having our monthly family luncheon (aka food day) this week.
  3. We did another good and deep clean of the church Thursday afternoon. We will continue to do this throughout the season of concern.
  4. We’ll be sharing enthusiastic waves and elbow bumps as our preferred greetings as opposed to hugs and handshakes.
  5. We have set up more chairs in the sanctuary so we can spread out a bit more in the room.
  6. Remember, if you or someone in your family is sick, it’s kind to stay home. Do not feel guilty about staying home if you’re not feeling well! Also if you have a weakened immune system, it would be wise to stay home for now too.  This also includes chronic health conditions (heart/lung disease or diabetes). You can always watch the live stream of the service LivingFaithRI.org/live
  7. Washing hands and hand sanitizer use are still the best defense. Avoid touching eyes, nose, mouth and model the best way to sneeze/cough (into your elbow). We have tissues and hand sanitizer throughout the church.
  8. We will likely be changing the way we do our offering and other practices that involve shared surfaces (kids check-in etc.)
  9. The reason we are making these changes is because of love and kindness not because of fear.

(Helpful info and updates can be found at cdc.gov and who.int)

Also:
  • Check on your elderly neighbors. See how you can help them.
  • Pray and worship together as a family. Sing. Talk. Listen.
  • Be an encouragement to people around you (in person, online). It is really needed.
  • Remember and speak the gospel. We have been delivered from all fear. Jesus has won the victory. The kingdom of God is coming! Remember this yourself and share this good news with people around you!

Finally, I find it very timely that God has been preparing our church with a message about rest, connection, limits, love, and un-hurrying. He has been shaping us to be a people of confident peace who can be sensitive to the needs of those around us because we are present and attentive. This is what our neighbors and coworkers need right now.  The end goal of all of this has been so we can be more like Jesus than ever before. That's what our world needs.

If we do need to cancel services in the coming weeks, Christ’s church and God’s work is not canceled. In fact, we just might be fulfilling our true purpose more than ever in those days.

You are the light of the world, God is with us.
with love,
Pastor Victor

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