Dear Hope Church Family!
As of today, the President has strongly encouraged and our Governor (Northam) has echoed the same as to reduce our meetings to 10 or less. While neither the President nor the Governor specifically mentioned churches, it is implied that we are included. The Governor has actually put a ban in place for no more than ten people in certain establishments (bars, restaurants, theatres and fitness centers). Again, while he did not state churches specifically it is most certainly implied. In light of this new information we want to do what the Bible instructs us to do in Romans 13:1-7.
"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." Romans 13:1-7
We want to comply with the request of our Governor and will in no way seek to defy our government. As long as they do not ask us to do something that is contrary to the Word of God, we have a Biblical obligation to obey the orders from those appointed over us. Having said that, we are going to go strictly online for the next two weeks. We will keep service times as normal on both Wednesday and Sunday. We will broadcast from the sanctuary so there will be some in attendance at Hope Church but only the necessary people, which (most know who they are already) I will personally contact to ensure we are all on the same page.
For those of you not involved in production we are asking that you stay home and worship with us online. I have suggested that those who desire can even meet up at another Hope Church partners home and still worship together (keeping it under 10 people of course). This is also a time where you could invite your neighbors over to your house to watch service and fellowship with you. This is a great time for personal evangelism realizing that the church is not now, has never been, nor will it ever be an actual building but “5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5.)
The church has survived for centuries and been through numerous infectious diseases, natural disasters, famines, persecutions and trials yet it still remains one of the strongest institutions on the face of the earth today. The church is not going anywhere. This is an opportunity for evangelism, church growth, Kingdom Expansion and for Jesus’ name to be made famous throughout the land. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).”
We will get through this and come out even stronger than before. This is a time of great trial but with great trials comes stronger faith, deeper understanding, revelation from God, renewed strength and greater hope. God is still on the throne and will forever be.
Blessings to each and every one of you. I am blessed to labor in the harvest fields with you. You are an amazing group of believers and I believe we have only just begun at Hope Church. The enemy is moving quickly to destroy things, but know this, OUR GOD IS MUCH BIGGER AND FAR GREATER than anything the enemy does or will do.
We will see you online Sunday at 11am live from the sanctuary of Hope Church Newport News. We won’t air tonight in order to prepare everything for Sunday, but I encourage you to come together in your homes and invite your friends and neighbors. Be the light in this dark time, be the hope in these times of seemingly hopelessness, and be the rock for those who are fearful and having a hard time dealing with what’s happening.
Pastor Russ and Lady Saffi
Hope Church Newport News