The past year has presented many problems for churches- but also new opportunities. Read how God has blessed the efforts of Pastor Kurtis Freimuth and his wife, Andrea, the Peace Lutheran congregation in Deshler, Ohio, people in the community and many around the world!
The “Mornings with Mommy” and our “Daily Devotions” programs started out of necessity during the COVID shut down last year. We were faced with a complete withdrawal from the community which seemed so contrary to the Great Commission.
During the shutdown, we started picking up online viewers for our worship services and the Lord presented the question: “What will people do while they are stuck at home?” The answer: social media and binge watch their favorite Netflix shows. So, why not provide quality religious content?
I began to Livestream Bible Study on Sundays and started an online Wednesday evening Bible Study. Still, we wanted to reach out to the community. So I began to think about the feelings of worry and anxiety in the world. Our short daily devotions used scripture to address the COVID pandemic, the riots and protests, and share the comforting words of the Gospel with our community. This is our attempt to practice the Great Commission when doing so was extremely difficult. As the community members became aware of the devotions private messages began to come in. We received messages from places that we didn’t expect: Sweden, India, Minnesota, Indiana, and California. God had again proved himself true and His words through the prophet Isaiah authentic: “my word that goes out from my mouth will not return to me empty. Rather, it will accomplish whatever I please, and it will succeed in the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). Thanks to a few very generous donors from out of state, our ministry was able to improve and advertise.
As the summer neared and COVID roared, God roared louder. The summer VBS program had to be scrapped because of government regulations, but we thought that perhaps our devotion format could be adapted. It was. We put together our own Vacation Bible School Program and filmed it. We advertised and offered a virtual VBS program, mailing all the needed items to those who registered. To our surprise, but by God’s plan, more children registered and participated in the VBS program then in the last 5 years at Peace!
As we pondered on God’s great work in the midst of a pandemic. We were faced with the coming school year and the desire to reach out to the community with God’s message of Jesus. Peace has long had a “Mornings with Mommy” program, but government regulations were unclear and skepticism was high. We were not content to cease our sharing of the Gospel with children and parents. So again, we went the virtual route. Each program is designed to be no more than 30 minutes and able to be watched with a parent or independently by a preschool aged child. The child hears a bible lesson, sings a song, and is able to complete a related craft and snack. Each episode concludes with an invitation to Sunday School and Worship.
The Lord has blessed our efforts! We were contacted by email about nine weeks into “Mornings with Mommy” with a request for a baptism. A child and his mother had been watching since the beginning and heard about the importance of baptism for all people. The parents have even attended church! God is good and continues to show grace in all situations. Even in the midst of a pandemic.
We had initially intended the devotions to last only during the lockdown. We had even considered switching to a written devotion three times a week. Yet the Lord had other plans. While out in the community, at a local Fish Fry, I was asking for tartar sauce and someone shouted out… “Pastor, Pastor from the Facebook! Come sit here.” It was an older woman, not of our fellowship, unchurched, but who had become acquainted with Peace through the pandemic via daily devotions. We were able to have a conversation about God’s Son Jesus Christ, thanks to a pandemic. It was at the next council meeting that we decided to continue with our online ministry.
Outreach is an imperative for the church. In the time of COVID it got sticky and confusing. God however did not stop working! His word is effective where ever it is preached, taught, and shared. When I grew up in Utah, I was accustomed to missionaries knocking on my door. Well, thanks be to our God that everyone has a phone today and I can “knock” on it, because I have a great message to share!
Rev. Kurtis Freimuth