Dear church family,

Here is the latest update with regards to the re-opening of KEC.

Where we are currently at

1. The basic S.O.P for our Sunday services has more or less been drafted. This will be communicated to the congregation once we are ready to go ahead.

2. All essential livestreaming equipment has also arrived. There are a number of less essential items still on the way. In addition, the installation of the Ethernet in the church hall has just been completed.

3. Benjamin Baru, the Home Fellowship Group Deacon, has gathered enough ushers together for us to proceed with re-opening. However, he will need to run a briefing/training session with them first.

4. Due to the slight uncertainty because of the recent community transmission cases in Kuching itself over the past week, the leadership has not quite fixed a date yet for re-opening. However, should there not be any drastic change in circumstances, we are currently aiming for either the second or third Sunday of August.

Pastorally speaking…

The coronavirus pandemic has proved to be a challenge like none other in our lifetimes. Unlike one-off tragedies, like a terrorist attack or a flood, the pandemic is a long and drawn out affair, reshaping our societal norms, and it is difficult to ascertain when the end will be in sight.

A few months ago, I shared with our leaders what I am about to share with you. I stressed to them that it was natural for them to feel overwhelmed, under-prepared and helpless. This pandemic has taken a toll on us all, and I am sure that many of you are feeling exhausted. After all, many of us have lost things. We might not have lost a loved one to Covid-19, but we have lost old routines and old patterns. Perhaps we can no longer gather with friends the way we once did. Perhaps due to the introduction of new technology, we find it hard to get used to new ways of doing things.

As such, before we move on, it might be necessary to simply pause and mourn. You might know the well-known work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, who talked about the 5 typical stages of grief. These 5 stages can also be used as a framework to process our own initial responses to the coronavirus over the past few months:

Denial: This virus won’t affect us. We can carry on as usual.

Panic/Anger: Oh no, the virus is here, and it’s in the Christian community! / How dare you disallow me from doing this or that?

Sadness: I’m sad I can’t sing on Sundays with a big group of people. I’m sad I can’t see my friends. I’m sad because I have no idea when this will end.

Acceptance: This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed. I think I might even give Zoom a go.

Bargaining: Okay, if I listen obediently to the authorities and follow their guidelines to the letter, everything will be better, right? If I do my quiet times religiously every day, God will make it better, right?

Kubler-Ross has since added a 6th stage – finding meaning. If we presented it in graphical form, it would look like this:

So the first thing I want to encourage us all to do is to allow ourselves space to name our own emotional responses. We should take time to be still with God in the “Grief” stage in the chart above. Even when we re-open, it will not be like before, and we can allow ourselves to feed sad about that. So I would like to encourage all of us to keep spending time with God in the Word and prayer, and bringing before him all our fears and hopes. Do take advantage also of the webinars we will be offering in July and August.

Eventually, we must look forward, and move on to the “Looking forward” stage of the chart above. We will need to keep trusting God and hold on to his promises, as he leads us into a new situation, like the Israelites before us while they were exiled in Babylon. We must adapt.

A few questions we could ask include these:

  • How are we seeing God at work in this situation?
  • What have we learnt about God from this, and how is this impacting us spiritually?
  • How will this recalibrate the way I serve others?

Christ will not let his church fall, and we can be confident he will keep building his church. But let’s make sure we keep walking with him. Let’s not give up. Keep encouraging one another. Keep connecting with Christ. Keep the gospel central. Let perseverance build character, and character, hope. And our hope does not put us to shame (Romans 5:4-5).

Love in Christ,

Pastor Brian