Walking through the COVID-19 crisis by faith
To our Walk Thru the Bible family and friends:
How does God want us as a ministry to respond during this crisis? What does the Bible have to say about fear and faith? About how we should minister to others? About how we can show people the Way?
Over the past couple of weeks, it has become very apparent that COVID-19 is disrupting (and will continue to disrupt) the routines and rhythms of our lives. Families, communities, churches, schools and universities, businesses, governments—all of us are navigating a truly unprecedented global event. There is much fear, anxiety, and uncertainty in the world today.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Mark 4:35-41, where Jesus calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee. In this passage, Jesus has been sitting in a boat, teaching the crowds on the shore all day. Finally, as the day fades, He tells His disciples, “Let’s go across to the other side.” The disciples didn’t wait, they didn’t go to shore to find food for the journey, they didn’t try to find a bigger boat. They just set sail in the boat with Him. Jesus fell asleep in the boat, and a “great” (mega) storm arises, threatening to swamp them all. They cry out to Jesus, wondering if He was aware of what was going on, or if He even cared about their safety and well-being. Jesus wakes up, and He calms the wind and the waves with just His voice: “Quiet! Be still!” He asks the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this?”
Here are four very encouraging points to this story that I shared with our staff during our virtual chapel this week:
- Jesus wasn’t surprised at the storm on the Sea of Galilee, and He’s not surprised by today’s global storm. He knew the storm was coming that night, and He knew the COVID-19 virus storm was coming to our world today. And He is with us now in this storm as He takes us to the other side. (Read v. 35-37.)
- Jesus is peace in the midst of the storm. It’s not just that He was at peace, He is Exhausted, He fell asleep on a cushion in the bottom of the boat. He knew the storm was raging, yet He was peace. We don’t have to worry; we can rest in His peace. (Read v. 38.)
- Jesus has the authority to calm the storm. He rebuked the wind and the waves simply with His voice. And everything became completely calm. Jesus has the authority to end this pandemic when the time is fulfilled. But in the meantime, He can calm individual hearts while we’re in the storm. Storms do have an end, and so will this one. (Read v. 39.)
- Jesus uses the storm to deepen our faith. Just as He asked the disciples that day, He asks us: “Why are you so afraid?” Fear is our human reaction to trials, but God wants our faith in Him to grow. The number 1 priority Jesus had in the disciples’ training was to develop their faith. It is the same with us today. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that faith is important to God: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” When we are in the middle of a storm, in our fear we often pray that God would change our circumstances, that He would “make it go away” so that we can return to normal. The disciples in that boat likely felt this way too. But Jesus wants to not just change our circumstances, but He wants to change us. (Read v. 40.)
Trials and storms have a way of churning up emotions within us that cross cultures and socioeconomics and ages very easily. Yet we know that God’s Word is a vital tool for preparing us and guiding us through life’s inevitable struggles. When there is chaos and disruption in the world, the promises in God’s Word are still true, still relevant, still immutable. He will comfort us in a moment when a crisis hits, He will give peace to individual hearts in the middle of chaos, He even calms the storm in His time. The Bible teaches us to put our hopes in Him, to trust Him in dark times, and to walk with faith in His promises. It draws us closer to His heart and anchors us in reality.
At Walk Thru the Bible, we are still committed to taking God’s Word to the world, to helping people everywhere live His Word, especially during this crisis. In fact, it is exactly because of times like this that God birthed Walk Thru the Bible more than 40 years ago. The world still needs the Word of God, perhaps now more than ever.
How we do this may look different for a season. While this is a challenging time, there are so many exciting opportunities to give the hope of God’s Word to the world! We’re exploring ways to reach out and connect with and to minister to more people than ever before. We’re exploring ways to leverage technology and distribution and content to help people be grounded in Scripture. So, we ask that you keep Walk Thru the Bible in your prayers. Our global impact is vital and eternal; the people that we touch are not just numbers on a spreadsheet. They are living, breathing people who need to know and understand that God is loving and sovereign, even over this.
As we do these things, it’s also important to let you know where we are as a ministry. Like nearly every company and nonprofit around the world, we’ve also had to make some hard decisions in order to keep our people safe. These are difficult decisions, especially because of Walk Thru the Bible’s global ministry impact. Our U.S. team will not be traveling internationally or domestically, at least until it is safe to do so. We also made the decision to cancel several important upcoming events, including the spring training for new U.S. instructors and our global regional directors’ meeting. And our U.S. headquarters staff is working remotely until it is safe to return to the office. We’ve taken steps to limit interruption and disruption to normal ministry operations. We are also working with pastors and churches to reschedule upcoming live events to a better time.
While the situation is fluid, with new updates every day and almost hourly, our executive leadership team is communicating daily with each other and with our teams, both domestic and global. I’m also happy to report that our international leaders and their teams are all safe and healthy at this time.
We are in prayer for all of you: our donors, our instructors, our ministry partners, our global team, our constituents, our vendors, our staff. If you have a question or a need or a prayer request, please let us know.
Again, we ask for your prayers for Walk Thru the Bible and the ministry’s global impact—we are aware of how important our ministry is around the world. We believe that Walk Thru the Bible is uniquely positioned for such a time as this, and with God’s grace, we are willing to do everything we can to be a shining light for Him.
We know that the Bible changes everything. His Word keeps us grounded when the whole world shakes. Our faith as believers is rooted in a solid, unmovable foundation. And we want to share that with a world that is hurting and afraid.
Phil Tuttle is president & CEO of Walk Thru the Bible.