Trunk Outreach Drives Church to Do More
How easy is it to help your community in the crisis? Just pop your trunk! North of Dallas in Coppell, Texas, Pastor Tim Holland and his wife, Abigail, were praying for ways to join the virus relief efforts without making anyone sick. Suddenly, the idea came to them. A drive-up, drive-out approach that’s helping to put food on the table in dozens of homes across the area.
“We knew when this crisis began [that] God was preparing our hearts for how we’re going to serve our local church and… community. And I found myself,” he told me, “kind of in a quandry.” Like a lot of pastors, he had two competing interests: keeping their staff, volunteers, and church family safe but also following the direction of President Trump and local leaders. “I thought, how can we do both things at the same time?” Pastor Tim remembered. Suddenly, God brought the story of Nehemiah to his heart. Like the Old Testament prophet, today’s churches have to defend the attack of an invisible enemy — but, Tim insisted, “we have to keep building the wall. We have to keep meeting the need.”
That’s when the thought came to him. What if they just opened their trunks? “The way it works is really simple,” he explained. “Anyone who wants to donate to our local church food bank, they can load up the stuff that they want to donate, put it in their trunk, and then drive up to the church. They don’t [have to park]. They just pull up in the front of our church right by the doors… and they don’t even have to get out of their car. In fact, we tell them to please not get out of their car for their safety and for our team safety. And all they have to do is just open the trunk.”
A member of the staff or volunteer comes out, gets the box, and takes it inside to be sanitized, cleaned, and organized. “Then, the same process actually happens for someone who needs to receive food. They just go to our website and click on a form there that lets us know the size of their family [and exactly what they need], and one of our team members calls them and gives them a specific time that they can come and pick up their items. We prepare a box specifically customized for them.” After all, he joked, “you don’t want to be giving diapers away to a single man who’s by himself with no kids in the house.”
They drive up to the church, park, and open the trunk. It gets filled without any interaction that puts people at risk. “And yet,” Pastor Tim says enthusiastically, “we can meet the need in a time that is so difficult for so many already." Life Church also started making individual calls to thousands of people in their database — locals who’d either visited the church or regulars who were members — to ask them if they could help in any way. "You have to repurpose your staff,” Pastor Tim urged. You have to adjust your thinking. And when you do, as the town of Coppell will tell you, the results are life-changing!
Originally published here.
As COVID Bears Down, Courage Goes Viral
It wasn’t the message Americans were hoping to hear. “The surge is coming,” President Trump warned, “and it’s coming pretty strong.” He paused, thinking about the doctors and nurses he’d watched walking into hospitals that morning. “It’s like military people going… into battle,” he said soberly. And it’s up to each one of us to determine who wins.
From the front lines, doctors and nurses still can’t believe what they’re seeing. The virus, they say, is like science fiction. In the Bronx, Christina Norstein has almost lost her voice — the result of long, exhausting shifts and a few crying spells at night. Like a lot of nurses, her nose is swollen by mask marks. What scares her, she tells the Wall Street Journal reporters, is how sick people get so fast — how quickly the virus ravages the body’s systems and leaves them listless within hours, or worse. “It’s like the Hunger Games,” another nurse said. “You don’t even know your enemy.” But they’re doing their part — and they hope we’ll do ours.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar knows what they’re asking isn’t easy. “I’m the health secretary, and I’ll tell you, for me and my family, it’s very difficult,” he admitted on “Washington Watch.” “So I just want your listeners to know that the president [and everyone in the White House] appreciates that this is… a call for shared sacrifice. People are changing the day-to-day routine of their lives.” Certainly, he went on, these are “challenging, challenging times. But they matter a great deal because the actions that you’re taking [by staying at home and keeping a distance] protect you. They protect your family members. They protect your community… In a time of uncertainty, we can all do our part.”
One of the toughest parts about this virus, as we’ve heard from so many people in the health community, is just how many unknowns there are. “This can be something of a silent virus,” the secretary explained, and that’s what makes it so difficult to tackle. But, as the administration engages other countries and pours over the data, they are, as Azar said, “learning every day.” And with that learning comes adjustment. “The president’s 15 days to slow the spread [was] critical. It gave us those 15 days. But for us to actually see bending of the curve… we need to unfortunately continue those types of social distancing community mitigation behaviors longer.” Azar pointed to the very stressful situations in New York, Chicago, New Orleans, and Florida. Infections are climbing, and now, he insisted, “would just not be the right time to let our feet up off the brakes.”
The same goes for churches. We’ve seen the catastrophic effects of even a single choir practice, and as a handful of pastors stubbornly insist on meeting — and putting entire populations at risk — it’s no wonder that government officials are at their wits end trying to control and contain the damage. Now, that isn’t to say that mayors like Bill de Blasio have a right to abuse that power in a time of crisis. When he threatened to close down New York City churches and synagogues permanently if they didn’t comply, he crossed a very bright line.
Look, Assistant Attorney General Eric Drieband said Tuesday, in the case of a pandemic, there are “reasonable limitations” the government can put on gatherings including religious gatherings for health reasons. “[But] the notion of permanently closing a house of worship is quite troubling. This crisis will pass, and when it does, we can expect people will be free, as they always have been in our country, to gather together and practice their faith — including in houses of worship.” And if government officials like de Blasio went through with this campaign of intimidation, the Justice Department would have something to say about it.
“We take such complaints very seriously,” Eric warned, “and would investigate and take appropriate action.” In fact, he said, just “Google ‘place to worship initiative’ for instructions on how to file a complaint.” But remember, “general orders by governors or mayors to restrict gatherings can be lawful.” Where the trouble comes in, he explains, is if the government treats religious institutions or people differently. “But as long as these restrictions are applied uniformly across the board to, say, movie theaters and restaurants, they can also be extended to houses of worship as well.”
In a situation as lethal as this, there comes a time when we have to put the health and safety of our neighbors first. That doesn’t mean we give up our freedom, but it does mean sacrificing our routines for the greater good. It may be painful now, but if inconveniencing our lives for a few weeks can save others? It’s worth it.
Originally published here.
Left Has No Soft Spot for MyPillow CEO
When President Trump turned over the microphone to MyPillow founder Mike Lindell at the White House, liberals hit the fan at his advice for a quarantined America. Hear what led to the impromptu message — and Mike’s response to his critics — on Tuesday’s “Washington Watch.”
Originally published here.
Bibi Steps to a Coalition Government
“Unity” isn’t a word people hear a lot in the Middle East, but in Israel, it might be the theme behind a new coalition government. In a world full of depressing news, America’s ally might be on the verge of one of celebrating a development no one thought possible: a two-party rule.
With a grim backdrop — Israel’s coronavirus infection rates are climbing — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival are on the verge of an unprecedented coalition. “It took three elections and an unprecedented health crisis” to get there, NRO points out, but the Blue and White Party’s Benny Gantz is nearing a deal to join forces with his chief rival. To CBN’s Chris Mitchell, who’s on the ground in Israel, it was a stunning turn of events.
After a year of political paralysis, Chris told us from Jerusalem, “I would say that this must be an answer to a lot of Israelis’ prayers.” For years, no one has been able to accomplish the kind of coalition government Gantz and Netanyahu are discussing. Right now, the negotiations are still very fluid, he points out. “It’s not like the U.S. system,” Chris explains. The questions now are about other seats. “Who’s going to get the defense ministry? The foreign ministry, the health ministry? The justice ministry? So there are still things to be worked out.”
But, word there, Chris says is that “they could be sworn in the coalition government by next Monday. Some people speculated it could be after Passover, which will be April 8 to the 15th. So maybe the middle of April. But it’s very encouraging for people that had been hoping that there would be some sort of political stability here in Israel, particularly during the pandemic.” So far, he points out, that’s really proving to be one of the motivating factors behind this breakthrough: the need for Israel to address this emergency with a unity government. “And Benny Gantz, I think he was the one that really said, ‘Okay, let’s put the political differences aside.’ He had been wooed by Netanyahu for weeks… And he finally said yes. He’s paying a political price. But I think it’s for the betterment of the country right now.”
Under the agreement, Netanyahu would serve as prime minister until September of 2021, at which point, he would transition to the deputy prime minister under Gantz. Of course, here in America, where divisions run so deep, the idea of a Democrat and Republican serving together seems impossible. In Israel, where politics are — as Chris called them — a “combat sport,” could they work effectively together? “They have worked together in the past,” he reminded listeners. “People may not know that Gantz was the former IDF chief of staff. And so they worked together on Israel’s security for probably… three, if not four, years. So they do have a working relationship. They have a history together. So hopefully, because of this crisis, that both of them can work together for the good of Israel, particularly during this time.”
If they succeed, it would be an inspiring story for the rest of the world, including America, to watch. If they can put their political differences and the past behind them, imagine what it could mean for the betterment and protection of Israel. It’s certainly a lesson in cooperation and putting country ahead of party and personal aspirations.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.