Covid-19

(23 March 2020 Update) – Stephen Jack

A Call to Prayer

As I watch the news, scan through social media and read the messages on my phone I am aware of the increasingly “war like” language that is being used.   The words “fight” “battle” and “attack” are common in nearly all the headlines I am reading.

Measures being taken by the world’s governments include words like “lockdown” “curfew” and “ration” which are very reminiscent of the blackouts and ration books of world war II.  If anything, it is our health care workers that are fighting on the “frontline”

We are very aware of the physical battle that the world is facing and the war that is raging in order to beat this virus and the impact it is having on our health, emotional wellbeing and our economy but as Christ-followers we are also aware that “our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.” (Ephesians 6 v 12)

Our response to this crisis is found in verse 10 of that same passage “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” and in verse 18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers, and requests.   With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

As such I am calling our church to pray and fast every Wednesday going forward.   Each week we will post things that need prayer, both global and local to our own community.

In terms of fasting please aim to fast from getting up through until Supper, but if that is too much for you or you have a health condition that doesn’t allow for this, please consider missing 1 meal in your day

In addition to our day of prayer we will be posting a daily a “prod to pray” scriptures on our social media accounts. Here are a couple to get you started …

Psalm 5 v 3 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly 

Philippians 4 v 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God

Looking forward to praying together on Wednesday

Much love as always

Stephen

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(18 March 2020 Update) – Stephen Jack

 

Hello God First Fourways

So the purpose of this post is to give you all a detailed explanation of what is going to be happening in our church over the coming weeks.

1       What is stopping?

We as a society need to increasingly distance ourselves from one another and avoid unnecessary contact as we seek to slow the spread of this virus to allow our health service and economy to cope with an ever changing landscape.

As such the following will take effect immediately;

  • No Sunday gatherings but Church is continuing
  • No mid-week Life Groups
  • No large bookings in the Hub

Postponement of Quiz Night and Ladies Amazing Race

Holy-Week will become a series of set prayers and devotions to be done at home.

Greater working from home for our staff but with the Hub manned by a staff member each day to assist people in need.

2       Is anything staying open?

  • Coffee shop although we are looking to perhaps move towards a take away only option from next week however this is yet to be decided.
  • Heart of the Champion Student program.  This 6-month program comes to an end for our first cohort next week so we will aim to graduate the 9 students on the program.
  • Continuation of our Thursday morning drop-in Mercy Ministry.   The numbers of people in need is likely to continue and on balance we feel like we want to carry on but with increased precautions and screening. It will take place outside at the back of the venue
  • The full-time pastoral staff team and elders remain available for 1 on 1 meetings as necessary or essential to deal with crisis, emotional or practical support.

3       What’s new?  

Each week we are going to video record a service on a Thursday evening. This will involve

  • Welcome
  • Worship (3 songs)
  • Updates and notices to our church community
  • Preach (20 minutes)

The entire recording will be around 45 minutes. This will then be uploaded on Sunday morning available for you to watch on YouTube

An audio of the preach will be loaded to the G1Fourways web site as normal.

Along with the online service, we will be sending out age-appropriate Sunday school activities and small group discussion notes around the preach.

4       How do we interact with the online content and each other ? 

It is considered by most experts that during a time of increased isolation that you keep to as many of your routines as you can.   Therefore we are asking you to gather as a family at home at 9am on a Sunday morning, open your device and that we all go to church together.     For some of you the idea of doing church in your pyjamas is the fulfillment of a life long dream!

After you have finished the service you will meet up with your small group online at 10am   This can be done via a google hangout or one of many other great options for everyone to connect together.   During this time of connection, you can share stories of how things are going, the joys and challenges you face and to interact with the discussion questions.

We met last night with our Life Group leaders to explain how this will work.   There is great enthusiasm for this and so if you are currently in a life group, your life group leader will be contacting you this week to start to set up the online connection in time for Sunday.

We are establishing 2 Sunday evening groups for those people who are normally part of our 5.30pm service. They will watch the service at 5.30 and then meet for an online hang out at 6.30pm

5       What about the rest of the week?

We are also going to be recommending the Community Bible Reading (CBR) Journals. This has proved to be a wonderful resource for the elders last year and allows you to do a daily devotion in community without having to meet in person. It has become part of our daily routine and as AJ shared recently has resulted in the closest relationship with God he has known in 30 years of being a Christ follower.

You can check our CBR online https://www.thecbrjournal.com/videos where you will find 6 very short videos explaining how to use the CBR.   Your small group leader will set up a CBR WhatsApp group for you to join and take part in.

6       Summary

We are really hoping that through these measures;

  1. We will continue to grow and develop our love of God and our personal relationship with Him.
  2. That we will continue to feel connected and moving together as we continue to all follow the same preaching series and discussion questions.
  3. That we will all benefit from reading the bible together as we work through the new testament one chapter per day, sharing what God is showing us and growing in our love and knowledge of Him.
  4. That we will stay meaningfully connected with one another via small groups and be able to share life’s joys and challenges as we point each other to Jesus.

7       Frequently Asked Questions

What if I am not currently part of a Small Group?

We can add you to existing life groups but will most likely start 2 or 3 new small groups which will be led by one of the elders. Email Stephen at stephen@g1fourways.co.za if you need to be added to a group.   We would like everyone who considers our church to be home to be part of a group, whether you have attended a connect evening or not.   If you are not sure if you are still part of a group then please be in touch.

If there are leadership changes taking place in your group (eg Doug and Beth Rodgers) we will be in touch with each group member directly.

Are we able to meet as a small group on a Sunday and watch together?

Whilst there is nothing to say you can’t meet as long as you are under 100 people we are not encouraging groups to meet.   It might be that you invite a single person from your group round to watch with you if they are struggling with isolation, or that you have another family round to do the kids activities together but generally we are suggesting that community is done on line.   We need to act wisely both in terms of respecting the need for social distancing but also in caring for those in our community who may feel increased isolation and loneliness.

My current Life Group all attend church on Sunday morning but I am an evening person – how do I change?

Send Stephen an email and he will connect you with one of our PM groups.

How do I get hold of a CBR Journal?

We have 400 copies of the journal at the church.   Although they cost US$ 10 normally the church is making them available for free due to the unusual place we find ourselves.   You can collect a copy for yourself and others from the Hub. 1 copy per person.  If you are taking copies for people outside of our community you will need to pay R150 for them

What if I need help setting up Google Hangout?

Please send an email to Ryan using ryan@g1fourways.co.za who will either help you out or connect you to someone who can

8       Final Remarks

This can all be a little overwhelming and confusing to navigate but please don’t feel alone in this.   We are here for you.   Feel free to get in touch, ask for help or reach out for support and don’t forget to keep your eyes on the web site and social media platforms

Much love

The G1Fourways Elders and Staff

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(17 March 2020 Update) – Stephen Jack

 

Following the address to the nation from President Ramaphosa on Sunday evening the elders have been seeking God for the next steps for our church.

 

As elders we have been wanting to chart a way forward that honours scripture and seeks to work within the spirit of the directives given from government.   Whilst we could have 4 meetings a day of 99 people and remain within the boundaries of the ruling, to do so would completely miss the spirit of what our government is trying to do.

 

Social distancing is key to the slowing down the speed at which this virus spreads.   This is vital. If our health care systems and economy are to cope then the numbers of new infections need to be at a manageable level and this requires us all to play our part in decreasing our social interaction.

 

We are therefore seeking to find ways in which we can honour Hebrews 10 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” whilst honouring the request from government to keep social interaction to a minimum

 

Thankfully we live in an age where there are many different ways of meeting, and huge array of resources that will allow us to hold fast to Jesus.

 

We are really quite excited about how God has led us as a team and the solutions that we are going to put in place that will allow us to continue to love God with all our hearts, develop our relationship with him, encourage and care for one another during a difficult time in our nation.

 

We are meeting again tonight with a wider group of leaders to finalise these plans and will communicate them all in detail tomorrow morning.   As such we will not be meeting to pray together at the church tonight but I would encourage you all to pray for our nation, our government and the church at this time of crisis.

 

Let’s look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

 

Much love
Stephen

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(16 March 2020 Update) – Stephen Jack

 

Hey Fourways Family

Last night, like many of you I imagine, I sat and listened to President Ramaphosa address the nation and lay out the government response to the Coronavirus pandemic. His speech was well thought out and well delivered and put forward a clear directive for us around travel, schools, size of gatherings and on-going methods to slow the spread of Covid 19. Whist none of these measures will stop the spread of the virus they will slow it down and in doing so “flatten the curve” of the outbreak. If we can reduce its height by spreading it over a longer period of time we will reduce the impact on our health service, economy and our ability to care for societies most vulnerable. In that regard we each have our part to play in submitting to leadership and working towards this common cause. As a church we will immediately adjust our practices in line with the presidents requests. The greatest cause of fear and anxiety is uncertainty and our president is to be applauded in his strong leadership which has removed much of this immediate uncertainty

Of course these are broad stroke guidelines which now need to be worked out in the detail for government, schools, businesses and our church. The eldership team will be meeting this afternoon at 4pm to work out what this means for our community of faith and those that we serve. We will discuss everything from our programme of events through to our care for the vulnerable and look forward to sharing this with you on this platform tomorrow morning

Lets continue to be in prayer for our nation and for those who are charged with leading us through these challenging times

Much love
Stephen

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(13 March 2020 Update) – Stephen Jack

 

With growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and an increasing number of confirmed cases in South Africa, we want to let you know how God First Fourways is responding.
Our leadership is carefully and continually monitoring this situation. As information develops, this page will serve as the primary, most up-to-date place for you to get answers to commonly asked questions. Please know, we are committed to doing everything we can to create a safe environment for our church family and the surrounding community.

Is G1 Fourways gathering this Sunday?

Yes. We will still be meeting at both of our services this Sunday, 9am and 5.30pm
If circumstances cause this to change, we will update this page immediately, post on social media (Instagram and Facebook) and share further information about sermon downloads, life groups, and events.
If you’re currently not following GodFirst Fourways on Instagram or Facebook, please do that now in order to get the most up-to-date information, be notified of any changes, and to be sure you know when new sermons are posted.

Is the G1 Hub venue and DC coffee shop open on weekdays?

Yes. At this time, the G1 Hub and DC Coffee shop are open as usual. As we learn new information, we may decide to close the venue for deep cleaning.
Any new or changing information will be updated on this page whenever it is available. You will also find updated notifications on our social media channels.
In addition, life groups, smaller ministries such as mums groups or youth events may decide to reschedule or cancel previously scheduled meetings. For more information on individual ministries and/or meetings, please contact that ministry leader.

Should people come to G1 Fourways if they are feeling sick?

While listening to sermons online is not a substitute for God’s grace experienced in congregational worship, we do encourage you to stay home if you’re feeling sick.
While you’re home, we think it’d be great for you to have a personal or family worship time in song, prayer, and listening to the previous weeks sermon. We are looking into possibilities of a Facebook live stream, more details to follow on this.
To find those sermons, visit www.g1fourways.co.za

What precautions can people take when they come to G1 Fourways?

The best weapon against the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) is prevention. So, we encourage everyone to take certain steps to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus, flu, and other illnesses as recommended by health authorities including:
• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home if you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow, rather than your hand.
• Disinfect objects and surfaces regularly.

What precautions is G1 taking to make Sunday gatherings as safe as possible?

We will be taking extra precautions at this time. This includes:
• Wiping down all commonly utilised areas and items (check-in stations, entryways, coffee shop tables, chairs, etc.)
• Placing anti bacterial hand wash in all bathrooms as well as soap and encouraging staff, volunteers, and attenders to use it (disposable hand wipes and hand sanitiser is on back order but hasn’t arrived yet)
• Ensuring all staff and volunteers wash hands before preparing snacks.
• Performing enhanced cleaning of our facilities on a regular basis
• Coffee shop and church catering moving to disposable only cups and plates etc
• Encouraging all staff, volunteers, and Sunday gathering attenders to not shake hands. AJ has been commissioned to come up with a unique fun greeting we can use during this period
• After each gathering in all Kids and Youth areas, volunteers will clean surfaces used by children and students. We ask that parents do not bring children to church if they currently have a fever (37.5 or higher). Any child or High Schooler exhibiting visible symptoms of illness will not be admitted to our kids areas. For added precaution, a child must be fever-free for 24 hours before coming to Kids or Youth.

You can help us by closely monitoring your child or high schooler for any symptoms. We understand it might cause an inconvenience, but please have patience with us and our volunteers if we feel we cannot accept your kids or youth into our programs due to health concerns.

What about The Advance Conference and International Travel

The Advance conference next week has been cancelled This is primarily due to the numbers of international travellers coming into the city.

Travel At this time, we encourage individuals involved in trips to prayerfully consider any decision to travel by consulting medical professionals, as appropriate. If you are currently planning an overseas trip, especially outside of Africa, we would ask you to refrain from coming to any church gatherings for 10 days after your arrival home.

How can I better understand COVID-19?

Information in this section is from the World Health Organisation. For more detailed information, please refer to their website.

Coronavirus is a type of virus that causes respiratory illness – an infection of the airways and lungs. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus. It’s part of the same family of coronaviruses that includes the common cold. The coronavirus outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Since then, the virus has spread to many other countries.
The most common early symptoms appear between 2 and 14 days after infection. Symptoms can be mild to severe and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. While most people recover from the virus without needing special treatment, older people and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems, or diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
Like many viruses, the coronavirus (COVID-19) seems to spread from person-to-person through a cough, sneeze, or kiss.

How should I respond spiritually to COVID-19?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is yet one more reminder that we live in a fallen world. Ultimately, none of us is immune to this reality. But God has not left us alone. Jesus came to heal the sick and set the captives free. He has conquered sin and death and is coming again with a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be no suffering, no sickness, and no death. Our God sits on His throne and because we have hope in Jesus we can have peace in even the most challenging circumstances.
In addition God has not given us a spirit of fear so we can respond to this crisis in Faith rather than Fear. Faith however does not mean being irresponsible. Wisdom and taking precautions is not opposed to faith.
While you’re trusting Jesus in this situation, here are some other ways you can respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19):
• Pray for mercy and healing for the sick, strength and endurance for medical professionals, insight for researchers, and wisdom for city and government officials.
• Look for opportunities to love and care for others with the love that Christ has shown to us.
• Even if we’re unable to gather at certain times or as a full church body, stay connected to the church family through calls or texts, gather with small groups as appropriate, and engage with online content if no other option is available. Pray for and encourage one another without ceasing.

How can I respond locally to COVID-19?

With the cancellation of the conference we are calling a prayer meeting next Wednesday evening. This will be to firstly to pray for the church, the city and the nation and secondly to talk through our planned response to those in our church who are elderly, vulnerable, poor or health compromised and how we can support and care for he poor communities we are working into.

Tuesday 17th March
7.15 pm

With much love

G1 Eldership Team