“This has been the best year ever,” exclaimed my 6-year-old grandson, Miles, last Sunday after worship.
I doubt that many would echo his sentiment. However, I think little Miles was excited about his bounty of Christmas gifts this year. His narrow view of the world doesn’t extend too much beyond the immediate. His family. His school. And life in old Homosassa.
2020 has been unprecedented by the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic. It has impacted our nation and world. And it has directly affected communities, businesses, families, and churches. Many believe it even influenced the outcome of our Presidential election. I’m sure most folks can’t wait for 2020 to be over.
For Norma and me, COVID-19 drastically changed many of our plans. As most of our readers know we stepped away from full-time located work in June 2018 and launched this new ministry phase of our lives.
We began with the idea of freeing ourselves from the limitations of working with one local church and combining travel with ministry opportunities. It has been both rewarding and exciting. Even during these uncertain times of restrictions and lockdowns.
Since we don’t have a house to call home, it was impossible to self-quarantine in one place. So, we have traveled to 16 states this year and visited 18 churches.
In January, we enjoyed a month working with the church in Pompano Beach, preaching and teaching 3 times every Sunday.
February and March found us in Temple Terrace with opportunities to preach at Valrico, Brandon, Seminole, and West Citrus in Crystal River.
We left Florida in March just as the virus was beginning, thinking it would quickly pass like a fever and we would spend two weeks in the Smoky Mountains, then on to our Spring meetings. Our summer itinerary included meetings in Ontario, Canada. A trip to Greece and Turkey on a Bible lands tour. Preaching in England, followed by visits to Scotland and Ireland.
We soon learned the personal application of James’ warning–“you do not know what will happen tomorrow.” Don’t say, “we will do this or that.” But say, “If the Lord wills.” As a result, our 2-week plans turned into an 8-week stay in the Smoky Mountains (not that we’re complaining). But also provided preaching opportunities with the church at Cosby.
The summer took us West to Couer d’Alene, Idaho for 10 days, and then to Whitefish, Montana for 5 weeks. Unexpectedly, we met folks we’ve known from years past and were invited to preach for the churches in Kalispell and Polson.
In August, we decided to return to Florida to see our family and stopped to worship with and preach for the brethren in Grinnell, Iowa, at an outdoor service they conducted at a park.
We were able to hold 4 of our 5 scheduled meetings in the Fall at the Manslick Road church in Louisville, University Heights in Lexington, Eastside in Shelbyville, Tennessee, and the church in Brownsburg, Indiana.
Upon returning to Florida, we’ve worshiped with and preached for the brethren at Skyview in Pinellas Park, Palm Springs Dr, in Altamonte Springs, and again at West Citrus.
Throughout all of our travels, we’ve kept up with our blogging schedule with 316 new posts. ThePreachersWord continues to add new readers as we conclude our 9th year of publication. We are constantly amazed at the far-reaching influence of our modest efforts.
We realize our situation is unique. And that we’ve been shielded from the problems, challenges, and decisions faced by other preachers and pastors in local congregations. In the 18 churches we’ve visited, every church has approached the COVID-19 situation differently. We know spiritual leaders have prayerfully struggled with decisions regarding public assemblies, social distancing, wearing masks, and how to edify, encourage, and minister to their members. We’ve concluded there is no single right or wrong way to handle this issue.
We approach 2021, knowing that flipping a page on the calendar won’t automatically solve our problems or eradicate the virus, but we look forward to a new year filled with exciting and expanded opportunities.
Norma Jean and I are actively looking to purchase a home so we can have a permanent residence while we’re in Florida. Lord willing, we’d like to reschedule and resume some of our travel plans. But, we shall see.
Maybe next year Miles can truly say, “This was the best year ever!” And not just because of an abundance of Christmas gifts.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman