June 29-July 4, 2020.
To the world’s history, it was just another footnote to this ongoing pandemic. To IVCF Philippines, however, it was both historic and historical. It was historical because, for the first time in IVCF history, the movement held its staff conference virtually. It was also historic because we saw hints of what it would be like to do ministry in this new normal.
Right at the culmination of the conference, Annette Aruraljah, IFES East Asia Regional Secretary and a valued friend to IVCF, issued an encouragement and challenge to us: yes, we are in a crisis, but this can be God’s Kairos. For many, the pandemic has been ill-timed, ruining plans and lives. But God has used this COVID-19 crisis as His opportune time, a perfect moment to set into motion what He had written in eternity past.
The crisis has confined us to our homes, yes, but God used this to free us from the barriers and rigors of a physical conference to make way for a virtual fellowship. Sure, we would have longed for an actual conference, a time we can be together as a family for only two times a year. But COVID-19 did not rob us of this opportunity; God has used it instead for us to be connected, albeit via thin air. Sometimes connection faltered during the week, and power services failed in some areas. But then again, God’s connection and power were in full display. We took it for granted, but God linked us, in about 30 locations nationwide, via an invisible wire crisscrossed among hearts and lives. And His power was fully amped up through His word. Inspiring our junior staff to write quiet times, God spoke to us through the Psalms of Ascents. His assurance: He is our ever-present help, the restorer of our fortunes, and our hope. Speaking through Kuya George Capaque’s expositions on the book of Acts, God reminded us that we are in good company of new-normal experiencers; Jesus’ disciples also faced an uncharted path after He ascended. Having insight into the word and inspiration from writers and preachers, Kuya George urged us to be flexible, to maintain a “restraining attitude” (the words of Bible scholar R. Longenecker), to be a true Doulos (bond servant), and to watch over ourselves and the flock, to name a few. COVID shouted, “Crisis!” God whispered, “Kairos.” We heard His soft voice loud and clear.
Another thing that the crisis could not curtail was God’s leading to provide us with a new leader. For the past six years, Ate Christy Jutare has been serving the Lord by leading IVCF as National Director. God enabled her to lead us to where we are now. After serving for two terms, she is passing the leadership baton to another equally capable leader: Ate Florina Riel-Fernandez. After a time of searching, interviewing, and listening to the Lord, IVCF’s Board of Trustees unanimously chose her. Ate Di, as she is fondly called, is God’s chosen instrument in this opportune time. She has been a staff worker for almost 20 years, and since 2014 she has been serving as Field Director. “By myself, I am not brave,” she confessed. “But the love of God compels and enables me to say yes when He calls.” She then urged us to continue serving God in our capacities. Crisis, Kairos.
This year’s second installment of the IVCF staff conference was a showcase of how God can turn crisis into His Kairos. Come to think of it; He has been in this business throughout history. If the God we serve turned the biggest crisis in history – the death of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ – into His perfect time for saving humanity from sin and death, then all our little crises are just opportunities for us to hear His gentle voice, saying, “Kairos.”
KENNY D. EBO