The EFCA President was in San Jose when California was placed in shelter in place as the COVID-19 pandemic was growing. This post looks at how he initially responded and then as the pandemic grew called for the national EFCA and churches to pray for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This blog which frequently deals with the problems of evangelicalism and has observed other evangelicals remain silent during this time of need is modestly encouraged by Kevin Kompelien’s leadership and call for prayer.
“First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Franklin D Roosevelt
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
EFCA President Kevin Kompelien
The San Francisco Bay Area started to be afflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic in late February and early March. As of this writing the loss of life is being revised when it has been learned that the coronavirus took life in nearby Santa Clara before the virus spread and became a major public health issue. On March 16, 2020 San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued a lock down to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from growing in the area. Six counties in the Bay Area participated in the lock down and people were told to shelter in place. On March 19, 2020 in the evening California Governor Gavin Newsome ordered a shelter in place. Previously around 15 million Californians were impacted in Northern California and that shelter in place would affect the remainder of California. As a native Californian transplanted in the Washington, D.C. area I reflected on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting San Francisco in, “As a Native Californian I am Deeply Troubled by how COVID-19 is Impacting San Francisco, California.”
The EFCA President Kevin Kompelien was in San Jose when the shelter in place order was issued. Kevin Kompelien and his wife are members of Hillside Evangelical Free in San Jose. At the EFCA blog he wrote about his concerns about his mother-in-law who is at age 90. Kompelien went on and spoke about prayer and fear. This is how the EFCA President described it.
“When life radically changes, there’s a temptation to succumb to fear in the face of what feels like chaos. In the past several days, our world seems to have flipped upside-down without a clear timeline for when things may end or return to some semblance of “normalcy.” It is right for us to have an appropriate level of concern and preparation following the recommendations of the health officials in our communities. In addition, the economic uncertainties for many are very real.
For those of us who follow Jesus, however, there is far more here than we may initially see. The history of the Church is filled with stories of God’s people walking by faith in the face of fearful events and caring for one another when others are paralyzed by fear.”
If you would like to read more you can do so in, “Hope and Perspective Amid COVID-19.”
The EFCA’s President Call for Prayer During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As the pandemic worsened in the United States the EFCA President became more proactive in calling for prayer. In early April he asked the national EFCA and churches within the United States to pray each Wednesday for those caught up in the pandemic. The EFCA leader leaned upon 2 Chronicles 20:12. He asked for the EFCA to pray for those in the medical profession, doctors, nurses and more on the front lines in hospitals. He asked for prayer for first responders who had to attend to those who were ill and came down with the virus. For those who are sick Kompelien to pray for them as well for their suffering. And he also asked for the EFCA to pray for government leaders in county, state and national level who are making decisions about the pandemic. This is to happen every Wednesday night while the pandemic is ongoing. As many churches are closed I would assume that this is being done virtually through apps like Zoom and in the privacy of people’s homes.
Some Thoughts on Prayer and Some Encouragement
I have to be honest with you. I struggle heavily with prayer. One day I wake up and think I am part of the dones when it comes to church. Another day I wake up and think I am part of the nones and done with faith entirely. My thoughts on prayer were sadly shaped by two long illnesses and watching my Mom and Dad die in the hospital in 2017 and 2018. In addition to that I also saw how an EFCA church bungled a prayer request when my Mom was having a medical crisis and dying in the hospital. You can read that story about The Bridge Fresno in, “The Bridge Fresno vs. Holy Spirit Catholic Church: Who was More Pastoral?” When it comes to evangelicals and prayer from my time in evangelicalism there are a lot of issues that come from evangelical culture on the topic of prayer. You can read about evangelicals and prayer in, “A Lesson in How Many Evangelical Christians Do Not Care About Prayer.”
And yet I don’t want to be too jaded. Earlier in the pandemic this blog wrote about Henry Williams of Five Oaks Church in Woodbury, Minnesota and their efforts at prayer. They were actually praying for some of what Kempelien called people to do before the request was encouraged across district offices and churches on April 6 and 7, 2020. I pointed out to someone I know about how many evangelicals were silent on the topic of prayer and neglecting their communities that they reside. Many evangelicals were not praying for the sick, the broken, for healing, etc… However, Henry Williams illustrates how a few evangelicals can get the topic right. You can read about that in, “While Evangelicals Tend to Clash with Science, Henry Williams of Five Oaks Church in Woodbury, Minnesota Prays for a Vaccine for COVID-19 and Scientists Working the Pandemic.”
In the case of Kevin Kempelien I am modestly impressed because I sense someone who actually cares. I don’t detect as much “Christianese” , though a couple of code words come out in his talks. But in the case of the EFCA leader I sense someone who is concerned for the suffering and people who are afflicted by this pandemic. I wanted to do this post a couple of weeks back but I am slammed and have a pile of articles I am trying to get get written. As April passed I observed Kompelien’s prayer and I also noticed that many other evangelicals have remained silent. I have observed that Catholics and Lutherans are praying for those affected. I see Mainstream Protestantism and Orthodox churches praying and being concerned for the ill and affiliated by the issues related to COVID-19. But when it comes to evangelicalism I don’t see the same kind of concern and calls for prayer that I see from Kevin Kempelien. This blog is encouraged in that regard especially as I tend to write about the issues and problems of evangelicalism. But it is refreshing to see someone in a position of authority using that position in a healthy way during a dark time in history. So my hope is that this continues and that the EFCA keeps the broken, the ill, the unemployed, the families of the dead and grieving and those mentally strained in prayer and their thoughts. That is my hope as this pandemic drags on.