God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Therefore we will not fear…

Psalm 46:1-2

The emerging situation with the COVID-19 coronavirus and the many news reports around us are creating anxiety and worry for the future and our well-being. In times like these, it is especially important to remember God’s promise to be with us. He who made us, and gave his own Son for the salvation of the world, will not leave his children in this time of need.

He is with us as he invites our prayers. Prayer is not a last resort, but a loving promise from our Lord that he will hear us. Please join us in praying for those suffering from the coronavirus, those caring for the ill, those seeking a vaccine, and all others who serve in these times. Pray for those experiencing anxiety. And please know that we are praying for each of you.

We at Concordia University Irvine believe and teach that, in response to his love, God calls us to serve our neighbor through our vocations – our callings. God works through us to provide for human needs. Thus this crisis is one where God calls each of us to be a blessing to others.

As a university, God calls us to assist the well-being of our students and employees, making wise decisions to support the health of those he has placed in our care. As a result, we have transitioned our face-to-face teaching to online modalities and taken other steps to minimize opportunities for the virus to spread. We consider this to be a reasonable way to carry out our mission while seeking to serve others.

Because our campus is part of a larger community, we seek to reduce opportunities for the virus to spread not only to protect our campus, but also those close to us who may be at risk of more serious complications. We take this service to our neighbor very seriously.

As a university with a global reach, we recognize that we are connected with people all around the world. Our students come from many different countries, and we regularly interact with many cultures. Decisions made in one part of the world may rapidly affect other areas. As such, our response to this crisis needs to consider the effect on others. We serve our neighbors globally and locally when we seek ways to help mitigate the impact of the virus.

In this time of crisis, each of God’s people might ask themselves, “How is God calling me to serve?” There will be many tangible needs in our communities. Prior to this outbreak, loneliness and isolation were serious problems in our nation. Social distancing, so very important now, will exacerbate these feelings. As Christians, we need to reach out in tangible ways to let our neighbors know that they are not alone.

As you are able, consider how God might be calling you to listen to others or speak a comforting word, to help provide food or necessities to those who are lacking, or to share other blessings with those who are struggling. A phone call can be very encouraging to those who are isolated. Consider writing letters and placing them in your neighbor’s mailboxes with your contact information. Encourage them to reach out if they need to anything; dropping off extra supplies to an elderly person who was not able to prepare can be done safely. Perhaps, you can join NextDoor, a social media platform for local neighborhoods, so that you can connect digitally to those around you. Even in times of social distancing, we can safely reach out in mercy and love. God is calling his people to be a blessing and, most importantly, to provide hope to those who are fearful.

There will be many inconveniences, challenges, and frustrations in times like these. God grant us a spirit to see these as avenues of service to others. God is at work in each of us. [He] is our refuge and strength…therefore we will not fear.

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