It’s easy to panic and hunker down in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Closed businesses fuel worry about the future—shortages of food, toilet paper and other necessities. Mulling over the latest statistics makes it hard to keep anxiety under control.

At times like this, the church shines brightest.

As fear of pandemic spread, Southeast Christian Church began looking for ways to help those impacted by the crisis.

With lost income a common concern, LifeBridge Manager Lisa Reynolds ordered cases of canned chicken, corn, peas and pears, pasta, rice, pancake mix and syrup to pack emergency food boxes. Funds were already on hand because of the generous giving of church members.

“We were able to purchase food, have it delivered and quickly organize it in boxes for partners throughout the community, who will give it to those they know are dealing with job loss and hardship,” Reynolds said. “They know people in their community and are familiar with their needs. That gives them a chance to care for them and follow up in coming weeks.”

Logistics were tricky: Staff and volunteers worked in rooms of less than 10 people and donned surgical gloves to organize boxes of food on tables so the next team could assemble food for distribution. Each room quickly became an assembly line. They packed more than 5,000 meals.

In an enthusiastic, devoted crowd of volunteers, the hardest thing was maintaining proper social distance.

Jay Schroder, Southeast Missions Local Partner team leader, said food boxes are one way to reach people. There are others.

“As a church, we’re trying to encourage our people to love and care for our neighbors,” he said. “One way is equipping them with these emergency food boxes. There are additional ways to do that. People can text the word “respond” to 733733 to receive a link to donate meals to medical staff in area emergency rooms. That’s caring for our neighbors. Imagine how different the community would be if we actually connected with our neighbors and helped them move from panic, fear and hoarding toilet paper to giving sacrificially.”

Many volunteers came to serve two hours, stayed longer and showed up again the next day.

Community Pastor Cambron Rich delivered food boxes throughout the community.

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“Churches that are relevant are able to recognize and meet needs in their community,” he said. “I love how our church is always looking for needs and meeting them in a meaningful way to advance the Kingdom. A church full of missionary people ready to be unleashed is an answer to the community they’re in.”

Volunteers gave their thoughts about the outreach:

>“People need to experience the love of Jesus through food. I’m happy to be here.”—Andrea Amettis

>“I love this—meeting needs in the community instead of hoarding, not feeling sorry for ourselves. We’re being the church.”—Chandler Dale

>“I hope we do more. I think the key is we are making a difference. I think this pandemic could bring out some wonderful opportunities to help others.”—Hilary Deskins

>“I love it that our church is not looking inward but outward. It’s about the community and us coming together in an unprecedented time. We listen to the Holy Spirit moving.”—Stacie Gitschier

>“When there’s a crisis, action is the way the Lord works. Inactivity is the way fear takes over.”—Christy Weaver

Ways to help

>Text the word “respond” to 733733 for ways to help. Or visit www.southeast One suggestion is to donate a meal for a health professional working in an emergency room.

>Call or text your neighbor to see if they are OK or have needs. Most want to hear a friendly, reassuring voice more than anything else.

>To connect with neighbors you don’t know by name, write a note introducing yourself to put in their mailbox or door. Explain that you would like to pray for them and help in any way possible. Include your contact information.

>Thank the one who delivers your mail, the cashier at the grocery store, drive-thru employees, security guards and service workers. Let them know you appreciate what they do in the midst of difficult days.

>Support single moms by donating books, puzzles, a movie or treats.

>Support small businesses and carryout restaurants near you.

>If you are healthy and able, donate blood to ease shortages.

>Reach out to one person at a time with compassion. Let your light shine. Live the Gospel even from your home.

>Pray that God will show you how to love and serve those around you. Pray for those who deal with fear, worry and job insecurity.

>Pray for wisdom and strength for pastors and church leaders.