Our Mission during COVID-19
The gospel of Jesus Christ is no more or less needed now than it has ever been. It is always essential for peace with our Maker and eternal life with our Saviour. Both the Bible and history remind us that trials - be they person or planet-sized - cannot impede gospel progress, and instead may even catalyse it.
Jesus is not self-isolating or socially distanced from His people. He has promised to always be with us - and His mission continues in the age of COVID-19.
 
Can disciples of Jesus be made even in the “I don’t knows” of Planet Earth, 2020?
Certainly!
Is it possible that we might - in all of our confusion, fear, weakness, weariness, and constraints that this season brings - participate in Jesus' mission?
Absolutely!

Here are 7 ideas, a week’s worth of ways to promote the gospel in this unique season:

Pray for people you know who aren’t trusting Jesus
Family, friends, neighbours, co-workers, fellow students, teammates, acquaintances seen at the shops or school pick up - our lives are populated with people who need Jesus. Pray that they would know real comfort, life, and hope in Jesus. Ask people how you can pray for them. Pray for their specific needs. Pray for their salvation. Remind them that you’re praying for them. And see what happens….

Maintain existing relationships with people who aren’t trusting Jesus
Consider the people mentioned above, those you are praying for. Endeavour to keep in contact - send a message, video chat, have a phone conversation, go for a walk together, say hello in the street or at the park. Let your humanity, your gentleness, and your comfort in Christ, be visible to all. Listen well - make yourself available to talk. If you’re in a position to help others, let them know that you’re happy to assist with practical needs they may have at this time. Even if they never ask for help, the fact that you took the initiative to offer will stick in their minds. Don’t despise the small moments, for that is what these days are made of. Embrace the everyday. Who knows where a few genuine words exchanged online or at a socially appropriate distance may lead? Here’s a 3-minute video from Sam Chan with further wisdom regarding evangelism to our friends in this season.

Invite someone to St Matthew’s Everywhere
In many ways it’s never been easier to invite someone to “church”. A warm invitation to check out St Matthew’s Everywhere - or St Matt’s Kids @ Home! - is likely to be received positively. Lean in to a follow-up conversation. Ask if they tuned in, what they thought, if they have any questions, etc.

Share your story on social media
Use your presence on social media for a gospel purpose. As many people share their fears, frustrations, and the myriad ways they distract themselves - share the difference that Jesus is making to your life. With brevity and sincerity, how could your posts simply reflect life framed by the gospel? Each of our stories are far from polished or perfect, but they are filled with grace and hope.

Mail something to a friend or family member
The following is inscribed above the Smithsonian Institution's National Postal Museum:
 
Messenger of Sympathy and Love 
Servant of Parted Friends 
Consoler of the Lonely
Bond of the Scattered Family 
Enlarger of the Common Life

Surely an appropriate inscription for isolated times! You might not be able to visit someone, but the postie can. Mail a letter. Send a book. What words could you post that would point people to Jesus? Personalised, proper mail rarely goes straight into the recycling bin.

Commend music, podcasts, or audiobooks to others
Screen fatigue is real. Let people rest their eyes and ask them to exercise their ears instead. Commend something you could use to start a conversation about the deep and meaningful matters of life. A lyric heard in a song, a snippet from a podcast, or a line from a book may resonate in restless hearts.

Offer to read a Gospel or a Christian book with someone
Take the plunge and ask someone to read through a Gospel and chat about it with you. You could also invite someone to participate with you in our new St Matt’s Book Club. One of the books on offer is Coronavirus and Christ, a free ebook that is sure to prompt valuable conversations with people open to investigating Jesus.
Which of those ideas could you try? Have a go, in dependence upon our good and gracious Father. Perhaps God will work through you to save people now. Or perhaps your labours in this season will serve the gospel down the track - soil prepared, seeds planted, shoots watered - that God will, in His time, grow to faith in Jesus.


St Matthew's Book Club

With so much going on in the world right now,  it will be great to feed our hearts and minds with good things that will encourage, sustain and grow us. So, we are starting a St Matthew's Book Club.

For our first book, you can choose to read one of the following three books, which are all available as electronic copies.  For more details about how it will all work, and for a fuller description with links to download or purchase the books, go to the Facebook group for each book by clicking the discussion links below. 
You can also sign up here.  We will start reading soon, so make sure you sign up or visit our Facebook groups and choose your first book!

If you have any questions email Mike Horgan.
St Matthew's Easy English Bible Studies
Along with many of our other growth groups, Penny and Bon's Easy English Bible Study, which used to meet at church on a Monday morning is zooming along each week online!  This faithful work is bearing fruit and reaching across language barriers to share the light and hope of the gospel here at home. Praise God for the technology that allows us to continue shining a light in dark places everywhere.

We hope you are able to continue meeting with your growth groups regularly to share, encourage one another and dig deep into God's word.  If you would like to join a growth group please contact us at hello@stmatthews.com.au.
We would love to keep sharing how our church family are experiencing St Matthew's Everywhere, staying connected and caring for one another. Send your photos to hello@stmatthews.com.au or use the hashtag #stmatthewseverywhere on Facebook and Instagram.

If you would like to experience St Matthew's Everywhere with others via Zoom (or some other video conferencing software) we have groups that have formed at different times to pray, reflect and encourage each other after watching the weekly video. Contact hello@stmatthews.com.au for details.
Messages from our Mission Partners
The Creelmans in the time of Covid-19

Three weeks ago on a Friday night we had gotten home from a day out and had our weekly movie night—we finished Cars 2 from memory, quite the complicated kids’ movie if you ask me—and put the kids into bed a little later than usual around 830.
 
Just then Dan and Katie sent us a WhatsApp message with a link to an important article they had just seen and asked us to check it out and call us after we’d read it. (At this point Bulgaria had been in a state of emergency for 3 weeks. We were thinking about alternatives to staying in Sofia.)
 
So, it was 9:15pm on Friday 20 March and we read the article which said a government official had made a statement that day saying that at midnight *that very night* they were closing all internal borders in the country between cities, and if you lived in Sofia you would basically have to stay in Sofia for the indefinite future. The other factor in the mix was that our friends have a place in the mountains, pretty secluded and basic, that we were thinking of going to stay in for a while, while COVID left us all apartment-bound and susceptible to getting or transmitting the virus. 
 
So, this new pronouncement from the government meant we had to make a quick decision: We prayed and chatted for 30 mins and then decided to pack. (The Pattersons were also considering coming with us, but they decided to stay in Sofia for a number of reasons including Katie’s work in Sofia during COVID.)
 
The car has never been so full. School books, kids’ books, bedding, bags of food from pantry, toaster, rice cooker, bread maker, tools, pots and pans, knives and forks, clothes, snow boots, 12 cartons of UHT milk, so many jackets, first aid, big drinking water bottles. I literally (and I don’t use that word much) couldn’t move. Anne had to drive, nervously, as she’s only just started doing it here—on the right-hand side—because I had my licence suspended (no, not for speeding this time, how dare you?) because I didn’t have the correct documents when I got pulled over a week beforehand. It was the fastest we’ve ever packed because we had to be past the police checkpoints before midnight or they would turn us around back to Sofia. Start packing: 9:45pm. Leave 11:15pm. Too easy. In the past, packing for a holiday had taken usually a whole week of nights chipping away at it, so this just goes to show that we were totally wasting time back then...
 
So, we drove out at 11:15 knowing we were about 30 mins away from the checkpoint. 15 mins into the drive we realised we’d left Anne’s drivers licence back in our bedroom! This is a huge no-no in Bulgaria. So we would be in a bit of a pickle if we got stopped at the checkpoint. But we saw the red and blue lights flashing ahead, and ...they hadn’t started pulling people over yet. Thank you God. We got to the cottage at 1:30am and started unpacking.
 
The adventure had begun! It was a good night’s sleep and we woke the next morning to work out what to do: there was no electricity (for some reason it had gone out), no water, no heating or fireplace, 30 minutes from the nearest supermarket, limited phone reception, and we had three days of snow coming on Monday.
 
Our friends were in the process of arranging water to be plumbed to the house from a local well and this would be happening within the next few days. Anyway - to summarise the first week, the man who was in charge of getting water to the house also fixed a temporary fireplace inside (a stove/furnace with a temporary chimney), fixed the electricity, and gave us some firewood for the snowy nights. What a legend - we were very thankful. Thank you, God, again.
 
And so, the last three weeks haven’t stopped being an adventure basically. Cleaning, chopping wood, hand washing clothes, much sponge bathing and bush toileting, trying to make bread with beer instead of yeast as all the shops ran out of it for a few days, getting very good at telling whether wood is ‘green’ or dry, declaring open war on rats and ladybirds (I know, right?), and home schooling.
 
It is so beautiful here. If you are a lover of the Australian outback, like us, well... wait until you see a sunset over the mountains here. God’s artwork to the max. We’re not sure how long we will stay here for. The older kids finish schooling—they both zoomed their teacher today—on June 5. The limitation of being here is that Anne and I find it a bit harder to keep going with language study and the data restrictions mean we can’t skype/zoom our language teachers much at all. And given that we’re not involved in many other ministries at present we feel a little un-useful to people in the community here as much as in Sofia. Cottage life is generally a bit more hands-on and time-consuming. We love it.
But, as most of us parents are realising, home schooling is exactly that: a long school day at home. This means my bigger projects, like finishing the Biblical Studies article I’ve started, are harder to chip away at than usual.
 
But let me just say, while we are beginning to understand the home-on-the-range lifestyle here, we are really aware how hard some of you must be finding all the economic and social changes in Australia. Please let us know how we can be praying for you more specifically here. That’s one thing we can all actually get better at in COVID: praying for each other.
 
We know from experience that economic stress can be awful and crippling. So please know the Father’s care for you in this time as things hang in the balance for you. We are still getting emails and always read and pray through the ones we get (even if we don’t always reply). I think that COVID will open doors for sharing Jesus with people in lots of ways in Bulgaria and in Australia in the near future, which we all look forward to. 

Ministry Opportunities
In this season there are new ministry opportunities and needs for our Church family. We are particularly in need of people with technology skills such as video production, editing, websites or other areas that might help to connect us at this time. We are also in need of equipment for those things if you are able to lend it.
 
As ministries to our church family begin in a whole range of new ways, we would love to hear from you how you think you might serve. If you can serve or even if you have an idea for serving, email us at hello@stmatthews.com.au or call 
(08) 9381 2640. 
How can we help?
As a church, St Matthew's is looking to ways we can care for all in need during this time. If you find yourself in need physically, spiritually, or socially, please reach out to us. Email us at hello@stmatthews.com.au or call (08) 9381 2640. 
For the most up to date information, please check our website www.stmatthews.com.au
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