(for us, but not for the gospel)

Like many of you, we're stuck at home this Easter.

Since March 27, South Africa has been under a lockdown that the BBC has called one of the strictest in the world. No dog-walking, no drive-thrus, no online shopping. The police and military are firmly enforcing compliance, with heavy fines or prison for any violations.

Last week, when Rachel ventured out to buy groceries, she became the first one to cross the end of our driveway. She returned with tales of a strangely quiet city. Sections of the grocery store selling non-essentials, like makeup or alcohol, were blocked off.

And Rachel's parents are locked down with us!
Floreens and Smiths in Lockdown
Rachel's folks were here for a visit, but had no idea it would be so interesting! When our lockdown was announced, they tried a few times to change their flight home. But the airlines kept canceling their flights...sometimes just a few hours before we left for the airport. 
So now they're stuck with us, and we're happy to have them for as long as the Lord keeps them here! 

(Once, while visiting us in Malawi in 2014, Rachel's dad slipped down a rock face into a mountain river a couple of miles from the car. When they finally get home, I'll ask them which trip was most exciting...)

Uncertain Times Full of Opportunities

But even under lockdown, the Lord has blessed us with many ministry opportunities, and we're just trying to be ready to take advantage of them!

Like many churches, we spent the first week figuring out how to live-stream for the first time.
Matt preaching at home
I had the privilege of kicking off our Sunday evening series on Job from our living room. (And yes, part of my audience fell asleep.)
It's a poor substitute for true corporate worship, but we've come up with a few sweet Antioch twists. In addition to live-streaming our preaching, some of our worship leaders also live-stream from their homes so we can worship in song together.
As part of our Good Friday service, we enjoyed a church prayer time on Zoom. It was so sweet to see so many beloved people's faces again!
Rachel and I have both doubled our counseling load in the last month. Counseling over a video call has some challenges, but we're thankful for the technology to be able to do it all! 

We've also spent a lot of time making regular calls to check on church members. Several people are already in difficult financial situations, and in South Africa's frail economy, it is likely to get worse. In addition to encouraging people in their faith, I've been busy working on a process for our church family to meet one another's basic needs. It's been a beautiful testimony of God's work in our church members to see them eagerly seize this crisis to sacrificially serve one another and to share the gospel with their unbelieving neighbors!
Small groups by Skype
Small group by Skype proves that on occasion, fellowship can happen even without food.

Great Certainties!

Writing from his lockdown in a Roman prison cell, Paul also reflected on the events of Resurrection Sunday:

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!  – 2 Timothy 2:8-9

We thank God that His Word moves freely, unhindered by any quarantine!

Keeping Lockdown Fun

We've found a couple of ways to keep lockdown interesting. First, we're doing a 21-day marathon by running, walking, and sometimes hopping 2 kms per day. It only requires a dizzying 34 laps around the house every day!
Second, since our church's special Easter program was canceled, we spent our family day making some props and costumes and acting out John 18-20 as a family. It was a lot of fun for everyone, and it drew our attention to a lot of details we might otherwise miss!
Abi and Papa as Roman soliders...
Jesus on Trial
The way you can tell it's Caiphas, not Annas or Pilate is from the hat.
We know this month has changed everyone's lives and we are eager to hear how you are doing too. We pray for you often. If there are ways we can pray for you specifically, please hit "reply" and let us know! It's a joy to hear from you!

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Resurrection Sunday!

Because He Lives,
Matt & Rachel
Abigail & Naomi

Want to change that? Update your preferences or Unsubscribe <<Email Address>> from this list.

Matt & Rachel Floreen • 13248 Roscoe Blvd. • Sun Valley, CA 91352

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp