This post was written by Ana Zugheri, a member of the INCM Blog team.
According to Merriam-Webster, quarantine is a period of 40 days. In our house, this definition does not apply. For us, it has been more than 90 days! We were hit with a series of illnesses in mid-January that have prevented us from living a “normal” life for what seems like an eternity. Flu (Type A and B, twice!), a surgery, a stomach bug, and an ear infection. It was a pretty rough time, but now I see that God was preparing us for what was coming.
By now, our family of three have set a pretty good routine. We have been fortunate for my daughter to continue her school work through e-learning, and my husband is able to work from home without any setbacks. What has really changed is our ministry.
Our family of three, along with a few friends, load our truck every Sunday and take the Church to children that otherwise would not be able to attend. It’s been two months since we last saw our kids, and most of them don’t have the means or availability to connect with others electronically (like most of us do).
I kept seeing my Children’s Ministry friends jump in right away, quickly mobilizing in order to provide their ministry awesomeness through social media and preparing tons of resources for their parents and kids.
I must confess, I felt a little frustrated and sad…even a little jealous. What could I do? How could I do something for the kind of kid’s ministry that I do? My ministry is so small and so different from the typical church. I felt like there was nothing for me to do but wait for things to “go back to normal.”
As I started my “nothing-to-do” list (with closets to organize, deep-cleaning tasks and new recipes to try), I began to add a few…kid’s ministry training books that I wanted to read, finishing the devotional I started four times, listening to every breakout of my CPC20 experience kit, spend one full hour daily in quiet time, writing and organizing my own ministry curriculum, working on my ministry website and spending time with other leaders to help each other grow. I am convinced that the Holy Spirit held my pen as I made that list.
I realized that I do have a lot of things to do for the kids I minister to. Preparing myself to return to ministry includes cultivating a well-cared-for soul, lots of great ideas, and knowledge for a fun and engaging ministry. And a bigger and new understanding of Christ’s love, as He has shown Himself to me during this time.
In Houston, we have a popular saying that started the year after the Astros lost the World Series. “Take it back!” was a slogan to encourage the team to give all they had, and to be stronger than ever to win the World Series again. I think of this quarantine as an opportunity for us as a church to take it back!!!
Our ministries may not look the same right now, and maybe they never will, but I am convinced that this shift is for the best. When we go back, we will give it all we have and be stronger than ever. We are taking it back as we work on our “nothing-to-do” list.
For the time being, I started a Zoom Bible storytime for my 5 nieces and nephews that I don’t get to see often. This new tradition has caused our family to grow closer together. A few friends in my neighborhood asked if their kids could join, and now we meet every Sunday afternoon (6 feet apart, of course). They come to hear my storytelling about Jesus, do crafts, and play games. I meet with other children’s ministry leaders around the USA and Canada twice a week for prayer, ministry ideas, and to help each other grow. Thanks to technology, I also lead a women’s Bible study on Sunday evenings with friends I haven’t seen in a long time. I even took my children’s ministry back-to-basics, by writing and sending cards to the kids at the apartment complex we minister at.
I read somewhere on Facebook: “The Church has not been stopped, it has been deployed.” It may look that we are on “pause” from our usual ministry life, but God is at work in many ways, providing us with a new “normal.”
This time is teaching me to both be, and to more deeply appreciate the Church. So for now, let’s be the Church, outside the church…and take it back!
Ana Zugheri is the current Director of Faith52, a “portable” Children’s Ministry, taking church to children that due to difficult living conditions can’t attend a church. Being born and raised in Mexico has brought her a tremendous opportunity to serve as a simultaneous translator in mission trips and ministry work. She loves serving along with her husband and two daughters.