Church, College Students, & COVID

low angle photo of white church

There’s a small country church I’ve preached at a lot over the last few years since we’ve lived in Ohio. It all began when the pastor reached out to me to fill in because his wife was fighting cancer and they needed to travel for treatment. It turned into me preaching there about anytime my schedule allowed and they needed me.

His wife has since passed, having fought the good fight and remaining faithful until the very end. And he’s no longer the pastor there as he’s praying about what God has in store for his next chapter of life. He’s become a friend and I consider it an honor to remain connected to the church he pastored so well.

I just finished a two week block of preaching there. I’ve grown to love that church and having preached there so often, they now introduce me as “one of their own.” They’re like an extended family to the DeWitts. We really do love the folks there. It’s a small church in a mostly farming community. The people are as sweet as honey and their friendships more precious than gold.

The first of the two weeks I preached a guy I’ll call “John” was there. He’s been a regular in our time there. I remember the church praying for his wife, the way they prayed for the pastor’s wife, as she battelled illness. She passed away about a year and a half ago. He’s got medical issues of his own, too. But he’s striving after the Lord and the folks there have served and loved him well.

“John” had a heart attack and open heart surgery a few weeks ago. When I preached there for the first of the two times, to our surprise, John came to the service. “God gave me a new heart!” John told me. We praised God together as a church body. It’s cool to see the way this church supports each other.

Last Sunday the church looked very different, in a good way. There’s a guy at the church named Don who is one of the most natural evangelists I’ve ever known. That guy lives to tell people about Jesus. He spends time reaching out to college students at a nearby secular school and has led multiple students to faith in Christ. He also recruits like crazy students from the school I teach at to come help the church in various ministries. And last week they all showed up.

There were several students there from both colleges. At the end of the service, Don got up to give an announcement. It was really more of a praise session. He had all the college students stand up and had the entire church applaud and then pray for them. It was really sweet. But all I could think about was “John.” Here’s why.

John’s had multiple medical issues. His face was beaming with joy as everyone celebrated the roomful of college kids. But here’s what I know about this church. They all wore masks until recently and have been quite vocal that they are all vaccinated. And here’s what I know about college students: a lot of them are not vaccinated.

The truth is, college age students may get COVID, but it is really unlikely it will affect them much more than a cold. But the truth is, older folks can be really affected by COVID and even those who are vaccinated are still getting the Delta variant. So, a warning is in order.

Think about the John or the Don in your church. While you might not worry too much about this disease that has been so highly politicized in every way you can imagine, the reality is it’s not all about you. I would encourage every person to make a well-informed decision that is focused on serving others.

We may disagree about a lot when it comes to COVID, but all Christians recognize this simple truth that we are called to love and serve others. Even as exciting and wonderful and beautiful as it was to gather for worship, let’s make sure we are all preferring one another over ourselves and making well-informed decisions to serve the John and Don in our lives. Let’s care well and stay well.