“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:14)
How do we fix this?
This seems to be the modern starting place for any problem. The hidden assumption is that we can fix any problem. So…how do we fix this?
“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, I told our leadership that during plagues God often culls and refines his people. Throughout redemptive history, this has been his pattern. But I forgot how painful his work of refining is. About this time last year, we were all heard saying, “2021 will be better,” — but we are living in a time of great social unrest on all fronts. And I continue to think, “none of us are doing well, but none of us realize it.”
One unfortunate thing that happens when the Lord brings unrest is that his people can retreat from his mission and turn on each other. These often go hand in hand. May we guard ourselves against this tendency and instead remember that the Lord Jesus has already won the war with the world, the flesh, and the Devil so that we may move onward together — deeper into Christ and deeper onward with his mission.
“And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” (Exodus 14:22)
During great unrest, God has continued to build his church, and there is much to celebrate. As we move into 2022, let us pull back as a church and remember what the Lord has done over the past year.
Growth. We strive to be Christ-centered and people-oriented. We have grown over the last two years. The pandemic has been extremely difficult for every church in the nation. We have lost some deeply loved families over our response to the pandemic, and we have grieved their departure. At the same time, we have received some of you as new families and individuals and are incredibly thankful. You have been a tremendous encouragement. May the Lord Jesus continue to bring his sheep that we may shepherd them for his glory.
Additionally, the Lord gave us new covenant children – James Reynolds (March), Edison and Warren Peck (April), Clementine Willems (September), Quinn Bain (November), and Aggie Enlow (December).
Rebuilding. Restarting worship during the pandemic seemed like we were replanting Zion. We moved across the street, had to figure out children’s ministry again, etc. When we moved back to the sanctuary, we knew that we would have to rebuild almost everything from scratch. I am thankful for everyone who has put in overtime work behind the scenes to keep us worshipping and serving the Lord Jesus. Our volunteers have been amazing! We trust the body of Christ to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12). So our volunteers are essential. Your hidden work is not unseen by our Savior. He rejoices in your small sacrifices and multiplies them for his glory.
Praying. One of the great encouragements during the past 18 months is that we have learned to pray more and more often. Stripped of our ability to make things happen, we have been pushed back into the lap of Jesus for him to accomplish what he wants. There has been a faithful group meeting to pray together every Sunday night. We hope to start back monthly in-person corporate prayer in the spring.
Zion Christian Academy. We are very thankful for Rick Jarvis as he leads the ministry of Zion Christian Academy. ZCA’s enrollment has grown this year to just over 450 students. Health and faithfulness are a good measure of a ministry’s success. ZCA is healthier than it has been in years, thanks to Rick’s leadership. The school’s health will help us make disciples who serve Jesus by being educated by a biblical worldview so that they may serve the King in every area of life.
Elders and Deacons. We are thankful for Jim Davis and the Lord’s calling to serve as an elder. Additionally, after decades of service on the Session, Buck Young has rotated off. We praise God for his work over the years shepherding the flock of God that was entrusted to his care. The Lord Jesus provided a new deacon in Rik Talley, who was installed and ordained this fall. Also, we are thankful for the four years of service that Rick Conrad gave to Zion as his term has come to an end.
Staffing. Our staff are here to serve Jesus and his church. The Session and Diaconate spent a great deal of time praying, discussing, and seeking wisdom for what our church staff needed to look like for the future. The Lord Jesus also provided us with Jeff Wilkins. What a gift he has been to our church body! Jeff started part-time in the spring to help us while we sought the Lord’s direction for the best staffing for our growing church. At the end of our six-month journey, it became obvious that the person we were looking for was Jeff Wilkins. Jeff’s main work is to oversee our Adult Discipleship ministry.
Additionally, Keaton Paul serves our student ministry by overseeing the Bible Department at ZCA and leading our youth at ZPC. Keaton is in the process of seeking ordination in our denomination. This is an arduous process because a man needs to prove he is able to watch his life and doctrine closely. This Fall, Keaton passed his licensure exams and will go before the presbytery for his ordination exams in the spring. Once ordained, Keaton will serve as Pastor of Student Discipleship at ZCA and ZPC.
Whitney McAulay came on board as our Nursery Coordinator.
Kathy Mullery will be retiring at the end of the year. She has faithfully served our church for eight years. We will be revamping her position and are excited to announce that Kim Scruggs will be serving in this new position. Kim will be part-time and will be in the office some, and working out of the office some. Kathy Bain will continue to serve as our Communications Director.
Church Planting. We continue to sense the Lord calling us to plant in small towns around us. Some of you have approached us and said that you are willing to move to go on mission for the Lord Jesus in church planting. This is amazing! Church planting is long and challenging work, and funding is one of the main reasons church plants don’t make it. So, we are thankful that the Lord has provided almost $90,000 for the effort from various sources. If you would like to give to this effort, you can write a check and designate it for “Church Planting” (or give on our website). Please continue to pray the Lord would call a church planter and his family to serve with us.
Finances. Your generosity has continued to be strong. Our fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30. We finished the 2019-2020 fiscal year just a little over budgeted giving — while many churches were under budgeted giving and running the red.
In 2021, you gave $21,494.78 toward the Deacon’s Fund. $4,622.50 was distributed to disaster relief. We were able to give $14,839.38 to the Fennema family. We distributed over $6,500 to help subsidize counseling needs. And Zion gave just over $4,500 toward Missionary Christmas gifts.
Currently, as we approach the year-end, we want to encourage you to give generously. Tithe (10%) to the church, and then give above and beyond to ministries who are on mission with Jesus — missionaries, local mercy works, RUF campus ministers, church planting, etc.
You can donate through stocks, by mailing a check into the office, or by giving online (www.zioncolumbia.org/give). All donations must be received by December 31 to count toward the 2021 tax year.
Will 2022 be better? In some ways “yes,” and in some ways “no.” We live in between the advents — in the now and not-yet — between the arrival of the Kingdom of God and the consummation of the Kingdom of God at Jesus’ return.
So until that day, we can rest in Christ for his work is finished and his victory is won. Jesus, our Redeemer, reigns.
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)