Tehachapi Valley United Methodist Church News On Lockdown
June 11, 2020 | by Falamao Samate
Act 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Where is Tehachapi in California?
That was the question that came to my mind when I was told that my appointment was to be a Pastor at Tehachapi Valley United Methodist Church. I never knew that there was a city in California called Tehachapi. I did some research on Google to see the area where the church is located, and the first thing I saw was the poppies. I felt in love with the color of these native flowers of the valley in California. I looked at the pictures of the church and the surrounding area and I praised God for His utmost plans.
During this time of COVID-19, I believe most of us weren’t ready to face the reality of the pandemic. Some of us have many questions about why this is happening in our time. Our churches are closed and we are not allowed to worship in there. Some of my church members kept asking me: “Pastor, do you know when we are going back and use our Sanctuary? How long will this last? It is sad for me to hear these questions coming from the elderly of my congregation, but I try my best to answer them with a satisfactory and comfortable answer.
Some of us feel sad, angry, uncomfortable, afraid, and frustrated, and of course most of us question where is God?
I would like to share with you on how our little Church in the Valley, up on the mountain with 4,064 feet elevation cope with this lockdown. First of all, we are fortunate that a few weeks ago I heard that less than 10 people had got the virus in Tehachapi and we all said: “Praise be to God!” I always keep in touch with my Parishioners and reminded them to stay safe at all times.
As a Pastor of this church, it is hard to think of a way to make our Congregation feel that they are not locked inside their own house without joining others in our regular services. What would I do? How would I come up with some sort of worship service that makes them feel happy and not having them feel isolated, and perhaps depressed. To be honest with you, I believe God hears me and I know He is not giving up on me.
We have our bible study through phone conversation, and I know most churches have their own way of reaching out to their church members. We have our drive by Communion service with prefilled cups with soft wafers. We are looking forward for our first drive in service on Father’s Day.
For our video service I picked a few things from our Worship Order and used them to see if our folks would like it or not. I am glad that I got some good feedback from them that they enjoy our short service with special music, traditional hymns, and those who partake.
They also mentioned that they sent our video to some of their friends and relatives in the States and out of Country. So I did a little survey with them and asked them to let me know which states had been reached by our video sermon. I was surprised to see how many of them had sent it out to their friends, families, and relatives as well as loved ones who live within California and out of state.
One of my Church members bought a big map of the United States and I marked on the map each place our video has gone. It is amazing to see how the Words of God have traveled. Our map is bristling with pins. Some of these outlanders have even sent a donation to the church.
Even though we are facing this lock-down and not meeting our church members in person, God had foreseen this and set a way for us to use to make his Words known to others.
Our church has been closed for than a month now, but God has a plan for us to continue to share His Good News in our own living room with our family and to the world.
Peace in Christ!
Rev. Falamao Samate is pastor at Tehachapi Valley United Methodist Church.