Eric Jurmu | The Voice of Zion October 2020 - News and Notes --
As summer fades to fall, we are reminded again how our life is in God’s hands. We understand that all people suffer and feel the effects and trials of life, but the believer can rejoice knowing that he or she faces them securely as God’s own. We can feel secure remembering how God blessed our Summer Services and meetings even in an online environment.
At the Annual Meeting, congregation delegates gave clear support to the work of the LLC board and staff here at the office. And although the camp season was much different than what we had planned, delegates expressed heartfelt thanks to God for His abundant blessings to the confirmation schools. Our young are to be remembered and we pray for God’s increase to the seed sown in the hearts of His own.
Updates on LLC Activities
Opisto scholarships for 2021–22 have been awarded to 14 North American students. We wish the students God’s blessings as they begin planning for their year abroad. Opisto students for 2020–21 have begun their studies after being quarantined for 14 days upon arriving in Finland.
Phil Jurmu has been hired as LLC Facilities Manager. It is a new full-time position which will oversee the general management and operations of all LLC-owned facilities, including Silver Springs. The primary focus of the position is to maintain the overall spiritual atmosphere at camps while supporting the camp boards with planning and overall supervision of camp operations and maintenance. We wish Phil God’s blessings as he begins work at the LLC office.
Although we can feel frustrated by the changes to our lives and work caused by the world-wide pandemic, we have seen many positives which have come from it. It feels that God has stopped us for the moment to refocus on the purpose and nature of LLC work. While none of us knows when God will allow things to return to normal or what new normal He might lead us to, we trust that He knows all things and has allowed matters to go as they have. Due to the pandemic, an increase in online content has been evident. While it doesn’t replace meeting in-person, it has given opportunities to experience God’s blessings in other ways. For example:
~ We have experienced both Winter and Summer services as online services. Though we prefer to meet in person, many have shared positive experiences which have come from online events.
~ The LLC Annual Meeting was held as an online meeting. All of us felt God’s presence there.
~ Now, regularly scheduled evening devotions have reached far and wide. One father mentioned how his unbelieving daughter often joins the services when she wouldn't normally do so. We find with this kind of medium that the threshold to hearing God’s Word is lowered.
- Listening to online services continues to be the most accessed feature on our website. This has been accessed 33,000 times in the past months!
- The map above shows the locations from which people have accessed the LLC website in the past three months. During this time there have been over 115,000 website visits.
- We began broadcasting evening devotions in April, and there have been over 70 listeners each evening. Since April, the archived evening devotions have been listened to over 11,000 times.
~ An LLC YouTube channel has been created where you can find e.g. Sunday school lessons which were made last spring. Monthly lessons are planned for the 2020–21 Sunday school year as well.
~ With travel bans, live online services are broadcast and translated weekly for the congregations in Ecuador. Believers there from different localities are interacting much more than ever before on a regular basis.
~ Weekly WhatsApp services are recorded and sent to Kenya, where they are translated into many different languages and used in homes and villages in different parts of the country.
~ With religious gatherings in Minnesota limited to 250 people, the LLC Silver Springs Youth Days will be changed to an online event for youth in North America. It is planned for November 13–14, 2020. More details will follow as plans are developed. One blessing from this kind of event is that it gives opportunity to those outside of Minnesota to attend.
When we must change our plans and adjust schedules, it can be hard to accept. Looking ahead in times like these, we don’t always see the blessings that may await, but afterwards we can often reflect on how God continues to care for us.
~ 2020 LLC Ministers camp was rescheduled for April 9–11, 2021 at SLC. We are also planning to hold a Board member workshop next spring as well, with dates still to be worked out.
~ 2020 Peace Gardens Youth Days were also postponed until 2021, due to closures caused by the pandemic.
~ As we look toward the new year, we pray circumstances will allow SRK and SFC mission trips to North America to resume in 2021.
Planning committees in the Eastern area congregations are ramping up again in preparation for 2021 LLC Summer Services in Marquette, Michigan. Much of the planning was done already last year and was put on hold due to the rescheduling of the event. The Superior Dome on the Northern Michigan University campus has been reserved for July 1–4.
The annual Ministers Teleconference, originating from the LLC office, will be held November 5. This teleconference gives the opportunity for ministers to gather around matters central to the work. The teleconference serves as a tool to communicate unity and love of the Spirit, which is so important in these times.
We ask for your prayers that God would continue to guide and bless His work.