Update on Covid-19 in our RegionSaturday, November 14, 2020 You may have noticed there has been a rise in COVID cases across our community. Our local healthcare system has been overwhelmed with the amount of people seeking treatment for either COVID or the flu. It’s that time of year where the season has changed, people are inside, and viruses are more active. We’ve been asked by our health care system and our governor to respond in a responsible manner. Idaho has moved back to stage 2. This limits groups to no more than 10. Churches are exempt from this rule, but we are asked to act responsibly. Our community has a really big need right now and we need to respond accordingly. We’re not acting out of fear, as some may suggest. We are not giving in to politics, forsaking our allegiance to Christ. We are looking at the situation and asking people to respond with respect for the community around them. We believe God is in control. Life and death are ultimately in His hands. The future, the government, the church, and you, belong to Him. So there is no need to fear. But since we have this powerful God in our lives we also have the commands from Him to love one another deeply and care for those around us, just as He did for us. Please, consider how you can help us slow the spread of COVID-19 to a rate that can be handled by our healthcare system. Here’s what we’re asking you to do when we gather together:If you have any kind of illness, please stay home. I’m guilty of the, “I’m fine, it’s not the Rona.” I’ve told myself it’s not that bad so let’s just move on. But for some people it is bad and for our healthcare system it’s overwhelming. They’re asking us for help and the best way to slow this thing down is to limit exposure to those who are sick. Social distance as much as possible. This becomes more difficult as we move inside, but it’s still important. This is increasingly difficult with children, so we’re just asking you be mindful and do the best you can. Socializing is extremely important to both physical mental health, so we don’t want to stop meeting, but we do want to be more cautious. If you’re a host or lead a group at the ITC, you're responsible to sanitize. Wipe down hard surfaces from doorknobs to countertops. Put out hand sanitizer and take special care when serving food, coffee, or other beverages. I saved the best for last....Masks. Just the word itself will most likely elicit a response from you. There is a lot of information regarding masks in our world today. You may or may not be in favor of them. So let’s set a couple things straight. Mask will not stop the spread of the virus, but it will slow it down. I know there are studies showing masks do not contain 100% of the virus, but the goal is not to stop it, it is to slow it, and if you’re carrying the virus a mask slows down air movement enough to significantly reduce how far water droplets exit your mouth. A mask does less to keep you from getting the virus and does more to protect others if you’re carrying the virus. Wearing a mask is an act of responsibility, more than it is an act of fear. Second point. Masks mandates cannot be enforced effectively and therefore do little to help, but that does not mean masks are not helpful. As Christians, we know how deceptive the heart is. We know how rules do not save people. We also know that love and respect for others is the overall command we live by and so we are asking with or without a mandate we all practice wearing a mask when we are in close quarters and social distancing cannot be achieved. If you cannot wear a mask due to health concerns or some personal conviction, we ask you maintain a good degree of social distancing. One other thing you can do right now is pray. We have a few in our church who have already tested positive. They're families are doing well, but can use your prayers. We also have many people in our church who are healthcare workers, on the front line of fighting COVID. They need our prayers too. Again, I want to reiterate that it’s our responsibility to care for others in the church and in our community. We are called to shine the light of Jesus into this dark world. So let’s blow this world away with how we handle the little things like COVID so we can gain their respect to handle big things like sin.