Our world has been impacted by a virus
Within this past month our world has drastically changed. We all find ourselves with a new phenomenon taking centerstage in our life. The COVID-19 pandemic is all we hear about. The store shelves and the unemployment claims give tell tale signs of the fear and panic that is consuming our world, not to mention the updates all over the news channels of how many new cases and new deaths attributed to this virus. In our country, many of the states have “shelter in place” or “safer at home” mandates that are redefining for us what is essential and non-essential. On the same token, countries throughout the world have similar mandates with their borders closed and their citizens quarantined.
And yet here at Bridge Street Mission—thanks to your prayer and financial support—God continues to give opportunity to serve the least of these. Currently, we are averaging over 100 bag lunches a day that go out of our kitchen at the Outreach Center. About 60 bag lunches are handed out daily right at the Outreach Center, and another 50 bag lunches a day are handed out to the children living in the neighborhood around our Warehouse/Bargain Center building on Jackson Street. And that is just the physical food. Knowing that God’s Word tells us that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, we continue presenting daily servings from the Word of God. We are making the most of this opportunity by presenting the gospel daily, resulting in another life coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ last Saturday! To God be the glory!!
We believe that this pandemic—and the related fear and panic that it has created—is a God-allowed opportunity to make our people and our world aware of a much deadlier virus, and that is the sin virus. Just like many did not take the initial corona virus reports seriously, many still have not taken the sin virus and its eternal impact seriously. But it is a real epidemic. God’s diagnosis early on in the history of this world is found in Genesis 6:5 where we read, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The sin virus resulted in a diseased heart! At that time God made a complete sweep of all human beings, with the exception of the 8 individuals He had safely tucked away in the ark. He did not use a pandemic but used a flood to wipe out 99.999% of the world.
Roll history forward to the time Jesus came to this earth. He came as the solution to the sin virus. He knew that no one did good, not even one, and that as a result of the sin virus, we all fall short of the glory of God—of His standard. But like today, many, if not most, did not take the virus or the cure seriously. How seriously do you take the sin virus? If you have accepted Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross as the cure for the sin pandemic, excellent! But are you telling others about the cure? If you have not accepted Jesus as the one who brought relief from the sin virus, then take it seriously, and don’t delay in personally accepting the cure. John 3:18 states, “Whoever believes in Him [Jesus] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because He has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Condemned means you have the sin virus and its logical progression is hell—an eternity of torment away from the presence of God and all that He is!
One final irony for me is that this COVID-19 and the mandates associated with it, may keep us from coming together to observe Good Friday and Easter Sunday…both of which are meant to celebrate Jesus as the cure for the sin virus pandemic. (Yes, it is a pandemic seeing that those who will suffer an eternal death are a majority when compared to the minority who have received the cure provided in Jesus, and who will be celebrating life forever in God’s presence.) Jesus’ death on the cross addressed the sin of the world, and His resurrection was victory over death which is the wage or consequence of sin! Jesus brought God glory by completing the work God gave Him to do in addressing the sin virus pandemic. And when all is said and done, God will also get the glory when we are on the other side of this COVID-19 pandemic!
Have a blessed Easter bringing God glory by celebrating His Son, Jesus Christ!
In His service—by His grace and for His glory,
Todd Van Ryn
A Love-ly Thought
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” Luke 6:32
“Love” is something that many people think about in February. In fact, it gets ingrained in us very early in our lives, as we are encouraged to exchange Valentine Day cards almost every year we are in school. But we were always encouraged—maybe told—to give a valentine card to everyone in the class. The teachers didn’t want you to leave anyone out!
This is God our Father’s concern as well, though on a much grander scale. He so loved the world—He didn’t leave anyone out in His love message to this world—that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever—again, He does not want to leave anyone out—believes in Him, in Jesus, should not perish but have eternal life!! [John 3:16]
He has this same expectation of His children, of those who are Christ followers. Oh, He knows how easy it is for us to love those who love us; to love those who seem to have it all together; to love those who are successful, and popular, and generous, and people of integrity; to love those who are kind, and good, and helpful. But that is not everyone, which means some are being left out! God leaves no one out!
His expectation of us as His children is that we reflect Him well and pick up the slack. The beauty of it all is that He supplies the love—the God-love, agape love, a love that just wants to give while expecting nothing in return! And it’s a win-win for everyone involved. God gets the glory when we love on those who don’t—or can’t—love us in return. We get a fuller glimpse of our Father as His love flows through us toward these least of these—flowing from the love tank of His Spirit living in us!
“…the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5
And those we are loving on, those who don’t or can’t love us in return, experience a love that can draw them to the greatest love story of all, the gospel! God’s children—Christ-followers—are to stand out as lights in a crooked and perverse generation, in a dark world where people never really feel loved! We need to rise above the “even sinners love those who love them” type of love!
We want to thank all those who support Bridge Street Mission through prayer, volunteer service, and financial gifts. You give us an opportunity to love on God-image bearers who feel unloved with the love that only our Father can provide. We encourage you as well, in this month of “love”, to let His love flow through you to those who are society has labeled “unlovable”. Oh, no one actually says that, but actions speak louder than words! Remember, fellow believers, our orders come from our Head, Jesus Christ. This is what we know about Him:
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
God wants to continue demonstrating His love towards those who have not experienced or felt it, and He wants to do it through us! Yes, the glory and the credit go to God when we unconditionally love those who currently aren’t in a position to love us back. Just think, once they come to experience God’s love, they may even shower it back on us!
In His service—by His grace and for His glory,
Todd Van Ryn
Sober Living Program: Program rolled out January 6th. We currently have 32 people living at our facility.
Mission Grounds Expresso: Our coffee kiosk is doing well! We have been getting a steady flow of new and returning customers and have been receiving generous donations/tips from people as they drive through! All profits support Bridge Street Mission programs with many customers saying they are pleased to know there is a greater purpose in getting their coffee from us. We have given out 300 punch cards that have a Bible Verse on them, and we also have distributed pamphlets with information about who we are and what we do. Mission Grounds Expresso is a great outreach that is heightening awareness in the community of what we do.
Lunch Program: We are averaging serving 35-40 people a day, M-F. We are continuing to build a core group of volunteers to plan, prepare and serve weekdays.
Movie Night: February 14. Movie: Ragamuffin (Based on Life of Rich Mullins)
Music Night: February 21. Guest Musicians: Herb & Lois Westlund and troupe.
Celebrate Recovery: Meets every Thursday.
***All Are Welcome to these community events.
So, what’s new?
As we move into 2020, I started to think about the word “new”. After all, it is a new year! But, when does “new” transition to “old”? We know as soon as you drive a new car off the lot, it becomes old, at least in terms of value. For our children, new toys on Christmas morning are old by the end of the day. How does God define “new”?
What I found interesting is that because God lives outside the box of time, and is past, present, and future all at the same time, He is eternally and permanently new! And His M.O. (modus operandi) is making things new! We can contrast that with what Solomon writes in the book of Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” and “That which is has already been and that which will be has already been.” This basically means that man can’t produce “new”; only God can. And the “new” that God produces is eternally new!
God knows how drawn we are to new because we are made in His image and likeness, and He desires new for us! He spoke through various prophets about this desire of His. He wants to give a new heart and a new spirit to His people; He puts a new song in the mouth. Because we waffle so much between the old and the new, His mercies are new every morning. Eventually He will give each one who is in relationship with Him a new name and will make a new heaven and a new earth in which we’ll live. All of these are new by His definition; they never get old.
Jesus, whose coming to earth in flesh we just celebrated last month, came to introduce God the Father to us. Because of this responsibility, God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Jesus in bodily form. That means that everything God is, He was in Jesus, and that included the desire for “new” for us. So, Jesus came with a new teaching—one with authority—that introduced a new covenant. He brought and taught a new commandment which He obeyed Himself. In His obedience, He died for all that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who for their sake died and was raised…Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!
His teaching, the covenant, the commandment, are eternally new; they never get old. The same is to be true for us as new creations; we are new and have a new self. Our minds are being renewed in the image of our Creator. This new creation is eternally new!
As we embark on 2020, God’s expectation is that we walk and serve in newness of life. We want that for each of you who are so vital to the mission, as you support the mission via prayer and donations of time, effort, items and funds. We want that for our staff and volunteers as well, as we work with those who are currently eternally homeless and who struggle with being under the influence of alcohol and drugs, instead of living lives under the influence of the Holy Spirit! In 2020, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to lead us on in our eternally new lives as we bring glory to God via the kingdom work He has prepared in advance for us to do.
In His service—by His grace and for His glory,
Todd Van Ryn