With so many changes in the past year, I like to notice things that have not changed in the communities I serve in the Philadelphia area.
When awful things happen, we see God at work through people who care and lend a helping hand.
The pandemic caused many people to lose their jobs. With the help of Mosaic Mennonite Conference’s Shalom Fund, Philadelphia Praise Center received an abundance of support for nearly four months. Every Saturday we were able to share produce, instant noodles, eggs, milk, canned food, rice and other resources to help struggling families.
Many people could not pay rent, so we invited members of the church to get involved in helping cover their needs. God moved the hearts of many to share financially with each other.
Sharing reliable information is crucial among immigrant communities where English is not the first language. Providing details about vitamins for building immunity, hotels the government provides for those who are COVID-positive, nearby COVID testing venues or affordable funeral homes became instances of sharing God’s love with members of our community.
Early in the pandemic, God gave me the wisdom to create a video conversation between myself and Budi Saputra, an Indonesian medical doctor in Philadelphia. This became multiple videos with accurate information from a reliable source about the state of the pandemic, early symptoms to look out for and precautions to keep people healthy. The videos were shared by Indonesians living locally, as well as those who lived in other countries.
In uncertain times, prayer becomes the believer’s breath of life. Prior to the pandemic, our community held prayer meetings every Monday. These continued by Zoom. In early December, when I, my wife and 4-year-old son tested positive, strength and healing were possible because people prayed for us. Every day they sent love and attention through texts, phone calls, Bible verses and even funny videos to entertain us.
It brings me joy that we were able to assist Indonesians in Philadelphia and that larger organizations have blessed us with resources to do so. During difficult times when everything is changing, let’s focus on the things that have not changed, like the blessing of sharing.
Aldo Siahaan is a leadership minister with Mosaic Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA and served as pastor of Philadelphia Praise Center for 15 years.