When Coronavirus Hits Close to Home

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I had been hoping to give an update for a while.  I hope to share with you sometime soon how things have changed for us since I shared my Top ten things I’ve loved about the Coronavirus lockdown.

But not today.

The Coronavirus just got up close and personal.

Just over a week ago, one of our dearest friends, Pastor Bill Standridge passed away from the Coronavirus.

Jon and Bill Standridge

As a pastor, missionary and author, he was known throughout Italy for his dedication to teaching Biblical doctrine.  
The church in Rome that God used him to plant has been one of our greatest allies in the truth for many years.  
He took my parents under his wing when they arrived in Italy in 1973, and our families have been close ever since.  
When we were young, our family would even drive two hours down to Rome to celebrate Thanksgiving with them.  His son Steve has been one of my most important mentors.
When his wife Maria Teresa passed away a few years ago, people traveled from all over Italy to pay their respects and to celebrate her life for God.
Bill’s life and legacy should have been celebrated for God’s glory…  But Coronavirus took this away from us.  Even his family had to say their goodbyes by phone.
Yet, he is now joyfully in heaven, in the presence of the God he served so faithfully for so many years.

Unfortunately, that was only the beginning.  Death got closer and more tragic.
Two nights ago we heard commotion in the house next door.  We suspected that something was terribly wrong.  
Our neighbor had been suffering for years with kidney failure, including at least one  failed kidney transplant.
Before the virus kept us all apart, I had been to visit him and his wife.  I shared a few thoughts from the Gospel as he lay in his bed.
Few times had I seen someone more appreciative.
Now he is gone.  I received a text message from another neighbor telling me that he had passed away.
I can’t even go over to comfort the family.  Coronavirus has taken that way from us.

Yesterday morning I got a call.  My friend was weeping.
You may remember my friend, the butcher.  We became friend chatting about barbecure ribs. God brought their whole family to start attending our church.
My friend’s stepfather, who lived with them, contracted the virus on a skiing trip up north about a month ago.
We had shared the Gospel with him and his wife over dinner a couple times.
The whole family has been on quarantine since they found out.  He had been doing better.  They had taken him off the respirator.  Then he took a turn for the worse. God has been working on my friend through this and he has asked for help with his spiritual growth.
My friend called me weeping to tell me that his step-dad had passed away.  Last year he lost his father too.
We can’t even attend the funeral, or go comfort our friend, or pray with them in person.  Coronavirus took this away from us.

Last night I also found out that a member in our church is waiting on test reults.  If there was one person in our church that needs to NOT contract the virus, it is him.
Now all we can do is pray for a miracle.

One man dearly loved by Evangelicals in Italy, who is in heaven; 
Two men who had heard the Gospel but had not made a profession of faith;
One family waiting and praying for a miracle.

Where is God in all this?
God is still at work.
We don’t know how exactly this all fits into His picture.  But we trust him.
His name will be exalted, and His people are still in His care.
For us who believe in Christ this is just a hiccup in our life.  
For those without Christ times are dark, and hope is grim.
Pray that through this time many will give glory to God and repent, embracing Christ as Lord.

Psalm 46:1–3
    [1] God is our refuge and strength,
        a very present help in trouble.
    [2] Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
        though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
    [3] though its waters roar and foam,
        though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah (ESV)

Please pray!

  1. Please pray for the Standridges and for Italian Evangelicals, as they cope with this great loss.
  2. Please pray for our neighbors.
  3. Please pray for my friend and his family.
  4. Please pray for the family in our church that is waiting on test results.
  5. Please pray for us as we live and minister in such a unique world.
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