Use global halting of events as opportunity to rest in Him

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Photo by Jennifer Davis Rash

By the time we realized March Madness for the year 2020 would not describe basketball brackets, rivalries and surreal roundball moments, the normal activities of life as we know it had practically shut down.

COVID-19 became a household term, and our homes, offices, schools, churches and devices might just be the cleanest they’ve ever been.

Online screenings and drive-thru testing centers emerged seemingly overnight.

Many conferences, classes and church services were canceled, rescheduled or moved online.

Airlines and hotels removed all rescheduling and cancellation fees. They even made it super easy to go online and click through the necessary items in a matter of seconds.

Making assessments

Leaders at all levels assessed, reassessed and worked hard to make the best decisions they could for the people for which they were responsible, as well as for the businesses and organizations they lead.

And when Alabama’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced this morning (March 13), the assessments narrowed to an even more laser-focused stance.

While our team at TAB Media is working to stay up on all the latest reports and announcements, we also are performing appropriate assessments related to our staff and office as well.

Crisis management plan

Past experiences of unforeseen difficult events, such as the Snowpocalypse winter storm of 2014, the April 2011 tornado devastation in Alabama, the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009 and other experiences through the years, provided opportunities to develop crisis management plans we still use today.

As crises emerge along the way, we always try to dust off our existing plans and put those into play while also adapting as needed to the current situation and accounting for new techonology and resources available to us.

Learning from each experience makes us better and more prepared for the next event sure to come our way. Having a crisis management and communications plan prevents panic and uncertainty because team members trust the leadership and are informed early, consistently and with clarity about what to expect and how to prepare.

Even a basic plan such as knowing who is in charge during a crisis and naming one person to handle all outgoing and incoming communications gives an advantage in focusing quickly on determining priorities.

Opportunity to shine for Jesus

As we find our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m confident history will report amazing stories of people of faith shining for Jesus. 

Volunteers trained in medical missions and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief will undoubtedly be on the front lines. 

Believers with a chaplain’s heart will work to calm the masses, and people of prayer will unite across the globe to call on God to lead us through this journey.

And I believe the best of each of us will surface as we come together.

Take this opportunity to calm your heart and mind and sling some Jesus all around.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

‘We do not lose heart’

By Jennifer Davis Rash

Managing Editor, The Alabama Baptist

Tears flowed uncontrollably early one morning about two weeks in, but the rest of the time I’ve lived in a sort of numbness. One side of me tortured to rush back to my hometown to help, the other side convinced that as long as I don’t go I won’t have to relive the pain of what I saw.

I’m not sure if it’s my survival mode kicking in or just plain denial, but I do know it all relates to April 27.

Do you sense it? It’s surreal, like we are existing but not really living and that maybe, just maybe, we’ll wake up soon and all of this will have just been a nightmare.

So much devastation, so much pain. If you are an Alabamian or have any connection to Alabama, you have been impacted in some way by the deadly tornadoes that stomped across our state, stealing an unfair share of lives, property and possessions.

Listening to so many who heard the horrifying whistle of that “freight train” and felt the pressure and intensity of the monster storm pulling with all its might sounds like something only found in the movies. Seeing the vicious results duplicated over and over across two-thirds of our state is overwhelming. Understanding the true loss that families have endured just shouldn’t be.
But it is and life will forever be changed.

Still amid all the tragedy, there is hope and goodness. God is being glorified and His people are shining through all the dirt and debris.

The love and compassion are magnified. An overflowing spirit of giving shows no sign of fatigue. And those are all good things, because this is going to be a long journey.

Many will seem to forget, returning to the routines of life. And well meaning friends outside the state will seem shocked to learn the tornadoes are still a vivid part of your life. There may come a time you want to stand up and shout to those bustling around you, “Hey, don’t you remember what happened? How can you go back to your normal routines and not realize the pain and sadness here?”

Finding a new normal

But some type of normalcy will develop, even if the new normal revolves around the continued recovery and rebuilding effort. And our driving need to begin each conversation by asking how the other person fared in the storms and if their family is OK will fade. We will eventually find new topics of conversation, and it will be acceptable to talk about things other than the tornadoes.

For now, it is still too fresh, too real. It’s only been a month and there’s so much healing still to do. How that process is supposed to play out, I do not know, but I do know God is with us and will not forsake us. I know Alabama Baptists are committed for the long haul, and I know the incredible resiliency shown so far by Alabamians brings to life the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. … Therefore we do not lose heart. … So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”