As human beings we are prone to want to find blame for things that go wrong, in our world or in our lives.

This “trait” is as old as mankind. Remember in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned and then tried to hide from God, when God came calling, they each “passed the buck”. Adam blamed Eve: “Lord, it was that woman You gave me” (and in effect also blamed God). Eve blamed the serpent. And as someone once said, the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on?!

Generally, God is the scapegoat, the blame for things that we don’t understand, things that we don’t like. And we often hear the question: Where was God? (Where was God on 9/11? Where was God when the tornado/hurricane/tsunami hit? Where was God when the plague came?)

I don’t understand much of what happens in the world, either in the realm of manmade or natural “evil”, but I know where God is. He’s where He’s always been -- sovereign and in control!

So where is God as our world goes through this “pandemic”? Does He not care? Can He not do anything about it? Did He cause it or send it on us?

Christian speaker, writer and apologist John C. Lennox just published a short, but interesting book entitled, Where is God in a Coronavirus World?

Only 62 pages, but worthwhile reading. The six chapters describe the content: (1) Feeling Vulnerable; (2) Cathedrals and Worldviews; (3) Can Atheism Help? (4) How Can There Be Coronavirus if There is a Loving God? (5) Evidence of Love; and (6) The Difference God Makes.

Mr. Lennox shares quite accurately that one’s “worldview” shapes how we see events such as the current pandemic. Our belief about God and man, good and evil, nature and science are important to our thoughts, feelings and belief about these things. And Mr. Lennox explains that there are no easy answers and he doesn’t try to give all the answers. But he keeps pointing us to God who alone has all the answers.

A recent Associated Press article begins by saying that almost two-thirds of American believers feel that God is telling humanity to change how it lives, in this situation.

The research from the University of Chicago Divinity School and the AP NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicates that people are searching for deeper meaning in the outbreak. And even many who don’t affiliate with organized religion see a possible “bigger message” in the virus. And the research said that 26 percent of Americans say their sense of faith or spirituality has grown stronger as a result of the pandemic.

So, did God send this on us to wake us up? I don’t know. I do know that God has used similar things in the past to get the attention of those who were in sin or disobedience to His direct command. He sent 10 plagues on Egypt until Pharaoh got the message. And in the Bible, He used similar things, plagues, natural disasters, insects and more to wake up the sinning world.

But while I don’t know whether this is a direct “judgment” from God or not, I do know that as He is in control, He has allowed this to come at this time for a reason. So, as we continue on in our coronavirus world, I will be searching my heart to see what God is saying to me. And I hope that God’s church, worldwide will be doing the same.

Certainly, our world is becoming more ungodly and America is daily drifting farther from God’s Word. Our continuing hate and division, our continuing killing of our unborn and our turning away from the needy, these are areas of needed repentance. And whether God has allowed COVID to come to bring us to our knees in repentance and obedience to Him, that is certainly a need in our nation, our homes, our churches and in the hearts of God’s people everywhere.

Lennox concludes his book (and I encourage you to read it) with three points: (1) heed sound medical advice; (2) love your neighbor; and (3) maintain perspective.

In the third point, he quotes a writing by C.S. Lewis from 1948 about how Christians should respond to the existence of atomic weapons. We can update this today as it still applies. Lewis wrote: “In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb (coronavirus). How are we to live in an atomic (pandemic) age? I am tempted to reply, ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.’

“In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb (coronavirus) was invented. And quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one great advantage over our ancestors – anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists (coronaviruses) have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

“This is the first point to be made; and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb (coronavirus), let that bomb (virus) when it comes find us doing sensible and human things – praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends, not huddled together like frightened sheep thinking about bombs (viruses). They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

What then is the response of Christians and churches to this? In 1527 when the bubonic plague hit the German city of Wittenberg, Martin Luther refused advice to flee and protect himself. Instead, he stayed and ministered to the sick. His refusal to flee cost his daughter Elizabeth her life. But in a pamphlet Whether Christians Should Flee the Plague, Luther wrote, “We die at our posts. Christian doctors cannot abandon their hospitals, Christian governors cannot flee their districts, Christian pastors cannot abandon their congregations. The plague does not dissolve our duties. It turns them to crosses, on which we must be prepared to die.”

So where is God? He is where He always is: He is everywhere accomplishing His purpose. I do not suggest I understand everything God does; if I did then I would be God. And I can only speak for God the things He clearly articulates in His Word. But I know the heart of God, that He is both holy and loving. He judges sin but loves sinners and gave His Son to die for our sins and to give us the free gift of eternal life. And I know that if you truly seek God, you’ll find Him!

In the postscript to his book, Lennox quotes C.H. Spurgeon’s advice: “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”

What’s Going on Where You Are?

As we continue on in our “new normal”, many churches are opening, often with different schedules and other modifications. And as summer progresses, we’re thinking about Vacation Bible School and other activities like that.

Let your congregation and the community as a whole know what’s going on in your church, temple, house of worship or other faith-based organization. And let Church Talk help.

You can send your announcements to us by email at bethanyb@sccoast.net and we’ll be glad to share the news.

Christ has called us to be the light of the world at a time when the world needs His light. Let’s accept the calling and share His love!

Helping the Helpers

As we continue through this worldwide “emergency”, needs seem to be multiplying. There are many economic problems from those out of work; there are medical needs for the ones coming down with COVID plus the other “normal” diseases and physical problems; there are emotional needs of loneliness and depression; and there are nutritional needs as many in our area (and around the world) are hungry.

There are a lot of groups that are trying to do that: the Salvation Army, Help4Kids, the Red Cross, CAP, the Shepherds Table, many local churches and so on. The Waccamaw Community Foundation collects “gifts” and distributes them to a number of charities. And we need to remember groups like Coastline Women’s Center and Bethesda Home for Single Mothers who go beyond the physical to assist the spiritual and other needs of our people. If you look, you can find someone to help. Let’s all open our eyes and hearts to friends, neighbors and strangers and be the hand and feet of God to the needy.

A Day of Hope, August 8

This year’s Day of Hope will be different because of COVID, but it is now time to pre-register for the event to be held Aug. 8.

For the sixth year, Sheila Karsevar is organizing the event benefitting many school-age children and their families. The Day of Hope provides each child with new shoes and backpacks filled with school supplies and provides household supplies for each family.

But Ms. Karsevar says the most important part is to serve and love these children and families and to let them know that Jesus loves them and God has a plan for each life! And the volunteers pray with each family that would like prayer!

Each year this event has served 250-270 kids; however, this year because of hurricanes, flooding and COVID, they are expecting to have 400 backpacks and 300 bags of household supplies.

This year’s event will be a drive-thru that will start at 9 a.m. Parents or guardians can register their child at Catholic Charities (843) 438-3108 and will be given an appointment time and all the details including where the event will be held. Please note: registration is open until July 31.

Volunteers are needed! If you are interested you can email Sheila at hopeinaday@gmail.com or just show up at a meeting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 6 in the Community Center behind Carolina Forest Community Church on Carolina Forest Boulevard. Also, if you want to donate financially you may email Sheila or go through @ADayofHome at Venmo.

In the past, onsite haircuts were given but this year vouchers for haircuts will be given to each child. Barbers or hairstylists willing to provide vouchers can contact Karsevar for details.

This is certainly a way of “ministering to the least of these” and you and I can help!

Community Bible Study Registration Opens

Community Bible Study (CBS) announces the opening of registration for this year’s study The Gospel of John. CBS offers classes for men, women, couples and children (birth through high school) and meets at the host church Ocean Drive Presbyterian on Sixth Avenue South in North Myrtle Beach. The group will begin Sept. 9 and meet every Wednesday at 9:15 a.m.

The New Testament book of John is an eyewitness account of the life of Jesus Christ. The apostle John was transformed by the years of close friendship he spent with Jesus, and he wanted everyone to experience that same joy. John 20:31 says he wrote the book, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

CBS is a nondenominational, in-depth Bible study designed for all levels of Bible knowledge, and we welcome all faiths and beliefs. You may register with Coordinator Jeri Friz at (843) 249-6957 or email to wlgm250@gmail.com.

EOC Summer Food Program

Waccamaw EOC has a summer food program giving free food for children 18-years-old and younger. This will continue through July 31. Phone (843) 234-4100, ext. 229.

Conway, Loris, Aynor and Western Horry

■ The Catholic Church of St. James, 1071 Academy Drive, announces a new Mass Schedule beginning Aug. 1 and 2 as follows: Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Sundays at 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. (and 12 p.m. Spanish); Monday-Friday at 9 a.m. and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. – Spanish.

The church also collects nonperishable food items for Catholic Charities and CAP Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the church. Please help as you are able. Call (843) 347-5168 or go online to www.stjamesconway.org.

■ Tilly Swamp Survivors of Suicide, a new faith-based support group for those having lost someone to suicide, meets the first and third Mondays of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the church: 4619 S.C. 90. Phone (803) 566-0702.

■ St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, 3449 S.C. 65, will distribute food on the second and fourth Fridays of each month from 11 a.m. until all food has been distributed.

■ Loris First United Methodist Church, 3507 Broad St., has a Blessing Box in the church and it is available each Friday from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. This box contains nonperishable food items and individuals in need are encouraged to come to the church at those times. Also, if you would like to donate items, please place them in the box.

■ Dogwood Hill Baptist Church, 1040 Mt. Zion Road in Loris, has a food pantry on the third Saturday of each month from 8 a.m.-10 a.m.

■ Salem Baptist Church, 4008 Salem Road in Aynor, opens its Food Bank on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m.-noon. The mission: “We serve Christ when we serve people.”

Myrtle Beach/The Coast

■ Help 4 Kids and Backpack Buddies continue to provide food for 400-500 families per week and they need your help. Suggested food donations include: peanut butter, jelly, pasta and sauce, rice, beans, cereal, macaroni & cheese, canisters of Kool-Aid, canned meats, snacks and chips.

You may also donate grocery giftcards used for produce, meats, dairy and bread and monetary donations are always appreciated. The office is located at 2523 Forestbrook Road, Myrtle Beach SC 29588. (Gifts may be mailed to that address also). Go online to www.help4kidssc.org.

■ Together in Christ has a Wednesday ZOOM Prayer Meeting from noon-12:30 p.m. each week. Prayer changes everything and you are invited to pray with the midweek group. Email hgprayer@sccoast.net.

■ Ground Zero is working hard to get back up and running with its various youth-oriented ministries and services. They need our help. If you are interested in assisting GZ, then go to the website or give the group a call and see how you can be used there. Email to info@mygroundzero.com or phone (843) 945-9440.

■ The New Beginnings drive-thru food distribution will be held Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon at the Church of the Resurrection, 8901 U.S. 16 Bypass in Surfside Beach. Phone (843) 215-4500.

■ Low Country Food Bank and Faith Outreach Ministries will have another sponsor Drive-Thru Food Distribution at 4223 Socastee Blvd. Aug. 7 at 2:30 p.m. Phone (843) 215-4500.

■ The fall Women of Passion Conference, Dare to Dream God-Sized Dreams (Ephesians 3:20) will be held Oct. 10, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at The Grace Place, 404 George Bishop Parkway in Myrtle Beach. Tickets go on sale this week. Contact Stacey Gurley by phone at (864) 477-9683 or e-mail to stacey@lovecoversus.com.

■ The Colombiettes of St. Andrews Church, 37th Ave. North are in need of crafters and vendors for their November 7 Christmas Bazaar which will take place from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Community Life Center. Contact Patricia Martelli at (908) 938-1433 or email patriciamartelli57@gmail.com.

■ St. Philip Lutheran Preschool is currently registering students for its 2020-21 school year for the 2, 3 and 4-year-old classes. Come join the fun! Contact the director, Jenn Loeswick, at stphilipppreschoolmb@gmail.com or look them up on Facebook: St. Philip Preschool-Myrtle Beach. The preschool is located at 6200 N. Kings Highway. Call (843) 449-4322, and we’ll get back to you.

■ Horry Friends Monthly Meetings, formerly known at Five Rivers Friends, has offered unprogrammed, silent Quaker worship in our area for more than three decades. Now meeting virtually, Horry Friends welcome new attenders and visiting Friends. Contact clerk Grace Gifford at (843) 365-6654.

■ St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 542 Cypress Ave., in Murrells Inlet, has a Life Chain every first Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on U.S. 17 Business near the church driveway. You are invited to participate in this event. (Bring a chair if not able to stand for the hour.) Contact Joanne Bennett at (614) 313-8425 or email Joanne.bennett55@ gmail.com.

■ Temple Emanu-EL by the Sea, 65th Ave. North and N. Kings Highway, invites you to Friday night service at 7:30 p.m. (Kosher Oneg), Shabbat Service at 10 a.m. (Kosher Kiddush).

Current Second Nature Project: we are collecting items for New Directions of Horry County that provides shelter and meals for those in need. Please bring paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, diapers), bath towels, laundry soap, toothpaste and brushes, and cleaning supplies. We are continuing to collect new packages of children’s underwear and socks. Take your donations to the Rosen Center and place in the basket provided by the front door. All Mitzvoth greatly appreciated! Questions? Contact Karen Osborne at (843) 446-1060.

■ Don’t miss the 12th Annual Ground Zero Dragon Boat Festival, rescheduled for Aug. 22, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sign up your team today. Go to www.mygroundzero.com.

■ Myrtle Beach Christian Church, 1226 Burcale Road, opens its Thrift Store each week, Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. You are encouraged to come out and browse and buy and, in so doing, you’ll be supporting this community outreach. Phone (843) 236-1121.

■ Temple Shalom, 4023 Belle Terre Blvd., invites you to Shabbat services each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Phone (843) 903-6634 or go online to templeshalommyrtlebeach.net.

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I'm the editor of the Horry Independent, a weekly newspaper in Conway, South Carolina. I cover city hall and courts, among many other subjects. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7241.

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