Refuge Series- ZOOM

Autumn 2020
Written by Caleb Simonyi-Gindele - Canada

As I write this in October 2020, the pandemic has become a new 'normal' that we probably hope will soon pass. However, thinking back to the first few months of the year, we can recall what started as a problem in China with a few news articles showing up in North America. COVID became a rapidly evolving issue in our backyard here in North America, starting in the Northwest Pacific region of the USA.

It was pretty clear in February and March that assemblies were heading into uncharted waters. We thought at least a temporary suspension of regular assembly gatherings was going to be required for a few weeks or maybe even a month or two (wouldn't that have been nice!).

Having been using Zoom for my counseling work for several years, this tool was quite familiar. Along with this, the Lord laid it on my heart to coordinate a weekly online Zoom webinar where the Lord's people could be urged to find their refuge in God as there was a lot of anxiety and uncertainty about how the COVID-19 pandemic would unfold.

Using email addresses I had collected through Oversight Today (https://oversight.- today) along with the Gospel Hall Forum, and Facebook, I let the Lord's people know in mid-March that the Refuge Series would be beginning with our brother Lindsay Parks on March 22nd, 2020.

I was astounded to see over 700 attendees join that first Refuge Series call. At the height of shutdowns in North America and the UK, we had over 1300 attendees on our calls. A short survey at one point showed that there was an average of 2.55 listeners for each "attendee." I'll save you the math:the Word of God was being taken in by over 3,000 believers each Lord's day!

Over the next several months, we had believers from over 35 different countries across six continents listening live each Sunday - towards the latter months, as assemblies were able to reopen, we would average around 600-700 attendees. All told, there were 28 Refuge Series sessions. Recordings of each were uploaded, and many who could not attend the sessions watched these recordings on YouTube afterward.

It has been a real thrill and encouragement to see believers in assemblies from so many different parts of the world brought together for an hour each Lord's day afternoon!

Shortly after launching the Refuge Series, planning began for Easter Conf, a one-day Zoom webinar conference. Sandy Higgins, John Dennison, Kory Crawford, and Stephen Baker provided beneficial ministry and a Bible Reading, a missionary report, and a gospel meeting. The conference ministry was simultaneously interpreted into Spanish, so believers from Spanish-speaking assemblies could join. For the day, more than 5,000 believers were able to feed on the Word of God.

I cannot close this report without mentioning my co-host Daniel Barbour from the St. John's Gospel Hall in Newfoundland. He made himself available for all of these events and spent countless hours producing and uploading video and audio recordings of the ministry. His help was invaluable and deeply appreciated, as evidenced by nearly 60,000 views of these recordings on the Oversight Today Youtube channel.

We're thankful that amidst global and local disruption, the Word of God was able to go out unhindered in order to feed His people.

Autumn 2020
Written by Caleb Simonyi-Gindele - Canada