Who could have foreseen just a short time ago, when employers – including The FAMiLY Leader and the Iowa Legislature – sent employees to work from home during the COVID-19 crisis, that TFL would become busier and more needed than ever?
These unprecedented times have created sudden, unexpected needs for people all across Iowa. But by God’s grace, and through the relationships our Church Ambassador Network’s pastors have built with Iowa’s governing leaders, TFL has been thrust into the epicenter of teaming with many partners to meet these needs.
Here’s just some of what TFL has been doing since this crisis began:
Through online technology, the TFL staff has met daily for prayer and to coordinate our legislative, communication, and humanitarian efforts.
We’ve been able to reschedule U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and author Joel C. Rosenberg to speak at the July 17 Family Leadership Summit, and we continue to prepare for Dr. Sean McDowell to be our biblical worldview speaker at LEAD, TFL’s week-long leadership training experience for teens.
Speaking into the culture
Bob Vander Plaats published an op-ed, “Even in pandemic, a hopeful ‘new normal,'” in the Des Moines Journal; and talking with pastors and government leaders helped TFL’s Greg Baker to compile a column, “7 ways Christians can help in the COVID-19 crisis,” which has been shared on social media and reprinted in area newspapers.
Meanwhile, the immensely popular YouVersion Bible app for smartphones and tablets has made If 7:14’s “The Daniel Difference” 5-day devotional one of its featured Bible reading and prayer plans for the coronavirus crisis.
Bringing together the governor and pastors
Through years of building relationships between pastors and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and her staff, TFL was able to secure a teleconference call with the governor and over 230 Iowa pastors. The governor answered some of the pastors’ most pressing questions, and the pastors in turn encouraged and prayed for the governor.
The governor also shared three of the most urgent needs facing Iowans during this crisis: Food banks, blood drives, and child care, particularly child care for emergency and essential-services workers. TFL and the pastors of the Church Ambassador Network have already begun working in partnership with government agencies and community organizations to assist in meeting these urgent needs.
Reassigning staff to community aid
Multiple members of the TFL team are bringing together churches and Gov. Reynolds’ administration to meet community needs. Greg and the Church Ambassador Team and community partners like Pastor Al Perez and Serve the City are recruiting churches across the state of Iowa to be a volunteer force to distribute food, give blood, and provide child care. Ashley is coordinating details. Darla is equipping the churches. And Katie is answering the phone for central Iowa’s emergency-food hotline. With churches as Christ’s hands and feet in time of need, we anticipate helping Iowa food banks increase their distribution by over 500,000 pounds of food.
Mentoring and learning from other states
TFL’s team has also been in frequent contact with the states of TFL’s The Daniel Initiative and our partner states in the Family Policy Alliance, looking to learn and share “best practices” among states. We’ve been able to encourage and guide other states’ Church Ambassador Networks to partner with state governments in meeting local needs, while we’ve also learned from other states how to refine our efforts in Iowa.
Many of these efforts are just beginning, as the needs of Americans become more and more acute.
But here’s the encouraging and inspiring takeaway: We are seeing years of building relationships between ministers of God in the Church and ministers of God in government bear tangible fruit in a time of need.
“We never anticipated this pandemic, but it has provided us the moment that these relationships would not only be sorely needed, but would also provide needed relief,” says Greg Baker, TFL’s vice president of church engagement. “We are grateful God has prepared TFL for just such a time as this. We are grateful for our governor’s willingness to reach out to churches. And we are thankful beyond words for the pastors and churches who have joined us in this journey.”