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27 April 2020 | St Albans, UK [Victor Hulbert] 

Two pastors from two different ‘locked down’ countries, share how ministry and mission is still a part of their lives.

Pastor Tony O'RourkePastor Tony O'Rourke.Tony O'Rourke is a pastor in the west of Ireland. With lockdown, he realised that he could become confined to his office. A very practical man, Pastor O'Rourke found a solution. He owns a van.

“Having the van has opened doors for me to connect with people,” he says. His pastoral role now includes delivering grocery parcels from his local supermarket to isolated customers or dropping off a load of firewood to a needy family who he knows are struggling financially.

Pastor ORourke delivers firewood“Who would ever have thought I would enjoy volunteering as a delivery service or that this van of ours would become such an important means for ministry,” he reflects. “I have had numerous opportunities to use the van to help people and then minister to them at their doorstep with a prayer and encouraging word.”

Yes, his life does still involve regular ministry via technology rather than face to face but, he says, “I might be a 'locked down' Pastor, but I am not 'locked out' of ministry. All around me I am finding new and innovative ways to practically help my community and be a blessing to those I meet. People, isolated by the pandemic, are struggling with fear and are grateful for spiritual dialogue and prayer.”

Read his full story on the Irish Mission website.

On the other side of Europe, Pastor Claudio Gulyas sits in his Athens apartment. He too is using technology to continue to serve as a president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Greece. He has also discovered that technology can be a personal witness.

In Athens, apartment blocks are close together, just across a street or alleyway. In Athens, apartment blocks are close together, just across a street or alleyway. [Photo credit: Anastase Maragos/Unsplash]Moving to Greece six years ago, Pastor Gulyas and his family soon became friends with a family who live in an apartment block across the street from them. Because both families have children the connection grew stronger. Their neighbour is a lady that comes from a different faith group but has visited their local Adventist church and even the church campsite from time to time.

“Since we have this lockdown, the communication is limited to SMS, Viber and phone calls,” Gulyas says. “Very often we see each other on the balcony and wave, a sign that we are together.”

The ‘togetherness’ became extra special during the Greek Easter celebrations on Sunday, 19 April. Apart from church, traditional celebrations in Greece include large get-togethers for a meal with family and friends. With lockdown, that could not happen. Families ate by themselves.

“That Easter morning, talking with her on the phone, we decided that both of our families should have lunch outside on the balcony so that we could see each other and have a feeling of being together,” Gulyas says.

Food ready, both families sat around their respective tables ready to eat. “Then,” Gulyas says, “something unexpected happened! She called me on the phone and asked me to pray for them as well. At that moment I told her to put her mobile on the table in speaker mode so that everyone seated around the table could hear… I prayed on the phone and even though they were across the street on their balcony, it was like we were together at the same table. It was through that prayer on a mobile phone that God filled the gap between us.”

Bridging the gap did not stop there. She was so moved by what happened that she immediately called one of her friends to share the prayer experience.

For the Gulyas family this has been a six-year journey of friendship and gentle witness. Lockdown made it something more. “We have to be patient with people, to show them God’s love and care and to allow the Holy Spirit to work in their life so that at one point in life they will be ready and open to move further on into their journey with God,” Gulyas concludes.

Two pastors, two stories at opposite ends of Europe. Two examples out of many that show how even the isolation and challenges of coronavirus and lockdown can become an opportunity to share a message of hope to friends, neighbours, and many others who may be touched by our positive prayers and messages of hope.


tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
119 St Peter's Street, St Albans, Herts, AL1 3EY, England
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tedNEWS is an information bulletin issued by the communication department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Trans-European Division. Readers are free to republish or share this article with appropriate credit including an active hyperlink to the original article.



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