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Rogers Update 11/24/2020
December 11, 2020
November 24, 2020
 
Dear Friends,

Proverbs 16:9 states this, “A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”  In other words, “We make our plans, but God decides!”  When any of us (who know the Lord) sets out to serve Him in a major endeavor or any endeavor, we have to remember that God does not necessarily view what is about to happen the same way we do!  Let me explain…
 
We have just finished our Small Church Conference in Kokomo, Indiana, and all the reports are that it was a great conference.  This is the second time BEM has done the conference.  The last one was in 2018.  Our plan is do this conference in Northern Indiana every other year.  (We do have requests to do these conferences in other areas, and we are seriously looking at that possibility.)
 
A lot of work goes into these conferences.  We started seriously preparing for this year’s conference in the early part of 2020.  (Preliminary preparation has been going on since the last conference.)  With COVID virus affecting all of our lives in various ways, preparation was innovative.  One of our goals this time was to really involve many of the local churches and their leadership in planning the conference.  Although that has always been one of our goals, the door was truly open to us because of the last conference in 2018.  Small church pastors’ in the area have responded to BEM in a very positive way after getting to know us during the previous conference.  There was a God developed excitement over the possibility of this year’s conference.  These pastors and the BEM missionaries began working together in several online meetings.  (I find it very interesting that God has used the coronavirus to fine tune our ZOOM and internet skills.  I am thinking that Romans 8:28 might have something to do with that!)
 
As this year’s conference program began to develop, our team of pastors came up with great suggestions and jumped in with a willingness to make things happen.  We at BEM were learning a lot about how God gives wisdom to His people.  As I sat in each ZOOM meeting listening to these men work through the different issues that would come up, I found myself remembering other meetings through the years where pastors were in conflict with each other, mistrusting or defensive, or sometimes almost arrogant about their ideas.  That was not this group of men.  It was clear that God was working His way in all of us.
 
One of the toughest decisions we faced was should we have the conference at all with the increase in the coronavirus across the country.  I found myself praying continually regarding this as well as I am certain others were doing.  We wanted to do what God wanted.  It would have been easy to shut down the program and “be safe” or pridefully say we weren’t going to let the virus or government tell us what to do and have the conference anyway!  After much prayer, we held a ZOOM meeting with the pastors who were invested in the conference.  It was special to watch this group of Christian leaders carefully consider the issues, and then finally conclude that the need for fellowship among small church pastors and congregations could not be ignored.  The decision was to continue with the conference.
 
The final count for those attending was 66.  (We originally had 89 people registered for the conference.)  Although not as high as our last conference in 2018, considering all that was happening, we were amazed that God had brought in so many.  (We probably shouldn’t be amazed, but that is why we are we and God is God.)  What is interesting is when we had made the final determination to hold the conference, there were only 29 registered.  Our conclusion was those 29 were just as important as a larger group might be!  Yet, God brought in more.
 
According to those that attended, it was an extremely valuable conference that dealt with the issues churches and their leaders were facing in this year of the pandemic.  Yes, it was a great conference, but here is the Proverb 16 twist, I wasn’t there!  The Sunday evening before the conference, I started burning a fever and had an awful headache.  (Is there any other kind?)  The fever was mixed with chills, and I felt like I had just contracted a very bad flu.  The next day I was tested for the coronavirus.  The symptoms became worse, and I felt miserable.  Just before the conference, the COVID test came back negative, but I didn’t feel any better.  (There was a warning on the test results that a negative test does not guarantee you are virus free.  Nice, I thought!)  Obviously, I couldn’t and shouldn’t attend the conference.
 
There I was sitting at home when the conference started and remembering how God had taken me out of other projects a couple of times before after I done months of preparing.  It doesn’t happen often, but it has happened.  I remember praying in frustration as I informed God that I didn’t like being stuck at home where the only thing I could do was pray!  Well, da…!  The lights came on in my poor earth limited mind, and I started praying!  I prayed Friday evening and through the day on Saturday.  God and I actually had a good time together (between coughs and an occasional sneeze).  One of the pastor’s who were involved in the preparation for the conference told me over the phone that I had been promoted to prayer intercessor.  No wonder the conference turned out so well – not because I was praying, but because of the One I was praying to!  This is a biblical truth that is almost haunting in its profoundness.  God doesn’t need us, but He chooses to work through us; and in this case, He worked through me and so many others to make this Small Church Conference into what it finally was.  Important – May I always remember to stay out of God’s way and allow Him to do His will in and through me – even when it is not the way I want it to be.  Please Lord, always!
 
A couple of days after the conference I broke out with a bad case of Shingles.  (Interestingly, Shingles has very similar symptoms as COVID in the early stages.)  This would be the third time that Shingles has happened to me.  Because the coronavirus has trigged Shingles in some people, I was tested for COVID again.  It still came back negative.  Thank you, Jesus!  At the time of this writing, I am pretty much over the Shingles.  Whew!  What a ride!
 
Beabea is still in Tennessee with our daughter, Christy, helping her with our granddaughter, Laurie, among other things.  Beabea is returning in a couple of weeks, and we will get to spend some time together before she needs to go back.  Keep praying, Laurie continues to do better!
 
Thank you for all your prayers for the conference and for us!
 
Waiting to see what God does next and ready to go in that direction!

John (and Beabea) Rogers
IMPORTANT information concerning end of year giving to BEM from the BEM treasurer:  Similar to tax returns, per IRS rules, the postmark on envelopes are what determine when a contribution was made, not the date on the check.  I will pick up checks after year-end and review the post dates.  As for electronic donations - if we receive one 1-3 days after year-end, we might need to ask for proof of submission if our bank doesn't show that information.