A Message to the Venn Community about COVID-19

At this time, the impact and response to COVID-19 is foremost in our all hearts and minds. I wanted to write to you with some encouragement, to let you know we are praying for you, and to reaffirm Venn’s commitment to support you in this new phase of life together.

You will be following the news of what is unfolding around the world and in Aotearoa, New Zealand. I’m sure that many of you will be thinking and praying for those who have or show symptoms of COVID-19, concerned for those family members and friends who are vulnerable to COVID-19, and making significant adjustments to your everyday lives as you change how you work, interact with family and friends, and plan for a challenging economic future.

In response to what is unfolding, the first thing I want to remind us all is that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). In the midst of what is unfolding—faced with the realities of sickness, economic hardship, and even death along with the emotions, thoughts, and questions that arise with these realities—Jesus is the same. He is lovingly faithful to his people and lovingly faithful to the world that is still upheld in and through him. Indeed, as the one who is God incarnate, Jesus has entered into the reality of our vulnerable world and continues to hold this world in prayer in the presence of the Father and the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25). Christians throughout the years, who have faced similar difficulties, have found comfort and strength in this truth; today, and in the days ahead, we will need to do the same.

One of the things that brings me encouragement and hope at this time is knowing that you will be faithfully serving God and your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours. The Venn community is loving, prayerful, patient, and courageous, and I know you will find creative ways to serve in a very different environment, even as you prudently follow the directives and advisories given by the Government.

I want you to know that Bronwyn and I are praying for you, both in the morning and evening, asking that God give you strength, courage, and wisdom in these times. Bronwyn has been teaching at Waikowhai Primary School this year (so we have a good insight into what is unfolding in the education sector and what teachers, parents, and children have been thinking and feeling); my focus these last weeks has been working to ensure programme continuity (where that is possible), exploring new ways that we can support you and the wider Christian community, and checking in with other Christian leaders and ministries.

Although Venn will change the way it outworks its mission in the days ahead, we are still here to encourage you to think deeply, live faithfully, and serve wisely. We are thinking creatively around how we do this. As a team, we want to do all we can to encourage and support you when many around us are feeling anxious and fearful. Later this week, you will receive an e-mail from us outlining new initiatives to encourage and support you as we face COVID-19 together. Please look out for that e-mail.

One of the things we want to announce straight away is the launch of our prayer@venn.org.nz and connect@venn.org.nz e-mails. If there are specific things that you would like the Venn Team to confidentially pray for at this time, perhaps for a family member or friend or a a particular challenge you are facing, please e-mail prayer@venn.org.nz. We would love to join with you in prayer. In addition, if you would like to connect with a member of the Venn Team, perhaps to talk something through, then please e-mail us at connect@venn.org.nz, and we will arrange to connect with you by phone or another digital channel.

As I close, I want to leave you with this blessing from Hebrews 13:

Now may the God of peace,
who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great Shepherd of the sheep,
equip you with everything good for doing his will,
and may he work in us what is pleasing to him,
through Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory for ever and ever.

Ngā mihi nui,

Nathan McLellan

CEO, Venn Foundation