Blessed in a time of need
Sep 3, 2020
Five months into his first senior pastorate, Aaron Petre had seen average attendance at Enchanted Hills Baptist Church in Tucson increase from 50 to 80 … and then the state of Arizona issued a stay-at home-order because of COVID -19. With a large portion of the church being high risk either medically or because of age, in-person services shut down and have remained so.
The church, which meets down the street from “A” Mountain in a lower-income area of town, was hit hard. Giving dropped dramatically. A number of people lost their jobs, while others stopped giving, fearful of potential job loss.
As Petre taught about trusting God to take care of you and being obedient rather than fearful, he also saw God take care of His church.
“God has been keeping us above water,” he said. “We’ve dramatically cut things out of the budget, things that we didn’t need, [particularly when] we’re not meeting.”
Just at the point where they would not have been able to pay staff their next checks, Enchanted Hills received a grant from the Helping Churches in Crisis Fund, the single focus of this year’s Arizona Mission Offering.
“It allowed us to not skip a week or two, to not skip a payment period, and to get our finances back on track,” Petre said.
“When our church was struggling as a result of COVID-19 and we didn’t know where to turn, the Helping Churches in Crisis Fund came to our aid,” he said. “God’s provision through this fund was a major blessing.”
Because crisis can accelerate the rate of change, the shutdown also provided the opportunity for another blessing. Petre wanted to start small groups at Enchanted Hills, but he knew he needed to implement changes slowly.
“We realized a month after the shutdown that things were going to change,” Petre said. “We asked, ‘What can we do to continue?’”
The answer was to start small groups. Now, 10 “very healthy” small groups, including youth, young adults and senior adults, are meeting, enabling the church to “disciple and mentor better,” he said.
The new senior pastor thanks God for the encouragement he’s received, not only through the grant from the Helping Churches in Crisis Fund but from the cards, prayers and coaching from fellow pastors.
“This reaffirms that we really are many churches working together,” Petre said. “We say it all the time, but this just proves that what we say, we live.”
You can be an encouragement to struggling churches as you give to the Arizona Mission Offering through your church or online at azsbc.org/helping-churches-in-crisis/. The form to apply for a grant is also available on this page.