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Steps Christians can take suggested for ministry amidst ‘Y2K’ problem

ATLANTA (BP)–While few can agree on the severity of the computer problems society will face on Jan. 1, 2000, two evangelical Christian authors agree the church must prepare to face the worst.
Shaunti Feldhahn and Mike Hyatt, who have written books on the so-called “Y2K problem” or “millennium bug,” say congregations should be ready with supplies of food, water, electricity and other emergency measures.
Feldhahn, of Atlanta, compared the situation to a tornado that swept through central Georgia in April. The church and the Red Cross helped feed people and restore order, she said. Christians remained to minister among the victims for the longest period of time, which helped many see the presence of Christ, she added.
However, if the church doesn’t wake up to the possible crisis posed by potential computer malfunctions at the turn of the century, she said it will be unprepared for a technological tornado.
“Christians are less aware of this situation than the average small business,” she said. “Individually, people need to pray and prepare. They need to turn their hearts to the Lord. As Henry Blackaby says, ‘If you’re in an intimate relationship with the Lord, that’s the most important thing.'”
“This is not a moment where, as Christians, our hearts need to fail us,” echoed Hyatt, who lives in the Nashville, Tenn., area.
“We need to be examples to our communities,” he said of the approaching Y2K problem. “We need to take the moral high ground and be willing to share, be involved in mercy ministries and meet human needs. We have a responsibility for the people around us, both Christian and non-Christian.”
Thus, both recommend believers store food, water and other supplies in advance of Jan. 1, 2000, to help provide for their families and several neighbors. When you help others you will be able to tell them why you were prepared, Feldhahn said.
As for churches, she suggested they are equipped to meet the potential crisis in ways individuals can’t, such as:
— purchasing expensive electric generators for emergency power.
— storing large supplies of food and providing temporary living quarters for those caught without heat in the dead of winter.
— maintaining emergency cooking facilities that families would find too costly or would require too much space in their homes.
Just providing the essentials of food and water can reduce disease rates by two-thirds during a disaster, she pointed out.
“They also need to think about what if their church community is the community around them,” she said. “Right now my pastor drives 10 miles to church. But what if suddenly people can’t get gasoline and can only walk or ride a bike? Think about reaching out to the people in your neighborhood.”
Hyatt, who has spoken in recent months to a number of churches and other community organizations, said he stresses two messages in churches:
— Build awareness in the congregation and encourage people to take responsibility for themselves. Don’t depend on government, private industry or even the church to meet individual needs, he said.
— Be ready to help those who either don’t have the resources or the foresight to prepare for the crisis.
“I know of churches that are laying up food banks, clothing closets, tool chests and all the rest,” Hyatt said. “Even in our church we’ve divided up (members) geographically, into sectors. We have a coordinator in every sector to serve as a resource point for members and the community.”
While some may question taking extraordinary steps and say they trust in God’s miraculous provision, Hyatt said preparing for calamity doesn’t show a lack of faith.
God could have eased the famine in Egypt, but the Lord chose to work through Joseph by directing him to store up grain for seven years, Hyatt said.
“If we’re prepared, we may not have had an evangelism opportunity like this since the Civil War,” said the vice president of Thomas Nelson Publishers.
“But we’re not going to be able to take advantage of that and do the kind of evangelism we need to do if we’re not prepared. If we become victims, we’re going to be in the same stew with everybody else.”
Although Hyatt’s book recommends such steps as relocating to smaller towns where it may be possible to drill water wells and find increased safety, he said such measures were meant to point out possible preparations people could consider.
The reality is the majority of people, especially those on low or fixed incomes, aren’t going to be able to move anywhere, he said. That means the church has to be prepared to meet the human needs that will arise, he added.
“I’m opposed to survivalism as a worldview,” Hyatt said. “Survivalism is rooted in fear, it’s self-centered and it’s ultimately not a solution.
“It basically says, ‘There is no solution, but I’m going to survive by running into the woods and digging a hole and keeping it all to myself.'”
Feldhahn likens the pending crisis to two historical situations that sparked explosive growth for Christianity.
The first occurred in 165 A.D., when a plague swept the Roman Empire. Christians stayed in the cities to help victims when many in the ruling class fled to the countryside, she said.
In the 1660s, English Puritans were persecuted by ruling Anglicans, she said, for refusing to bow down and agree that the king was the head of the church. However, when a severe plague hit London around the end of that decade, the Puritans came into the city to minister while high church officials, doctors and others left.
Afterwards, the Puritans had the people’s respect, Feldhahn said: “Instead of being oppressed, they were beloved by society. It led to the First Great Awakening. That’s where Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches came from.
“The abolition of slavery, free hospitals and building orphanages to help kids dying on the streets — all that arose from this period.”

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  • Ken Walker