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Steps to take recapped for Christians & Y2K

ATLANTA (BP)–Churches should prepare now for the possibility of interruptions in vital services at the turn of the century, according to a noted Christian financial advisor.
In a forthcoming book on the Year 2000 situation, Larry Burkett said churches should store various supplies and care for families within their congregation and community.
“To set up clothes closets and food closets and to buy a 50-watt generator for a church is a doable thing for 200 people,” said the founder of Christian Financial Concepts (CFC).
Burkett is a member of Blackshear Baptist Church in Oakwood, Ga. His remarks appear in the upcoming book, “Y2K: The Millennium Bug, A Balanced Christian Response,” written by Atlanta resident Shaunti Feldhahn, who also helped organize a community-based effort to help area residents prepare for the situation. The book is to be released in early November by Multnomah Publishers.
Year 2000, or as it is commonly called, “Y2K,” refers to expected computer malfunctions or shutdowns at the turn of the century. The problem stems from old computer programs that relied on two-digit endings for years. Thus, when the year ends in “00” many computers may interpret that to mean 1900.
As Burkett noted in the book, the problem is nobody can say with any certainty how severe power, food and other shortages may be — nor how long they will last.
Thus, churches need to take a balanced approach and make prudent preparations, he said.
“Granted, it will cost you some money,” he told Feldhahn. “Granted, you may be ridiculed if you cleared out two rooms of your church to store food in and then you didn’t need the food. But, you know what? There are always hungry people. You can get rid of that food (with) no problem.”
From a practical perspective, he said, pastors must prepare for such scenarios as being unable to pay staff because they can’t withdraw any money from their bank.
However, most pastors don’t even know the problem exists, let alone have a contingency plan, he said.
Some churches are already taking action. A church in Georgia that found which member lived on the highest hill in the area and built a tower there, Burkett said. Members bought a generator to run the tower and cell phones that also work like walkie-talkies so they can communicate no matter what happens.
“But most importantly, they are holding classes to train everybody in the church on how to witness, and renewing them on the Scriptures,” he said. “They believe they’re going to be the only people who are ready with lights, food and communication.
“They said, ‘People are going to come knocking on your door when you’ve got lights and no one else does.’ They think that people are going to come to them for help, and ask, ‘How did you know about this?’ And they’re going to have an opportunity to witness like they’ve never had in their life.”
The book includes a list of other steps that people can take to prepare:
— Offer to organize meetings for church leaders in your area so they can discuss a coordinated Christian response.
— Offer to organize a general awareness meeting for your church. Schedule a speaker or show an instructional video such as “700 Club” specials on Y2K to help people understand the issue.
— Offer to develop and lead some of your church’s preparations, such as storing food or water, researching or purchasing a generator, or acquiring alternate sources of heat.
— Plan to reach out to your neighborhood in case gasoline distribution is disrupted and people must walk or bicycle. Also, offer to help pastors develop a “neighborhood church” concept so they are ready to welcome those unable to attend customary places of worship.
— Provide important articles and factual material on the subject to your church newsletter.
— Develop a strategy now for working with churches in other neighborhoods, so if one is more severely affected it can lean on its “sister” church.
— Set up partnerships with “high-risk” households in the church and community, so the poor, elderly or families with many children can receive help and safe shelter in the event of emergency.
Here are other suggestions for individuals that appeared in a recent Y2K “position paper” from CFC:
— Think through the practical preparations you would need to make if you were without utilities, access to a grocery store or access to your bank account for several days or weeks.
— Write your bank, utility company, county government, hospitals and other organizations and ask what steps they are taking to prepare for Y2K.
— Keep printed copies of all financial transactions, such as banking, insurance, mutual funds and stocks. You may need hard copies to verify financial claims if computer-based information is corrupted.
— Obtain a copy of your “Earnings and Benefit Statement” from Social Security. Call the 800 number in your phone book or request a copy through its Internet site, www.ssa.gov.
— Develop a list of records that could be lost via computer failure, such as birth certificates, immunization records, medical histories and school transcripts. Obtain hard copies now.
— Stay informed. You can find background on:
1) Christian Financial Concept’s Internet site, www.cfcministry.org.
2) The CBN News Year 2000 Resource Center, www.cbn.org/news/ stories/y2k-links.asp.
3) The Year 2000 Information Center, www.year2000.com.

    About the Author

  • Ken Walker