Our thoughts and prayers are with all of our students, both in and out of the country, who are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. This is a time for us to do all we can to stay healthy and keep from spreading this terrible disease. To help check the advance of this virus, institutions and organizations are taking steps to suspend meetings, increase social distancing, and limit in-person gatherings. Your school may be one of those currently limiting coursework to online classes. It is important to follow whatever guidelines your college or university is imposing—not so much to prevent the spread of the virus but to slow it down so health workers and hospital staff will be able to keep up with the growing number of those contracting it. At this point, we are all just trying to stay ahead of what President Trump is now declaring an official state of emergency.

The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, emphasized the important role each of us plays in curbing the spread of the coronavirus with these words:

“Changing our actions for a short period of time may save the life of one or more people you know. That’s the choice before us. Each of us has extraordinary power to slow the spread of this disease. Not holding that concert or community event can have cascading effects—saving dozens of lives and preserving critical health care resources that your family may need a month from now. The people in our lives who are most at risk—seniors and those with underlying health conditions—are depending on all of us to make the right choice.”

Let’s make sure we are doing all we can to limit the spread of COVID-19. We have been instructed to wash our hands after touching anything, keep our hands away from our face as much as possible, keep a healthy 3- to 6-foot distance from others, and isolate ourselves from large gatherings. We may not be able to stop it, but hopefully we can slow it down by carefully following these simple guidelines.

Every day we are learning more about this virus and how to manage our lives as it spreads. It is important to remember that God has not forgotten us. He is a good, good Father and knows us all by name. God’s promise to Israel during their captivity in Babylon is a great comfort:

“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
Do not be afraid, for I am with you…
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made”

(Isaiah 43:2, 3, 5, 7, NIV).

For more information concerning COVID-19 and updated information from the North American Division, click on: https://www.nadadventist.org/news/nad-administration-shares-information-regarding-covid-19-and-division-response

Here’s a great site recently shared by Northern California Conference Ministerial Director Jim Lorenz on the seriousness of this disease and whether churches should close to help stop its spread: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/march-web-only/seattle-churches-stop-meeting-to-slow-covid-19-coronavirus.html

If you are stuck in your room this Sabbath and need to connect with an online worship experience, here’s a link to the Loma Linda University church live site for church and Sabbath School: https://www.lluc.org/live

Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to your campus minister, youth pastor, local church pastor, or even to me, rpickell@mac.com, with your thoughts, concerns, hopes, and fears. You may also call me at 510-847-0605. We will make it through this time by keeping in touch and building new ways to connect with one another, even though gathering together may be limited. May God be near and dear to each of you, especially in these uncertain times.

All for Christ and campus,

Ron Pickell
Adventist Christian Fellowship Coordinator
Pacific Union Conference