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Building Bridges in Our Community

It is just the beginning of local businesses being affected by the shutdowns due to COVID-19 and they are being forced to make major decisions about the future of their businesses.

I recently spoke with a local small business owner that I have come to know quite well. There were some recent changes in her business and this was the year that everything was going to take off, but because of the virus, she is doing everything to make sure that her business survives. She doesn’t qualify for most of the government support and costs keep piling up while there is no income stream. This business is her “baby” and it is a place that so many people have grown to love, but she is facing the possibility of saying goodbye to something that means so much to her and it is breaking her heart.

This story is one that I have come to hear personally, but I am afraid that we will hear many more like this. This is a time when we need to support our local businesses because they can’t take the big hits like large store chains and amazon can. We need to consider how we can support them however we can financially, but we also need to consider how we can support them personally.

Each business is run by a person in our community. A person who has a family, who brightens and gives back to our community, and who has put their whole heart and soul into the business that they run.

I learned from some very wise people many years ago about how important it is to support your local businesses. My first mentor told me “buy directly from your local Christian Bookstore, if you want to keep your local Christian Bookstore local.” I never forgot that and I continue to order as little as I can online.

Another wise leader told me, as a church, we should support our local businesses (Christian or non-christian) financially, but to also develop a relationship with them. One example he shared was that they always buy pizza from the same place and they always tip well. The pizza place has come to rely on the church for good business and the church is remembered because they stand out and because they show that they care. This has opened the door for good faith conversations.

After I heard this story, I felt challenged to also build relationships and so over the years I have done my best.

The business owner I mentioned earlier is someone that I have gotten to know well over the past couple of years. She knows that I work at a church and I run camps, but we've never spoke of faith, until this past week. As she shared her heart about her struggles, she also said that she has never prayed so hard in her life. This crisis has opened the door for faith to become a part of the conversation as she draws closer to God.

This is a time when we as Christians especially need to be there for our neighbours. This is a time where we need to show the love of Jesus Christ and to be ready to help those who are struggling to navigate their faith in tough times like this. Be a listening ear, show support and love, and when God prompts, share conversations about how God is there in good times and in bad.

Whatever the outcome for my friend, God is there. You and I can't change people's circumstances but we can show God’s love and concern so they might come to recognize his faithful presence too.

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