Is your heart heavy? Is it breaking with what’s happening in our world, with the divisions in our nation, and with the continuing trauma of COVID? Is it hard to say “Happy” New Year? Indeed. It seems like I started out my January 2021 letter similarly. Is there no end?

This has been a difficult holiday season with two friends passing away suddenly from COVID. At this writing, I know of at least 8 acquaintances or friends who are sick with COVID. Once again it is raging and everyone seems to be getting it, vaccinated or not.

It was snowing sloppy flakes early on Christmas Eve. My heart was heavy and my mind reeling with the recent news of our two friends’ departure from this life, so suddenly, so unexpectantly. I took a few hours to help out my recently-recovered-from-COVID friend who knew the pain of this loss far deeper than I (the couple had “adopted” her as their mother). While I sat outside her driveway in my car waiting for an individual from her church to vacate her driveway, her neighbor slammed into us as he backed out of his drive. Sigh. What next?! No damage to our persons’ but the car has seen better days.

But there were good times over this break, albeit very busy times, including a visit from my brother Dan, opportunities to lead music twice and play bass twice. The week Dan was here was a whirlwind of activity with rehearsals; Christmas dinner at my place for five of us; a trip to the wild animal park; a visit with my other brother, Steve, in Phoenix; a short hike in Sedona; and then it was time for Dan to leave. The morning he was to be at the airport, I knew I was sick again. COVID again? Maybe. Flu? Maybe. A good friend from church, Tim, jumped in to take Dan to the airport, which turned out to be closed because of icy runways, and then to the shuttle to catch a ride to the airport in Phoenix. Dan managed to make it home on time anyway.

Looking back over 2021, I see God’s mercy in bringing me and many others at IBC through COVID the first time and drawing near to me as rarely before. He took us through the unexpected departure of two staff members and the grief they left behind. He brought me safely across the country and back with great health and a 2008 car that ran like brand new. What a blessing to see so many of you in person again, and how you blessed me!

He brought in 6 new students for the fall semester. He provided us with what was possibly the best life coaching semester ever. And though there were defeats and frustrations, lives were changed. Check out the following link of a video, of one of the IBC students, created by Mission Hills Church of Colorado: https://vimeo.com/658691217. God also recently called two individuals to fill two of our vacant staff positions.

All the way the Lord was with us. Check out this link as well for a very brief note of thanks from IBC: https://youtu.be/6bEgD3UMR8w staff and students.

May God be our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. May His faithfulness in the past sustain us in the future. May 2022 be a time of renewed passion to follow Him.

Please continue to stand with us in prayer as we start classes during what is the strongest COVID surge yet. Most of all, pray with us for transformed lives, both the students’ and our own.

Gratefully,

 

Martha Gushee