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A beautiful perspective from the other side of the mask...

Faith family. Take 5 minutes and listen to the sweet-spirited heart of our dear sister in Christ, Fahren Sterrett. I have been in rooms with her while on missions trips where she was literally on the front lines of some of the most intense spiritual warfare I have ever seen. She absolutely believes and trusts in our Sovereign Savior! So, as you listen, open your heart to hear hers. Fight the 'ya but's...' by simply listening with a heart to understand; not necessarily to change your opinion, but to hear how another image-bearer has come to their own understanding of the situation. As I keep saying, you are the best people I know at doing just that very thing! MUCH love! —doug

Hello dear friends,

I am Fahren, and as most of you know I am a nurse, but as I come to you to talk about COVID-19, I want to focus more on the heart behind my choices.

This has been a really hard few months. While it's been such a joy to start meeting in person with theFRamily, it has also been challenging in it's own way. You may have noticed that Taylor and I, along with my parents, have decided to wear masks and to sit in the back.

This was a carefully weighed out decision from the start, and one that we've considered again week after week. So why have we made the choice we have?

Well, because up to 40% of people who catch coronavirus got it from someone who did not have symptoms at the time, I can't ever be sure I'm not contagious. For me this means that I'm trying to act as if I'm contagious all the time even though I feel fine... Because frankly at any moment I really could be contagious.

In recognizing that I could feel fine but still get others sick, I have chosen to wear a face mask. Wearing a cloth mask alone does not guarantee the prevention of coronavirus, but when combined with physical distancing and hand hygiene, it does significantly decrease it. I agree that the gathering of the church body is so very important, and I understand that physical distancing is challenging if not impossible while having meaningful conversations. I want to protect our ability to fellowship, and so for me, that's all the more reason to wear a mask.

Kind of like when you cover your mouth when you cough or when you sneeze into your elbow, wearing a mask limits the spread of potentially contagious droplets. So when I choose to wear a cloth face mask, I'm not really trying to decrease my chance of getting sick but to decrease the chance of me accidentally getting someone else sick.

I am going to use the illustration of the safety measures when in a car. Wearing a seat belt alone may not save my life, but when combined with air bags and obeying traffic laws, my risk for injury is decreased. For us right now, we may figuratively choose to get into a car without airbags by coming to church and not practicing physical distancing...and maybe rightly so as we see value in the local church gathered, but this is all the more reason to put on our "seatbelt" and wear a mask. This is especially true when I realize that when I wear my "seatbelt", I'm decreasing your risk for injury, just as much, if not more, than mine.

In regards to my decision to wear a mask, I haven't been wearing it out of fear for myself, but out of love for you. Wearing a mask is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and even embarrassing at times, but I'm happy to do this if it decreases the chance that even one person in my church FRamily may feel poorly, miss work, miss church, or suffer more severe health consequences. I see it as an act of selfless love, the kind called for and modeled by our Savior.

Personally, after so much prayer and truly humble soul searching, I can't feel right before the Lord in doing anything other than wear a mask during our gatherings. This has become all the more true with the recent government mandate. But just as it was not fear of getting sick that led me to wear a mask up to this point, it is not a blind and ungodly fear of the government that will keep me wearing one.

Christ alone is Lord of my life. He is my ultimate authority. His Word repeatedly encourages us to fall under the authority of those He has placed over us, except in issues of sin (Galatians 13, 1 Peter 2, Hebrews 10, 1 Timothy 2, Daniel 6, Acts 4-5). Since the beginning of the quarantine, I have been studying Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. This study has really brought to light the sovereignty of God in all things, from a virus (yes, he actually uses this example) to the rulers of nations. We may indeed be under an unreasonable master, but we need to obey their authority when not conflicting the Word of God and trust the Lord is using them for His eternal and good purposes.

I know we are called to suffer for the sake of righteousness and I am willing to feel the hand of persecution for the sake of the gospel (Matthew 5, 1 Peter 2). I want to suffer, but I want to suffer for the sake of Christ, for loving Him and His people well. I want to be reviled for the name of Christ and to suffer as a Christian and not for any other reason.

I don't feel wearing a mask is sinful, but instead selfless. Masking is a way to care for those around us.  I don't think it's taking away from my spiritual freedom in Christ. Instead I think it's a reasonable and loving way to protect our ability to gather with healthy friends and family.

I hope by sharing my heart, you understand the choice we are making and see our desire above all else to please the Lord and bring glory to Him alone.

Thank you.

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