Throughout the COVID-19 health pandemic, there have been many examples of our communities responding to the exceptional circumstances to help those in need. Here, Drumragh Sarsfields shares its story.

I suppose like everyone, lockdown has been a time of frustration, worry, anxiety and wondering when will this ever end? Will there be any light at the end of the tunnel in the midst of this Pandemic? We in the church were no different and we knew action was very much needed in a society were all hope had seemed to vanish. The church closed down on March 22nd  and we were very much aware that God was calling us to take this opportunity to show His love in action and on the front line, not just on a Sunday morning.

We have many elderly folk in our congregation and our concern was in keeping them safe and at home making sure they had all they needed to survive this time of loneliness. Food was delivered every week to what started out as 30 homes and finishing at the end of June with just over 80. Phone calls where made, baking parcels were left at people’s door and one of the local shops whose restaurant had to close, gave us their meat supplies to be parcelled up and delivered along with our tin goods. O’Doherty’s butchers regularly made us their speciality meat loaves to be give out as well. Everyone came together and worked together, In a real and practical sense. We covered a lot of ground and met a lot of new people in the process. Ministry actually had taken on a new dimension.

But the church still needed to exist as many sought prayer and guidance and so our services went to an online format, weekly hymn-sings, which are still on going lifted peoples spirits and prayer requests came in one by one for people who were isolated and struggling and indeed for those who were going through difficult bouts of treatment for various illness.

At the end of May some restrictions were lifted and we were able to conduct our services in Enniskillen Farmers mart. Every week a team set up a lorry and we broadcast live via Facebook and transmitted the services by radio wave into the cars so windows didn’t have to be put down. We had an attendance of over 75-80 cars every week sometimes up on 100. It was a safety net for many and a lifeline as people could sit in their cars and still feel part of the church. They could engage with their friends with a wave or a blow of the horn. Young and old together, dogs and cats and people passing through the town felt safe to come. The barrier of Denominations were broken down as we welcomed strange faces week after week , some of whom we will probably never see again. Many came with their coffee and tea ready to enjoy the service. It was definitely a very worthwhile effort and a very positive outreach. Many have suggested we do this on a yearly basis.

Lockdown has been challenging for so many but for us as a church it has been a time of creativity. We have prayed more for this community than any other time and as I said at the beginning. Gods work never ceases even when all around goes into lockdown God is still open for business!!