The snow and ice fell on a row of heavy-laden pines which border my property and a busy road next to my home. The beauty is portrait quality in high definition, and I cannot look away. My mind wanders to distant memories of building snow forts with my sister and rolling snowmen with my children. The ice and snow-draped trees are breathtaking in the morning light. How can something so beautiful be so dangerous and life-taking? Subconsciously, I push away the thoughts that death and great damage are caused by snow and ice every year, when I notice a large pine branch dangling dangerously over the gazebo in my yard. I make it a mental task for the day to go out and shake the snow from threatening my evergreens.
The time comes to head out and shake loose the snow and ice from the branches above the gazebo. I grab a shovel and broom and head out to relieve the tree of its burden and prevent a roof cave in from a snapped branch. As I begin to work on the branches, I notice how quickly the branches rise after the weight of ice and snow is removed. I notice other heavy branches ready to snap under the burden of snow and removed the weight. Feeling good about my work, I retire inside for a hot cup of coffee. Later, as I begin to prepare for Valley Shepherds Podcast, I am reminded of the long row of weary pines, now upright and unburdened. I think about how these pines are much like pastors and church members in the Shenandoah Valley.
For the past year, we have been heavy-laden by many weighty issues. There truly is a long row of weary people ready to snap under the pressure. The burdens of Covid-19, political gridlock, economic instability, and familial strain due to virtual schooling and erratic church worship schedules have negatively impacted people across the generational spectrum. What is the answer to all this weight and pressure? We must strive to share their burdens and lighten the load for pastors and churches in the Valley!
Several months ago, Pastor Will Soto and I launched a ministry, Valley Shepherds, to help local church pastors, church leaders, and church members maintain Gospel resilience in the face of such hostilities and difficulties. It is a ministry with both online and in-person resources. Online we offer the Valley Shepherds Podcast to encourage pastors and church leaders; and we our website is filled with encouraging articles, Bible study guides, and other resources to equip the saints for effective Gospel ministry. We are hosting quarterly, in-person gatherings to encourage area pastors to persevere in their calling. We also participate in many one-on-one meetings to listen and help shepherds in the Valley lead their flocks well.
The task is immense, but it is possible in the Lord’s strength; and co-laboring with the greater community of faith, we can encourage pastors and church leaders in the Shenandoah Valley to remain buoyant in the Lord and His Gospel work. Want to get involved? Here are three ways you can help:
1. Pray regularly for area pastors and church leaders and their families.
2. Serve local pastors by volunteering to help during Valley Shepherds in-person gatherings. We serve a meal and provide books and other resources to encourage and assist them in fulfilling their calling.
3. Give to the ministry of Valley Shepherds. It is possible to give online to support this ministry through Wayne Hills Baptist Church Website. Click on the “Give” tab, select “PushPay”, and scroll down to “Valley Shepherds” to support us.