Permission to be scared

by Jim Killam | 3-minute read

 

Lauren and I had a fight Sunday afternoon. I’m not sure either of us could tell you what it was about. We retreated to separate ends of the house for a while to decompress. By Monday, things were fine again.

 “Fight” is a relative term for us. We almost never do. In a great marriage, a few words of exasperation can feel bigger than they really are. And that’s what Sunday was: frustration and helplessness in not being able to help our kids with childcare. In having to treat our parents like we are radioactive. In the two of us seeing and feeling needs, with the biggest of those needs being to stay home.

 And we’re not even to the bad part of this thing yet. Read More

Coronavirus Q&R with Dr. Terry Buzzard

by Jim Killam | 7-minute read

 

Dr. Terry Buzzard is a physician and regional medical director for Physicians Immediate Care, which operates more than 20 clinics in Illinois and Indiana, including Rockford and throughout the Chicago area. Terry and his family are members of First Free Rockford. We spoke with him Wednesday evening about the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Dr. Terry Buzzard of Physicians Immediate Care

What are you seeing in your clinics?

A lot of doctors’ offices are actually somewhat less busy because of the shelter in place order. People are kind of staying away. But we are getting phone calls or visits with concerns about it.

We have protocols set up where a patient comes in and they are asked some standard questions, risk evaluation questions. If they answer yes, we basically put them in a mask, ask a couple more questions, and then send them back to their vehicle. Then a nurse goes out and does the initial questionnaire evaluation. Those nurses have to gown up in PPE (personal protective equipment – for this type of illness, a mask or respirator, a gown, gloves and eye protection). They don’t know what they’re dealing with yet. Read More

Coping with anxiety over COVID-19: a Q&R with Dick Burkett

by Jim Killam | 8-min read

 

Dick Burkett is president of a prayer and counseling ministry called Restoration Ministries of Rockford. Dick and his wife, Ellen, are part of our church family at First Free Rockford. We spoke with Dick about spiritual and emotional health during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

What are you noticing among people you counsel?

I’m seeing a lot of people trying to cope with stresses and fears of the unknown. A lot of uncertainty. There are things that we don’t know and there are things that we do know. We need to realize the difference. We don’t know what tomorrow is going to look like. We don’t know what our 401K is going to look like. We don’t know if we have the virus, or how long this will last.

Read More

COVID-19 and First Free Rockford

Here’s an assortment of relevant information for our church family. This was current as of Tuesday afternoon, March 17.

 

How many can gather?

**The following information was posted before the stay-at-home order from Friday, Mar. 20, 2020.**

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended limiting all public gatherings to less than 50 people for the next eight weeks, until May 10. On Monday, President Trump recommended limiting gatherings to 10 people. Our main office is closed until further notice as of Mar. 21, 2020.

The Illinois governor’s office over the weekend ordered (not just recommended) a 50-person limit for our state. The governor’s order applies to gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, private clubs, theaters and houses of worship. It does not apply to grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, gas stations, banks or shelters. Read More

Wisdom for hospitality

by Jessi Uran | 5-minute read

 

Someone asked me once if I was ever nervous that my husband was going to talk about me or tell an embarrassing story about me in his sermons. I said, “No. I’m not nervous. Because he knows who makes his lunch for him when we get home.”

All joking aside, I have a smart man who is not about to expose his wife’s weaknesses from the platform. So I thought I’d take matters into my own hands and take off the filter that might be applied to anyone in full-time ministry with their spouse — that we have it all down when it comes to Biblical hospitality.

In the name of transparency, here are the top five things I am currently learning or re-learning when it comes to the transformational practice of hospitality. Read More

Coronavirus: a prayer guide

Several mission organizations are asking for a global day of prayer Wednesday, March 11, for an end to the coronavirus, COVID-19. Here’s a guide, first developed by the international organization SIM and now being used by many around the world. Feel free to share this with anyone interested.

 

DOWNLOAD PRINT VERSION

 

Prayer Points

1

Pray for the Lord to intervene to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Pray in Jesus’ name that the virus would recede from this day forward, and that the numbers of those infected would decline rapidly. Pray, trusting the Lord to intervene today with his loving care.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. –  1 John 5:14 Read More

Bridging boundaries

by Jim Killam | 5-minute read

 

Before First Free moved to its current location in 1980, it was a fixture in a vibrant Rockford neighborhood called Midtown.

Today, Bob and Jill Campbell spend most of their waking hours continuing to invest in the spiritual health of that neighborhood — their neighborhood.

For most of the last 30 years, the Campbells have been part of the Christian Community Development Association. One of the organization’s keystone values is to live in the neighborhood where you serve. Bob and Jill have lived in two Rockford neighborhoods: first for 10 years in Coronado Haskell and now for the past 15 years in Midtown. Bob serves as executive director for Zion Development Corporation, the ministry working to transform Midtown. Jill serves with CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ), running a newsletter mailing service from a Seventh Street office. Read More

Loving the Stranger: Q&R with Hunter Wiggins

by Jim Killam | 6-minute read

 

Chicago attorney Hunter Wiggins

Chicago attorney Hunter Wiggins frequently travels to the Mexican border at Laredo, Texas, to give free legal representation to people seeking asylum in the U.S. At our March 15 forum, he will lay a Christ-centered foundation for understanding immigration issues. Then he will discuss changing interpretations of U.S. immigration law, what is happening to families and individuals at the border — and how Christians can respond.

Here’s part of our recent conversation with Hunter.

 

How did you get involved personally in this issue?

For a long part of my career, I have been involved in a whole range of pro bono issues. A couple of years ago the law firm I was working with at the time had opened an opportunity to go down to Laredo, Texas. They built a small immigration clinic to work firsthand, primarily with women and children who were seeking asylum coming across the border into Texas.

As a result of that, and of the things that God was doing to me in my heart, I became very captured by this. … I just kept going down there more and more, close to 15 times, and meeting with hundreds of women and men who have been held, frankly, in prisons that are not called prisons. Who are seeking asylum. Read More

Common ground

by Jim Killam | 5-minute read

 

Community and understanding thrive in this unusual Life Group

Newly married and living in a Rockford neighborhood, Brennan and Jade Hailey knew what they were looking for: Close-knit community. Accountability. A chance to learn and grow. A chance to extend the love of Jesus to others, and to work past our culture’s stereotypes about Christians.

But they were having trouble finding all that, especially with people their own age (late 20s). First Free’s Life Groups were fine and all, but what else might they try?

So they thought: We have friends who go to different churches. We have other friends who don’t consider themselves Christians. We know them all pretty well. What if we invited everyone to hang out at our house and talk about faith together?

So they started inviting people. This would mean foregoing a regular life group with church friends to do something that felt a little riskier. Brennan and Jade saw the decision not as sacrifice, but as opportunity cost.

To their surprise and delight, people said yes. Read More

Choir Festival: Q&R with Dr. Gary Bonner

by Jim Killam | 5-minute read

 

In advance of the Community Choir Festival March 6-7 at First Free Rockford, we spoke via email with workshop leader Dr. Gary Bonner.

What should attendees expect from this workshop? What could change for them?

If we do our jobs well, the singers should be energized, encouraged, motivated and excited. We always hope they will become better music readers, be more understanding of what their role in the body is, and hopefully, understand their role in ministry better. Read More

Notice: The main office is closed and all public gatherings are suspended until further notice.More Details