Members from the Bell Branch church passed out more than 60 sleeping bags on Jan. 9.
Nicole Johnson was approximately 12 years old when she last attended church. But when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, she felt a strong urge to reconnect with her childhood church.
“When the world pushed pause, I realized something was missing,” Johnson says. “It was my relationship with God and knowing that I wasn’t completely living life to His plan.”
The problem, however, was that churches in Delaware were closed due to a state of emergency order in response to the pandemic. Unable to attend church in person, Johnson decided to search online to see if the Dover First (Del.) church where she occasionally attended as a child was broadcasting services online. She discovered that, indeed, Dover First was streaming services on Facebook.
“I was drawn to Dover First’s online services because I always loved [the services] as a child,” says Johnson. “I stayed because of how great the sermons were and the lessons I was able to learn each Sabbath.”
Johnson continued to watch Dover First’s services on Facebook throughout the summer, even after the church resumed limited, socially distanced indoor worship services in June. However, after months of remaining an anonymous online viewer, she realized that God was calling her to come out of her comfort zone and take another step. “God does not want us to live in isolation,” she says. “I felt the Holy Spirit’s pull and knew that God had big plans in store for me.”
Johnson contacted Dover First in August 2020 through the church’s website, stating that she felt impressed to accept Jesus as her Savior and join a community of believers. The church replied and invited her to begin taking weekly Bible studies through Zoom and attend church the next Sabbath.
“My first impressions of the church were great! I remember being greeted at the front door. I was immediately welcomed and offered a quarterly Bible study plan. It was awesome!” she says.
Johnson worked through the It Is Written Bible study lessons each week during a virtual Bible study appointment via Zoom. After completing the 25 lessons and asking many questions, she made the decision to be baptized into the church she had attended as a child decades earlier.
“I enjoy my church family so much!” Johnson says. “From bonfires to lunches and great sermons, I would say the fellowship has been incredibly impactful. My church family is the best!”
Johnson understands her spiritual journey is only getting started and that baptism isn’t the end of the road. “The most rewarding part of this journey is knowing that I am not doing it alone,” she says. “I have Jesus who is always with me; He guides me and understands me. He is my best friend, and His grace is sufficient. I take comfort in knowing that this earth is not my home.”