Ministering in the midst of Covid
While on an evangelistic trip in North Carolina, the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States and changed Crystal Anderson’s entire experience.
The chaplain, who considers herself a travelling evangelist, was at Camp Lejeune where she had set up a camper in an RV park and was ministering to retired military personal, residents and people on vacation.
The pandemic caused both the Bermuda and American boarders to close. This was an unexpected development but Ms Anderson met it with faith that it was designed for a purpose.
“In 2012 I felt the call of God on my life. The Holy Spirit told me to evangelise the island and that is when I started my ministry, Be Encouraged Today,” she said. “Through this ministry I take prayer and hope to the people.
“In 2014 I was ordained as an evangelist and then in 2018 I became a chaplain through the Seeker International Chaplaincy Association.”
After several years with Glory Temple New Testament Church of God, Ms Anderson decided to take her ministry abroad and work as a travelling evangelist.
In 2018 she ministered to people who had become displaced as a result of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina. She also visited homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters, spreading a message of hope and love in the midst of trial.
In the same year, Ms Anderson travelled to Essex and Nottingham, England, where she spent her time evangelising in train stations and shelters.
“My pastor, Apostle Jackie London, told me to always see people through the eyes of Jesus. This stayed with me and has equipped me to serve and minister to whoever God places in my path,” she said.
On her most recent journey, Ms Anderson had planned to spend three months evangelising in Holy Ridge, North Carolina, visiting prisons, shelters and hospitals in the area while sharing the love of Christ. God, however, had a different plan for her.
“Covid shut everything down. Instead of going to visit these places I was able to evangelise by telephone,” she said.
“Once the pandemic hit it tested my own mental state and I had to be strong because the whole world was experiencing this together.”
After three months in Holy Ridge, Ms Anderson moved to another part of North Carolina, Rocky Mount. There she stayed with her uncle, Ellsworth Darrell, until things settled down and she was able to return to Bermuda.
“This journey was refreshing,” she said. “It was a personal quest. But it became long. I meditated a lot. I spent most of my time in nature [which] I believe is the original church before church buildings existed.
“I meditated on God’s creation and He would speak to me through it. I documented the wildlife – everything from the salt marsh and the ocean to the red birds and blue birds, the carpenter bees. It was very therapeutic, and it carried me through.”
While the pandemic continued to unfold, the Black Lives Matter movement amplified with the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Ms Anderson found herself in the midst of it.
“The riots were happening in downtown Raleigh and I felt impressed to go and preach in the parks and to visit police stations and fire stations to encourage the officers in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests and riots,” she said.
What began as a retreat turned into an incredible adventure, evangelising to people who were in desperate need of hope as the world seemed to be crumbling around them.
“It was an honour to be able to spread the love of Christ during this most difficult time,” she added.
Now safely back in Bermuda, Ms Anderson plans to continue her mission of evangelism – going out into the community to reach people where they are, support them through whatever trials they may be experiencing and introduce them to a God who loves and cares for them.