A Call for FPU to “Stand in the Gap” for our Communities

A Call for FPU to “Stand in the Gap” for our Communities

Yesterday morning, as every morning, I received a Scripture from a dear friend who has committed himself to praying for the university and its president. I am sure many of you have read this very Scripture within the last few weeks. It is Psalm 91: “whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” In Verse 5 the Psalmist states: “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrows that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.”

Most recently the county, state and national governments each declared states of emergency in efforts to address COVID-19. These heighten cautions naturally produce fear and raise questions with insufficient answers. Over the next few days, we will attempt to keep you updated on the decisions we make which have to be very fluid, but with the priority of safety for the members of FPU community. (Please keep checking fresno.edu/coronavirus.) We are thankful that as to date, no faculty, staff or students are diagnosed with the Coronavirus.

Despite the turmoil created by COVID-19, we still have a hope that addresses our fears. Our place of peace does not depend on our strategies of distancing ourselves, but in our moving closer to the presence and power of God while living in chaos. We strongly encourage everyone to exercise caution, but we must also intentionally fight the fears that thaw our productivity. We remember the parable of the talents when the individual who was bound by fear failed to be productive with the gifts given by the master. Resting under the “shadow of His wings” reminds us that God still provides the strength and courage to serve despite the many obstacles.

Over the next few days, we will provide guidelines for those in the 65-plus and other high-risk categories for working at home. We want to honor the Governor’s recommendation that these populations self-isolate. Supervisors will work with individuals about their assignments while in isolation. All departments need to remain fully functional during this period. Failure to do so across the campus could result in significant financial challenges for our community in the upcoming school year.

We have already started taking the following steps:

  • Supervisors will assess the work and skills within their departments to determine which duties can be accomplished off-campus; which need to be done on campus; and what areas could use assistance from other departments. Our goal is to continue everyone at full employment.
  • We are working on designing temporary workplaces across our campuses that allow significant space between workstations as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • We are also assessing the effect of school closings and child-care issues on departmental work.

This is an opportunity to live out our goal to Serve Courageously, where we commit as a community to serve as Jesus served. This means putting aside our personal preferences to engage how we can assist one another to best serve our students.

Oswald Chambers wrote: “Prayer does not fit us for greater work; prayer is the greater work.” I would encourage you to start your day standing in the gap for our students, staff, faculty and the broader community. To help you in your prayer time, each day my office will issue a “Standing in the Gap” prayer—a prayer that helps us to bridge our world with our eternal God. Whether at home or at the institution, I would encourage all faculty, staff and students to join us in standing in the gap—praying for the broader communities. Our corporate work of prayer gives us opportunity to serve beyond ourselves people we will never see or meet, but gives us focus on him who sees, knows and hears all who call on his name.


Joseph Jones, Ph.D.