Like many mission pastors and mission leaders, I’ve altered my mode of operation for global missions because of COVID-19. My staff and I travel a lot. Well, we used to until it came to a screeching halt. Our organization postponed several international mission teams scheduled for the spring and summer due to the current pandemic – an example to which many of you can probably relate. At this moment in time, it is uncertain when short-term mission teams will resume. The valuable experience that short-term missions bring for both the mission team and national partner cannot be easily replicated.
Your church or mission agency, like One More Child, probably has many global mission partnerships in countries around the world that are experiencing something they have never envisioned – isolation. Isolation from their church family and isolation from the ministry to which God has called them. In many cases, global mission partners and people in their communities do not have access to technology, and certainly not the level of technology to which we are accustomed. Their interaction with church members and others they minister to is potentially stagnated at the moment.
Many global mission partners (who I define as pastors, church planters, missionaries, and Christian ministry leaders living and ministering outside the United States) are unsure of how to move forward with their ministry during this pandemic. They are experiencing many of the same uncertainties and challenges presented by COVID-19 that we are experiencing stateside, and some to a greater extent than we can understand. Your global mission partners are likely thinking about finances, the lack of short-term mission teams, and what resources they need to continue their work. They may be asking, “Are our Western brothers and sisters going to continue their partnership with us?”
Over the past few weeks, with the use of technology, our organization has engaged in many important and mutually beneficial conversations with our global mission partners. Our global team has virtually been around the world in the last few weeks! Through these conversations, our relationships have grown and created an amazing environment for fellowship. While using technology is not the same as face to face interaction, it is the best option during the COVID-19 crisis. Sure, there are hurdles like bad Wi-Fi connections, time zone challenges, and language barriers, but those are minor obstacles when considering the great benefits that come from this time of fellowship.
Below are a few ideas that can be easily implemented to encourage your global mission partners during this unprecedented time in international missions. And the best news is that this time of communication is mutually beneficial. In other words, you will find that you will leave the conversation as inspired, motivated, and encouraged as your global mission partner!
1. Pray for your global mission partners. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Ask for specific prayer requests. All responses are valid and should be taken seriously. Involve others on your staff, in your church, and in your network to pray for your global partners. And let your global partner know that they are being prayed for as it will encourage their souls!
2. Listen to your global mission partners. James 1:19. Utilize WhatsApp, Skype, or any other technology available to you and them. Communicate on a regular basis. Listen to what they have to say – from a personal perspective and from a ministry perspective.
3. Talk to your global mission partners. 1 Thessalonians 5:11. Share with them about what is happening in your personal life. Let them hear from you and what you are experiencing. Open up and be transparent with them about the challenges you are facing and the challenges of ministry during this pandemic.
4. Reassure your global mission partners. Jeremiah 29:11. Let them know that God is sovereign and in control. No matter what the outcome is, God’s purposes will be accomplished. God is still working and drawing people to himself. People will experience salvation during this pandemic. God will be glorified.
5. Encourage your global mission partners. Deuteronomy 31:6. Encourage them to be salt and light to those around them. Encourage them to provide leadership to those in their ministry. Encourage them to give God thanks in all things.
6. Collaborate with your global mission partners. Ecclesiastes 4:9. If you have formed a healthy, trustworthy, long-term, mutually beneficial global mission partnership, then collaboration will be a huge boost to your partner. Share with them that you are committed to them as a partner through this crisis. The ministry and how you support them could look different in the future but assure your partners that you desire to walk with them through this time. Talk through new ideas/suggestions. We are all in the mode of “change” and “different” right now. It is okay for them to be as well.
I am striving to communicate well with our global mission partners. I encourage you to do the same. It does take effort. But it is worth the effort. And your global missions’ impact will be greater because of intentional communication and relationship building with your fellow co-laborers in the harvest.
By Andrew Tattrie – Vice President of Global Ministry, One More Child.
To learn more about One More Child, visit our website at www.onemorechild.org.
Our organization, One More Child, provides Christ-centered services to vulnerable children and struggling families, both locally and globally. Our global ministry serves 30 global mission partners around the globe in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. Together with our global mission partners, we focus on accomplishing our ministry through short-term missions, child sponsorship, food distribution, anti-trafficking efforts, single mother programs, foster care, and family support ministries.