With Covid-19 wreaking havoc on the world, the best-laid plans of mice and men have been undone.
International travel is off the table, and many people who were planning trips overseas, including service/mission trips to serve vulnerable children and families, can no longer do so.
Service to others is at the heart of the Christian faith, and one of the ways that many believers live that out is through giving time, money, energy, and encouragement to those who need it, both at home and abroad.
For many ministries in developing nations, mission trips represent physical help, spiritual encouragement, and resources to accomplish their work.
The Cadaniño ministry in Guatemala serves vulnerable children and families through afterschool programs at community centers in their neighborhoods. Thankfully, we are not dependent on running visiting teams to meet our operational budget. However, like many organizations, mission teams, and short term volunteers represent a captive audience who get to see firsthand the work we are doing. That often leads to support for the ministry through sponsorship and partnership.
We have an effective model for service with teams who visit. We focus on building relationships over walls. Our hope and prayer is that we will be a blessing to mission teams by providing an opportunity for them to make a meaningful impact in the lives we serve and that they will be a blessing to us by partnering with us in what God is doing through our ministry.
The teams who serve with us participate in home visitation with the families we serve, Vacation Bible School with our students, and ministry to our staff.
Every one of these aspects plays an essential role in our ministry, and we will sorely miss the friendly faces who are such a blessing to our work.
But just because international missions are off the table for most churches and organizations, it doesn’t mean that the needs that they meet evaporate, or that the calling for believers to serve others no longer exists.
Christ’s commandments in Mark 16:15 to “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” and in Matthew 22:39 to “love our neighbor as ourselves” continue. So, even when physically going to serve in another place is not possible, we are still called to serve in some way.
Just because a mission trip is canceled, the need for missions is still there. In fact, for many ministries like ours, the need is greater than ever.
With that in mind, here are a few practical ways to be missional during Covid-19.
Engage and Encourage
Even though you cannot serve physically, you can still get involved from a distance.
Cadanino exists to serve vulnerable families. These people struggle to get by in the best of times. The Covid-19 crisis has compounded the everyday challenges they face in life, making survival harder, and our staff and team are working more than ever to meet their need.
By reaching out to the ministries you have visited, partnered with or where you were going to serve, by encouraging them, by asking how you can help and by following through, you can strengthen those doing the work on the front lines in powerful ways.
Be an Advocate
Sadly, when everyone is in crisis, usually, the first thing that happens is people cut their giving. Yes, we are all hurting, people all over the world have lost jobs, had their hours cut and are figuring out how they are going to make their rent and pay their bills.
Giving to ministries that are feeding and helping a family living in a tin shack 1000 miles away is not at the forefront of people’s minds.
That is where you come in. If you have been on a mission trip and seen the need firsthand, you are perfectly positioned to step up at such a time as this.
Most organizations cannot send someone to travel, speak, raise funds, or ask churches for partnership right now. But everyone has a sphere of influence where they can have an impact.
You can reach out to your friends, family, pastors, and churches to ask them how they are engaging in international missions during Covid-19 and connect them with places where you have served.
If you are willing to use the unique opportunities God has given you, you can likely have as significant an impact as if you went on a mission trip.
Be Missional at Home
Christians and churches need to be active in missions both at home and abroad. We need to seek out those in need in far off places, and we need to look right outside our front door to help those who are directly in front of us.
Both are important and needed.
In this time, when you can’t travel abroad to serve, look for ministries and ways to get involved in your local community where you can help those who need it.
We should remember that “missions” is not a trip, but a lifestyle.
James 5:16 tells us that “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Ask your mission partners what they need prayer for and then do it.
Read over the correspondence you have from ministries and missionaries you know and take the time to pray for them every day, share those prayer requests with others, and ask them to do the same.
Prayer is not the least you can do; it’s the most.
I hesitate even to address this. I know how hard it is to consider giving, especially when you don’t have enough for yourself.
I know what it is like to see someone else’s needs and know that if I help them, I may not have enough for my family.
But we need to remember that everything we have belongs to God. He gave it to us to be stewards of it and use it for his glory.
He tells us that he will supply all our needs. Philippians 4:19.
God asks believers to give willingly, give joyfully, and give sacrificially. I’m not going to try and tell you how much you should give, that is between you and God, but I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that you are supposed to give, in some way, to help those who need it.
2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Many people around the world are facing the most challenging, darkest moments in their lives, and it is during times of crisis, when things seem darkest, that the hope of the Gospel shines brightest.
We are commanded as Christians to give and serve those in need. It is through our words and deeds, people will see our faith is not just something we believe, but something we live, and through that, God is glorified.