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Missions Amid Pandemic: A Global Perspective

By Staff, Apr 14, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow, MTW missionaries across the globe are facing new challenges. From Madrid to Sydney, from the Bahamas to Berlin, hospitals are filling, people are self-isolating, and economies are suffering. Simultaneously, leading Bible studies, growing a church plant, or running mercy ministries becomes much harder when meeting in person is no longer an option. And yet, even amid the difficulties and danger, MTW missionaries and the global Church hold fast to the hope of the gospel and seek to live out that hope in love to their neighbors. 

Here are some of our missionaries’ experiences, in their own words. 

Joshua Jacobs – Paris, France
Bonjour! I write this from our apartment, where my housemate and I have remained for the last few days as France is under quarantine. While we are technically allowed to leave the apartment, we are required to carry a note with one of five approved reasons stating why we are outside. Exercise is one of those approved excuses, and it has been an eerie experience jogging through a mostly silent Paris with just a few people in the streets.

A lot is uncertain right now. My language school is still technically in session, though efforts to host classes online have been only partially successful. divide my French studies with Greek vocabulary and grammar, in preparation for ordination exams.

Please pray for my Muslim friends E* and M*. I am confident that with modern technology we can still discuss Scripture despite the quarantine. Please pray for my church and all of us who belong to it, to effectively minister the gospel to a world that is suddenly aware of how we are not as in control as we thought.

Phillip Luther – Athens, Greece
Our team is planting an intercultural church in Athens and working with unaccompanied refugee minors. Many refugees are dependent on job sectors that have closed completely due to the COVID-19 crisis, such as construction and housecleaning. We are on a mandatory lockdown, so you cannot even go to the grocery store without filling out a government issued form. Refugees do not have access to their usual support systems, and because of the lockdown, we are unable to bring them meals and groceries to help.

Our church community has gone online, but for refugees without dependable internet, access is difficult. Simultaneously, refugees are struggling to get updated and dependable information on the pandemic because of their lack of access to local news in their own language. This poses a health risk.

This week, our church plant organized a diaconal team to specifically address the needs of the refugees in our church community who have no source of income and will increasingly struggle with things like groceries and rent. Since we cannot visit them, we plan to use online grocery stores who can deliver groceries to their door even during the lockdown.

Julian and Christiana Russell – Nassau, Bahamas
We’re still dealing with the massive devastation of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, and now the global outbreak of the coronavirus has put everything on hold. The government has established a curfew, as well as ordering that no groups larger than 10 persons meet—even for worship, weddings, funerals, etc.

Thanks to modern technology, we have been able to hold a Bible study via Zoom. We "met" this past Sunday via desktops, laptops, iPads, and even phones. May the Lord grant us wisdom and strength in these times of testing. I am reminded of how the early church met in the outskirts during times of persecution. What a beautiful reminder that the Church is not the building. We are the people of God—living stones building up a spiritual house. Shalom!

Robert and Joanne Tanzie – Madrid, Spain
We live under lockdown in Madrid, a metro of 6.2 million. The city center is a ghost town. Police patrol the ghost town streets and drones fly about shouting in a robotic voice, “Stay inside! Stay inside!”

On March 9, Joanne and I decided to isolate ourselves. Shortly thereafter, the Spanish government ordered a “state of alarm,” which will likely be renewed indefinitely. Given that the door to travel to the U.S. will soon close, we have elected to stay with our people here. Though the economy has shut down except for food stores, pharmacies, and (very Spanish) tobacco shops, the Spaniards show amazing solidarity and self-discipline.

All our churches are meeting, holding classes and fellowship virtually, including Sunday worship. We five elders (including MTW missionary Dale Cho) deliver a daily message of encouragement in a weekly cycle. As the economy collapses around us and we await an exponential increase in infections, we draw comfort from a sovereign Lord who loves His Church more than we can imagine.

Jim Jung – Sydney, Australia
In Sydney, we’ve moved all our ministries to no “person-to-person” basis. Our worship services have moved to live-streaming and pre-recording, and all small group studies and prayer meetings have gone to video conference meetings.

Some businesses that are able have elected to allow their employees to work from home. Small retail businesses suffer. Many closed, and many people are losing jobs. There are signs that we are moving bit by bit toward total lockdown.

We are looking at this as an opportunity to affirm the peace and security in Christ our Eternal Redeemer, and all the more to appreciate the fellowship we have with one another. We are also encouraging our church to sacrificially lend help to our community—even as they take precautions. We have outlined  ways to help with physical resources (food, paper products, etc.) by dropping off to those who need them, and calling those we haven’t heard from to check up on them. We’re still looking for other effective and creative ways to foster Christ’s community.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @mtwglobal as missionaries share COVID-19-related stories from the field. 

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