Over the last few months, we’ve experienced a lot of changes. Many are now working from home and helping their kids with at-home e-learning. We’re now watching Sunday services online, and some may have missed out on important family occasions like birthdays or even funerals. Most of our communication with family members and coworkers takes place online. Grocery shopping is more complicated with wait lines outside of stores, mask-wearing, and limited supplies of certain items. Some are even experiencing financial instability and loneliness.
For most of you reading this, these changes are the result of one thing—COVID-19. But, to the hundreds of thousands of missionaries serving across the globe, these things, and so many others, were part of the daily reality even before the pandemic.
Are You Overlooking Missionaries?
Not only do missionaries regularly deal with the challenges that we are now experiencing, but they also experience a myriad of other issues. Little to no drinking water, limited electricity, and food shortages are part of daily life for some. Diseases such as malaria, dengue, typhoid, and rabies are regular dangers. Visits with family members and friends only happen every few years, and holidays are celebrated without family. Cross-cultural challenges, language barriers, and threats of persecution are commonplace for many.
Friends, since the pandemic entered our world, have you stopped to think about missionaries or are you overlooking missionaries? At College Park Church, we have a Missionary Prayer Guide to help prompt regular prayer. Seeing the names and faces of these individuals and families is helpful in reminding me that these are real people, facing real dangers even as I write this article.
Are you using something similar to remind you to pray? Or you personally checking in on missionaries from your church or missionaries you individually support? If not, I encourage you to start doing so.
Turning Our Attention Outward
I know that the consequences of COVID-19 have been costly and hard for everyone—global missionary and otherwise. I lament the great losses we have experienced because of this difficult season. Everything from our financial stability to our mental health has been drastically impacted and tested.
At the same time, I hope we don’t use these burdens as an excuse for overlooking missionaries and turning our focus inward.
Rather, I pray that we will walk away from this crisis having learned many lessons—one of them being that we have brothers and sisters living around the world who regularly sacrifice comfort, relationships, health, finances, and much more for the sake of the gospel.
As you shift your focus outward and choose to start praying and regularly checking in on missionaries, I think you will find that the attitude of your heart softens and your outlook shifts from instinctual selfishness to selfless love.
How to Practically Support Global Missionaries
Now that you know the regular challenges that missionaries face—during this season and in general, will you take action? Will you stop right now and pray for the missionaries your church is supporting? Will you take time this week to send notes of encouragement to some of them?
Ask them how they are handling the many uncertainties of the current circumstances. Pray that they will steadfastly trust in God’s protection and provision. Pray that God will give you the wisdom and words to come alongside them in ministry.
We are Called to Be Global Christians
Let us remember that right now the entire world is experiencing the effects of COVID-19, not just the United States. God is not overlooking missionaries, and we shouldn’t either. Let us remember to pray for and reach out to those who are continuing to do God’s kingdom work during these uncertain times.
As twentieth-century theologian, John Stott once said, “we must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.”
How might you turn your focus global this week?