What missionaries can give their supporters during COVID-19
August 2020

By Josie Oldenburg, SEND Communications — Culture affects all of life—including a nation’s response to a pandemic As a result, missionaries living and serving cross-culturally have much to offer their support teams during this challenging time. 

Broader perspective 

Back when the pandemic started, the news in America was primarily about China, Italy, and Spain. But as COVID-19 swept through New York, that changed. As the US struggles with the pandemic and cases continue to rise, most of our news reports focus on the situation within our own borders. 

Missionaries, you can give those of us in struggling countries a broader view! Those of you in Spain or Italy or the Philippines have experienced some of the most stringent lockdowns in the world. Tell us about it. Tell us what was hard and how you made it through. Encourage us by sharing how God worked in you and through you during that intense season. (SEND Spain missionary Brooke Nagel shares her story here.)

Hope for the future

When I’m not writing for SEND, I do children’s ministry at our church in Southern California. We’ve not had in-person children’s programs since March 13. That was the last time that I did silly hand motions to fun songs and helped little hands with glue sticks and asked simple questions that get to the very heart of the gospel. I knew I missed this ministry and those kids, but I didn’t realize how much until I saw this photo of a Sunday school in Taiwan. 

Children in masks at a Sunday school in Taiwan.

Those precious faces gathered in their masks filled my eyes with tears. I immediately texted it to our children’s director: “Look at this photo! Someday, being together again WILL be possible!” It gave me hope. 

Missionaries, many of your countries have COVID-19 in check and you’re back to living more-or-less normal life. Tell us what it feels like. Describe what ministry looks like and how fulfilling it can be, even when precautions remain in place. Give us hope. 

Grace for givers

Part of my job includes reading all our missionary newsletters, and I have been moved by how many of our folks, without any prompting from the mission, have included statements like these in their missives:  

It grieves me how the current pandemic has affected so many people in so many ways. If things have become tight financially and it seems difficult to maintain your monthly pledge right now, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. God will provide and I can adjust my budget. We are in this together!

Missionaries, thank you for understanding that for some of your supporters, the greatest COVID crisis is its economic impact. Thank you for your grace toward them, your concern for them, your prayers for them. 

With statements of trust like these, you’re telling us that you trust in God to provide, and you’re inspiring those who aren’t suffering economically to consider their own ability to give. You have the unique opportunity to encourage us by telling us how he provides, even during this incredibly challenging time. 

I’ll start: About two months ago, one of my supporting churches delivered the bad news that they were no longer able to sustain their missions budget. I included this information in an email to my support team. Within minutes, one family quadrupled their support; within days a new supporter came on board. A former supporter also re-joined the team, and now I’m back at a full support level. 

Missionaries, please tell your stories! Your supporters need the encouragement, the reminder that God provides, and the hope of a future not as full of conflict and loss as this present moment.

• In these days of global pandemic, life and ministry require daily adaptation. Your donation to SEND’s Crisis Response Fund will help us respond to needs that arise because of the COVID-19 virus. Click here to give.

• At SEND, we want our missionaries to not just survive, but thrive. Click below to speak with a coach who can get you started on the path to global missions.

Contact a mission coach

• SEND’s member care department provides personalized support for each of our missionaries and their families throughout their careers. Read about some of the benefits of serving with SEND.


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Josie Oldenburg
Josie and her family served in Ukraine for 12 years before she joined the SEND US Communications Team. Now she lives in Los Angeles County, where public health restrictions continue to affect many areas of daily life.