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Missionary life as coronavirus closes doors, limits movement worldwide
March 2020

It seems there’s hardly any aspect of life that hasn’t been touched by the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.  

“We all are in uncharted territory. Our world is changing daily,” said Warren Janzen, SEND’s International Director. “Your range of emotional reactions are normal. Our God invites them all and can handle them all. Let’s not be tempted to talk about what is happening around us as if God is not present.  He is here, he is in control, he is working out his purposes for our world, and nothing can stop him.”

SEND has been working with specialists, missionaries, and our leadership teams to adjust our protocols and activities to match the march of the Covid-19 virus across the world.  Most of our missionaries are staying where they are and figuring out how to show the love of Jesus to those who are anxious, isolated, affected.  
Here’s a look from the fields at how coronavirus has affected life and ministry for some of SEND’s families.   

 

SPAIN: Total home quarantine 

Officials have designated Europe as being the new epicentre of the outbreak, with Italy and Spain leading the rest of Europe in confirmed cases and deaths.  Monday, March 16, was our official first day of full-lockdown mode. What does that mean? Exiting the house is prohibited except for select activities, such as going to the grocery store, pharmacy, helping the elderly, doctor’s appointments, and emergencies. There are ambulances and police that patrol the area and they hand out fines if you do not have a good reason to be outside. 

A week ago, at our last church service, the pastor gave a sermon about living comfortably versus living as Christ’s servants, and cited John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” We were challenged on how we can live intentionally during this time of fear—with caution and respect for authorities but also with the firm confidence in God’s provision. How can we be servants of Christ to our neighbors through this?  To the elderly in our communities?  How can we show others that we are never alone, even if we are forced to stay in our homes? 

We hope that after this is all over, we can all share stories of how God worked in amazing ways through all of this. He doesn’t waste anything! — Joel and Kara Barkman  

 

ALASKAN VILLAGES: Travel limits to protect the elderly 

The villages of Alaska are known for having limited medical resources and an aging population. At least one village has already shut down travel in and out of the village, and at least one village along the Iditarod trail is not allowing mushers to stop there (not because of the mushers but because of all the support personnel required from out of town to support the mushers). One of our co-workers needs to travel to Fairbanks for medical tests; she will face a 14-day quarantine upon her return. 

Please pray for the health and safety of not only our village missionaries, but also the native elders in these villages. 

Please pray that all our ministry workers will find ways to connect with their neighbors despite the need for social distancing. This is a time of the year that people already struggle with depression and suicide. — Jim Stamberg, Area Director 

 

SHORT TERM MISSIONS: Impossible to make plans 

In the wake of all the uncertainty due to the coronavirus, it is difficult to know how to plan for this spring or summer. We had to place our two lovely short termers back on a plane to Canada before they wound up stuck in Spain!  So Spring ministry is halted. We are also waiting it out a couple of weeks before we give any final thumbs up or down to our summer short termers buying their tickets. Will life be back to normal by then, or will we still be dealing with travel to and from certain places shutting down? Pray for God’s wisdom to know how to plan and organize for this summer. — Giles and Debbie Davis, who run the D House internship program in Spain 

 

SUPPORT RAISING: Hard to do without social contact

Our family is raising support to join the Global Chinese Ministries team, but support raising relies heavily on social contact, the very thing that we all must avoid at the moment! Social distancing is key, not just hand washing and staying home only if you have symptoms. We are taking this seriously and we hope that you are, too.

We had two church presentations scheduled but those most likely will be postponed. We are not able to visit new churches every Sunday to make connections because most services have been canceled. 

That being said, it is still our priority and job to support raise, so we are not throwing in the towel! We believe that God can provide the funds we need in spite of the curve balls the coronavirus is throwing at everyone. We plan to use more social media and video calls in the next few weeks. Pray for wisdom and creativity as we continue this ministry of developing new partnerships! — The S family, preparing to serve in Asia 



FAMILY LIFE: When babies arrive

In addition to altering ministry plans, one SEND family in Japan has made the hard decision to miss the birth of their grandchild because travel is so uncertain. Another couple is expecting a baby in the Czech Republic. They don’t know if dad will be allowed at the birth, and he won’t be able to stay with mom and baby during their hospital stay. 

  



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