I think it’s safe to say that the last few weeks have raised a lot of questions for everyone. Thankfully, God’s work has not stopped. We urge you to seek God and put His eternal purposes above all else. Who can you reach in this unusual situation? How can you join God in His missional work with the people around you?
- Look out for the interests of others (Phil. 2:3-4) It’s frustrating to be isolated. But we are considering others more important than ourselves by obeying necessary precautions. Let us also look to serve those around us, sharing what we have if we can serve others in need.
- Practice Empathy (Rom. 12:15) We may have a different reaction to this than others. But don’t scorn those who are afraid or mourning. Show genuine love by sharing in their distress and offering comfort rather than scorn.
- Continue to preach the Gospel (Phil 1:27) Physically, people are in danger of coronavirus. Spiritually, people are in danger of a Christless eternity. Do not neglect the preaching of God’s Word during this time, as we look to care for both the physical and spiritual needs of those around us.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ…with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel.Philippians 1:27
God’s Word Goes Forth
In the Wantakia people group in Papua New Guinea, literacy classes recently took place. Here is the latest update: “Yesterday we had our second literacy graduation and honored these students who after three months of classes are able to read in their own language! … During the graduation ceremony, Tapman read to the community from God’s word in their language! This was the first time the translation had been read in public.” Though we are a world in crisis right now, people are reading and hearing God’s Word for the first time. Praise the Lord!
That is why we are going to continue in ministry partnership development in the ways that we can during this time (phone calls, e-mails, and social media—all quarantine-friendly ways to connect!). Missionaries around the world still rely on the infrastructure provided by Ethnos360 support staff, and we look forward to providing that support in our ministry roles.
Our long-term plan is still to serve in ministry at the Missionary Training Center. We are praying that God will continue to raise up ministry partners so that when this crisis is over, we will be fully supported and able to move right away to the MTC.
We trust that God’s resources are sufficient for our needs, and that we can still reach our full financial support and head to our ministry. He’s not limited by a crisis like this, and we trust that He is at work to reach new people groups during this time. We do have one big change to share…
A Sudden Change of Plans
A few weeks ago, we reached over 50% of our needed financial support, and we fully expected that we would be moving to our ministry at the Missionary Training Center within a month or two. So, we started packing, and we kept praying that God would provide the rest of our needed support.
Then, in the course of a week, we realized that many of our plans were about to change as coronavirus spread. Church events and partnership opportunities got cancelled. The MTC campus closed to any new arrivals until the virus is over. And we realized that we could not continue our normal partnership development in these circumstances, with social distancing measures in place.
As we prayed about what to do, and as we began to do ministry partnership development “from home,” God opened up a door for ministry. Ethnos360 runs a retirement center for missionaries called the Homes of Ethnos360. There are 138 retirees living there, and among them, they have served in 22 different countries with a total of 5,238 years of missionary service! And they need help during this current crisis.
We realized that we could continue to do “distance partnership development” from any location, and that we could continue to raise support while Nick volunteers his help at the Homes of Ethnos360.
After talking with our sending church, our leadership, and our families, we quickly realized that this is how God is leading us to serve the mission at this time. Thankfully, we had already started packing, so we quickly finished up packing, hopped in the car on Sunday, March 22, and drove through the night to arrive in Sanford, FL on Monday. We are taking a breath, unpacking, and Nick is heading over to the Homes of Ethnos360 tomorrow to see how we can best help care for the property and the residents there.
We are so, so thankful to our ministry partners who remain faithful to us and to the role God has called us to in missions. For a short time, our roles in the mission are different than planned, but the goal is the same—to serve in roles that support church planting around the world.
If you think of us, pray for settled hearts and that we take comfort in God. In order to protect the high-risk residents we are serving, we kept ourselves isolated from people before our move to Florida. That means we said no physical goodbyes—not even to Nick’s parents. It was very emotional to drive away without hugging family. We are really looking forward to flying up to PA the minute this is over and visiting IN PERSON with those who didn’t get a proper goodbye. We miss you all and love you!!