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Sharing the Love of Christ in the Midst of a Pandemic | May 2020

Dear friends,

When World Outreach missionaries move to another country or integrate themselves into a community to share the Gospel, they know the work can often look different and require a bit of creativity. During a global pandemic, when many countries are issuing stay-at-home orders, that need for ingenuity is heightened. We want to share the way three missionary units are working creatively to demonstrate and proclaim the love of Christ in these unique circumstances. 

J & F
J and F live in one of the poorest states of a large country in South Asia. For a few months now, their country has been on a strict lockdown; this has made ministry very difficult as they are not allowed to leave their home. The impact on the virus has been felt by all, but most strongly by the poor. These underprivileged communities have struggled not only to feed and care for their families, but also to get home to their own villages after working in the city. J and F have a good friend who is part of one of these communities and knows the struggles these families are experiencing because of the virus and lockdown. Working together, J, F, and their good friend raised money and provided food for 50-60 of these families.

Ln & Ls
For Ln and Ls, COVID-19 has opened opportunities to minister and share God’s love through medical care, even though their middle eastern country instituted stay-at-home orders which initially seemed to end opportunities. Normally, they run a medical clinic which offers free care for refugees, but when refugees were no longer permitted to leave their homes, the clinic closed. As Ln and Ls prayed, God showed them a way they could continue to care for their refugee community and reach them with the Word. They set up a system to purchase needed medicines, and local Arab Christians (who have more liberty of movement) volunteered to deliver them to refugee homes following protocols to stop contagion. This system keeps refugees safe within their homes and provides these local believers with opportunities to share the Gospel when delivering medication. Ln told WO, “The Lord is reaching them, providing for their needs, all in the name of Jesus Christ.”

S & A
In the Detroit area, S and A live and minister to a community of over 100,000 Bangladeshi Muslims. Last summer, The World Outreach Summer Mission Jam brought high school students from several EPC churches to work under S and A’s direction and serve this Bangladeshi community. Last month, S informed World Outreach that the pandemic had brought about a severe need for food and face masks – especially for 300 families who had arrived in the States just prior to the pandemic. The EPC reacted quickly and sent emergency relief funds to S and A. At the same time, church sewing groups got to work making face masks. These donations allowed S and A to quickly organize food and mask distributions to the neediest families. When these Muslim families learned that the masks and food were from Christian churches (the same churches who had sent their kids to serve last year!) – there was a tremendous response of thankfulness. S says that many of his friends now have a whole new perspective on Christianity. 

So as the country re-opens, let us celebrate that the Gospel was never bound by restrictions or social-distancing. In fact, even now, the Gospel breaks down barriers and moves beyond limitations, all to the Glory of God. 

Community Life

EPConnection

Read the EPConnection articleabout local EPC church sewing groups answering the call for face masks in Michigan. 

SMJ: Replanted

Summer Jam events in Hamtramck and Sacramento have been cancelled in light of COVID-19. While we cannot gather together this summer, we’re challenging our churches to reach out in their own neighborhoods – and we’d like to help you in this outreach. Read our flyer for more information.

Revival in the Midst of a Pandemic

Read this article from Asia Harvest giving witness to God’s work in China and the stirring of a revival.

Caring for Your Global Workers | April 2020

Dear friends,

We are in such a time of uncertainty and relational isolation; we must be looking at ways to stay connected.  This is especially important with our missionaries who are also very much isolated from their second family networks in their country of residence and their first family networks in their country of origin. As EPC pastors, elders, and missions leaders, our care and commitment to the missionaries we support is important to prioritize. As one of our missionaries said to me: “we are your staff in another place.”   We need to know them and their needs in order to be better informed as how to pray for them, how to support them, and how to tell them that we really appreciate their service to our Lord.

My wife, Doris, and I have visited many of the ministries/missionary units supported by Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church (CCPC, Englewood, Colorado). As retired Ruling Elders, we know that the Lord has called us to visit these missionaries, American and indigenous. Our purpose is to be with them, in their homes and their location of service. We do not go as tourists. Our time with them is spent discussing in detail the questions posed below, and praying frequently about each of their concerns, challenges, doubts, and personal issues.

Having had the opportunity and privilege to travel to visit CCPC’s international staff, the blessings we received far outweigh what we have done for them.  Seeing firsthand, the work they do and the conditions under which some of them live, helps us to better understand the sacrifice many of them are making serving Our Lord and being faithful to their special call.  They love the people with whom they work; some live in places where they have seen very little response to their sharing the gospel witness.  Still they remain and continue to present God’s love to the people they serve. 

The one issue that is common among most of the missionaries we have visited is loneliness. Prayer letters are sent to financial and prayer supporters; but often very little, if any, responses. Very few of their supporters respond in an e-mail, letter, telephone call, video call, or offer to visit them. Assuring appropriate national etiquette, a brief e-mail inquiring about a specific topic in a prayer letter will result in a more informative response that provides our local Mission Committee to know how to more effectively pray for that missionary.

We have discovered another method to support a few missionaries is to establish frequent contact with their college-age children. With the latter, they have become our “grandchildren.”

Neal Pirolo has written a book titled “Serving as Senders Today.” This challenges those of us who stay on the home front to actively support our missionaries.  This means we are serving those who have answered God’s call on their lives to be Christ’s witnesses to the unreached.  How can we be the people of God who serve – to support, not just monetarily, but with a real presence in the lives of those who are serving God outside the USA?  What is God’s call on our lives to be that support?  We are needed!

Written by World Outreach Committee Member, David VanValkenburg, from Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church

Some questions you and your congregation can ask, to get to know your missionaries and their ministries better.

  • Which countries are your EPC missionaries serving?
  • Are you able to delineate each person’s primary ministry focus?
  • Do you know any EPC missionary’s faith journey? Do you know how God led them to their current field of service?
  • Have you ever corresponded with a missionary? Do you read any of the newsletters from your EPC missionaries?
  • Has a missionary ever stayed in your home?
  • Have you ever sat around a table and had a conversation with a missionary?
  • Have you visited a missionary in their place of service?
  • Do you know major prayer requests of your EPC missionaries? Do you know their major challenges and concerns?
  • Do you know how your missionaries receive daily spiritual nourishment and fellowship?

Community Life

Serving as Senders Today

Read Neal Pirolo’s book to learn about how to partner with missionaries in six areas of concern, as they minister on the field. 

Church Partnership Resources

If you’re interested in creating a missions focus in your congregation, and cultivating relationships with WO missionaries, visit our Church Partnerships page for more resources.

Connect with Your Missionaries

Sometimes writing to missionaries can create anxiety – you don’t want to put them in a precarious position. Put your mind at east and download this information card with guidelines for connecting with your WO missionaries.

EPC World Outreach’s Response to COVID-19 | March 2020

Dear friends,

As WWII drew to a close, a young Russian soldier-mathematician was arrested and condemned to imprisonment and permanent exile for privately criticizing Stalin. Imprisoned in a Siberian labor camp, later suffering from cancer and given just weeks to live, it seemed that all the plans, hopes and dreams of his life were shattered. But what Stalin meant for evil, God used for good, and the arrest changed the course of Aleksankr Solzhenitsyn’s life so that the soldier-mathematician became one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century.  

The COVID-19 pandemic is shattering many of our plans and dreams, but how is it affecting EPC World Outreach? It is causing us, like you, to be on heightened alert. We are talking with and listening to government sources, other mission agencies, and our own colleagues around the world to try to keep up with changing situations. But, above all else, we keep in mind that God is in control, and there is no virus that can do anything without God using it for His good purposes.

The EPC World Outreach staff in Orlando is doing the same things that many of you are — working from our homes, canceling all but essential travel, postponing events and changing meetings to video conferences. We have stepped up text, audio, and video calls to stay in even closer communication with our global workers to pray with them and help them think through their responses.  

World Outreach is neither requiring, nor forbidding any of our workers to return to the States. We believe these decisions are best made at a team level by those most aware of local situations. Two of our workers, in exceptional circumstances, have returned to the States in the past week. The rest are heeding local medical advice, postponing travel and adopting social practices to inhibit spreading the disease. As they have long prayed for spiritual breakthroughs in their communities, they are now waiting in hope for opportunities to be God’s ambassadors to neighbors in need.  

The message that our global workers tell their neighbors is the same message they tell themselves: in a global pandemic the only safe place to flee to is the arms of God.  

Thank you for remembering our missionaries even as you face your own challenges. Thank you for praying for them as you pray for your own families; thank you for giving to support them, even as you deal with your own financial reverses. Please continue to pray. 

  • Pray for our missionaries’ health and stamina, especially for those working with the poor, and providing health care in difficult settings.
  • Pray for World Outreach leaders to be full of grace and truth as we respond to our colleagues’ questions and needs.
  • Pray for all of us to be radiant ambassadors of the kingdom of God, sharing the good news that brings life to the dying.

Looking back at the surprising course of his life, Solzhenitsyn wrote this prayer:

How easy for me to live with you, Lord!
How easy to believe in you!
When my mind casts about
or flags in bewilderment,
when the cleverest among us
cannot see past the present evening,
not knowing what to do tomorrow –
you send me the clarity to know
that you exist
and will take care
that not all paths of goodness should be barred.
At the crest of earthly fame
I look back in wonderment
at the journey beyond hope — to this place,
from which I was able to send mankind
a reflection of your rays.
And however long the time
that I must yet reflect them
you will give it me.
And whatever I fail to accomplish
you surely have allotted unto others.

Let us live these days of the COVID-19 pandemic so that, when it has passed, you and I will look back at it in wonderment as a time where God’s glory was most radiant.  

Grace and peace,

Phil Linton
Director, EPC World Outreach