J ust a few weeks ago, I sat at my desk on the phone with a trip leader discussing an upcoming mission trip. At the time, cases of Covid-19 (the novel coronavirus) hadn’t been confirmed in the United States, and the thought that this trip might not happen was unimaginable. Now that trip and many others have been postponed or canceled. But a canceled mission trip doesn’t mean a canceled mission. There’s still a number of ways that you can join in God’s mission if you have to cancel your mission trip.
As we practice social distancing in our local communities, people are coming up with all kinds of ways to “meet” virtually. From church on Facebook Live, to happy hour on Hangouts, we’re being creative to keep our communities connected, and we can use that same creativity to stay connected to our mission partners.
Here are 6 great ways to stay #onmission, even when you have to cancel your mission trip.
1. Set up a virtual meeting with the mission site staff.
This is a great way to meet or stay connected with the ministry team at the mission trip site you planned to serve. You may not be the only one who had to cancel a trip to their ministry site, and they could probably use some encouragement. Your team can pray for their work, hear stories about the community, and spend time in God’s Word together, encouraging one another to keep sharing God’s love with those around you.
2. Lead virtually.
Who says you have to be in person to serve? If part of your mission trip involved leading a training, teaching, or sharing a message, explore whether it would be possible to do this via technology. You could share without ever leaving your house!
3. Host a training.
Mission teams always learn so much from the communities where they engage. Don’t let the opportunity to learn from your mission partner pass you by. Host an online training with ministry partners and ask them to teach your team about what they do. Share about your community and see what great ideas for expanding ministry you can come up with together.
4. Consider supporting the ministry through financial or physical gifts.
The fact that you are no longer traveling to a mission site sometimes means that their financial capacity will be diminished. You can support their ministry by giving a donation, hosting an online fundraiser, or providing necessary supplies for their ministry.
5. Ask how you can pray.
Your mission partner may also be dealing with the realities of Covid-19, the difficulties of serving vulnerable populations, and the stress that comes with so many changes. Ask them for prayer requests, and let them know that your team is praying for them.
6. Start planning to serve next year.
This year’s trip didn’t work out. But there’s always next year! Don’t reinvent the wheel. Commit to continuing to invest in your mission partner by planning to go next year, or whenever you plan your next mission trip. Here’s a planning guide with Covid-19 specific advice from one of our partners.
These are just a few ideas of ways to serve alongside our ministry partners in the midst of Covid-19. As we adjust to doing more things digitally, remember that we can continue to engage in mission via technology as well.
“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Stephanie Soderstrom is coordinator for Short-term Mission for the Reformed Church in America. You can connect with her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.