There are many victims of COVID-19. As the pandemic spreads millions have been infected, hundreds of thousands have died, economies have been destroyed and most churches are not meeting. Lockdown restrictions and social distancing have affected billions and daily it seems as if the virus is getting closer to home.
Missions organisations and missionaries have not escaped the impact of COVID-19. Ministering the Gospel has been impacted globally. Travel restrictions have grounded many organisations and the impact of the virus has brought many projects to a grinding halt. Thousands of missionaries returned to their home provinces or countries leaving local believers to fend for themselves. Despite this we still hear many incredible stories from the field as indigenous leaders pick up the slack. Thankfully, many of them are coming of age, showing great faithfulness, skill and anointing. We praise God for this.
The pandemic is having a huge impact on the sustainability of missions organisations and will continue to impact the work for years to come. Some will not make it. Much of this has to do with the financial impact of COVID-19.
Millions of people – including believers, have lost their jobs. Churches are under financial pressure and people who have income are reprioritising their giving. Even those who have remained employed are having to support family members who are not. Business owners are themselves struggling to survive financially and there seems to be little spare money to go around. Local issues and needs seem to be dominating giving trends. Helping the poor and supporting local churches has become a priority for many. Unfortunately, at the cost of missions.
When things get tough, it is usually the missions’ budget that gets cut first. This means that churches generally have cut their support adding to the woes of missionaries and mission organisations.
This all leads to the questions: Where do our priorities really lie? How important is the great commission really? This is important because when the pandemic finally fades, we may discover that the work force will have disappeared too. Organisations that have been doing tremendous work to win the world may have closed. Missionaries may have had to return to secular employment and projects that took years to establish across the world may be permanently damaged. Generations of work could be affected.
God is faithful, but God does not sign cheques or deliver cash by parachute. God entrusts His resources to humans who are to be good stewards, making sure God’s business on earth is done. We make decisions daily about where we will use whatever is available and if we hastily decide to cut off missionary support we must realise it will have long lasting impact. You cannot give what you do not have; but you must be wise with what has been entrusted to you. Now as never before the world needs to hear about Jesus. Now as never before we have the attention of people who would normally never listen to the Gospel. Now is the time to use whatever means to fulfill the great commission. We need to empower missions, not defund it.
My call to you is to prayerfully consider your giving and not to just consider the seemingly urgent but to give strategically with God’s plan for all mankind in mind. The world has changed, but the need for Christ has not. The Gospel has not changed, and the great commission has not changed either. Every cent you give will make a difference – an eternal difference for someone.