“Let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore”.
These lyrics capture how my wife and I were feeling when we applied to SIM. After years of praying and discussing about serving overseas, we finally decided to take the first step and to join SIM. Then COVID-19 happened. Now, it feels like we are moving away from “let it go” (Frozen) and toward “into the unknown” (Frozen 2).
As we venture into the unknown, my wife and I are learning that COVID-19 is perhaps the best mission preparation course that we unknowingly enrolled in. Our training has been delayed, my brother's wedding date is in limbo, and we are learning how to maintain our sanity as we balance work while having a 4-year-old at home. All of this has been part of God’s way of teaching us as a family to learn how to be adaptable. Our son Azariah is starting kindergarten in September, turning what normally would be a celebration for any parent, to a situation filled with uncertainty. We are reminded of the Israelites who gave up the familiarity of Egypt and entered the wilderness, needing to quickly adjust from a predictable routine to a daily reliance of God’s providence.
The situation with COVID-19 has led to a deeper understanding of my potential role in missions. Currently, I am an IT specialist focusing on innovation among Christian non-profits. The past few months was hectic as I watched my workplace (a Christian non-profit) transition to a remote working environment. I was asked to facilitate several brainstorming sessions on how to stay relevant in this new climate. I had discussions with my pastor and small group on redefining what it means to be a church, when the church building itself is closed. It became clearer to me that what I do at work could be of great benefit when applied to the mission context. The method used by the 21st century corporation such as soliciting creative out-of-the-box thinking from members, agile methodology, and design thinking, are also vital skills needed by church ministry in a rapidly changing society. I saw how God had provided me with a particular set of skills and gifting, and that He was calling me to use them for a greater purpose.
My wife has also been learning what it means to ‘be faithful over a little’ as she focuses in her current season on completing her teacher training and preparing our son emotionally and educationally for kindergarten. My wife desires to combine her interest in community development with education by teaching the next generation in the mission field. We both see how important discipleship is and how education can play a part in that journey. She sees how her role in education could serve the needs of a community both through practical provision as well as proclamation of the gospel.
We keep asking, “What does mission look like in a post-COVID-19 world?” How has COVID-19 changed the mission landscape (especially short-term mission) as we know it? We want to know the answer to that so we can be preparing for it. We are learning that it’s not about the answer, but rather keeping our ears open to God’s calling, and our feet nimble to quickly pivot as we venture into the unknown.