Adjusting to a new normal
Our work has been dramatically changed as a result of the pandemic. As I keep reminding our team, the context has changed enormously – but the mission of God has not. We’ve had to work out new ways to do what God has called us to.
During the first few months of the pandemic, we spent a lot of our time helping leaders understand what was happening. There was a huge amount of change, and a very high degree of stress and uncertainty. A lot of leaders just got stuck, and didn’t really know what to do. We spent a lot of time one-on-one coaching these leaders to help them figure out how to lead in ways that made sense in the pandemic context.
Over the last few months, that emphasis shifted, and we spent a lot of time helping leaders understand how the needs in their own communities have changed. We created community surveys which have been put into five or six languages. About 500 of these surveys have been run to understand how coronavirus has changed both short-term and longer-term needs, so that churches can respond in ways that make sense, and in ways that connect with the communities they seek to serve.
The surveying process has led to all kinds of wonderful opportunities. One woman in Central Asia was contacted by a pastor who discovered she was a single mum with two young kids at home, with not enough food, not enough clothing, and not enough fuel to heat their mud-walled house. The pastor went away and mobilised the church, who gave out of their own poverty so that this lady and her family could eat, so she could clothe her children, and so she could heat her house. She was, of course, staggered by this generosity and asked the pastor what motivated him, giving him the opportunity to share the gospel. This led to her deciding to follow Jesus for herself, and now she and her daughters have become part of this little church. We thank God for that, and for other stories like it.
Now our work has shifted focus again, and we are gathering small groups of leaders to develop together new responses to the changed context – to the new needs coronavirus has created. Right now, in these countries, there are small groups of leaders meeting together across denominational lines, grappling, praying, and asking God to give them creativity to respond to the new needs in ways that demonstrate and communicate the gospel. If you can, I would love you to pray for these leaders as they seek to innovate in this new context; as they seek to communicate the unchanging gospel in a very different environment. Join us in praying that God inspires them with creativity, and gives them the courage to find new ways of serving and loving their neighbours.
Jason Lane – January 2021