If you, or your church, had plans for a mission trip this summer, you know it’s not happening. Travel fears and restrictions, global quarantine, and the financial strain caused by COVID-19 have created a stay-at-home summer. No doubt, you are disappointed, and I can assure you that those on the field are too. The missionaries had looked forward to you joining their work and the national Christians want to forge new partnerships. We are all frustrated by the recent state of our world.
The question for this post is: If COVID-19 caused my trip to be canceled, can I still be on mission this summer?
This is an important question. However, it is equally important to remember that God’s mission cannot be quarantined. Jesus gave the Great Commission at a time when the church faced intense persecution and church history reminds us that living on mission has never been easy or straight-forward.
- Think about the church fathers who were martyred because they obeyed Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations.
- How about William Carey and Adoniram Judson, who struggled with language, persecution, and even the loss of family members?
- Consider Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, and the rest of the team who sought to share Christ with an unreached tribe in Ecuador. They worked for months to develop a strategy just to make contact.
Obeying God’s missionary call has always been complicated. So, as we all face a season of limited travel, what can we do?
1. Remember, a canceled trip doesn’t give you permission to not live missionally.
It is tempting to allow the letdown of a canceled trip to lull you into complacency. You had planned, prayed, and saved so you could touch the nations for God. Now, you are stuck at home in the same environment. But remember, people around you need Jesus.
I recently published a book with B&H Academic that teaches readers how to be more evangelistic in everyday situations. The opening line of that book says: “There are millions of people who do not know Jesus. Some of them are your friends.”
What if you invested the same amount of creativity, planning, prayer, and finances that you had dedicated to a short-term mission trip and started living missionally right where God has placed you?
2. Don’t forget that Prayer is a Missionary Activity.
One of the greatest missionary models we have is the apostle Paul. As we read the Book of Acts, we follow his different journeys. We see him leading jailers and cellmates to Christ. We see him debating scholars and religious authorities. He plants churches and trains church leadership. His courage and his faithfulness are humbling and inspiring.
It is interesting to observe that at the end of his second Letter to the Thessalonian church, Paul notes that the success of his ministry relies on the prayers of other Christians.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:1-3 he asks them to pray for three missionary results:
Pray that the gospel will spread.
Pray that people will be saved
Pray that the missionaries will be protected.
What if each of us took time to pray for missionaries in this way? Remember the team you were going to work with? Remember the people groups you were going to work among? You can’t go, but you can still pray for the success and fruitfulness of their ministries. You can also pray they will be protected.
Prayer is a missionary activity; don’t neglect it.
3. Take proactive steps to be a global Christian.
Numbers are staggering.
Did you know:
- 1 in 9 Christians experience high levels of persecution for their faith?
- Every month 105 churches are attacked, burned, or vandalized?
- Every day 11 Christians are murdered for their faith?
Consider these facts as well:
- 7,074 People Groups are unreached with the gospel. This means that more than 4.6 billion people have inadequate knowledge of the gospel.
- 3,050 People Groups remain unengaged by missionaries or organizations. This means that nearly 280 million people have no access to the gospel message. Tom Eliff, former president of the IMB, once said, “to the best of our knowledge… nobody has them on the radar screen.”
Having a heart for the nations begins with understanding the world from a missional perspective. The challenge is to become a global Christian. Learn all you can about the world. Ask God to help you meet people from different countries so you can learn about them and their need for the gospel. It is said that William Carey prayed in front of a map every day and God used his commitment to understand the world to call him to the mission field.
It is a real bummer that all of our trips were canceled this year. But let’s not allow this to distract us from obeying God’s Great Commission to, “Go, make disciples of all nations…”
 Stats from: https://www.peoplegroups.org/