Update from IMD
Can I let you into a little secret? I quite enjoy leading through a crisis! Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t invite a crisis but when they arise I tend to look for the opportunities that lie ahead of us rather than the potential losses. I know that not everyone reading this will understand this but that is why I love the Church! God has each one of us in the place that he has purposed for this time. I know that the varied experiences of lockdown has caused frustration, anxiety, loss, and pain for many people on a scale that I have not known, yet for many in our world, the coronavirus has just been another thing to add into the mix. I’ve not been immune to those moments and our missionaries and global family haven’t either and yet there we have hope demonstrated in some of the wonderful conversations I have been having over the last few months.
Many of our missionaries have missed out on much-anticipated furlough which brings the opportunity to rest, reconnect with family, friends, and supporters and raise awareness of what the work they are involved in. Yet I’m overwhelmed by the resilience and adaptability they have demonstrated. Both of these things are demonstrated in this story from Keith and Barbie Jackson in South Africa.
As part of our ministry here, Barbie has been making up baby boxes. These consist of a plastic weatherproof box (not a cot substitute), products, clothes, blanket and a Bible in the home language of the soon-to-be mum. During our lockdown, the contents have been hard to come by as people have been panic buying the baby things. Along with food parcels as part of the Elim Relief Appeal initiative, we have been sending all the supplies of baby boxes we have. We have not been allowed into the communities under our lockdown, so food and baby boxes have been distributed by our Elim Global Partner, Emmanuel Assemblies. One pastor gave a food parcel and a baby box to an expectant mother. She has returned to show him her beautiful daughter dressed and wrapped in the baby clothes provided. It appears as though she will be joining the church. In these difficult times, there is power in connection.
Since Keith wrote this I have since heard that the pastor concerned has had an opportunity to talk to this lady about Jesus! Stories like this can be replicated across the globe; I’m hearing of great openness to the gospel as our workers are seeking to minister to the physical needs of hungry communities.
I was in a conversation recently with one of our Global Partners, based in a country in South Asia, who was telling me that at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis that he thought that this might just be a humanitarian need that they would have to respond to; his outlook was soon changed. He said that he soon came to realise that the distribution of food would provide great openings for the gospel.
Our partner recounted that over the last 3 months his church planters have been serving communities they have seen over 60 people come to faith in Jesus, some of this number are whole families. The beautiful thing is that these new followers of Jesus are telling others about Jesus. The Good News is unstoppable! Our partner reflected that the work now is to disciple them so that they are well equipped to live for Jesus. All of them are waiting to be baptised when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Let’s pray that as gospel workers mobilise with fresh passion for the Great Commission, we will see more people among the unreached of the world come to Jesus than ever before!