What does mission look like during times of Corona and lockdown?
First we thought we would be less busy, since we were supposed to stay home as much as possible. Also, at the end of March churches closed. But as we analyzed our situation, we saw some new opportunities. When our church closed, we started a small house group with our SMs, an Adventist neighbor and a young newly converted couple. Soon some young people from the neighborhood joined us. I tailored the service for our illiterate friends and based it on Bible stories, using pictures, video clips or drama.
When churches reopened at the beginning of June, we wondered what we should do with our house group. When I asked the young couple if they wanted to go back to church and enjoy the fellowship there, the lady said, “Here I understand what you preach. At church I’m sometimes lost because there is so much information, and they talk so fast. When you talk, you make it clear, and I can follow.” So while the majority of church members returned to church, we decided to continue with our little house church.
Because of the rules of distancing, there was no room for the children in the church building, so the deacons made all the kids stay in their little Sabbath School room for church service as well. When the Sabbath School teachers told me after the first Sabbath how difficult the situation was, we decided to tell the kids to stay home in the mornings and come in the afternoon when the adults would be gone and the church would be empty. So now we have children’s church service at 2 p.m. Everybody is seated comfortably, and we are able to respect the rules of distancing. One deacon volunteers to stay after morning service to clean and disinfect, so everything is ready when we come in the afternoon. After children’s church service, the older kids stay for baptismal class, something we had wanted to organize for quite some time but the church building wasn’t available. Now that church activities are low, we can do it, and every Sabbath the group gets bigger.
Schools also closed in March, and we were wondering what to do with our lunch project. Should we continue feeding the children or should we stop? The government advised that children stay at home. But how do you tell children who live with four or five siblings and their parents in a tiny one-bedroom house with no furniture, no TV and no toys that they have to stay at home? This is just not realistic. Most of the parents are illiterate, so there is no homeschooling either. We saw kids roaming the streets without any supervision. So we decided that they would be better off at our place. At least it would be the same group of children, and they would be supervised and not getting into trouble. So we not only continued feeding them lunch, we also hired a primary school teacher who teaches them math and French in small groups twice a week. Also twice a week I tell them Bible stories, and they do crafts. The rest of the time our student missionaries play games with them, or they run free in our big yard.
While we certainly wish this pandemic would soon end, we praise God for the opportunities for service He has given us. God is quite capable of using this difficult time for His glory, and we are thankful that we can be part of it.