COVID-19 came into the world and interrupted all our lives to say the least. It’s been the same from our mission, but with every changed plan God has brought redemption. For us, these interruptions meant that people could not travel to their assignments or in some cases even leave their homes. But setbacks and restrictions didn’t stop many from beginning a move of God right where they were. By the power of His Spirit, God beautified a trying season and gave our team some incredible stories to tell!
In Wisconsin, Joey and Alyssa B had plans to leave for the Middle East but were then put on lockdown together to prepare for ministry from the states. Trying to seize what Joey called an opportune time in history, they began doing everything that could be done from home: from Arabic schooling to Bible studies. Then, doors began to open for deep ministry. An expedition member, Jody, lost his job and called Joey hoping for a next step. The two live an hour apart, and at the time barely knew one another, but on the phone, Joey felt led by the Spirit to say yes to working with Jody in ministry, not knowing what that would look like in quarantine. Jody had never evangelized before, and Joey decided to disciple him in virtual evangelism. From afar, the two began working together to brainstorm a list of people to call to offer prayer and encouragement. Every call was different, resulting in prayers over sickness, prophetic encouragement, and even walking people through the Gospel and early steps of salvation! Jody began experiencing the Spirit in his life in a fresh way. Jody’s life, along with those that they called, has turned upside down as a new fire for ministry ignited within. Even though Joey’s expeditions never happened, he ministered in new ways and brought the Kingdom where he had opportunity.
In the meantime, the team already in the Middle East, where Joey and
Alyssa were supposed to travel, was placed under a stay at home order. For 2 ½ months they conducted Arabic classes online, training for hours a week from their apartment. Daily prayer and worship brought encouragement and prepared their hearts for the release that was coming. When the restrictions lifted, they wasted no time, and God honored their preparations with a fruitful harvest. When restrictions lifted, they attended a soccer game with some Turkmen in a neighboring village. After the game, their friend Ahmed brought the team to the home of a Turkman Christian named Nader. The first visit turned into more as they decided to meet frequently to discuss the Word of God. As Nader invited more people to hear the word, the meetings eventually led to the founding of a house church. At least four have given their lives to Jesus because of the meetings, and two of them are sharing the Gospel with a fire for the lost. The founding of this group is incredible since mistrust and threat of persecutions make such gatherings difficult, but Nader is committed, and even when the team has to travel and can’t attend, the group still meets, excited about what God is going to do! God wastes nothing. The time spent in isolation was used by God like the stretching of a bow, achieving a velocity that the team sees carrying far into the future.
Halfway around the world, in the Amazon, two teams are planted. One team had plans to begin a discipleship training. Unfortunately, they weren’t allowed to gather in person, but rather than postpone their plans, they decided to start the school online! Twice a week at 10pm, they had 15 students devoting 2 hours to meeting on video calls to learn truth and grow in the Lord. Now, four months later, there are still 8 students being steeped in the Word who have faithfully been preparing for a vibrant ministry. When outside ministry opportunities open, these students are ready to be released as carriers of the Kingdom into the Amazon. 32 hours upstream, Scott and Tanielly D were on the Amazon prior to lockdown and decided to not leave out of fear of not being able to return. The lockdown didn’t prevent COVID from coming to the Amazon, and COVID didn’t stop Scott and Tanielly from ministering healing to their disciples. In the time they were there, they saw two people miraculously healed from COVID as they prayed and had faith that even this chaotic time couldn’t interrupt the plans and ministry that God called them to.
No one has escaped the touch of Coronavirus, and many around the world are still feeling its effects. If we can learn one thing from these uncertain times, it is that God’s plans can’t be thwarted, and His Word invades regardless of the difficulty, roadblocks, or setbacks. If you find yourself in a season of waiting, look around to see what God is doing, because everywhere that His people are, ready to listen and act, He’s ready to use them for His glory. If we can see the opportunities that are in front of us to bring hope and light in this dark time, we could even come out with our own exhilarating story about how God used us in unpredictable circumstances and surprising ways to spread the love of the Kingdom as faithful servants of the King.