With valid fears and worries about the international virus, one may ask the question: is there a reason for care? Yes, there is. Governments still need to observe the virus and ascertain steps required to restrain the spread.
And regrettably, the way the virus is reported has prompted people to overreact. For example, most recently in 2019 in the United States, there were an estimated 55,000 flu-related deaths (as related by the CDC). But few people recognise the flu's real impact, and it is rarely a news-worthy topic because "we know plenty of people who have gotten it and were okay."
Well, not exactly. And hey, statistics do not mean much if you are a concerned parent, and I tooootally get that. This particular documentary has been a very telling. I am not sharing it to scare you; I am sharing it to promote education. And then I'd like to talk about HOW TO STILL BE A MISSIONARY in these troubling times.
A beautiful wrap-up about hope, yes. But yikes, right?
You are scrubbing your hands. You are dodging large gatherings. You may even be working from home. You are following all the safety tips for COVID-19 in this national crisis. But, as an extension of taking all the suggested steps to follow crucial safety guidelines for yourself and your family, let's talk about some things you can DO to be a "refreshing light" and help the people or societies affected by the pandemic.
MONITORING THE VIRUS CLOSELY
That video was not pretty. And "WHAT IF MY KID OR I WANTED TO GO ON A MISSION TRIP??"
It is tough thinking of your son or daughter going overseas and beyond your protection in the first place! Making wise and safe choices for your children is not something to take lightly. And it is the responsibility of making sure all those who participate in ministry are doing so safely. That is on the shoulders of the mission leaders. But here are three sites where you can monitor the situation yourself and help you see ways to support health care:
The only way to know that the mission leaders leaders are also taking this threat seriously is to ask (and ask HOW). Although we have all been assured this will go away before (but possibly into) summer, IF it is dangerous to those missionaries, they will certainly not hesitate to reroute a team to a safe destination or cancel a trip if needed.
But more importantly, how can your child still go on a mission trip even though they aren't getting on a plane, train, or automobile?
By acting out their faith and act in faith about doing it.
Exercise your freedom by serving God,
not by breaking the rules. I Peter 2:13-17
HOW CAN I HELP DURING COVID-19?
Acting out faith is faith in action. Be a refreshing light. But you're stuck at home and want to help during the outbreak. A LOT. It may also be from being stir crazy, but it's probably because that's just who you are. How about one (or more) of these actionable efforts to experience how to help your community during this scary season of disease? (Even if you are not exhibiting symptoms, exercise caution with any that involve being around other people.)
1. PRAYER and MORE PRAYER. Set an alarm to remind you to pray every day specifically about this illness and for the people who may or may not be most affected. In doing that, God may just open your heart in some way to find out what physical way you CAN help too!
2. Bake a meal for a neighbor (with gloves) and leave it on their porch (with gloves! ;-).
3. Write THANK YOU NOTES to paramedics and doctors for what they are dealing with every day.
4. Contact your local homeless shelters and homeless service organizations to find out what they need most now, then research the safest way to help them
5. A canned goods drive for children that rely only on school meals for nutrition. Or ... (see #6 for a related help)!
6. Volunteer with Meals on Wheels. Some Meals on Wheels chapters are looking for healthy volunteers who can be on call to make deliveries during the outbreak and can distribute more food directly to homes or specific drop sites.
7. When you buy three packs of toilet paper, give one to the elderly lady next door or the man behind you in line that couldn’t get any because he can’t move as fast and your store has a toilet paper shortage.
8. The American Red Cross is compelling people who are healthy and feeling well to donate blood or platelets. They say there is no evidence that this new illness can be carried through blood transfusions. You could find a donation site or blood drive near you. Click hereto check your area!
9. "Go Social." Offer to Facetime with a friend’s kids to teach them something interesting! I know someone doing that to teach Spanish. Corresponding to that, do an art lesson or some hobby you do well on Facebook Live for those whose kids are stuck at home.
10. Hold a normally scheduled gathering online via Zoom or in a private Facebook group instead of in person. You CAN, like my friend Heather, be a "virtual missionary."
And there are several other things I could suggest on how to give direct relief during the outbreak, but I hope those eleven got your juices flowing with other ideas on what YOU could do!
Now I am going to throw in a BONUS #11 thing you can do from home. It won't seem like a service, but it really is. We all realize that one of the best ways to alleviate stress is laughter is text and memes and I have seen some pretty funny memes out there, but please curb the desire to text or post a meme or funny-to-you text to "everyone and their Aunt Lilian." Remember there are people who know exactly what it feels like to lose a loved one and may be struggling with just that during this epidemic. If you have been through any personal loss "your eyes are opened to the pain around you, and you suddenly become susceptible to the pain within you." Keep any joking amoung friends or family who KNOW you and know your heart. This might be a tough one to keep yourself from doing; it has tempted me a couple of times, but it has been worth it to keep my upside down humour to myself more than once.
Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Romans 12:1-2, MSG
So missionary, this world change may have turned your mission trip upside down, but at the end of the day, my best advice is this: choose to praise God for who He is, for His wonder, for the peace He gives, and for the faith you have in Him. and find way to bring THAT to your neighbour ... even in the midst of the chaos around you. Even if this type of mission work seems tiny compared to your other possibilities, you are actually doing something more international than you realize.
This virus stuff IS international. AND, as the government and hospitals are looking for ways to restrain the the spread, be that person who is ascertaining how they can help, even if you are housebound missionary.
P.S. I would personally love to know it if you would let me know HERE how I can help you during this national crisis.