When circumstances change such that we can no longer do ministry the way we’ve been doing, how do we respond?
Iljo de Keijzer, an OMF missionary in the Philippines, shares her observations and reflection as we go through the COVID-19 crisis.
“Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” Psalm 77:9-11
Anyone among us, who experienced feelings of anger or frustration towards God? As missionaries, we all know that the plans of God are for us to prosper and not be harmed, to give hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). But how about now? Church services cancelled, trainings to help the church mature cancelled, no cough clinics to help the fight against tuberculosis in the poor communities, no livelihood trainings, basketball ministries and feeding programs are cancelled too. Missionaries had to rush home, or got stuck in some in-between. “God, what do you want me to do now?” Our newly arrived missionaries might ask, “Is this why you called me, God, to come to the Philippines?” As I talked to some barangay officials today about the things people shout at them, they said with a down and sad voice, “We can never please everyone in this time.”
Then, we “meet” with people on Messenger, do Facebook ‘live’ Sunday services, set up online prayer chains; the Philippines as social media capital of the world stepped up to this challenge. We started Zoom prayer meetings. Churches gave food to those around them, and I was able to share hope from God to some of the barangay officials, whom so far I had only greeted. A fellow missionary shared about many people listening to the gospel in Spain. Amazing things are happening, there is so much to thank God for. “I will remember the deeds of the Lord”.
Will you pray for the Philippines?
- Give thanks for God’s sovereignty and mercy – for the good that is coming out of the current COVID-19 situation, despite many of the traditional ministries having to be suspended.
- Give thanks for opportunities to speak to people in our community, even those whom we had only greeted before.
- Pray for effectiveness as church leaders and Christian workers use technology to reach out their congregations and communities.