COVID-19 is reshaping life for everyone and reminding us we live in an uncertain world. Our workers are serving in places where they may feel this uncertainty more intensely than others so we want to let you know what we are doing to care for them.
How might Covid-19 affect missionaries?
Pioneers missionaries have always served in areas devastated by earthquakes, tsunamis, war, political unrest and other challenging crises. In each situation, we seek to mitigate unnecessary risk, as well as support them in sharing the gospel and caring for others in need. Covid-19 provides another opportunity for Pioneers workers to be “salt and light” in the communities where God has placed them. We look forward to hearing their testimonies of His grace in the midst of this very uncertain time.
Are any of our missionaries stranded on the field as a result of the pandemic?
Our Government’s recommendations that kiwis travelling overseas should return to New Zealand are intended for people visiting other countries from the N.Z. Our missionaries are all long-term residents of their host countries, so this recommendation does not apply to them. However the guideline that “N.Z. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel” does and we are supporting our people in adhering to this as they plan for home leave or prepare to leave for the field.
Are Pioneers missionaries returning from the field?
Pioneers NZ’s normal procedure is for missionaries to make the decision about coming home or staying on the field in consultation with their field leaders, sending churches and our member development personnel. Because we are working in a pandemic situation where Covid 19 presents unchartered territory for everyone and countries have different laws and regulations we are working closely with individual members while continuing to monitor N.Z. Government recommendations, as well as guidance from relevant embassies and consulates in the countries where our missionaries live.
Is Covid-19 affecting missionaries’ access to services from Pioneers NZ?
The Pioneers NZ office continues to function by working remotely as required by the crisis. We are grateful that technology allows us to continue serving and communicating with our missionaries via Skype, phone and email. Members’ sending and supporting churches also give care and counsel, in addition to that provided by field leaders , team members and other colleagues in their ministry locations.
How does Covid-19 affect Pioneers NZ’s other work?
We are contining to mobilize and prepare the people God is calling to join and start teams among the unreached. Although some missionaries may have to delay their departure dates, we fully anticipate that once this crisis has abated, missionaries will continue to depart for the field unhindered.
Unfortunately, we have had to cancel all planned meetings, including orientations, training, and missionary debriefs through to May, and replace them with the use of virtual tools. While these forms of contact can not fully replace face-to-face engagement, we see this as an opportunity to respond creatively to the situation and trust God for the outcomes.
Are there any financial implications to missionaries serving in areas affected by COVID-19?
Our finance manager is still processing payments on behalf of our missionaries. The impact of the virus on our office and disruptions to services outside our control may delay processing of some gifts, but we still do our best to ensure that our workers receive adequate funds in their various locations. If you have any questions about this, please contact us. Pioneers NZ office (calls are being forwarded) on (+64) 9 634 6466.
Some members may incur unexpected expenses if required to leave the field at short notice or are taken ill. While we stand by to assist them in facing these challenges, we also encourage supporters and prayer partners to contact these members directly for tangible ways they can also help.
What can I do to help?
If you support a missionary, with Pioneers or another organization, please contact them to offer encouragement, prayer or a listening ear. As a mission organisation we work to help missionaries serve the unreached. However, there is no substitute for the personal contact missionaries recieve from the churches, supporters and prayer partners who “hold the rope” for them.
Please join us in praying for the protection of those who are vulnerable to Covid-19? Also for the healthcare workers and government leaders working hard to diminish the spread of this disease. May the church fearlessly demonstrate the love of God and the gospel of Jesus to a watching world.