COVID-19: Update on Missionaries and SAMS Response
Originally posted at: https://samsusa.org/2020/03/26/covid-19-update-on-missionaries-and-sams-response/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=covid-19-update-on-missionaries-and-sams-response
The SAMS home office is complying with government directives to help public health efforts. Though our staff is dispersed, we continue to minister at full capacity focusing on our mission and supporting your missionaries around the globe. Standard contact methods are still available.
Dear friends in Christ,
As the global threat from COVID-19 spreads, SAMS wants to assure our Senders and Missionaries that our home staff team is monitoring the impacts of this virus so that we may seek to respond appropriately in harmony with our global church partners and mission networks.
We know the Lord is our strength and protector, our strong shield. We also know we live in a broken world, and that brokenness includes disease, danger, and even death. While we ought not be afraid, we do want to be prepared and wise, and thoughtfully protect our missionaries, their families, and those we serve. We also must be faithful to the One who has called us to serve and glorify Him both among the nations and in our neighborhoods.
SAMS is not requiring missionaries to leave the field, nor are we requiring them to stay. We are asking them, however, to monitor and follow the crisis as it unfolds using guidelines from the U.S. State Department*, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and SAMS Contingency Plan that includes evacuation and emergency preparedness protocols. We have offered counseling and guidance with staff and SAMS Safety and Security Coordinator.
In terms of the work done by your missionaries across the globe, it is important to consider that those whom they serve often don’t have the option of leaving their city or country to escape. Staying in an affected country can be interpreted as a demonstration of their commitment to those they minister among. Your missionaries recognize the need to be wise and good stewards of themselves, their families, and their teammates, but they also balance that stewardship with the call they each discern corporately within the Body of Christ, by the grace and wisdom of our loving Father.
What more may we do to continue to support and encourage both Missionaries and Senders as we walk through this together? How do we continue to faithfully share the Gospel in word and deed within a world that is being jolted and the poor are especially hurt? We thank you all for continuing to partner with us through your prayer and giving as we seek God together trusting that in the midst of darkness, God’s redemptive hope shines brightly.
To do our part as the home staff to help contain the virus, especially seeking to protect the most vulnerable, we are now working almost entirely remotely. SAMS also has a 24-hour hotline for our missionaries. Senders may reach us at:
- (724) 266-0731 – General inquiries for sending, praying, and going and for sharing your prayer needs to be lifted up to the Lord by the staff during virtual daily chapel.
- (724) 266-0669 – Questions about giving, giving via phone, and support in that arena.
Pray for your missionaries who are sharing the Good News of Jesus in word and deed to the spiritually and physically needy all over the world. Pray for strength and encouragement, for health, safety and security.
Pray for your Society to serve and respond wisely and well to our Missionaries and Senders around the world and at home.
Pray for provision of resources for missionaries, senders, and faith communities in the midst of the financial loss and ongoing insecurity due to layoffs, markets, and economies where they reside. As it is written: “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (2 Cor. 8:2) and “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” (2 Cor. 8:12)
Pray for those who are sick and dying, and for the healthcare workers who are risking their lives to minister to them.
Pray that the Gospel would go forward and for God to draw many to Himself. There are many who are hurting, sick, or fearful, and we know only God can bring about true and lasting redemption.
Let us together hold on to encouragement in the Lord. We invite you to join your SAMS family for Noonday Prayer on Thursdays via a ZOOM conferencing call 12:00-12:15 PM EDT. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive an invitation and instructions for phone dial-in or computer connection. Use the instructions to join the call around 11:55 AM to intercede before the Lord.
Our staff will also be praying together via ZOOM every weekday, and we would love to pray for you during those times. Please feel free to submit prayer requests on our website.
Thank you for being such a vital part of the SAMS family. We will update this page as new information becomes available. Your Society is praying for you, that you would know the presence and peace of God in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Your partner in the Great Commission standing with you in prayer,
Mission Director and President
*On March 19, 2020 the U.S. State Department released the following statement:
The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.
Since this statement advised “U.S. citizens who live in the United States” to return to the United States, all of SAMS Missionary Bridgers and Associate Missionaries who were on short-term assignment internationally and who are not prepared to “remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe” have returned home (one is en route as of this blog post).
SAMS has emphasized to Career Missionaries, whose homes are where they currently live internationally, that “U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel” (most are already heavily restricted on domestic travel, too) and that if they choose to come home, to be aware that countries are “implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice” and “airlines have cancelled many international flights.” Consequently, many of those who have already had plans for some time to return to the U.S. in the next few months for Home Ministry Assignment here and others who have grave concerns about what is transpiring in the country where they live have made difficult decisions to return to the U.S. (or will do so if a route opens for this to happen.) Most SAMS Missionaries have made equally difficult decisions to stay and continue serving (perhaps in unique ways), in the communities where they are currently planted. Please keep all these missionaries in prayer as they continually seek the Lord for wisdom and guidance.