By Jessica*, a Pioneers worker in the UK
God has called me to serve among refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, but I have found myself asking, ‘how do I live out this calling during this lockdown?’
Plans have had to change
Normally my day-to-day involves running English classes, spending time with friends in their homes and helping people to their health appointments. Whether it’s teaching in community projects or running groups in churches, I am never usually in one place for a whole day.
Lockdown has forced me – and probably all of us – to think and approach life differently. I have been pushed to see a positive in this scenario and undertake ministry a little more creatively.
Different pace, new connections
I can’t teach English in the classroom anymore but I am so grateful to be able to use digital platforms such as Zoom and Skype to connect with students. This not only allows them to progress with their language study but also to enjoy a little social interaction.
Isn’t it wonderful that we have this technology available in our day? I can’t help but praise God that we have the means to communicate and continue to do ministry albeit in a virtual way. It took some adjusting, but now my days are still busy but at a slightly slower pace.
Things I miss…
There are parts of my regularly patterns of outreach and ministry that have to stop due to this lockdown.
- No more home visits and a stop to enjoying wonderful Arabic cuisine
- No more visits to the park or swimming pool and having fun with families
- No more accompanying refugees to appointments and helping them fill out the correct forms
Things I do instead…
As some doors have closed, I have seen new doors open in this lockdown.
- Relearning the art of cooking for one and arranging Whatsapp video calls to “eat” together at the same time while chatting about deep issues
- Using Zoom to call mums and help them with homeschooling and games to engage their children
- Sending encouraging and reassuring messages to friends, sharing hope and praying with people who have never before engaged in spiritual conversations
Mission in a new way
I have had to be intentional and flexible in how to keep in touch with people that I love and care about. Of course, I have missed the face-to-face connections, but God has surprised me with opportunities to share His hope with others.
During some online virtual “chats over coffee” I have have had the opportunity to hear how my friends are coping with the current crisis and speak truth into that situation. All my friends are fearful. Fearful of the virus – yes – but many have also expressed the fear of God’s judgement in this way. These conversations have been precious with opportunities to speak truth about God’s love and sovereignty, bringing the hope of the gospel into their lives.
God is still at work
Don’t get me wrong: lockdown isn’t easy. Every day I have to fight to remain joyful and try to take every thought captive. However I have appreciated the reset button being pressed.
I now have the opportunity to spend longer with the Lord. I can engage with people on a whole new level. I can be creative in how I can serve people in new ways. I have even been trying to use my daily exercise to walk by the homes of my friends, praising God that the Holy Spirit is not self-isolating and asking Him to work behind those doors.
Jesus’ teaching on mission is clear. In Matthew 28, He gives both a commission and a promise:
‘Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”‘ Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
We are in a challenging period, but let’s ask God to show us new and creative ways to continue fulfilling the Great Commission. His call to mission doesn’t change because of COVID-19. His promise to be with us also doesn’t change. Today, I imagine Jesus would want to reassure us and say, ‘and surely I am with you always, even in the midst of lockdown’.