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March Activate Post: Missions with or without the trip


It’s almost spring, the time when short-term mission teams begin to form. Except this year the season is different. The unexpected spread of coronavirus has many people second guessing the value of traveling. If your mission team is in this boat, I recommend you check out this article from

As you consider the prudence of travel in the midst of a pandemic of unknown proportions, I want to encourage you to remember that a canceled mission trip does not mean we cannot participate in missions. In our Activate post just this past October, Malory Sanvidge referenced the church’s response to a deadly plague that was killing thousands of people a day. Rather than running away or isolating themselves, the believers of the time were pressing in to care for the sick and dying.

I remind you of this not to encourage you to stubbornly or self-righteously press forward in your plans for your short-term mission trip or to knowingly put yourself at risk in your own community. However, if this coronavirus is wreaking enough havoc for us to refrain from traveling, what should our response be?

As believers we should be responding to things differently. If the church is responding to this crisis in the same way as every other group of people, something is missing.

What would it mean for your church to respond as God’s answer to your city’s prayer in this crisis? Look around your community and consider how this outbreak is affecting different communities.

  • Consider babysitting for the single mom who can’t miss work when school is cancelled.
  • Consider providing for those in your community who cannot stockpile cleaning supplies because their paycheck just won’t stretch.
  • Consider grocery shopping for the elderly for whom this virus poses a very real threat.
  • Consider how to use technology to connect with those who are homebound due to their risks associated with this virus.
  • Call your local health department and ask how your church could help.

Christians throughout history have given us examples of how to respond when fear rules the day, but let’s get creative.

We are writing this not to minimize the severity of our current reality. Please do your research. Please pray about whether your planned short-term trips are the best choice right now. And please do wash your hands, repeatedly.

In the midst of this, please remember that we are the church representing Jesus Christ and His heart for the world. He does not desire that anyone live in isolation or fear. Can we show the world a different way to live?

Sarah Parham serves as the senior director of domestic mobilization, and Malory Sanvidge serves as the church culture administrative coordinator.