My Account
Sign Up for an Account



Choose Password

Retype Password

September Activate Post: Can you still have a Global Impact Celebration during a pandemic?


Heritage UMC has held a three-day long mission conference called a Global Impact Celebration (GIC) for several years. We have found these events to be valuable tools to educate our congregation about missions work and the missionaries we support. What we also learned was that the GIC was a very important event in the lives of the missionaries themselves.

Heritage currently supports seven international missionaries, two national missionaries, and about 20 local ministries. All of them attend each of the conferences, meet people from the church, and inspire people to get involved in missions in some way. Many people have taken their first international mission trip because of meeting the individual missionaries and hearing their stories. What we did not realize was how much the GICs meant to the missionaries.

Missionaries are out in the field preaching the Word of God and the love of Jesus Christ and establishing churches among people groups who may have never heard the gospel before. We support one missionary who moved into an area, learned the local language, and then developed their own unique teaching material so they could share the Word. Several of our missionaries have shared how the people they minister to choose to follow Christ, which results in people’s families severing all relationships with them. This puts a huge strain on the missionaries and their own families.

At each of the GICs, we provide an afternoon during which the missionaries can hang out with each other, allowing them to rest and relax. We keep them pretty busy over the three days of the conference. We found that this was, for them, the best time of the weekend. They discover that other missionaries are all dealing with the same kind of challenges and often wonder whether they are being effective. While there are many stories of seeing God at work and witnessing miracles, discouragement plays a large part in their lives. They get to share and hear stories of how they got through the tough times, provide strategies to help them keep moving forward, and tell each other that they are not alone in those feelings. We even had one of the missionaries share how he was ready to walk away from ministry, but he was so encouraged by the others that he was ready to go back to the field after the GIC. The GIC has enabled the missionaries to develop long-term relationships.

It's easy in this time of pandemic to become more inwardly focused and push to the back burner our relationships with the missionaries. But when you think about it, while our giving is down from our congregations, imagine how much their support may have decreased. We are not able to gather our whole church together for a GIC this year, and I don't know when we will be able to have another one. But that doesn't mean that we can't do something to help our missionaries. We are planning a virtual GIC just for them. The plan is to set up one or two calls, depending on their availability and where they are located in the world, and let them update each other on what they are doing and some of the challenges they are facing. Supporting missionaries is not just about sending them money each month, it's about helping them deal with the issues they face, and letting them know that we are there for them, across the street and around the world.

So, what can you do to help your missionaries know you are still there for them?

Jake Authier serves as the director of missions for Heritage United Methodist Church in Clearwater, Florida.

After 40 plus years in the corporate world, Jake joined Heritage UMC as its director of missions in August, 2017. Having been on numerous short-term mission trips to Zambia, Brazil, Cuba, Poplar Bluff, Missouri, and Grundy County, Tennessee, as well as being involved in several local missions/ministries, Jake helped Heritage return to being focused on missions across the street and around the world.

In the past three years, Jake has expanded Heritage’s involvement with local food pantries, started and developed a foster support ministry, increased the number of people participating in missions/ministries throughout the area, and coordinated the Drive-Thru Nativity.