Prayer for the Front Line

Covid-19 is disrupting my life.

Certainly, we are all experiencing disruption. But sometimes disruption is helpful. For many people, organizations, and churches, the things that we used to define ourselves with—like jobs, school or activities and programs—have been stripped away. What does this mean? For the body of Christ, this is a wake-up call. Jesus is inviting us to slow down and consider whether we are servants of the Kingdom or whether we’ve been serving ourselves.

“I don’t think that we could have imagined a more ‘Lenty’ Lent,” I overheard someone say. So true!

The beautiful truth is that Covid-19 has nudged many of us to consider how Jesus is asking us to follow him into the world. Mission Central has the incredible honour of being a hub for conversations about Christ’s mission. So, in this month’s article, we’d like to share about some issues arising among front-line workers around the world. We hope that as you read these stories, you would dig a little deeper and consider how you can come alongside them in prayer and practical ways.

Canada

I had the pleasure of talking with Dena Nicolai, who works as a Chaplain and Refugee Support Mobilizer at First Vancouver Christian Reformed Church. Dena supports refugees as they transition into life in Canada. A refugee is a person who is seeking to stay in Canada because they would face persecution if they returned to their home country. Historically, there are more refugees in the world than ever before, and half are children. Dena shared that all official channels for refugees to enter Canada have been closed. The result is that even those who were in the pipeline to come to Canada have been put in a precarious situation. Please Pray for the government to re-establish the refugee programs quickly and for inspiration in the Christian community to support refugees, even before they must consider escape from their country of origin.

Union Gospel Mission (UGM) is familiar to most of us in the Metro Vancouver area. Kari Bergrud, Manager of Church Relations for UGM, talked with me about some of the changes to their workflow and the Downtown Eastside community. One of the big challenges for her is finding personal protective equipment locally because suppliers have not been able to meet demand. A big change for the community has manifested itself in the increase of meals being served through UGM and how they are being served. Due to a decrease of other meal opportunities, UGM has increased the number of meals by 60%. Sadly, meals now must be “to go”, and the respite that UGM offered from the street has been decreased because of social distancing. Please pray for the virus to be kept from the vulnerable population on the street and in SROs1, and for resources to meet increased demand.

Globally

In a call with mission agencies, an international agency working in the Middle East and other Muslim nations reported that many of their workers from the global south are feeling a financial pinch, especially now due to the pandemic.  Since their supporters generally give through their churches (closed due to crisis regulations) and not online, it has disrupted the flow of funds to the field workers or projects. Even with these constraints, Christians who are often marginalized are reaching out and supporting their neighbours. This is a powerful testimony, especially in Muslim nations where a supportive response from governments is sometimes limited. Please pray for these workers’ provision now and in the days to come.

In 2018, Missions Fest Vancouver welcomed Lorraine Francis, Director of Mukti Mission in India. Lorraine reports that they have about 600 residents living in four campuses spread out over 200 acres of land at their headquarters. In addition, they have 16 projects in six different states of India. In total Mukti is responsible for more than 1100 residents.

A significant source of income has been their schools, shopping complexes, and campsite/retreat centre. These have now been closed; social isolation is strictly enforced, so absolutely no income has been coming from these places since March. 

Considering the above, the core team has been brainstorming to find different ways to be more self-sufficient and have come up with fantastic ideas. Gardens are being cultivated and the produce used for Mukti and neighbours. The young adults are teaching and coaching the young students, since schools are closed. And the whole Mukti community is making use of the extra time to grow their relationship with God and each other. Please pray that staff morale will stay high, and that they can balance the need for isolation with the concern they have for the vulnerable and marginalized.

In the book Christian Mission in the Modern World, the author Chris Wright suggests that one of the biggest challenges facing the church in the West is that we have stopped believing the “good news”. I agree! To me this means that we’ve stopped “living in” and “believing in” the story where the creator God of the cosmos is redeeming and reconciling creation to himself at this time with his supernatural power. In these days, let’s choose to reaffirm and reactivate our faith in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Now is the time to engage the world with the love and power of Jesus.

Footnotes

  1. a house, apartment building, or residential hotel in which low-income or welfare tenants live in single rooms [back]

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About the author

Profile photo for John Hall

John Hall became the Executive Director at Mission Central (formerly Missions Fest Vancouver) in 2014. In 1997 he, his wife and brother in-law started Eco Outdoor Sports in Metro Vancouver. In 2003 the business was sold, and his family entered a seven-year ‘desert experience’. During that time the Lord impressed on John and his family the importance of hearing and obeying Jesus every day, something that he tries to integrate into everything he does. In 2010 God changed the family’s direction and led him to finish his degree at Regent College in preparation for life as a full-time missionary overseas. Although that ministry opportunity didn’t develop as planned a whole new perspective and participation-in Christ’s mission was born at Missions Fest Vancouver. It’s now a daily occurrence for John’s business background and theological training get a workout.

John and his wife Wei live in Richmond, BC. They have two wonderful adult girls. John completed his MA at Regent College in 2010.

Church
Church
The Tapestry Church (Richmond, BC)
Organization
Organization
Mission Central (Burnaby, BC) — Executive Director

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