How the pandemic opened the doors to a new kind of advocacy
By Edward Nye
In March 2020, we entered a new reality. The pandemic hit with full force and the world began closing its doors. Our organization, Assemblies of God World Missions, was reeling as several of our leaders were diagnosed with COVID-19. We also had to cancel hundreds of short-term trips scheduled over upcoming Spring Breaks, many connected to our college ministry, Chi Alpha (XA).
We wondered how we could connect our missionaries with those who have a passion for the Unreached during these unprecedented times. Getting short-term volunteers on the field in 2020 was no longer going to be possible.
Our Chi Alpha partners struggled with the same question and had a “crazy” idea. The world had transitioned overnight to working, going to church, and even exercising virtually. Why not go on a Virtual Missions Trip? We loved their creativity and immediately went to work with them. We needed to ensure these trips were not just another boring Zoom call. We wanted them to be discipleship moments. We wanted each participant to experience real missions work. So, we formed Eurasia Experience Virtual trips – a tangible way to connect people with work and life on the field.
Multi-Sensory Experience Box
One way we do this is to send each participant a box with items from the teams they are visiting: foods they might find on the field, elements to make prayer more real (like candles or incense), literature about the missionaries, people groups, and work they were doing. This “Experience Box” has been a huge part of engaging participants.
Each Virtual Missions Trip group is also encouraged to adopt a set of challenges for the duration of the trip. Some were physical challenges: living out of suitcases for a week, walking or taking public transportation instead of driving or living without air conditioning. Other were cultural challenges like making Indian chai or burning incense during their personal prayer time and remember those who use incense as prayers to gods that cannot hear them.
Times of Community
Every day of the Virtual Missions Trip starts with group devotions led by a field worker. Participants will connect with their missionary hosts and team members throughout the day on a group chat, sharing what God has been speaking to them, asking questions, or posting videos of themselves completing a challenge.
At the end of each day, the groups meet with missionaries on a videoconference call. These are powerful times. Participants hear testimonies of local believers, listen to missionaries share their passions and burdens, and are challenged to engage more deeply in missions.
Over the last year, because of these Virtual Missions Trips, dozens of participants have applied to be a missionary. Others have started giving financially to missions. Bands of prayer warriors have been formed to intercede for the missionaries and their work. We expect more fruit in the years to come.
These virtual trips are enriching the lives of many who could have never gone on an in-person trip. Senior citizens, special needs individuals, pastors and network leaders have all engaged more deeply after attending a virtual trip. Instead of phasing out virtual trips, we are ramping them up to connect with more people we previously could not reach.
For us virtual trips are here to stay.
If you would like to find out more about what we are doing, or would like more information about planning your own virtual missions trip, visit us at https://eurasiacommunity.org/virtualmissionstrips/ or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is submitted by Edward Nye of Assemblies of God World Missions, a Missio Nexus member. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.