Experiencing international mission trips during a pandemic
By Jamie Naramore
Most Arkansas Baptists develop a passion for missions in a very practical way. They feel a call to go on a mission trip, and while serving on that team, God stirs in them an awareness and passion for missions. Studies related to the behavior and spiritual patterns of believers have always recognized that participation in short term missions is the most effective means for developing a passion to give, pray, and participate actively in missions. The Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Missions Team has created a virtual missions experience to create a way for Arkansas Baptists to participate in missions this summer despite the pandemic, “2020 Virtual Global Missions Week, July 12-19.”
Almost 20 years ago, God used a short-term summer mission trip deep in the jungles of Mexico to awaken my heart for the nations. It was there that I first understood the Great Commission. As a result, I now look forward to participating in and leading international mission trips as the highlight of each summer. Missions is, of course, so much more than a trip. But there is something special about short-term experiences that God uses to open our hearts to the nations, encourage long-term partnerships, and introduce the Gospel in previously unreached places.
Most Arkansas Baptists, however, will not be traveling overseas this summer due to the pandemic. That does not mean that missions opportunities have been lost! Arkansas Baptists can still travel the world together in eight days – virtually, that is – exploring different cultures and ministry opportunities. With some missions inspired ingenuity, churches could use this pandemic summer to mobilize more members in missions involvement than during a typical summer through online missions experiences. Opportunities like this are one of the many benefits of cooperative missions through the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) and our Southern Baptist Convention partners---the International Mission Board (IMB) and North American Mission Board (NAMB).
In April when it became clear that most, if not all, summer mission trips would be canceled, the ABSC Missions Team started compiling and sharing numerous ideas for churches to mobilize prayer for the unreached, invest in missionary partners, experience foreign cultures, minister cross-culturally, and explore next steps in international missions involvement. Various local churches have hosted virtual events focused on their specific partnerships. The IMB has hosted virtual events focused on specific areas of the world.
This is the motivation and hope that inspired Virtual Global Missions Week July 12-19, 2020. As a part of this free virtual event, participants will have the opportunity to daily learn about and pray for the work of the International Mission Board in Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, South Asia, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and the Americas. Each morning participants will receive an email linked to a daily itinerary with pre-recorded interviews with international missionaries, family devotional materials, and family-friendly activities that encourage cross-cultural ministry and cross-cultural experiences. All of this material can be completed each day at your own convenience.
These virtual platforms also create the unique opportunity for families to participate in a missions experience together. Obviously, there are limits both physically and financially for most families to take their children on a short-term trip, especially internationally. Platforms like the new ABSC Virtual Global Missions Week are designed with the ability for families to do this “trip” together. Parents participating with their children create a powerful shared experience. They learn together about lostness around the world. They join together in the joy of learning about fascinating new cultures. Praying together for people to be saved and missionaries to be resourced and protected is a powerful and unique discipleship moment.
If you are interested in participating, please visit absc.org/virtualmissions to register and find more information.