Hope in Crisis: COVID-19 Outreach

Puerto Supe, Peru. COVID-19 Outreach.

“Leche!” shouts a little boy. He grabs the can of milk out of a bag and starts hugging and kissing it.

Missionaries pitch in to buy a coffin so their friend can be buried in the cemetery instead of a mass COVID-19 grave.

Churches pool their money and start committees to provide food for the neediest families in their neighborhoods.

When the new coronavirus turned into a pandemic, many people wondered, “Will COVID-19 put global missions on hold?” And while missions does look a bit different these days, we’re happy to report that God is still working to transform lives.

We asked missionaries from TEAM and South America Mission how they’re still serving in the midst of COVID-19. Both ministries are founding members of Therefore Alliance, a mission collaboration created to increase Gospel impact and bring glory to God by working together. Here’s what their missionaries told us about COVID-19 ministry.

Life and Death in Peru

Despite strict lockdowns, Peru’s number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. Hospitals have limited supplies — and limited space in their morgues.

When missionaries Stephanie and Todd Edgar lost a friend to COVID-19, the body was slated to be sent to a mass, unmarked COVID-19 grave by the highway. The family didn’t have money for anything else.

In that dark hour, the Body of Christ stepped in.

Stephanie and Todd helped buy a coffin for their friend. And with some help, the family got their loved one released and sent to the city cemetery.

But while death seems to be the unrelenting theme of the day, God is also bringing new life into the world.

Craig Gahagen serves in missions aviation. And in the midst of COVID-19, he says, “We have been averaging about one medical emergency flight per week. Most of these flights are for pregnant women in distress.”

One woman was 38 weeks pregnant in a small river town with limited medical resources. The SAMAIR team flew her to the city of Pucallpa for a potential cesarean section. Earlier in the quarantine, the team evacuated a young missionary family.

 

“When we fly, strict anti-infection protocols must be followed, including protecting passengers from the pilot and vice versa,” Craig says. “We are not carrying known COVID-19 patients, but since patients can be asymptomatic, we must exercise extreme caution.”

Everyone Needs Food, Scripture and Nature

For many missionaries in Latin America, COVID-19 ministry has been a bit less dramatic, but just as vital.

Los Cabos, Mexico, is a prime tourist destination. But with travel shut down, families are struggling to buy food. Thankfully, missionaries Art and Vicki Reyes and their congregation have been preparing for this moment.

For years, church members have contributed food items each week and given them to families in need. Now, they’re donating even more.

“Some of these folks are rather poor themselves, so they give out of their poverty,” Vicki says. And though everyone expects the economy in Los Cabos to get worse, God is already answering prayers through donations from the Reyeses’ supporters.

Farther north, in La Paz, Mexico, Steve and Lois Dresselhaus would normally be taking groups kayaking. Being surrounded by nature makes it easy to turn conversations to the God who created it.

Now, instead of taking their neighbors out into nature, the missionaries are bringing nature to their neighbors.

“Our house church group … has started a food bank, which gives rather substantial bags of basic staples to families in three neighborhoods,” Steve says.

And with each bag of food, Steve includes a Bible text printed on a quality nature photograph. It’s a little piece of nature and a reminder of God’s faithfulness while most people are confined indoors.

The church doesn’t have enough money to help everyone in need, so they had to form a committee to decide who to serve. But with each delivery, they get to share who they are, why they’re helping and how people can join them after the curfew is lifted.

Missionaries Caring for Missionaries in Northwest Brazil

 

Craig DeLille, South America Mission’s field director for Brazil, made an epic road trip with a friend to bless Brazilian missionaries and a Maxacali indigenous community. Both groups have suffered severely because of quarantine measures adversely affecting the informal economies so many in Latin America depend on.

The quote below is from Craig, who shared details of the outreach while expressing thanks to donors who provided funding to make the outreach possible.

“I just wanted to thank you for the generous contribution to bless the Maxacali village in Minas Gerais, Brazil. My dear friend Pastor Iraque and I were privileged to be able to travel over 2,000 miles round-trip over five days to visit with missionaries who serve indigenous communities throughout the northeast of Brazil, pray with them, offer words of encouragement, and provide for some of their basic needs. We delivered 44 food baskets to the missionaries along the way and 250 to the Maxacali village once we made it to our destination. Since we had 6 food baskets left over, we added three stops to our return and were able to bless two missionary families and a local pastor as well. We returned home late Tuesday evening, our age showing a bit, but very grateful for the opportunity to be Jesus’ hands and feet and humbled by the depth of His love for us.”

How Can You Pray for COVID-19 Ministries

No one knows how long COVID-19, or the side effects of our fight against it, will last. Please stand in prayer with missionaries throughout Latin America as they serve those in great need.

  • Pray for good health and safety as missionaries and local churches serve — whether by delivering food, evacuating people or serving in medical facilities. Ask God to give them wisdom in every situation.
  • Pray for continued funds to buy relief supplies. As local communities run low on funds, global churches, from the U.S. to Germany, are stepping up. Missionaries are also applying for grants to fund COVID-19 ministry efforts. Please pray for favor as they submit these applications.
  • Pray for greater understanding of and love for local communities. Good missionaries always strive to understand those they serve, but a crisis bonds people in a unique way. Pray that this time of hardship won’t be wasted, and that relationships will be even stronger by the end.
  • Ask God to open hearts to Him. Pray that missionaries and local believers will make clear what motivates them to serve others. Ask that people will see their service as a demonstration of God’s love for them.
  • Ask God to show you how you can serve your own neighbors. We all know people in various states of need. Ask God to reveal who He would have you serve right now, and ask Him how to do it.

South America Mission and TEAM have been responding since the beginning of the crisis. Our gospel collaboration has allowed us to respond more widely and more quickly than we could alone. This blog post was originally composed by Bethany DuVal, who serves as TEAM’s marketing manager and editor. 

Hope in a time of Crisis

Hope in Crisis COVID-19

Dear South America Mission friends and co-laborers,

We hold unswervingly to hope despite the chaos of the times we are living. God kindles our hope through the prophetic voices of Israel’s exile. Zechariah proclaimed that God would “come and dwell in [our] midst” (Zech 2:10). I understand if those who heard his prophecy were doubtful or weary; God’s promise to “dwell among Israel and not forsake [his] people” when the temple was first built 400 years before (1 Kings 6:13) was likely unimaginable at the time of exile.

And we yet have hope today—we see in the life of Christ a fulfillment of those promises and can know for certain that God is among us.

He dwells among us now and we wait with eager anticipation for the day we dwell in His presence. It is in this promise and His faithfulness that we anchor ourselves. This is my message to our missionary team and what I most want you to hear from me today.

I am grateful for each of you supporting the work of SAM missionaries and ministries. Even as these hectic times shift our daily routines and roles, we stand in solidarity with you. It would be our honor to hear from you, to know how you are doing and how we can pray for you specifically in these circumstances.

Our missionary team is developing a “new normal” for being on-mission in these times and in the geography where God has called us.

We’re in countries where the borders have closed and where country-wide quarantines are in effect. The health infrastructure in many places does not have the capacity to manage critical cases. The informal economies in several countries mean that a substantial portion of the population receives their income through public interaction. Please be in prayer for the millions in Latin America who will face these realities. And pray for wisdom for our team, for eyes to see redemptive possibilities that offer peace and hope to neighbors in despair.


Crisis Response Fund

I’ve established a Crisis Response fund at South America Mission to equip and care for missionaries in the coming months. Donations to this fund will be distributed to our missionary team for their use as the gospel compels. They will have freedom to respond to needs that arise, whether within missionary families or in the communities where they serve. Know that your gifts to this effort will directly benefit our missionary team and moreover, mobilize them to be agents of mercy and peace. We realize economic hardship has reached many of you, so we make this ask with great sensitivity. Please give only as you are able and as the Lord leads.

To mobilize Crisis Response funds quickly, the best way to give is online at www.southamericamission.org/crisisresponse.

I encourage you to visit and bookmark this web page even if you decide not to give, because there we will update the content regularly as news and prayer needs develop from our fields of ministry. You can also mail in a check made out to South America Mission with “Crisis Response” written in the memo line (1021 Maxwell Mill Rd, Ste B, Fort Mill, SC 29708).

The directness about the reality before us is paired with our unswerving holding to the hope we profess in the confidence that He who promised is faithful. God is at work as He shakes the nations.

By Grace,

Kirk Ogden, Executive Director, South America Mission

SAM Response to COVID-19

FORT MILL, SC, March 17, 2020—First, we’re responding to the spread of COVID-19 by mobilizing people to pray: pray for the health and well-being of the communities in the countries where we serve; pray for God’s intent for good through this crisis to be seen and known; and pray for protection for those whom you support but, moreover, pray they will have eyes to see and wills to seize the redemptive possibility that comes in the midst of this chaos.


South America Mission is being careful to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect our staff, members and partners.

  1. We’re monitoring daily the developing situation in countries where SAM members are serving. In Latin America, SAM members are adhering to the controls and safeguards implemented by their local and national authorities. We’re also following recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control.
  2. We have arranged for US office staff to work from home if necessary. All SAM business is being conducted virtually when possible and all outside in-person meetings are limited. Field conferences scheduled for March-April have been postponed.
  3. Donations Processing will continue, but check processing may be delayed during social distancing. If you have questions, call our Donor Relations department at 803-802-8580. Also, this is an ideal time to give via EFT through our website, instead of by check.

Contact: Ken Massey, ken.massey@southamericamission.org

We’re Hiring! Accountant for our Finance/Operations team.

We’re hiring! South America Mission (SAM) is a cross-cultural ministry focused on the planting and nurturing of churches for the good of the world and the glory of God.

The responsibilities of the Accountant for South America Mission include maintaining the accuracy of general ledger accounts and managing the monthly closing process. The Accountant will combine analytical skills with proficient knowledge of accounting principles to analyze financial transactions and assist in generating financial reports.

Full job description HERE.

You may also send inquiries and resumes to finance@southamericamission.org.

Proclama. Psalm 96:3.

Proclama mobilization ministry based in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

“I’d like to tell you about Sandra. She is a dear friend and a member of my church in Santa Cruz. God placed a burden on Sandra’s heart for unreached peoples when she was 15, and that burden has developed into a calling to serve Him to reach the people of the Middle East.”      – Dana Wilson


In 1969, missionaries from South America Mission planted the Christian Missionary Church (Iglesia Cristiana Misionera or ICM) in the heart of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The faith community of ICM still stands today, and they are sending Sandra to serve in cross-cultural ministry in the Middle East. Though it does not have sufficient funds to provide all of her financial support, this local church has recognized God’s call on Sandra’s life for ministry and God’s call for the church to help.

When Dana Wilson arrived to Bolivia in 1998, she attended ICM, not knowing what would come of her service there. She began working as an English teacher at the church’s school, eventually transitioning out of teaching into missionary mobilization. In her second year, Dana helped the church complete its first mission trip to share the gospel in a neighboring town, and by her fourth year in country, she joined the SAM Bolivia Missions Team.

Proclama. Psalm 96:3. Mobilizing the Church in Latin America.The Centro de Entrenamiento Transcultural or CET, based in Cochabamba, Bolivia, invited Dana to receive mobilization training in order to help local Bolivian churches develop a vision for their participation in God’s global mission. Though this encounter with CET felt like an accident at the time, 14 years later, it has become the resource and responsibility of PROCLAMA (derived from Psalm 96:3, which in Spanish reads, “Proclamad entre las naciones su gloria…’), an entity newly formed in 2015 (under Dana Wilson’s leadership) with a vision to see a missionary movement catalyzed from within the South American church to reach the Nations for God’s glory.…Read the entire article HERE.

 

City Church, Lima, Peru

City Church gathering, Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru, is the “new global culinary epicenter”, according to a recent article in Condé Nast Traveler. If you ask Julio Chiang what makes Lima so great, he’ll talk about the cuisine, confirming epicurean journalists’ opinions. But he’ll become more reflective, too, thinking about the greatness of the city where he was born and now lives as the founder and lead pastor of a new church—Iglesia de la Ciudad, or City Church…

The City Church video was produced in partnership with Silent Images-www.silentimages.org

Yes, the ceviche is exquisite, but Lima finds its true greatness in its 10,000,000 people. It’s a fair question: “What’s so great about an urban mass of humanity?” For Julio, the heart of Lima is about millions of God’s image bearers, so close he can touch them, all needing the gospel of grace. Recently, Julio shared how Iglesia de la Ciudad is acting as a dispenser of grace in one of the world’s greatest cities:

The name of your church is Iglesia de la Ciudad. You prefer the translation, “City Church”. Why did you choose this name for your church plant?

We wanted our name to actually include the word “Church” because we believe the only hope for the redemption and transformation of Lima is the Church of Jesus Christ. It’s the vehicle for redemption that God has chosen.

Also, we’re a church that is for the city, or “city positive”, a church that builds for the welfare of the city. Over the years the church in many instances has separated itself from urban life and culture, but God, just as he instructed Israel through the prophet Jeremiah upon entering Babylonian exile, has called us to be connected to and serve the city.

Tell us about your logo for City Church. What does the design communicate? 

First, the vertical and horizontal lines represent city streets. They intend to remind you of an urban map. Then the small circle layered over the “streets” creates the image of a cross, conveying the concept of Christ at the center of our city.

City Church, Lima, PeruAnd then the way the streets and the circle intersect, the effect is a reminder of stained glass, which for us is about tradition and history. We need to emphasize certain historical traditions of the church and contextualize them for our culture today…Read the entire interview HERE.

God With Us

God with us

Come, Lord Jesus.  Come.

Our plea for God to come reflects our anxiety over the brokenness of the world. It’s an expression of our wanting desire for the culmination of redemptive history in the Messiah. Come, Lord Jesus, come to rescue us. Come to heal us. Restore sight to the blind. Declare the epoch of the Lord’s favor. Set the world aright through your Kingdom here on earth. We wait. Patiently we wait for him.

And then we celebrate the Light of the world who did indeed come…The night, though, was silent. There were no horses. No chariots. Only quietude in a manger. There were lowly shepherds in the distance who knew first. Wise men were on their long journey, following the star, but it would be weeks before the gold and incense and myrrh arrived. There were no gifts or trumpets sounding that night. No fireworks. The King had slipped into the world to be with us. Quietly and humbly. There was no bursting forth on the world’s stage.

At Christmas, we celebrate the arrival of our humble King.

Sent into the world to become man, to be with us, to pound the pavement with us, to suffer with us, incarnate.

To walk alongside us, as close as burrowing under skin.

God. With. Us…three words that should not be able to merge together into one coherent sentence. But they do in Christ. We look our King in the face. He is there. Present. Sent to be present, to know every suffering of humanity so that he could bear the suffering, one day. God is with us in Christ Jesus the Messiah who came to deliver us.

God is indeed with us in Christ Jesus born this day in Bethlehem. He is with us. As we go out into the world we carry the very presence of God with us.

 

Our greatest gift, really the only gift we can give to the world, is God with us in Jesus, so that others may see and know.

Leteveryheart

 

Year-End GIFTS DOUBLED

Visit www.southamericami.wpengine.com/givingtuesday2015 to give: On December 1, generous donors will help further SAM’s passions for the church “on mission” in the world by matching dollar-for-dollar every gift to SAM’s Vision Fund, up to $5,000.

Would you donate and help us meet our $10,000 goal for this day? All gifts made to SAM on or before Tuesday, December 1, using this URL link will qualify for the match.

#GivingTuesday has become a platform to launch some of our year-end giving campaigns to meet our ministry budgets for the year.


About #GivingTuesday: The first Tuesday after Thanksgiving now has a new name, a new purpose. #GivingTuesday has grown over the last four years into a day to actively resist the precedent for the season otherwise set by Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

That’s right, a day to change the tone, to see the season through the light of a different necessity—what if we busted down doors to find the quickest path to generosity—to swim upstream against the current of our culture, which, finds its downstream momentum this time of year in retail sales benchmarks and in the acquisition of things (that are prone to moths and rust destroying).

How do you actively resist on #GivingTuesday? It’s not easy. It might even feel like your setting up an outpost in the culture wars, but trust that your outpost will be a beacon of hope in the battle, an eventual stronghold that will have its place in turning the tide.

In short, on #GivingTuesday, give it away. Give your money away, your time, give the gospel of grace. Be about sacrifice. Believe that it will matter. Believe that it will change you as much as it makes a difference to others. But you have to get ready now. You have to figure out how you’re going to navigate Friday and Monday in order to be poised for Tuesday. Join the movement. Give it away on #GivingTuesday.

Give It Away #GivingTuesday

December 1, 2015: the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving now has a new name, a new purpose. #GivingTuesday has grown over the last four years into a day to actively resist the precedent for the season otherwise set by Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

That’s right, a day to change the tone, to see the season through the light of a different necessity—what if we busted down doors to find the quickest path to generosity—to swim upstream against the current of our culture, which, finds its downstream momentum this time of year in retail sales benchmarks and in the acquisition of things (that are prone to moths and rust destroying).

What if we busted down doors to find the quickest path to generosity?

How do you actively resist on #GivingTuesday? It’s not easy. It might even feel like your setting up an outpost in the culture wars, but trust that your outpost will be a beacon of hope in the battle, an eventual stronghold that will have its place in turning the tide.

So instead of feeding yourself, feed others. Respond to the ringing bells and red tin pots. Choose the 40-inch instead of the 52, and give the difference away. Reconcile the debits in your personal ledger to credits in the ledgers of non-profits who are healing brokenness, not artificially preserving some fleeting sense of wellness.

In short, on #GivingTuesday, give it away. Give your money away, your time, give the gospel of grace. Be about sacrifice. Believe that it will matter. Believe that it will change you as much as it makes a difference to others. But you have to get ready now. You have to figure out how you’re going to navigate Friday and Monday in order to be poised for Tuesday.

Join the movement. Give it away on #GivingTuesday.

SAM Centennial Celebration

To mark the SAM Century, our entire SAM community is
gathering together in Panama from September 21-26, 2015.

We’re calling our gathering the SAM Centennial Celebration.

It’s about celebrating God’s faithfulness. It’s also about being present with co-laborers, practicing together our mission of “living as redeemed children of God”. Finally, there is intentional planning to do as we prepare for a new century of faithfulness and obedience.

This is an important event in our Mission’s history. Our community includes SAM missionaries—active, retired and alumni—our South American partners, and friends of SAM who help sustain our ministries in so many ways, so consider joining us in Panama!

Email panama2015@southamericamission.org, or visit our website here to learn more.

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