Corona and Contingency Planning
By Bill MacLeod, Executive Director
As of this writing the COVID-19 Corona virus has claimed 3000 lives globally, six occurring here in the Pacific Northwest (WA). For Churches considering making contingency plans for field workers, or mission trips currently being planned, perhaps the best single source of info to share is the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Missio Nexus, which Mission ConneXion is a member of, recently surveyed its members and gleaned a number of interesting highlights including:
- 10% have mandated travel restrictions (mostly China and others just said Asia); another 10% percent have optional travel restrictions, and 10% have cancelled gatherings and conferences, mostly in Asia.
- 2 organizations are seeking to serve in infected areas and are raising funds to do so
- 1 organization has concluded that home office visits present a risk and have asked folks to self-quarantine before visiting if they come from an infected area
- Thailand has been both a destination for evacuated personnel for some organizations as well as under mandatory evacuation for others
- A couple organizations have banned unplanned travel and conferences
We can be grateful for the United States’ swift response to this global pandemic that is protecting our own citizens both here and overseas. Additionally, the US State Department has outlined 4-Travel Advisory Levels, and locations have been assigned a level depending on the state of the situation and necessary precautions. You can see the latest travel advisory status for a particular location on the Travel Smart app or at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/
While local churches should consult with the mission agency, or national church they partner with on location when determining a course of action with respect to field workers; Richard Ramirez, Director of Corporate Security for SEND International has provided guidance for their 500 workers serving in more than 20 areas of Asia, Europe, Eurasia and North America. He has offered some considerations when determining whether to evacuate missionaries who find themselves in a Level 4 area with these five questions:
- Can those workers continue to perform ministry (not merely survive)?
- Do they have access to food, water, and shelter?
- Is there threat to bodily harm?
- How is their emotional health, considering the cumulative effect of stress?
- Do they have the ability to evacuate?
I so appreciated two additional questions asked from the perspective of the host culture:
- Does the missionary’s presence pose a threat to the host culture?
- Would the missionary’s departure significantly impact their witness?
Hopefully you and your church are prayerfully thinking through these possibilities as you make plans for the year. As an organization working closely with local churches and international mission organizations, hosting training events that take place often in large groups, we at Mission ConneXion continue to monitor what is happening closely. While we recently made the decision to cancel Crescent ConneXion due to low registration, we have no plans to postpone or cancel future planned events based on current health information. We encourage you to plan to register for upcoming events including The Journey Deepens, April 3-4; Prayer ConneXion, May 8-9, and Student ConneXion, November 6-7.