Virtual missions events connect candidates across globe
Many missions training events have moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the change has had an unexpected benefit by paving the way for cross-cultural and cross-regional interaction. In addition to saving financial resources, it has allowed regions to share resources in a way that was not possible with live events.
Recently, Explore events were held across the USA/Canada, Mesoamerica, and South America regions. The USA/Canada event had 14 participants, including two English-speaking participants from Ethiopia and two from the United Kingdom.
The Mesoamerica event had participants from 11 different countries and was translated into Spanish and French. It included a couple from Canada who spoke Spanish and joined to participate in their heart-language.
“We are purposely crossing country and regional borders in order to multiply our effectiveness while using Zoom meetings,” said Brent Hulett, Global Missions director of Engagement and Equipping. “This has allowed candidates from Scotland to meet with the USA/Canada regional Explore group and has allowed Canadians to meet with the Mesoamerica regional Explore group.”
Explore is a cross-cultural orientation into missions. It allows both youth and adults in local churches to confirm their call to missions or find their place in the body of Christ. Normally, Explore events are held in person, but because of COVID-19, they have been moved to Zoom.
“We had never before reached so many cultures and nations in a face-to-face cross-cultural orientation (CCO),” said Scott Armstrong, co-coordinator of Global Missions Mesoamerica. “Despite internet or power outages that occurred in the case of some participants, God manifested Himself in and through technology. It was gratifying to see that the participants were very punctual and attentive to everything that was said during the development of the CCO.”
The feedback from participants was positive as well.
“My experience in the first virtual CCO has been the best I have experienced in ministry,” said Raquel Frutis Mojico, a participant from Mexico. “God confirmed and spoke to my heart this weekend. With each workshop and teaching that I received, God was confirming what I should do. By faith, I know that wherever God sends me, His will shall be done."
One participant noted how impactful it was to work closely with so many people who share the same passion for missions.
“It was one of the best experiences to meet people with the same passion and to know that this is for the work of God,” said Axel Barrientos, a participant from El Salvador. “It encourages me to continue preparing to carry out the mission of reaching the unreached. This definitely marked a before and after in my life."
Hulett is pleased with the transition to a more effective way of doing things, a change that may not have happened without the pandemic.
“Certainly this new COVID-context has brought a lot of restrictions, but God has helped Global Missions to find ways of becoming more effective in using technology and crossing regional boundaries to do a more effective job in training new missionaries,” Hulett said.