Her government shut down schools in her country in 2020—but they never opened back up! As she writes in March of 2020:
“We dont have any case[s]. But the Government put stage of emergency. No more flights or ships. We don't walk around after 7:30 pm. Everything locks up.”
She later reported, “1 positive case for Covid 19. That was officially announced yesterday 11th November 2020.”
Throughout 2020 and 2021, Vanuatu was locked down. In a recent message, she writes: “Just to let u know that since Saturday 6th March 2022 we have break out of Covid 19. Through the repatriate flights that taking Corona Virus to our Country.
Since we lock down Year 2020. So the number is going up to 146. Health authority are looking into this. We lock down in our Country by air and ship. Our community too lock down. No school and no work and no church no socialise or Wedding or attending to deaths allowed 10 people only. Well l was thinking we will be Covid 19 free. But no this year 2022 is a bad year for us.”
Lee’s Online Missionary, Jay, joined her in prayer for her country and ours, and Lee got an idea: she started a prayer group, inviting some children to join her. On May 14, she wrote Jay, “I just wanna let you know that God is good and real,” adding, “I am doing good and my prayers and mission with the children Ministry begin at 6 pm was successful and challenging and outcome is good.”
Our ministry’s name when Cindy and I joined Campus Crusade for Christ in 2004 was “WorldLINC.” The LINC stood for “Leaders in New Communities.” Lee’s leadership in her community that Jay is able to mentor and resource from afar is exactly the kind of “catalytic” effect in mind when the name was conceived. There’s no way they could have anticipated the kinds of challenges presented by a two-year total lockdown on a remote island back then, but it shows one of the powerful opportunities our ministry presents, just because we link available believers with seekers all over the world for discipleship. (Jay has been working with Lee since June, 2016!)
I’ve admitted our challenges with our new response platform: it has continued to give us great difficulty since its launch last August. In our Thanksgiving letter, I also shared the news that our ministry had acquired the ExploreGod.com organization, assets and president. Along the way, I did not mention some less-interesting but nevertheless largish technological challenges - we changed our donor database, upgraded the Content Management System for our websites and switched our mass-mailing system for the discipleship and devotional content we send out. (To compound the challenges of these changes, the ExploreGod ministry used different versions of all of these systems as well.) With our pandemic-inspired shift to working remotely, it’s been a lot of change for a small ministry like ours to absorb: we’ve lost a few staff members and a number of volunteers.
Last month, we had a two-day planning retreat, where an important hint of God’s favor was confirmed to us all: despite all the extra expenses, the ministry is poised to end this fiscal year with a central donation figure rivaling our highest ever.
This made me think about some things: just before the pandemic, our February 2020 letter demonstrated we’d more than doubled the percentage of new contacts we get from our gospel presentations from five years earlier, despite a decrease in overall gospel visits due to lower funding. Our September 2020 letter showed how uncertain times led to a big increase in our gospel visits.
What if God is getting us ready to be put in the middle of a world we could’ve never imagined when GMO began? I am hopeful that the process refinement of the past five years hints of a season of abundant growth and fruitfulness as more capacity is added.
We’d appreciate your prayers. All of our changes were necessary, but this kind of change is never fun!
• We’re replacing some staff members who have left - it’s going to take a while for new ones to get up to speed. Everyone is wearing multiple hats.
• Our new Outreach Director, Tom, in particular, has a lot of responsibility. (“Outreach” is the Department of GMO which tweaks details of the advertising budget to reach the most people.)
• Mike has been creating training videos for aspects of the new system and philosophy/best practices in follow-up. They’ve been well-received. Please pray for this effort to disciple our disciple-makers.
• Our system still isn’t suitable for bringing in new volunteers, and we’re going to need them soon. Please pray for a way to do that.
• Our lead programmer for the new system tested positive for COVID the day after last month’s retreat, meaning the whole team was exposed, and several have come down with it since.
• It’s been difficult for us to hire additional programmers. Please pray we can bring some new ones into the ministry and bring them up to speed very soon!
• Please pray for “Lee” as a representative of our Contacts throughout the world who experience far greater challenges from the last few years’ worldwide changes: lockdowns and shortages are compounded by more limited access, resources and influence.
Although it’s not the direct application of them, passages like Daniel 11:32 and 1 Chronicles 12:32 imply something important. To be creative and flexible like Lee, we all need to know our God and understand the times. Please pray that the Lord will send our ministry “men of Issachar;” and we can pray for each other that we’ll be such people. Thank you so much for your all-important prayers for us and our ministry! Thank you for your vital support of our work. We’re grateful for your investment in us.
Love, in Christ,
One Day Closer!