From an organizational viewpoint, the next year and a half does not hold promise for measurable mission impact.
We have no plans for team travels in 2020 and do not know when we will be able to make those plans. The consensus among our team leaders is that the first three quarters of 2021 will be a time of more waiting.
People could leave our mission to find alternatives for their charitable donations and efforts; others may change priorities and take up personal programs that will affect their future availability for EMAS projects.
How then are we to serve our volunteers and keep them engaged in what we believe is our collective God-given mission when we do not know about the next team travel?
However, God has a different perspective.
Two observations from my study of Old Testament labour intensive projects in Ezra and Nehemiah provide direction for EMAS teams during the coming months:
Shared leadership provided alternative voices that reignited motivation.
The original temple reconstruction plan, started by a descendant of David by God’s instruction, was suspended for close to fifteen years “during the entire reign of Cyrus….and down to the reign of Darius”.
The people had become disheartened; opposition had stalled the restoration of the temple, so instead, they focused on building their private homes.
By sharing leadership with the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, Zerubbabel and Joshua enabled the people to become re-inspired by the promises of God and His overarching Messianic program for and through them. They were fired up again to resume the construction work.
One of our Asia teams uses video conferencing to engage team members once every month. The team of 4 leaders co-lead the meetings and speak with gentle authority keeping the team aligned with our calling to proclaim God’s love to all the world.
The reminder of God’s greater worldwide program and our place in it has stimulated practical ideas on how to engage professional colleagues in Canada. The plan is to be missional at home, while at the same time teaching overseas through video conferencing.
People are precious to God and He desires joy for them.
During times of intense front-line mission activity, it is easy to lose sight of God’s desire to be with people and of how precious we are to Him. 1
EMAS leaders are entrusted with people for organizational goals, however people are God’s assets. Their value does not depreciate and does not depend on our doing successful mission.
Ezra, an expert in the Book of the Law of Moses, served to restore the relationship of the people with God, devastated by the disobedience that had separated the people from their creator, Ezra and Nehemiah saw to it that God was presented to the people as One who was interested in their joy and well-being.
One of our larger teams is forming smaller clusters to study the Bible and to pray for one another.
We encourage all our teams to meet regularly, to keep the big picture in mind, and to remain active participants in their local churches or their home-based bible study groups.
There are reports of answered prayers for material provisions among family members of EMAS teams.
Our strategy for emerging from the effects of the pandemic includes plans to invest in the spiritual well-being of our volunteers and their families.
1. Zechariah 9:16-17
All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV)
Feature image: Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash