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During this time, we all start by caring for our own families – and we should (I Tim. 5:8). We’ve also talked this week about being great neighbors, caring for those we work with, and thinking about serving our community.
With our eyes so focused locally, it can be easy to forget that people from other countries – and those living and serving in other countries – face this crisis in unique ways. Today, our External Focus team shares updates from each of our Members serving internationally, as well as our “local international” partners.
We should recognize that many in our community were not born in the United States. They may be treated poorly by some people because of their birthplace or the color of their skin. Meanwhile, our international neighbors may have relatives in places much more impacted by COVID-19 than we have been at this point.
As Christians, we should begin by “neighboring” with these individuals, just as we would to our non-international neighbors. Here are a few suggestions:
At this time, there doesn’t appear to be ways for new volunteers to serve directly with our local partners that reach refugees and international students. However, you can be in prayer for these ministries – they obviously have lots of opportunities with already formed relationships. For instance, the work with international students at UTD is continuing – just in smaller groups or one-on-one. Many students that originally planned to go home for Spring Break, may be “stuck” here in the DFW area.
Our local international partners include:
Watermark is currently connected with 12 former Members now serving internationally as “Goers” (what others often call “missionaries”). The COVID-19 outbreak has affected each of them in different ways. For instance, a gathering planned to connect with those serving in the Middle East had to be cancelled – a disappointment to us and to them.
Racism or xenophobia may also be affecting those who serve internationally. Fear has often led to signs forbidding Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Iranian, Italian, and other people from visiting certain establishments.
One of our Goers in the Arab Gulf reported that she had to be quarantined for two weeks after a trip to Cyprus. She is also pregnant, so please pray for her and the baby’s safety.
But we continue to see God’s work; those serving in Arab Gulf were just granted the rights to worldwide distribution of a Bible translation their team has been working on!
Goers in the Middle East need to renew their visas soon, but COVID-19 precautions could present difficulties. Pray that, if their visas expire, associated fees might be waived by the government. Further, pray for wisdom and clarity for those who hoped to return to the states for a furlough in April.
Those serving in Southeast Asia face quarantine procedures similar to the United States. They are sheltered in their homes, and many businesses are closed. Two Goers who are college professors will be affected by this situation in particular. Meanwhile, one individual in Albania is facing complete lockdown, as the country feels it cannot risk an outbreak due to the impact on its economy.
Finally, our Goers in Argentina were originally “living inside what seemed to be a virus-free bubble,” but seemingly overnight, police have begun enforcing quarantines.
If you are interested in learning more about how we vet and prepare potential Goers, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn how you can support these men and women relationally or financially, contact email@example.com.