The Impact of COVID-19 on Missions and Ministry

I read a great ebook this morning written entitled, “Global Transmission, Global Mission: The Impact and Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” [1] by Jason Mandryk. He is the current editor of the renowned Operation World global prayer guide. Mandryk outlines his thoughts on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Christian ministry, especially global missions. I highly recommend every Christian leader take the time to read and reflect on his perspective.

Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:

“As the wealthy elites and pagan masses fled the plague-ridden cities of the Roman Empire, Christians would pass them going in the other direction – into the cities to care for the sick and bury the dead. It came at great cost to themselves, but such actions turned formerly hostile people into increasingly sympathetic ones, and turned this tiny offshoot of an odd Jewish religion into a faith that won over an empire.”[2]

“The poor disproportionately suffer from communicable diseases. Consider the Global North playbook for combating CoVid-19: social distancing, working and schooling from home, buying weeks’ worth of food/amenities at a time, pivoting to digital existence, frequent handwashing with soap and water, business loans, stimulus cheques, quantitative easing, and even universal basic income – all to ‘flatten the curve’ of the stress on the health care infrastructure. What if none of these were possible? What if you stay in a two room house, with eight other people, including your vulnerable elderly parents or grandparents. What if your only source of income is small scale cash transactions, made daily, in a crowded street market, with your inventory obtained through a relationally face-to-face supply chain, and if you don’t sell enough on a given day, then that night your family goes hungry? What if access to water requires gathering around a communal well a mile away from your shack, and soap is a luxury of the affluent? What if there is no public health care infrastructure to even protect? Reports coming in from both journalists and Christian workers tell of escalating hunger and desperation in many Global South contexts. When the cure is in fact worse than the disease, other approaches become necessary.”[3]

“I have never met a missionary who had extraordinary impact in their ministry if their life did not include extraordinary surrender to the principle that to live is Christ and to die is gain.”[4]

“At times, it feels like there is a conflict between the prioritization of reaching the least-reached with the message of Jesus and the emphasis on addressing injustices around the world (economic, social, racial, sexual, etc.) as a Kingdom mandate. I believe the research indicates the places that are least evangelized tend to be the places where human suffering is most widespread and where the most forms of injustice are felt most intensely. There is no conflict here, but great potential for synergy.”[5]

“Suffering does not exist by God’s intent, but He gives much of it a redemptive purpose, He entered into it Himself in Jesus, and He promises a day when all the tears will be wiped from our eyes (Rev 21:4).”[6]

“Can we proclaim a slogan like ‘Our buildings may be closed, but the church is alive’ and in doing so (correctly) assert that the Church is not about buildings, but then also agitate for those same buildings to be opened as soon as possible, or even defy the law to meet in them?”[7]

“As much as we may resent it, even in mission, money talks. The ones who write the cheques still tend to set the agendas. CoVid-19 damage suffered economically to Western missional generosity in particular, combined with the decline of mission sending from Western countries, will have a direct and profound impact upon the perceived missiological authority of Wester missionary enterprise.”[8]

“Even the normally agile Business As Mission (BAM) framework is problematic if the effectiveness of the mission part depends on the success of the business part. Businesses are shut down all over the world right now. Developing sustainable models of not just doing mission on the field, but sending workers to the field from the less affluent nations, and then keeping them on the field, is essential for the future of global mission.”[9]

“That ‘sweet spot’ in the transition from highly dependent mission fields to indigenously self-sustaining, self-replicating, self-theologizing church movements often occurs earlier than most foreign missions tend to find comfortable.”[10]

“How is it that those who follow one claiming to be the way, the truth, and the life are among the most naive adopters and enthusiastic disseminators of falsehoods? Having faith in the unseen does not excuse us from the responsibility to be mature in our thinking. Anticipating a new heaven and new earth does not give us license to endorse the destruction and suffering of this one. Understanding that the world system and the powers and principalities operate beyond the mundane does not mean that every wild postulation is therefore true! […] When we spread such untruths, we are bearing false witness and break the ninth commandment. […] We shouldn’t buy uncritically into the mainstream narrative that the unbelieving world wants us to adopt, either. We know that it, too, is predicated on lies. So there most definitely is a time and a place to consider alternative ways of understanding the news and interpreting current affairs. However, this needs to be subordinate to maintaining our testimony as people of truth and love. My bottom line with those presenting conspiracy theories to me is usually “So what?” Even if every speculation and assertion is 100% true, how does it change what Jesus called me to do, who Jesus called me to be, and how Jesus called me to live? It doesn’t.”[11]

“Intercession is truly universal work for the Christian. No place is closed to intercessory prayer. No continent – no nation – no organization – no city – no office. There is no power on earth that can keep intercession out. In Stephen Gaukroger’s words, ‘Prayer needs no passport, visa or work permit. There is no such thing as a “closed country” as far as prayer is concerned…much of the history of mission could be written in terms of God moving in response to persistent prayer.’”[12]

“Prayer, as a biblical study of the subject quickly reveals, is not the activity of people who are in reasonable control of their lives. It is the resort of the weak, overwrought, desperate people whose life circumstances call for resources beyond their own.”[13]

“The surge of missionary sending that saw the Moravians, William Carey, Adoniram Judson and the Student Volunteer Movement thrust into the harvest field all happened after a surge in global intercession in their faith communities.”[14]

“In the UK, a recent survey indicated that 1 in 20 adults have started to pray, having never prayed before.”[15]

“’Do not be afraid’ is the most frequent command in Scripture – there are 145 verses to that effect. Whether it is about an unknown future or a turbulent present, we are able to cast our cares on Him, because He cares for us. (1 Pet 5:7).”[16]

“The boldness of the first Christians to fearlessly proclaim the good news of Jesus was in fact an answer to their own prayers. In Acts 4, in response to persecution and threats, the believers prayed for God’s enabling to speak His word with great boldness. Let that be our prayer today.”[17]


[1] Jason Mandryk, Global Transmission, Global Mission, Kindle ed. (U.K.: Operation World, 2020), http://covid-19.operationworld.org/global-transmission-global-mission.

[2] Mandryk, loc. 867.

[3] Mandryk, loc. 281.

[4] Mandryk, loc. 636.

[5] Mandryk, loc. 777.

[6] Mandryk, loc. 1062.

[7] Mandryk, loc. 475.

[8] Mandryk, loc. 712.

[9] Mandryk, loc. 728.

[10] Mandryk, loc. 814.

[11] Mandryk, loc. 352-70.

[12] Mandryk, loc. 968.

[13] Mandryk, loc. 1004.

[14] Mandryk, loc. 1020.

[15]  Mandryk, loc. 986.

[16] Mandryk, loc. 1062.

[17] Mandryk, loc. 1062.

Author: Mark Brand

Born in 1960, Mark was raised by ministry parents in the USA and South America. A fourth generation pastor, he sensed his own call at a very young age. Before coming to Dallas in 2003, Mark ministered as an itinerant preacher, Bible school instructor, and career overseas missionary in partnership with Teresa, his best friend and wife of more than thirty years. While living in Paris, they helped lead a French-language congregation and trained emerging spiritual leaders throughout Europe and in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. In 2011, the Antioch Church family embraced Mark’s vision to relocate into the heart of downtown Dallas. Mark and Teresa’s greatest earthly joy is their two children, Charity and Jean-Marc, who were born to them as answers to prayer following many years of infertility. In addition to serving as a Team Antioch ministry volunteer, Teresa home-schooled their children in partnership with the Coram Deo Academy where she teaches elementary school while she pursues her MA in Teaching at Dallas Baptist University.

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