Nations from all over the world, once bustling with life, laughter, and color, now have numbed and dimmed. The once strong smells of food, kicked up dust on busy roads, and occasional perfume, have settled in the still air. The strong, stoic foundations and structures of these nations, now stand defenseless against a widespread pandemic with no known cure, COVID-19.
Uganda, Greece, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Ecuador, are some of the many locations visited by Touch the World, an organization that focuses on missionary work and partners with schools and youth groups to travel nationally and internationally. Touch the World usually partners with 3-5 different schools each spring with an average of 30 students each year. However, when Coronavirus hit, Touch the World had to reevaluate their situation and decided to cancel mission trips for the foreseeable future. EC Times spoke to the Missions Director of Touch the World, Tim Dedrick, to see how they have been fairing...
QUESTION: “I understand Touch the World has decided not to team up with schools for mission trips due to Covid. Was that decision a hard one to make?”
ANSWER: “While disappointed in the outcome, we were at peace when making the decision alongside Eastern Christian to cancel spring break trips. We have been very cautious with our decision-making throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to all the uncertainties. In the early stages, and still today, we sought wise counsel from travel agents and insurance brokers, constantly monitored CDC updates, and kept in communication with both the schools and our host partners. Each piece of advice and conversation affirmed the decision to cancel spring trips. Obviously, this pandemic has been very difficult for everyone, so we are grateful that we could make such big decisions side-by-side with all of our partners.”
QUESTION: “Do you feel at peace with the final decision to cancel missions trips for the near future?”
ANSWER: “Yes. As we’ve seen how rampant Coronavirus has become in our nation, but also within our host communities around the world, it was the best and only decision to be made. Of course we have missed getting to work directly with students, but we are hopeful that, when the time and conditions are right, we will get to work in person with our school, church, and host partners again.”
QUESTION: “How else are you engaging in ministry this year?”
ANSWER: “We are designing for a different, yet exciting future. The TTW staff has been diligently working on our programs and resources to meet the needs of students and adults seeking to live on mission. As we dive deeper into the fall, we are focusing on re-imagining our spring and summer programs as well as three main projects: Global Poverty Simulation -- designed to build empathy by challenging individuals to walk in the shoes of a family living on less than two dollars a day-- a Training Resource Box Set, and our online training platform -- The Missions Academy, which is our dynamic online platform designed to enhance the personal development, spiritual growth, and global awareness of students for effective and transformative service.”
QUESTION: “Any words of encouragement to students or leaders?”
ANSWER: “In this season of change, fear, burden, and tension, it is most assuring to know that our Savior is the only one who can give us rest. He teaches us with humility and gentleness, and teaches us to be humble and gentle. My prayer for myself, and for those reading this, is that you would find His comfort during this time and that it would energize and restore your soul.”
Tim Dedrick referenced Acts 1:8, [But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling all people about me everywhere. In Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.] and said,
“‘Everywhere’ doesn't mean ‘everywhere but your home.’ Everywhere means everywhere. We tend to think of “being sent” as meaning that we have to travel far, but sentness is a way of living; not a location. There is great importance and experience that comes from global missions and reaching those around the world, but there is that same importance in serving locally, serving your neighbor, brother, sister, teammates, peers. God has called each of us to live a life of service, and that can begin right where you are.
Yes, it is disappointing to not have the trip experience you were hoping for, but if you’re hyped up for missions -- good news, it starts right now.”