Caring for Missionaries in Light of COVID-19 

Answering Your Questions about Missionary Care

Updated February 14, 2022

COVID-19 has reshaped life for everyone and reminded us we live in an uncertain world. Pioneers workers serve in places where they may feel this uncertainty more intensely than others do. We want to assure you that we are making every effort to care for these missionaries. So, we thought it would be helpful to give you a glimpse of what that looks like.

1. How has COVID-19 affected missionaries?

Pioneers missionaries have long served in areas devastated by earthquakes, tsunamis, war, political unrest and other challenging crises. In each of these situations, we work both to mitigate unnecessary risk, as well as to support them as they share the gospel and offer care to those in need. Like other crises, COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for Pioneers workers to be “salt and light” in the communities in which God has placed them. We look forward to hearing—and sharing—testimonies of His grace in the midst of uncertainty.

2. Were missionaries stranded on the field due to the State Department’s recommendation that U.S. travelers abroad return home?

Many State Department recommendations are written largely for people visiting other countries from the U.S. Since Pioneers missionaries are not visitors but long-term residents of their host countries, these recommendations do not apply to them in the same way. However, a State Department guideline that “U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel or remain abroad for an indefinite amount of time” was taken into strong consideration by all those planning to travel or leave the field.

3. Have Pioneers missionaries come home from the field?

The decision for a missionary to come home or stay on the field is made by them in consultation with their field leaders, sending churches and our Member Development Team. Additionally, a missionary’s presence in their host country may be affected by local laws and regulations. Each missionary’s situation is unique, and Pioneers assists them individually in making this decision. We continue to monitor State Department recommendations, as well as local guidance related to COVID-19 from U.S. embassies and consulates in the countries where missionaries live.

4. Has COVID-19 affected missionaries’ access to services from Pioneers-USA?

For a time, all employees able to work remotely to increase social distancing and decrease exposure did so. We are grateful that technology allowed our Member Development Team to continue to serve missionaries without interruption even when working remotely. Additionally, sending and supporting churches continue to provide care and counsel. Field leaders also continued to care for teams and members in their ministry locations as well as those who relocated to other countries.

5. How has COVID-19 affected training and other events at Pioneers-USA’s headquarters?

Unfortunately, we had to cancel nearly all on-campus events during 2020 to limit the spread of this virus, resuming many in 2021 on a case-by-case basis. In the meantime, we expanded our use of virtual tools to conduct orientations, training, missionary debriefings and other gatherings. While these resources could not replace personal engagement, they gave us an opportunity to trust in God and to respond creatively to new challenges. Even after in-person events resumed, we have continued to use virtual tools when these have been proven effective.

6. Is Pioneers continuing to send missionaries to the field?

Pioneers continues to mobilize and prepare people God is calling to join and start teams among the unreached. When risks and restrictions required it, some missionaries have delayed their departure dates.

7. Are there any financial implications to missionaries serving in areas affected by COVID-19?

Pioneers’ Donor Services Team is still processing checks and sending receipts.  Supporters may consider giving via EFT (electronic funds transfer) to ensure prompt processing of gifts. Our Donor Services Team is available to assist with this at 407-581-7458. Please note that missionaries who temporarily come home from the field continue to need financial support.

Missionaries in affected areas may incur unexpected expenses if they have to leave the country at short notice or become ill. We stand by to assist them in facing these challenges. But we also encourage supporters and prayer partners to reach out to their missionaries directly to determine tangible ways they can also help.

We have set up a special project fund to assist missionaries with unexpected expenses related to the global pandemic. This fund will also support new, time-sensitive ministry opportunities that have arisen in their communities. For more information on this fund and to give, visit the Coronavirus Response Fund page.

8. What can I do to help?

If you support a missionary—with Pioneers or any other organization—please reach out to them. Offer them encouragement, prayer or a listening ear. A mission organization serves an important role in making it possible for someone to serve among the unreached. But there is no substitute for the personal connection missionaries have with the churches, supporters and prayer partners who “hold the ropes” for them.

Would you join us in praying for the protection of those who are vulnerable to COVID-19? We also pray for healthcare workers and government leaders working hard to diminish the spread of this disease. May the Church fearlessly demonstrate the love of God and the gospel of Jesus to a watching world.

See also Pioneers’ Response to COVID-19 (updated June 29, 2021).

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