Missionary Work in the Age of Coronavirus

Midnight Call Missionaries

The coronavirus pandemic is more protracted and pervasive than many had initially assumed. Its effects on the various Midnight Call outposts is very different. An overview.

By Jonathan Malgo, Dübendorf

We’re experiencing restrictions that seem very extreme to us. However, if we look beyond our borders, we discover that it’s a luxury to complain. Nevertheless, it’s no longer the same as it was. We’re becoming aware that we don’t even know what we know, especially with regard to coronavirus. The many newscasts, reports, facts, or “fake news” are practically indistinguishable. This makes the task of passing on God’s prophetic Word—and not getting lost in misleading thoughts and deliberations—all the more important. One of the enemy’s tactics is to pull children of God away from the essential things. The coronavirus is, if you will, a side issue for us. The challenge is to achieve the maximum for the Lord, despite the limitations. We’re delighted that we’re able to conduct church services in the Midnight Call community again—not just a livestream, but in person. And we’re rejoicing over the open doors the internet has provided. Our YouTube channels have proven to be the “door to the outside.” In addition to magazines and literature, we would like to reach people by making greater use of these.

By Fredi and Beate Winkler, Haifa

When we closed our Beth Shalom guesthouse in Haifa due to coronavirus in mid-March, we thought we’d be able to reopen in three months, maximum. But now it’s been more than [seven] months, and there’s no telling when we can open the house again and recommence our work for Israel trips. All 
employees are now on “compulsory leave,” but receive compensation payments from the national insurance. The only thing we can do is take care of the house and do the necessary maintenance. Most of the hotels in Israel are still closed, because it’s not worth it due to the complicated requirements. For the time being, we can’t foresee how everything will continue. The second wave of infection struck with force, and now people are starting to talk about a third wave in winter. So, everything depends on how things develop, but we know that we are in God’s hands through all of this.

By André And Ingrid Beitze, Guatemala City

There haven’t been any gatherings since the state of emergency was declared in March. What was particularly serious, however, was that public transportation was no longer available. This particularly affected our tract distribution. Each municipality established its own regime, and even people who had legitimate reasons for being in transit (such as those from the health department) were fined. Of course, this created anarchy in different parts of the country. We published two tracts about the coronavirus, which were widely used despite all the restrictions. People have become scared and are seeking. We were also able to keep the bookstore open almost all the time, albeit with reduced hours. The possibilities on the internet are diverse. We offer programs on Facebook or Zoom practically every day. The interest in God’s Word persists and, despite the precarious economic situation, many are desiring a Bible.

By Stephan and Carina Beitze, Buenos Aires

We’ve been in quarantine since March 20th, one of the longest in the world. You can only travel with a special permit. If you’re caught without it, you can expect legal proceedings and confiscation of your driver’s license or car. Of course, we’re allowed to shop for essentials in nearby stores or visit the doctor. Masks are compulsory everywhere. Cameras are used to monitor for fever at bus and train stations. And the special permit, furnished with a QR code, must be shown either on paper or a mobile device. We can see both sides: on the one hand, we’re not yet mourning as many deaths as in some neighboring countries. On the other hand, the economy, which was already broken, went even further to pieces. It’s said that a quarter of all stores had to close. Many companies got help from the state, which now has its fingers in them. Nine out of ten families are in debt. The very poor receive help from the state in the form of money. Inflation is rising steadily. Schools and churches are closed. Students are having lessons over the internet. Those without internet access, or who are in a state school or university, have far fewer educational opportunities. Home robberies have doubled. And we hear of more and more people around us—relatives and from church—who have contracted the virus. But so far, there’s only so much we as missionaries can do.

Of course, we’re almost exclusively remaining at home. We’ve never gone so long without traveling before. However, what was very bad in human terms has turned out to be a great blessing. We’ve been able to hold meetings, lectures, classes, camps, conferences, and radio interviews—either via livestream, or recorded and then sent on. Our services have tripled, and all without traveling. We also received many open doors to neighbors or families of the Sunday School children. Together with the congregation, we help with food, clothing, blankets, etc. Since we, as “clergy,” have a special permit to move around, everything runs through us. Much pastoral care is also being sought. Our days are always fully booked, and into the night. We’re thanking the Lord, and asking that He will give us wisdom to do everything correctly.

Midnight Call - 11/2020

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