Closing Borders and Opening Horizons

Rachel Chimits

World Challenge’s partners in India are working to bring Christ’s love to people there as their borders close, travel is restricted and governmental authorities clamp down.

Analyzing the affects that COVID-19 could have on India and many other nations, the Future Forward group wrote, “Welcome to the post-global world where there could be a twist in the James Bond narrative of the Cold War.

“Politically, we could see an erosion of globalization and a return of protectionism. Friction between superpowers and power blocs may make a comeback. On the economic side, markets will struggle to live without export-fuelled [sic] growth and global supply chains. This could lead to a push towards ‘self-reliance’ and smaller trading blocs and a return of the 1960s and 1970s pattern of global trade.”

Beyond the medical impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the social changes it brings could shift how ministries operate for years into the future.

Locked Out but Not Lost

While our partner was still in India, their weeks were full of ministry, spiritual warfare and computer problems. After leaving India, they were faced with still more spiritual warfare and computer problems but with some added health complications. Praise the Lord that he was COVID-free, but there have been enough other issues to fill the gap.

As we’ve written before, the church in India has faced severe persecution and ministries face all kinds of accusations as secular government workers attempt to close any and all Christian organizations down.

Our partner wrote, saying, “As part of this warfare which has taken place, I no longer have a valid visa to be able to return to India. I feel a little lost these days, not having a clue what He has for the future, whether here in America or in India. Crying to Him, and trusting for direction. ‘You are my Hiding Place...I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.’ Psalms 32:7-8

“Thank you always for your love, prayers and support! Bless you.”

Although the ministry there has experience incredible challenges, they have also had unique opportunities to bless pastors and church groups during this season. While travel has become more difficult with health restrictions, some villages that were previously closed to the gospel have opened up. It is an incredible blessing to see God’s work continuing despite every obstacle, especially as local believers in these areas grasp each new chance to share the hope of Christ with their neighbors.

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10, ESV).

Warfare and Practical Problems

Our partners who work in India are hardly the only ones who are facing uncertainty and unexpected obstacles to their ministries thanks to the pandemic. COVID send missionaries and relief workers all around the world jetting back home with no firm return date.

Many are caught in a kind of limbo as they wait to return to the places that have become home for them in their heart and where they have felt called to serve.

How do you set up rhythms and boundaries when you dont know where the finish line is?” David Bulger, vice president of global ministries and head of the crisis response team for One Challenge, asked in his interview about the effects of COVID on ministries with Christianity Today.Were discovering were wrestling with things we havent really thought about before.”

This wrestling, though, has brought up some innovative movements and interesting realizations as everyone waits to see what the outcome will be of this pandemic on our societies and churches.

“The National African American Missions Conference held its first virtual meeting this year,” wrote Rebecca Hopkins, a U.S. journalist who lived abroad for 14 years. “In a normal year, about 500 people attend the conference. This year, 2,300 people participated virtually, hearing from missionaries to 47 different countries. Organizers noticed the conference had more African Americans than ever before too and wonder whether that can be translated into more mobilization.”

This season may prove to be when more people than ever become aware of international issues and become invested in helping those abroad. We certainly hope and pray so.