From Executive Director Talmadge Gardner in the February/March issue of The Call. Read the full issue here.
‘Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.’
As the COVID-19 pandemic began its spread from Asia, through Europe and the Middle East, and now on to the United States and the Latin America and Caribbean Region, I have been reminded about how fragile and finite life is. Crises, natural disasters, tragedies, and pandemics have a way of doing that to you, unfortunately. If there is a silver lining to this pandemic, it is that we have re-focused and prioritized things that have significance and meaning in our lives, and hopefully, we will learn from this enriching experience.
The first thing I do when I wake up each morning is read a selected passage of scripture on my iPhone using the Bible App. At the top of the page on Sunday, March 15th’s reading, there was this statement: “No matter what we face, we don’t have to live in fear. In uncertain times, we can seek our unchanging God.” What a reassurance to know that Jesus Christ is the solid rock on which we can stand, and what a reassurance to know, amidst all of the chaos and confusion brought on by this pandemic where circumstances and situations are changing by the second, that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 – ESV)
We want you to know what steps World Missions has and is taking to safeguard our missionary family. On February 28, 2020, we sent the following communique to our global missionary force:
“Dear Missionary Family:
‘Grace to you and peace from God, Our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.’
With the reported spread of the Coronavirus globally, please know that your health and safety and that of your families are of paramount concern to World Missions Ministries.
Please never do anything to jeopardize either.
Your calling positions you on many different frontiers and in uniquely different circumstances that present their own unique challenges. Know that we are respectful and understanding of that. So, always do what you deem best and necessary in any circumstance for your family and yourself.
As a courtesy and so that we know how to pray and reply to questions being asked by your families and our IPHC family, please keep your regional director and the Missionary Care department (Steve Cofer and Kathryn Shepard) apprised should you need to reposition yourselves or come back to the U.S.
We are asking the Holy Spirit to plant a thick ‘hedge of protection round about you,’ and we are pleading that ‘precious and cleansing power of the blood of Christ over you.’
Scripture affirms that no weapon that is formed against those of us who are followers of Christ will harm us, but as free moral agents, we are also required to be good stewards of the gift of life that the Lord has given us. So, use some good old-fashioned common sense!
Dr. David Carter, a medical doctor and IPHC family member, offers the following practical advice: “The precautions to take to avoid getting the virus are like any other. Practice flu precautions by washing your hands, avoiding hand to face contact, getting sleep, and staying hydrated. The healthier you are, the better your body will fight off the virus if exposed.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued notices advising that precautions be taken when traveling concerning the Coronavirus. The link below will provide you with pertinent information related to warnings regarding affected countries: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/
Standing on the word of God, we affirm that ‘Our God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:19)”
In essence, what the February communique did was, effective immediately, place our missionary personnel under indefinite international travel restriction, based on advisories issued by the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. State Department.
World Missions also requests that all planned trips by missions teams and other short-term ministry trips be deferred until after the present crisis is resolved. The health and well-being of our missionaries and global family members is a priority.
I was reminded about the significant impact and influence that our missionaries have made and are making on March 14th, when I was privileged to participate in the funeral services for the Rev. Charlene Helen West. As a part of the remarks that I had crafted honoring her missionary legacy, I invited one of her spiritual sons, Bishop Hernando Brochero, president of the Federation of Pentecostal Holiness Churches in Venezuela and senior pastor of Caracas Christian Center (which is just one of the many churches that she planted) to send me a short tribute honoring this revered mentor. Here is a brief excerpt of what he said:
“I thank my church, the International Pentecostal Holiness Church for sending our missionary to Venezuela. With her, I learned to be a Christian, to serve in the Church, through her I became a Pastor, and now preside the National church throughout Venezuela. She is with us through her legacy, and this work will always rest upon the shoulders of this giant of the faith, my mother.”
The apostolic influence of our missionaries and your faithfulness as Great Commission partners has enabled the IPHC to birth a ministry presence in 100 countries globally. In each country where we have a ministry presence today, you can identify the role that missionaries played in passing on that apostolic mantle and anointing to key national leaders.
Thank you for remembering our missionaries in prayer and with your faithful financial support. One of the weaknesses that we are trying to correct is that many of our missionaries are isolated from other missionaries, and in situations like this, they cannot rely on family and friends. Your prayer support and notes of encouragement to them give them HOPE! Let me also thank our regional directors for their pastoral care of the missionaries under their charge.
Know that we pray for you, our IPHC faith family, daily.
Remember that “no matter what we face, we don’t have to live in fear. In uncertain times, we can seek our unchanging God.”
‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.’