Thank you for your support of Friends Network during this unprecedented time in our ministry. As the pandemic has continued to cripple countries around the world, we're reminded that so few things are within our control. God uses these moments. We trust him, and patiently wait for direction. Here are a few updates:
Displaced evangelists The majority of our evangelists returned to the United States in February when they learned that re-entering their host country was not an option. It was our goal to have them return to Asia in early April. Unfortunately, once April arrived and Asian countries began to resume their domestic activities, borders were closed to foreigners to prevent another outbreak. We are still not sure when our team will be able to re-enter. In the meantime, many of them continue teaching their students online, and others have taken up extra tutoring jobs. They are handling the situation remarkably well, all things considered. A lot has been asked of them, and they have responded with understanding and patience.
About ten of our evangelists remained in Asia during the entire quarantine. They are beginning to see life return to "normal," but the process will take a while. Many of them have resumed ministry activities (see below), but schools have not yet re-opened.
As you might imagine, we incurred thousands of dollars in unexpected expenses as a result of these events, including dozens of unplanned international flights, temporary housing expenses, living stipends for displaced workers, etc.
However, we were blessed to receive a gift of $30,600 to assist with these expenses. This money was offered as a matching gift, and our donors responded extremely generously. We received over $60,000 from our donors in response to this challenge! THANK YOU to all who contributed. God blesses us so richly through you, and that is especially evident in times of need.
It's worth noting that our mission work has not stopped, even during the virus.
Activities have been disrupted, but God works through that, too.
Some of the evangelists who remained overseas have been able to resume Bible studies and worship gatherings. One of our teammates (pictured) was able to share the beautiful message of the resurrection with her friends on Easter Sunday. Gatherings like this are also taking place in three other cities.
Meanwhile, many of the evangelists back in the States are also finding ways to continue their ministry online. They are participating in Bible reading plans with their friends, sharing devotions, or simply texting them to stay connected.
"Plans can't keep up with changes!" Never in 20 years of overseas ministry has this been more true than it is now. But there's something comforting about that truth. This ministry was never our "plan" anyway. God opened the door, God provided workers, God surrounded the ministry with prayer and financial support, and God continues to lead us exactly as he planned.
Please keep us in your prayers! God holds all things. May his mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.