International (MNN) — e3 Partners plans virtual mission trips and other digital ministry as the COVID-19 pandemic prevents traditional overseas travel.
But e3 Partners plans to conduct mission trips virtually. “I think it’ll be something that will continue when this is over,” Jim Shannon says. “Because not everybody can hop on a plane and fly 16 hours.”
Shannon describes the virtual mission trips this way: “Let’s say this is a week-long virtual mission trip. Starting Sunday night, we would have a one or two-hour session on Zoom. We would have the national partner on the line, and let that partner talk about what God is doing in that location. What his challenges are, what his success stories are.”
Attendees will receive remote training for how to share the Gospel well. Shannon says, “We’ll be doing virtual prayer walks. In other words, if they’re going to go out into a neighborhood, we’re going to get the coordinates on Google Earth and we’re going to do virtual prayer walks. While those teams are out there sharing the Gospel, we’re going to be prayer walking with them on Google Earth.”
People joining virtual mission trips will interact with partners and pastors on the ground, learn from them, and accompany them digitally as they minister. “Just because we can can’t go abroad physically, that doesn’t mean that we can’t participate in what God’s doing around the world,” Shannon says.
Other ministry adjustments
E3 Partners is adjusting their ministry in other ways as well, though the goal remains the same. Shannon says, “We have been preparing as a ministry for this the last 33 years. Our strategy for church planning has always been about identifying, equipping, and assisting local indigenous leaders to establish churches among their own people.”
Shannon says they have used video calls for a long time but now have to accelerate their program of video training and remote Bibles studies. In fact, they hope to have 1000 Bibles studies going by the end of May.
Shannon says many churches are very small and don’t have much digital presence to handle a time of social distancing. “We have been reaching out to churches, [equipping] them to be able to use technology to maintain community.”
You can watch a live e3 Partners Bible study on Thursday nights on their Facebook page.
As far as non-digital ministry, Shannon says, “I think our biggest ministry adjustment has probably been an acceleration of humanitarian aid. We’ve always done some of that because it is part of the Gospel. But it hasn’t been our main focus. Right now, it’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s probably the most effective entry strategy for the Gospel.”
Pray that God would light e3 Partners’ way through this transition and that they would not be afraid. And pray that He will provide e3 Partners what they need to conduct this new phase of ministry.
E3 Partners has begun planning for virtual missions trips, with international air travel being so disrupted. (Photo courtesy of e3 Partners on Facebook)