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It was a far from normal day at ITEC as the reality of the Coronavirus, now a global pandemic, was on the forefront of everyone’s mind.

International travel is a big part of the work at ITEC, and we were discussing how to handle the upcoming travel arrangements. What should we do? What will this mean? When will we be able to go? What are the ripple effects of a pandemic on international trips? So many questions without answers.

It was hard to stay focused with news updates coming in rapid succession. I got a fresh cup of coffee to support getting some actual work done and stop wondering why everyone needed so much toilet paper.

Reports from the Field

As I started to tackle emails, I was encouraged to read follow-up reports from a previous ITEC medical and film training in East Africa. The film training was providing opportunities for African Christ-followers to open doors for the Gospel in their community.

“We have been using it on the field of giving the voice to the voiceless, sharing impactful God stories and sharing the Gospel by showing compassionate to the rejected.” – Film Student Testimony

Pictures from medical care being provided were included and the medical trainees’ feedback was similar…

“We got several opportunities to share the gospel. We were able to be accepted in some villages, ITEC MED gave us access to some villages that it could have been impossible without it. We share the gospel with five more families, though none gave their live to Christ, but we have organized with the strategic team of our church to do the follow up.” – Medical Student Testimony

I was encouraged by these stories and appreciated the additional feedback on how we can improve in the future.

Strength of the Local Church

As I began to ponder how we would be forced to cancel future trips, I was thankful for the past opportunities we have had to train and work with our partners around the world.

No one could have predicted this global pandemic, and no one knows for sure the limitations we will have going forward. Most likely, the access of local churches in communities will open up sooner than a country’s borders to outsiders, especially from the US.

The non-western church is growing and sending missionaries. How can we focus on supporting this movement?

A Sustainable Future

Often times, short-term mission trips are focused on going and doing. This has the potential to sideline the indigenous church, overlooking local strengths and resources, limiting national participation.

Could it be that this pandemic will force us to change our mindset when it comes to short-term mission trips?

We will continue to wrestle with effectiveness in short-term mission trips and would love for you to join in the conversation. This time of cancelled plans and trips might represent a unique opportunity to begin some honest discussions.

If there is any way we might help you or your church begin thinking about what it could look like for you to teach your skills you have to indigenous Christ-followers, please let us know in the comment section below.