All of our well-laid plans were thrown into disarray by the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020. Whilst there are encouraging signs a year on, we still face uncertainty and our plans must be held lightly. Jennifer, an ECM missionary in Romania, reflects on what she has learnt from the experiences of the past year.
"The account of Jesus visiting Mary and Martha’s home from Luke 10:38–42, has been particularly apt for me where I find myself ‘worried and upset about many things’. I get the feeling that I am not alone, with every corner of the globe affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions that it brings.
"I originally arrived in Romania as a single missionary, but when I returned as a wife, mother, friend, church member and team member, it was a rude shock. I anticipated change, but gone were the days of definable work hours and clear boundaries. Life had become an avalanche of demands from every side and at the end of every day I’d think, “What did I do today? Did I use my time well? Did I labour in vain?" And if it wasn’t already hard enough, throw Covid-19 into the mix and you have a recipe for disaster. Or so I thought…
Initially we were overwhelmed with the demands of online schooling, assisting with online church, and resourcing parents with Sunday school materials. Discouragement followed when children’s camps, programmes and outreaches over summer were cancelled. It was a constant struggle not to become disheartened and frustrated when yet another plan, programme or idea had to be abandoned.
Everything we thought we were here to DO, we couldn’t do. What were the good works prepared in advance for us to do during this time of lockdown and social distancing?
"Thankfully we were not alone in this struggle and we found support, encouragement and accountability through our ECM family and friends. This time has reminded us (yet again) not to find our value in programmes we run or conferences we attend.
We have been prompted to open our eyes to see ways we can love and serve our family, neighbours, friends and local church. So, if that’s a mother and kids needing a taxi to school, groceries delivered, Sunday school material prepared, tech support provided, a neighbour’s bike fixed or a friend’s fence built, we are ready and willing to help. We have also had the time to reflect and identify what is best, prioritising that over many other ‘good’ things we could be doing.
"Firstly, it means spending time in prayer, meditating on Scripture and ‘wasting time with God’, as Stuart Colton, the former principal of Sydney Missionary & Bible College, encouraged us to do. Other times it means looking after my health and exercising to manage my chronic back pain. It may mean quality time with our kids building Lego or making cardboard crowns.
Other times it is listening to a friend going through a rough time or sharing our struggles with those who support us. It is bringing everything before our Heavenly Father and asking him for the wisdom to discern what is needed for that particular day, whilst remembering there is really only one thing that matters – listening at the feet of Jesus.
'We can listen to Jesus too. Because listening to Jesus is the best thing to do.'
'Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.' Psalm 25:4-5
“Once more we remember that our worth is in our God given identity as his redeemed children, made in his image, loved and precious."
Jennifer is an ECM missionary in Timisoara, Romania. Together with her husband Adi and their two kids, they are seeking to encourage and equip local Christians to share the gospel of Jesus with the children of Romania. If you would like to know more about ECM's involvement in Romania, please click here.