COVID-19: Update on Missionaries and SAMS Response

COVID-19: Update on Missionaries and SAMS Response

The SAMS home office is complying with government directives to help public health efforts. Though our staff is dispersed, we continue to minister at full capacity focusing on our mission and supporting your missionaries around the globe. Standard contact methods are still available.

Dear friends in Christ,

As the global threat from COVID-19 spreads, SAMS wants to assure our Senders and Missionaries that our home staff team is monitoring the impacts of this virus so that we may seek to respond appropriately in harmony with our global church partners and mission networks.

We know the Lord is our strength and protector, our strong shield. We also know we live in a broken world, and that brokenness includes disease, danger, and even death. While we ought not be afraid, we do want to be prepared and wise, and thoughtfully protect our missionaries, their families, and those we serve. We also must be faithful to the One who has called us to serve and glorify Him both among the nations and in our neighborhoods.

Missionaries’ Status

SAMS is not requiring missionaries to leave the field, nor are we requiring them to stay. We are asking them, however, to monitor and follow the crisis as it unfolds using guidelines from the U.S. State Department*, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and SAMS Contingency Plan that includes evacuation and emergency preparedness protocols. We have offered counseling and guidance with staff and SAMS Safety and Security Coordinator.

In terms of the work done by your missionaries across the globe, it is important to consider that those whom they serve often don’t have the option of leaving their city or country to escape. Staying in an affected country can be interpreted as a demonstration of their commitment to those they minister among. Your missionaries recognize the need to be wise and good stewards of themselves, their families, and their teammates, but they also balance that stewardship with the call they each discern corporately within the Body of Christ, by the grace and wisdom of our loving Father.

What more may we do to continue to support and encourage both Missionaries and Senders as we walk through this together? How do we continue to faithfully share the Gospel in word and deed within a world that is being jolted and the poor are especially hurt? We thank you all for continuing to partner with us through your prayer and giving as we seek God together trusting that in the midst of darkness, God’s redemptive hope shines brightly.

To do our part as the home staff to help contain the virus, especially seeking to protect the most vulnerable, we are now working almost entirely remotely. SAMS also has a 24-hour hotline for our missionaries. Senders may reach us at:

  • (724) 266-0731 – General inquiries for sending, praying, and going and for sharing your prayer needs to be lifted up to the Lord by the staff during virtual daily chapel.
  • (724) 266-0669 – Questions about giving, giving via phone, and support in that arena.

Prayer

Pray for your missionaries who are sharing the Good News of Jesus in word and deed to the spiritually and physically needy all over the world. Pray for strength and encouragement, for health, safety and security.

Pray for your Society to serve and respond wisely and well to our Missionaries and Senders around the world and at home.

Pray for provision of resources for missionaries, senders, and faith communities in the midst of the financial loss and ongoing insecurity due to layoffs, markets, and economies where they reside.  As it is written: “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (2 Cor. 8:2) and  “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” (2 Cor. 8:12)

Pray for those who are sick and dying, and for the healthcare workers who are risking their lives to minister to them.

Pray that the Gospel would go forward and for God to draw many to Himself. There are many who are hurting, sick, or fearful, and we know only God can bring about true and lasting redemption.

Join Us

Let us together hold on to encouragement in the Lord. We invite you to join your SAMS family for Noonday Prayer on Thursdays via a ZOOM conferencing call 12:00-12:15 PM EDT. Please email info@sams-usa.org to receive an invitation and instructions for phone dial-in or computer connection. Use the instructions to join the call around 11:55 AM to intercede before the Lord.

Our staff will also be praying together via ZOOM every weekday, and we would love to pray for you during those times. Please feel free to submit prayer requests on our website.

Thank you for being such a vital part of the SAMS family. We will update this page as new information becomes available. Your Society is praying for you, that you would know the presence and peace of God in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Your partner in the Great Commission standing with you in prayer,

Stewart Wicker
Mission Director and President

*On March 19, 2020 the U.S. State Department released the following statement:

The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.

Since this statement advised “U.S. citizens who live in the United States” to return to the United States, all of SAMS Missionary Bridgers and Associate Missionaries who were on short-term assignment internationally and who are not prepared to “remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe” have returned home (one is en route as of this blog post).

SAMS has emphasized to Career Missionaries, whose homes are where they currently live internationally, that “U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel” (most are already heavily restricted on domestic travel, too) and that if they choose to come home, to be aware that countries are “implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice” and “airlines have cancelled many international flights.” Consequently, many of those who have already had plans for some time to return to the U.S. in the next few months for Home Ministry Assignment here and others who have grave concerns about what is transpiring in the country where they live have made difficult decisions to return to the U.S. (or will do so if a route opens for this to happen.) Most SAMS Missionaries have made equally difficult decisions to stay and continue serving (perhaps in unique ways), in the communities where they are currently planted. Please keep all these missionaries in prayer as they continually seek the Lord for wisdom and guidance.

COVID-19 Call to Prayer for Mission & Missionaries

COVID-19 Call to Prayer for Mission & Missionaries

A special message and extraordinary entreaty for prayer from Stewart Wicker, SAMS Mission Director:

“Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus,” prayed Seth, after he shared with me the story of Peter walking on the water toward the Lord. As the waves of pandemic are raging across the world, my friend Seth and I prayed together this morning to respond in faith and for God’s merciful intervention in the troubled times we face. Also, I am laying before God’s throne the multitudes whom your missionaries work among, whose present extreme vulnerability lays them bare to yet another threat we collectively face. Would you join us in prayer for the spiritual and physical healing of the nations?

Your missionaries continue to minister through the doors that God opens to them. As they serve in places of risk and sacrifice, I am reminded in this season of Lent that the way of the cross is an other-centered life, even unto death. Would you join us in prayer for your missionaries sharing the love of Jesus with those in need of good news? Pray please for those who are missing community, feeling stranded, quarantined, or going through grief—especially those who have had to leave with little time to prepare. Pray for those who have difficult decisions to make because of these unprecedented circumstances.

Our home staff team has stepped up incredibly to come alongside your missionaries, though almost all of the team is working remotely now in order to protect all in our communities. We monitor the ongoing crisis as most short-term missionaries return to the USA and long-term missionaries adjust to new circumstances in their respective countries with a few needing to return for the time being. As we communicate via phone and computer to pray and coordinate care for the extraordinary needs of missionaries, would you please pray for Denise, Nita, Julie, Dana, Kate, Liz, Howard, Kristen, Lynn (retiring this week after 30+ years!), and me?

In this time when we may tend toward discouragement, may we together hold on to encouragement in the Lord calling upon his name. We invite you to join your SAMS family for Noonday Prayer on Thursdays via a ZOOM conferencing call for the next few weeks, starting March 26, 12:00-12:15 PM EST. Please email kateulrich@sams-usa.org to receive an invitation and instructions for phone dial-in or computer connection. Use the instructions to join the call around 11:55 AM, to pray a brief liturgy and to intercede before the Lord.

Our staff will also be praying together via ZOOM every weekday, and we would love to pray for you during those times. Please feel free to submit prayer requests on our website, email them to info@sams-usa.org or call Nita at 724-266-0731 (8:30 AM – 4:30 PM EST).

I thank God for each of you. Your Society is praying for you:

Prayer for Trustfulness in Times of Worry and Anxiety, Book of Common Prayer 2019
Most loving Father, you will us to give thanks for all things, to dread nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on the One who cares for us. Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, and grant that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested unto us in your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. -Psalm 46:1-3 (ESV)

May our Good Shepherd be with you, rescuing, protecting, and comforting.

Stewart Wicker,
Mission Director

#CarryOnAdvent: Latin Americans’ Unrelenting Call to the Nations

In our recent Advent letter (contact us to request a copy if you haven’t gotten one yet!), SAMS shared about the explosive growth of the Latin American mission movement. Since 1987, the number of Latino missionaries has expanded from 1,350 to over 27,000 serving in 160 countries!

By God’s grace, Anglicans have also engaged in this mission movement. We praise God for the roles SAMS missionaries have played in this growth through persistent prayer and discipleship. Your Society’s vision is to see the movement continue to grow and thrive.

To that end, SAMS has begun to partner with the Church Mission Society (CMS), a sister missionary society in the UK.  Interestingly, CMS counts the famous abolitionist William Wilberforce among its founders back in 1799.  SAMS founder Allen Gardiner sought a partnership with CMS in 1842 which did not come to fruition at the time, but in recent decades efforts have coalesced to work “better together.”  In fact in the USA, the CMS-USA branch here merged into SAMS-USA.  And across the pond the SAMS in the UK merged into CMS-UK. Consequently, today SAMS-USA is forging a partnership with CMS-UK’s Mission Development Manager for Latin America, Paul Tester.  In Lima, Peru, Paul is leading the formation of a network among Anglicans to catalyze mission from Latin America to the rest of the world.

SAMS Founder Allen Gardiner

Above: Paul Tester with Veronica Calatayud (far right), part of the leadership of “El Buen Pastor” Anglican Church in Buenos Aires. The church supports people in global mission in many ways, including prayerfully and financially. Noemi Vallejos, from the same congregation, is the woman in the center who is shortly heading to Thailand to work in mission mobilization together with her husband Julio. We are seeking to join in with what God is already doing.

The vision CMS-UK and SAMS-USA share in the formation of this network is to encourage the development of the locally-led mission movement. This movement will continue to grow Anglican mission in, to, and from Latin America. The church is recognizing its prophetic call to mission beyond its own culture and context. We seek to fan the flame.

In September, CMS sent Paul to connect personally with our Society and the many SAMS missionaries at the New Wineskins for Global Mission Conference–appropriately themed “Better Together.” SAMS is excited about this partnership pressing further into our global vision encouraging the “whole church to share with the whole person the whole Gospel throughout the whole world.”

Persistent Prayer

Prayer has undergirded the explosive growth of the Latin American mission movement.  In response to our Lord’s command in Matthew 9:38, consider setting a reminder on your phone for 9:38 AM or PM to ask God to send out even more Latin American missionaries to join other global workers sharing the love of His Son Jesus with all nations.

“Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Matthew 9:38 NIV

Map Above: SAMS and CMS both started in Great Britain, and have given their names to “sister societies” around the world as other places have developed their own missionary sending movements. Will God lead Latin Americans to form the next sister society?