AGWM Prayerfully Responding to Coronavirus Concerns
As the world continues to grapple with the ever-evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, AGWM personnel in the United States and abroad are working to respond both with boldness and with wisdom.
AGWM Administrator Kevin Donaldson issued the following statement regarding personnel and partner travel outside of the United States:
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, AGWM has, effective immediately, placed our missionary personnel under indefinite international travel restriction, based on advisories issued by the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. State Department.
AGWM also requests that all planned trips by missions teams and other short-term ministry trips be deferred until after the present crisis is resolved. The health and well-being of our personnel, as well as our partners, is of the highest importance to us.
These travel restrictions, and any additional protective steps taken, in no way change our focus from fulfilling the Great Commission, and our missionaries continue to serve and establish the Church in over 190 nations around the world.
“As the worldwide response to the Wuhan coronavirus intensifies, please pray for all of our personnel who are associated with China,” says Ron Maddux, AGWM Northern Asia regional director. “All of our personnel who visit China are safely out of country. Pray for God’s intervention in the spread of the virus. Pray for a providential turning of this crisis toward an eternally significant outcome for lost people who would come to Christ.”
In Italy — which has become one of the world’s hardest-hit nations and is currently experiencing a ban on travel and public gatherings — AGWM personnel echo the same desire both for safety and for a turning to Jesus.
In light of the nationwide quarantine, AGWM missionary pastors Rick and Jennifer Pasquale, who lead International Christian Fellowship of Rome, have amped up the church’s internet presence. Sunday sermons, Thursday women’s Bible studies, and more will be livestreamed on Facebook Live and at icfrome.org for all homebound viewers.
The Pasquales’ public statement (issued March 9) regarding temporary church closure concluded with a faith-filled assurance:
Please remember as those who trust in God and HIS Word, we are the example of faith, hope and love. Do not let fear permeate your discussions. Remember we are all God’s children and He has positioned each of us to bring His hope and life to people during this very difficult season in our world.
We have a blessed Hope, in Christ Jesus, in His Word, and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay encouraged and walk in faith.
Veteran AGWM missionaries Neil and Kathy Vanaria, who serve refugees on the southern Italian island of Sicily, also continue to post calm, realistic updates on social media. Kathy wrote:
We are living in a country with a national quarantine. Went to the grocery store with our son and we took a number and waited to get in. Plenty of food. People were not shoving each other out of the way anxious to get at the mushrooms or the toilet paper. They chatted politely outside while waiting for entrance. Someone gave me the cart saving me the normal 2 Euro deposit. ... I see no mass panic. Lots of stores are closed because they need to stay home with their kids but really, living in the capital city of this province I have to say everyone is playing nice. Pray that Lord moves in a way to speak to people, encourage them, and by God’s grace we find ways to help others move forward. I don’t know what those ways might be but God does.
“News headlines about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) have captured the world’s attention,” says AGWM Executive Director Greg Mundis. “While the medical community desperately seeks ways to combat it, governments set up border restrictions to contain it. ... People around the world are on high alert to this virus that has spread like wildfire. As a body of called and commissioned disciples, let us continue to pray the gospel spreads rapidly…. By obediently sharing our faith at every opportunity, we will see lost multitudes accept the good news and spread it even further.”
For more about what God is doing in Italy, stay tuned for the June 2020 WorldView magazine, titled, “Italy: He Knows Your Name.”