This is a question to which we will continue to learn the answer in the coming months. One affect is the increased use of technology. Livestreaming services and meeting for one-on-one discipleship via video platforms is not going away anytime soon. Many church planters have implemented tools like these earlier than they had planned. Missionaries that rely on regular and ongoing travel to carry on their global work (Bible translation, theological training modules, etc.) have been significantly hampered. However, in God’s providence they, too, are finding opportunities closer to home and new venues through technology. Some missionaries cannot use online tools because of security concerns amidst increased surveillance from oppressive governments. These will face difficult decisions. In some cases, they will speed up the plans to pass leadership roles on to national believers who will have less limitations. Others will pursue new ways of doing ministry in these regions including business, education, and other in-demand roles that offer access to people and relationships.
This question is impossible to answer with much certainty. With the COVID-19 vaccines rolling out, there is hope that nations will begin to lift travel restrictions. If you are in need of an internship, we encourage you to make tentative plans with a host missionary or ministry, especially aiming for later in the summer. Hold off on purchasing a plane ticket till the last minute and only with an OK from your hosts. The possibility of individual internships is more likely than for group mission trips, due to the fact that it will be simpler for one person to meet the necessary testing and quarantining expectations than for a group of 10 or more.
You should make other considerations, too. Consult cdc.gov/travel for up-to-date health information and travel requirements for entering your desired destination. International travel dynamics continue to shift and will require flexibility. Secondly, there is a possibility that required 14-day quarantines may still be in place in some countries upon entry. If applicable, consider scheduling an extra two weeks into your plans. Along the way, host missionaries will be best suited to inform you of developments.
US-based internships are a great solution for 2021. BMM has missionaries serving in strategic ministries in inner cities, among Native Americans, in campus ministries, and in Mormon outreach works. In many ways we see God using this pandemic to reinvigorate our efforts to reach needy corners of our own country for Christ.
I hope to share more considerations with you next month regarding COVID-19 impact. Perhaps you’re considering a 1-2-year short-term trip or starting on a path to full-time missions. Is this the right time for starting these ventures? I look forward to offering insight next time.
What can we expect in missions in 2021? All in all, we expect to see God opening doors that were previously closed and closing doors that we expected to be open. He will build His church. As long as that is true, believers must remain poised to jump in where possible and not to give up easily.
Travis Gravley is BMM's Administrator for Church Relations and Enlistment