COVID-19: A message from Kirk Franklin
We live in what politicians, historians and economists call unprecedented times. It is very unsettling. However, we serve a living God who knows what is happening. The COVID19 crisis has not taken him by surprise. I am reminded of this reassurance from Psalm 117:1-2 (NLT), “Praise the Lord, all you nations. Praise him, all you people of the earth. For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord!” We are each part of a nation that is dealing with a type of crisis they may not have faced before. It can be difficult to be praising the Lord in a time of crisis. So, we have to discipline ourselves to do so.
I want to update you on how we are managing this crisis and to give you some advice for these uncertain times:
- Take the COVID19 Global Pandemic seriously. Assume that it will affect all aspects of your organization’s operations. This calls for discernment, wisdom and wise and decisive action by the leadership and boards of every organization.
- Lean into Scripture. God has led his people through crises many times before. Reflect on his care of the people of Israel throughout the Old Testament. Consider the Holy Spirit’s enabling of the first disciples after Jesus left them (and some initially felt abandoned by him). Think about all the times in the book of Acts where God intervened for his messengers when their lives were under threat.
- Prayer is essential. To support prayer across the Alliance and within the Bible Translation Movement, our prayer leaders have set up a page on our website, wycliffe.net. Please make sure your organization’s prayer concerns are sent to your Area’s Prayer Coordinator. If you don’t know who that is, ask your Area Director.
- You are not alone. While each Alliance Organization faces unique situations, there are similarities. For example, organizations that send people to other countries to work under Alliance Organizations or partners like SIL face the responsibility of making sure all of your people are safe. If you don’t know what to do, it is quite likely there are organizations that can give advice. Contact your Alliance Area Director for ideas about who to connect with.
- Support each other. As more Alliance Organization staff work virtually, and especially if they are not used to doing so, this creates social and mental concerns. Reaching out to each other using platforms such as Zoom, WhatsApp and Skype are essential tools. Many Alliance Organization people don’t have adequate bandwidth for these applications, so other methods need to be used.
- Stay informed. There is a lot of false or fake news flooding us. We need discernment and are wise to consult the authorities managing the crisis, such as your own government authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO). Various authors have done research on how to limit exposure to the virus including social distancing. This article, for example, gives an analysis. Let us be generous with each other’s reactions to the crisis, such as when someone thinks others are over-reacting.
- The crisis may last a long time. We have passed the point where this crisis will be over in the next few weeks. It could be many months, the rest of the year, or even into next year. We will see airlines go bankrupt. There could be social and economic hardship faced by people across the globe. Let us use this crisis to focus on what God can do through us. If you are familiar with the Examen process, it uses a ‘review’ process of times when we have felt alone or drawn away from the Lord. These are desolations. Then, we have the times when we notice the stirrings in our heart that bring us joy and closeness to the Lord. These are consolations. It is easy to focus on the fear and uncertainty we may face. But, the more we can focus on joy and drawing closer to the Lord through his grace, the stronger we can become to get through this crisis.
The Alliance Leadership Team (ALT) has taken many actions related to the crisis. This began in late January when we cancelled our first face-to-face meeting for the year, scheduled for Malaysia in February. This was long before WHO declared the Global Pandemic but, we saw signs quickly emerging. Subsequently, our Area Directors have had to cancel meetings. Other team members planning special consultations had to cancel or reschedule them. Our Board postponed its first face-to-face meeting for the year in April. Various global and regional conferences hosted by Alliance Organizations have been cancelled or postponed. And, our partner SIL has postponed its ICON to 2021.
Here are some other aspects that may be of interest to you:
- Virtual meetings: While face-to-face meetings have been cancelled or postponed by the ALT through until at least the end of June, we are meeting virtually; and the Alliance Board plans to do so in April. We have started a regular crisis management Zoom meeting to monitor how the crisis is affecting the Alliance.
- The Global Gathering: We are evaluating our plans for this meeting that is scheduled for September 2020 in Johannesburg. We are not ready to decide whether to still meet, meet some other way, postpone it, or cancel it. You can expect to hear about a decision in the next few weeks if you have been invited to participate in it.
- Resuming travel and face-to-face meetings: When the WHO declares the Global Pandemic to be over, the ALT and all Alliance-assigned personnel will be free to begin to consider their travel commitments. It too great a risk to allow them to travel (at least internationally) while the crisis is underway (due to a range of issues: travel insurance policies not covering a global pandemic; likelihood of being stranded; chance of being a virus carrier; possibility of contracting the virus abroad; limited airline schedules, etc.)
- The Executive Director transition: This is not a good season or context to manage a leadership transition. Decisive leadership for the Alliance and ALT is critical. We will closely monitor this with the ALT and Board.
In closing, I encourage you to draw close to the Lord and allow this time of uncertainty to be a time when we’re growing in him, learning more about him, and deepening our relationship with him and the communities we’re part of. May the Lord enable us to flourish in this season!
Yours in Christ,
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