Missionary travel has become much more difficult these days, with quarantines, lockdowns, reduced flight schedules, and many other challenges. However, there is a way to stay in touch with your church’s supported missionaries: by video or telephone conference.
Our church, Fellowship Bible Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has used this technology to stay in touch with our missionaries. Here are a couple of ways we do it:
The first way is by a teleconference call service. There are several online companies that provide this service for free or inexpensively. This provides us a number and passcode. We set a time to meet, and provide the phone number and passcode to everyone in our church, and invite our missionaries to join us. Sometimes the timezone problem makes it difficult, but we have spoken with missionaries in real time who are halfway around the world. We have used this if the church has to close due to a snowstorm, and also for our twice-annual “week of prayer” where we pray every night at 7pm. This mechanism means we do not have to travel every night, but we can pray with each other every night of that week. It is simple because there is no video, and no computer is required, just a telephone or cell phone.
A second way to stay in touch is to use video calling software such as Skype or Google Hangouts or WhatsApp or Zoom. Set up the call on a computer and project its video to the front of your auditorium during a Sunday school class, for example. Pre-schedule the call with your missionary. If you can set up a camera to capture the congregation to send the video back to the missionary, that is very helpful to them. With the right audio feed to your auditorium sound system, you can have a very profitable meeting with your missionaries. They can give an update on the work and share a message from the Word, or answer questions.
Of course, there are limitations to such “fellowship.” But visiting this way is better than not visiting at all! If you have never done this, have a techie in your church help you set up a trial run, and then try it!