A few years ago, I had the privilege of visiting the island of Kosrae in the Guam-Micronesia Mission. The Lake Union Conference had been chosen to “adopt” this island. But what does it mean to adopt a place that’s over 7,000 miles away? We’re still on the journey, but here are a few things we’ve learned.
Keep Open and Consistent Communication
Finding someone to act as a bridge over long distances is key. It should be someone deeply invested in the good of the whole, able to assess issues and needs quickly, and also able to communicate regularly and clearly. If it is possible, send someone highly invested over to meet the people, dwell in their midst, and see first-hand what can be done to help.
Consider Basic Needs
Basic needs must be considered and met first, but if you cannot be present regularly, it’s essential to perform a needs-assessment on a regular basis. You must find ways to get informed about what the needs actually are before making assumptions. One thing we are providing is Internet service to the school, something that has risen as a crucial need. It is costly for the school to afford but critically needed for the students to complete online classes before graduation.
Include the Extras
Providing essentials is always appreciated. When you are sending things, though, remember that they may not have many extras in life, so it’s okay to send a little something not-so-practical sometimes!
Assist with Evangelism
Even if you are working with an SDA church or school, we can still help with evangelism. One thing we’ve been doing is providing the speaker for their church service every 4th Sabbath, which means a Friday night Zoom service on our end because of the time difference. We line up the speakers and lately we’ve been having young people, even as young as ten, do the children’s story. Imagine being only ten and telling a live children’s story to an audience half-way around the world! Imagine being on the receiving end, seeing a child your age from across the world telling you a story! Everyone benefits when we include as many groups as possible.
Remember Our Common Humanity
Despite our differences, we all have many of the same needs and wants. I recall seeing a young teenager, sitting in the doorway of a very primitive hut, and being surprised to see that she was engrossed in her cell phone. That teenager valued being connected with the world and all its happenings, the same as you and me! While different cultures and regions can differ in many ways in their priorities and practices, remembering our common humanity can help with finding ways to connect and be truly helpful.
Offer Up Prayers
Trying to minister from so many miles away does have its physical limitations. Thankfully, God knows no boundaries and our prayers can make a big difference.
While the distance makes some things harder, between our prayers and other actions, mission work is entirely possible even from a distance.