NEWTON, Kansas (Mennonite Mission Network) – Jason Boone, coordinating minister for Mennonite Mission Network's Peace and Justice Support Network (PJSN), woke up Mar. 17 with the COVID-19 pandemic heavy on his heart. He sensed a call for Mission Network to provide a new ministry of hope during harrowing times that could connect people of faith who are isolated from public worship and work.
Quickly, he sent a round of e-mails to his colleagues, who resonated with his feelings. Together, they envisioned a new digital ministry initiative. Within hours, they began developing a new live-streaming Hope Series. The series will launch its first episode Monday, Mar. 23, at 1 p.m. ET, with a daily prayer time.
Soon to be added to the 1 p.m. daily prayers will be 15- to 20-minute devotionals on Wednesdays that focus on Jesus as healer, led by Joe Sawatzky, Church Relations representative for Mission Network. On Thursdays, video stories of hope from Mission Network's mission workers and partners will also be provided. Make sure to like us on Facebook at @MennoniteMissionNet and keep your eyes on that page at the times mentioned above for our live broadcasts!
"As coworkers, we discerned a need to respond differently in these social-distancing times," Boone said. "Our hope in using social media is that we make a space in which we can grow closer to God, create community, and love our neighbors even within our isolation."
In these dehumanizing times, Boone continued, the Hope Series wants to inspire our recognition of, and participation in, our common humanity. "Even though it looks like things are falling apart, we want to acknowledge, together, that God, a higher power above this virus, is present with us in this moment – both in our church and beyond," Boone said.
The series will strive to help people take a break from the news, a break from work, a break from being a caretaker or homeschooler, he said. "Whether we like it or not, our lives our different now, but they don't have to be different in an utterly lonely way."
Other Mission Network leaders, including Stanley W. Green, Mission Network's executive director, are affirming this new ministry. They believe it dovetails with the mission agency's call to care for all of God's creation during a time when communities are reeling from crisis.
"We are pondering the question, "What is the missional opportunity for every follower of Jesus in this crisis?" Green said. "How can we serve our immediate neighbors and global neighbors, using digital platforms, and share the love of Christ with many living with fear and isolation."
Sandy Miller, Mission Network's senior executive for Resourcing and Mobilization, is deeply grateful for staff members who are creating new platforms.
"We want to explore what it means to be an Anabaptist Christian in these new times," she said. "For example, we are not going to know the needs of our neighbors unless we are willing to check in on them. The online resource will help nurture us so we can nurture others."