LAKELAND, Fla. – Amidst the global pandemic, the missions department at Southeastern University has had to be more flexible than ever before. Typically leading trips internationally, students have learned to see the value and significance of local and domestic missions this year. In addition, they have been inspired to put a greater focus on giving globally.
“With COVID-19, our students have learned to be prepared for sudden changes and cancellations and to just be available to go wherever they can,” said SEU Missions director Ezra Nehemiah. “Our students have responded so well! They want to serve this nation at any capacity, so when things don’t look exactly like what they thought it would, they still continue to move forward.”
The first week of March, over 130 students making up a total of 50 teams dedicated their spring break to serving numerous cities across the U.S. Teams worked with a variety of establishments, such as growing church plants with the Church Multiplication Network, Youth With A Mission (YWAM) bases and Dream Centers. In serving these organizations, students did everything from service projects to direct ministry. They volunteered in food banks, packaged and distributed essential care items for local families, aided in leading church services and prayer nights, and renovated church buildings.
The missions department also accounted for each team’s safety by practicing precautions before and during the trips. Every student attending a trip was tested for COVID-19 72 hours prior to departure. During the trip, students engaged in daily temperature and symptom monitoring, as well as consistently wearing their masks and social distancing. Students were equipped with COVID kits and preparedness plans to account for all possibilities.
“What’s been great about having only domestic trips is we’ve been able to give even more money to foreign missions as the trips themselves are not as expensive,” said Nehemiah.
The SEU Missions department divided the entire globe into 25 regions and assigned every region a sponsor of two teams each. Individual teams were then responsible for fundraising $5,000, an amount that was built in or included within their original budget and trip cost. This allowed for each region to receive $10,000, adding up to a global total of $250,000. Already sending out $148,000 overseas, they are well on their way to having the full amount donated by the summer.
Nehemiah said, “We have been able to give the most we ever have as a missions department.”
When it came to who the donation went to overseas, Nehemiah gave the students a chance to research and establish their own relationships with missionaries and churches in need. In addition, some students were given choices between existing connections the missions department had already established.
Some recipients included the persecuted, underground churches in Afghanistan and Central Asia, a Lebanon church decimated by the explosion in Beirut and a medical boat ministry that distributes medical supplies in Congo.
“It has been very challenging this year with COVID-19, but it’s really given us the chance to help lead America to encounter God and truly see who He is,” said Nehemiah.