Originally Posted 30 October 2020; Revised 21 December 2020
Following government announcements over the weekend and the introduction of Tier 4 restrictions in many parts of the UK, GEM UK continues to encourage strict adherence to local and national guidelines and lockdowns.
Dear missionaries, partners and supporters of Greater Europe Mission UK,
The UK Government’s latest announcements about Coronavirus restrictions, the three-tier system, have now been in effect since Wednesday, the 13th of October 2020. The following message is meant to provide guidance to how these changes effects GEM UK’s family and our ministry here in the UK.
GEM UK’s guidance to partners and missionaries first sent on 3 July 2020 still stands. You can view this guidance on our website. We want to reiterate that missionaries are directed to obey UK laws governing coronavirus restrictions and to follow the direction provided by their local partner. Should either a GEM UK missionary or one of our partners encounter an issue with adherence to coronavirus safety guidelines within the workplace, we encourage them to speak to their manager or the missionary in question and with their local GEM UK area leader.
To our missionaries
The three tiers of medium, high and very high are new local COVID alert levels within England. These tiers provide predetermined information about what is and is not permissible in a local area under one of these three alerts. The UK Government has provided an online guide to the alert levels and what activities are permissible that can be viewed here. The UK Government has also provided a postcode checker on GOV.UK that shows which alert levels apply for a specific area. Missionaries are encouraged to use this checker for their own postcodes and the postcodes of locations where they may be working or visiting. It is important to do this regularly to ensure you know what the restrictions are as they change over the coming days, weeks, and likely months.
There are different restrictions at work in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Local lockdowns are in force in different counties and cities in each of the four nations of the UK. Northern Ireland and Wales for instance have already implemented nationwide lockdowns. Missionaries are encouraged to stay informed of national restrictions and changes to restrictions via government websites. Please continue to lean into your relationship with your area leader in order to keep them updated on how things are with you, your ministry, and family.
We appreciate that for many of our missionaries, the past few weeks and months have been incredibly difficult. We all love the communities in which we serve—God calls us to nothing less—and we wish to see them become fruitful places where living waters flow. However, it’s easy to lose sight of this vision, especially in the midst of stress and the fatigue that accompanies it. Our word to you now is to continue to follow the rules and to honour the countries in which we serve by following even the spirit of the law. Or as Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
For newly arrived missionaries in the UK, you are beginning a transition and settling process, and our prayers are with you. Change is often hard and at times causes stress. We are so encouraged by your faithfulness and willingness to push through and get to the field amidst a set of unique challenges. The mandatory 14-day quarantine and the every-day restrictions on interactions with people will make your next few weeks and months more difficult. Please do remember that while we might not be able to welcome you in person, that we still do care for you. Our bond of friendship, of being a family of faith, and of shared ministry are no lesser because of all that is going on around us. You are in our hearts and in our prayers!
GEM gatherings and events meant to encourage and support you, like cluster meetings and field retreat, will happen either virtually or in small numbers and in limited contexts. Our goal is to face these challenges with you head on. Our hope and confidence in our Heavenly Father, the One who has called us to service in His kingdom here and now, will not be frustrated. Keep in prayer, keep in contact, keep the faith.
To our partners
After the initial excitement of the new season in September, many churches throughout the UK have had to grapple with the realities of tighter restrictions and, for many, local lockdowns. All of GEM UK stands together with you at this time as we mourn and lament the darkness of the days in which we live. We pray for relief from the fear, pain and despair that many have felt or indeed feel now. Hopelessness will not grip our communities. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5 NIV)
Just as our Lord instructed us, we continue to pray that His “kingdom come.” We rejoice that in many places the Gospel is widely proclaimed each Sunday online. We thank God for Alpha courses and small groups that are meeting together via digital platforms. We are thankful that though the pandemic has kept us physically distanced from each other we’ve pulled closer spiritually and taken steps to care for each other well. Few if any of us have it figured out, but all of us have experienced God’s faithfulness. We, GEM UK, are with you in prayer, in friendship, and in Christ.
Posted 3 July 2020
To the missionaries, partners and supporters of Greater Europe Mission UK:
It is with cautious hope that many churches are now considering re-opening as lockdown measures are incrementally lifted across the four nations of the United Kingdom. Many church leaders and missionaries have continued their work during this period by digital means, opting for virtual gatherings and discipleship. Others have shouldered the necessary work that has continued during the pandemic, including conducting funerals and maintaining key support services, such as food banks. We are thankful for each of you, both for your flexibility and for your continued dedication to the Gospel.
The Coronavirus pandemic has touched us all to some extent: some of us in irrevocable and painful ways, and together we mourn these losses. We continue to pray for believers and churches across the country and for the unstoppable spread of the Good News of Jesus. We have seen God at work and we are thankful for His continued presence with us.
The model for GEM’s work in the UK is based on partnerships with local churches and organisations. We exist to serve, encourage and exhort; Jesus’ servanthood is a personal model for each of us as well as for our organisation. Over the past six years we’ve been witnesses to the fruit that is a result of our work together. This spirit of partnership has continued during the pandemic and it will continue as churches begin to re-open.
As lockdown measures are lifted, we want to directly address our missionaries, their partner churches and our mission as a whole.
To our missionaries
Firstly, as our partners re-open, we want to encourage you to return to in-person work. Your return to this work is governed by your partner and you should have explicit direction from them as to when in-person work will resume and what form and what any corresponding alterations your work will take. Your responsibility is to your local partner and you should follow all direction provided by them, especially where risk mitigation to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus is concerned.
Your safety and the safety of the general public is paramount to our work. In our witness as representatives of Jesus to the world, we want to show regard and respect not only for our spiritual needs, but for our physical and social needs. If at any point in the course of your work you feel that you, your family or the general public are at risk of the spread of Coronavirus due to lack of adequate risk mitigation or the routine neglect of mitigation factors, we strongly encourage you to (1) raise the issue with your immediate supervisor at your partner church and (2) raise the issue with your GEM area leader.
To our partners:
Our partnership together is one built on mutual trust and fellowship as brothers and sisters in Christ. We have confidence that, in the same spirit of good will towards all and in our ambassadorship on behalf of Jesus to the world, you as our partners will take steps to mitigate risk of the spread of Coronavirus in the work of GEM missionaries and will strive to ensure that mitigation factors are implemented by all staff, volunteers, congregants and members of the general public who frequent your premises or programmes.
The safety of those within your social reach is our priority. If at any point you observe your GEM missionary to routinely ignore steps implemented by your church or organisation to mitigate the risk of the spread of Coronavirus or to ignore government rules or guidance for individuals and families to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, we strongly encourage you to (1) raise the issue with your GEM missionary and (2) raise the issue with your GEM missionary’s area leader.
The words of the Apostle Paul express our sentiments towards both our missionaries and our partners:
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.Colossians 1:9–14
Chair of the Board of Trustees
Greater Europe Mission UK
Posted the 27 April 2020
In light of the current situation in Europe and related travel advisories and restrictions, we have postponed all short-term teams and internships through June, 2020. Additionally, we are recommending postponement of most short-term teams and internships in July. We are also freezing the deployment of any long-term missionaries through the 1st of June. We will continue to monitor the situation for late summer and fall, but we’re asking that our missionaries and staff delay their travel plans until mid-May if possible and wait for further instructions.
As to the full-time missionaries and short-term workers currently serving in Europe, we have recalled most of the short-term workers, with permission given for all to return if they deem it prudent. We have continually communicated to our full-time workers permission to use their own judgement concerning their ministries, work hours, travel and their health.
Out of care and respect for all of our missionaries and partners, we are exercising abundant caution and closely monitoring the situation as it evolves. Please continue to check our website for the latest information as we intend to update this statement regularly.
For all questions concerning GEM UK’s response to the Coronavirus situation email Andy Hodson – ahodson@GEMission.org.uk