This week we hear from Outreach Canada in our missionary series. Even if you don't know exactly what Outreach Canada is, you probably know Craig Kraft, Phil Cox, or Rick Burdett, and all of these men are part of the Outreach Canada team. Please read on to learn how Outreach Canada and their missionaries have been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is your current location and mission work?
Craig, Rick, and Phil serve on the Research and Resources team for Outreach Canada and they all work out of our main office in Delta, BC. The Outreach Canada office in Delta is the administrative hub for our team of over one hundred missionaries and chaplains. Approximately one third of our team are full-time missionaries in Canada, one third are part-time or bi-vocational, and the final third is made up of part-time missionaries who serve as corporate chaplains or as part of our seasonal ministries. We also have over twenty missionary associates who serve overseas but require finances and administrative support from Canada.
Outreach Canada is a family of ministries that are focused on discipling our nation and serving our Christian leaders. Most of our ministry is focused in Canada. We have workplace chaplains who take the gospel into the marketplace and build relationships with people who have no other connections with the gospel or a Christian church. Part of our team focuses on discipleship and missions mobilization with tools like the Kairos Course which is now being presented in every province and in seven languages. We have a team that has developed a partnership to provide member care for Canadian missionaries and their families. This partnership includes FEB International and over thirty other mission sending organizations. Many are too small to provide all of the resources required by their missionaries but by working together we are able to share resources and build effective partnerships. We also have ministry partnerships in Canada that focus on ministry with ethnic congregations, ministry to Sikhs and Muslims, student ministry, church planting through Disciple Making Movements, and ministry coaching for churches and pastors.
In addition to our Canadian ministries, we participate in a global alliance and share our people and resources with our partners around the world as needed and requested. Craig currently serves as the moderator of the OC Global Alliance (approximately 1,100 international missionaries serving in over 100 nations).
Craig, Rick, and Phil are vital to the ministry of Outreach Canada and the Global Alliance as they provide administrative, financial, legal, and structural support for the ministry teams and provide mentoring and coaching to leaders within and outside of the organization.
How is God working in and through Outreach Canada during this unique and challenging season?
Most of the OC team works remotely so this has helped us navigate the transition to working virtually. COVID-19 has caused us to cancel all of our events for most of the year. We have been finding new ways to provide training events online, provide virtual camps for missionary families, and connect with ministry partners in creative ways.
We would like to share two unexpected blessings of COVID-19:
1. God is working through this pandemic, in Canada and around the world. Our missionaries are finding more opportunities to share the gospel with individuals during this time of global uncertainty. We are seeing this happen locally and around the world as people are looking for hope.
2. We have been providing the Kairos course (missional discipleship) for about five years. In that time, over 5000 people have taken the course in Canada. In June, we provided the course for the first time in an online format. The course went well and we will now be able to add that option for people who are not located in one of Canada's major cities. We already have dozens of people signing up for our next set of virtual classes. People who participate in this course become more deeply grounded in their faith and it helps them to become more missional in the way they live their lives. This is one of the ways that we are helping to disciple our nation.
How has Outreach Canada been impacted by COVID-19?
We have provided part of our answer in the previous question, but COVID has had a very physical impact on our team and our alliance. Many of our global partners have been hit hard by the pandemic. We have lost almost 150 church leaders in our association in one predominantly Muslim country. We have had a few partners die in India and one in Spain. The disease has hurt a lot of people that we work closely with and that affects us.
Our office has remained closed since March. There are four local employees who rotate through our office from day to day, practicing safe social distancing and dealing with the things that must get done.
We have seen a decline in donations. Some people have had to reduce their giving and we have lost the income from many of the conferences and events that we would normally be hosting. In response to the crisis, we have had to lay off two individuals and reduce the hours for many of our support team personnel to keep our accounts balanced. As the pandemic and subsequent restrictions carry on it becomes more challenging and many of our missionaries are experiencing emotional fatigue, financial stress, and frustration as they do not know how to plan for the future. Craig and Rick have been providing a lot of pastoral care for our team and for some of our international leaders.
During this time we have also experienced a much higher volume of cyber threats to our ministry and our data. Phil has been working hard to keep our team and our valuable information safe from local and international threats.
How can we pray for Outreach Canada?
Specifically, we would appreciate SDBC's prayers for Rick and his family as he recovers from open-heart surgery. He will be recovering for the next few months. We have countless prayer requests but I will share three that will cover a lot of our needs.
1. Please pray that our missionaries would feel encouraged. Missionaries sacrifice a lot to serve the Lord in this way and we are currently experiencing a lot of frustration and discouragement. Please pray that we would see little victories, that we would experience the presence and blessing of the Holy Spirit in our work. Pray that we would find sources of refreshment for our minds, bodies, and souls.
2. Pray for our executive team who carry most of the burden for keeping the mission running with reduced income and additional work. Everything seems to take more time and energy during this crisis, and all of the SDBC missionaries at OC are burning the midnight oil to keep up.
3. Pray that we would respond well when God provides opportunities for us to share the gospel, love a neighbour, or be a good friend. Sometimes we get so busy we miss the opportunities, other times we don't feel like we have time to respond to a need. Pray that we will be fully present in the lives of people around us and that we will radiate the love of Jesus Christ.
Please remember Craig, Rick, Phil, and the whole Outreach Canada team in your prayers.