On Tuesday, 17th March, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee took the difficult decision to suspended all our activities in the open-air. Recognising the risks, we sought to:
• Protect our workers.
• Protect those we come into contact with.
• Protect the testimony of the Mission.
We are pleased to report that tentative steps are being taken to return our Staff Evangelists to the streets. Having interpreted Government legislation and guidance, sought legal advice, and consulted with various Police Forces, the Committee have agreed a timetable for a careful return to the open-air. New social distancing and hygiene procedures have been put in place to mitigate the risks so that we can continue to protect our workers, those we come into contact with and the testimony of the Mission. We heed the exhortation of the Apostle Paul, ‘Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ’ (Philippians 1:27).
Whilst we are excited about the prospect of sharing the gospel once more on the streets the return will be limited.
Initially, only Staff Evangelists in England will be returned to the streets from Monday, 22nd June (other areas will be reviewed in line with restrictions being eased by devolved administrations). The duration of each open-air will be restricted and each Staff Evangelist will be accompanied by just one, locally based, supporter. Only a limited range of literature will be available to enquirers. There will be no distribution of tracts/leaflets at this stage.
This restrictive approach is in line with Government guidance and is important to facilitate a slow and measured return to the streets. Strategic reviews will take place at regular intervals and will asses these measures.
Unfortunately, we cannot permit our Associate workers to return to the streets at this stage, nor other supporters. However, we hope that following various reviews and further easing of restrictions, we will have more clarity as to when we can expand the work.
Our return to the streets must be careful and prayerful. We have sought to be diligent in our planning and preparation, but we must also be diligent in our praying. Please join with us in praying for this phased return that we might be God-honouring in all that we do and winsome in communicating the good news in our needy land. ‘Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving’ (Colossians 4:2).