Coronavirus Update

With increased fear in our nation owing to the Coronavirus situation we take seriously our commitment to regularly reviewing our current measures and procedures. Whilst not wanting to ‘over-react’, neither must we ‘under-react’ to the challenges presented to us. As a Mission, we seek to honour the Lord in a watching world, ensuring that our ‘conduct is worthy of the gospel of Christ’ (Philippians 1:27a).

Thankfully, the introduction of the ‘tier system’ of restrictions in England hasn’t impeded open-air work. Travel restrictions for these affected areas are ‘guidance’ and not ‘law’ and travel for ‘work purposes’ or ‘charitable services’ are permitted. For these reasons also, the ‘rule of six’ does not apply to us. However, with tension abounding, it is incumbent upon us to carefully follow the Mission’s current measures which are designed to protect the testimony of the gospel we share, our workers and those we come into contact with.

In Wales, the situation is slightly different with travel restrictions forming law. This has meant that our Associate workers, and more recently our Field Operations Manager, haven’t been able to enter/leave areas of increased restrictions to lead open-airs. That has meant some open-air venues could not be visited. However, thankfully, the legislation and accompanying guidance do permit open-airs to continue within affected areas (provided the worker and Registered Supporter are residents of that region). However, this has all been superseded by a national ‘lockdown’ in Wales where people are required by law to ‘stay home’ as much as possible and many sectors in society having to close. With the closure of non-essential retail outlets, we are back to the  situation of March and, therefore, sadly, no open-airs may take place in Wales until these restrictions are lifted.

The recent review meeting identified areas where it is safe and legal for us to ease restrictions. The knowledge of how the virus is spread has increased over recent months and the greater risk is from airborne droplets. In the open-air these risks are minimal, especially with social distancing and hygiene measures. Transmission risks from touched surfaces are now known to be less of a risk than previously thought. Having proceeded cautiously hitherto, we know believe it is time to reintroduce active literature distribution.

Those comfortable with doing so may now offer tracts/leaflets to passers by in order to engage with them. These should be offered to those approaching us, thus giving the person the opportunity to decline if they do not want to engage with us or are nervous about receiving something. As per our hygiene procedures, hand sanitiser should be used at regular intervals and you should avoid handling large bundles of leaflets at any one time. Once literature has been handed over, please ensure social distancing is maintained. Risk assessments are being updated to incorporate these changes to demonstrate our diligence in these matters as a society and also to satisfy our insurance liabilities.

We were also able to adjust our stance on car-sharing (giving lifts to the open-air). Government guidance now permits this but only where it cannot be avoided. Therefore, where a Worker/Registered Supporter cannot reasonably make their own way to the open-air, then car sharing is permitted for one additional household as passengers. This is subject to mitigating measures to protect driver and passengers. OAM guidance to this affect has been issued to our all staff and Associate workers.

We appreciate that some of our measures have been frustrating to some but we hope we have demonstrated that our approach has been prayerful and careful in seeking to be safe and legal. We trust that these new measures in place will greatly facilitate the gospel going forth in our land in a way that is honouring to the Lord and is wise and winsome towards those we meet. As the Apostle Paul encouraged the believers at Colosse, ‘Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving’ (Colossians 4:2a).

22nd October 2020

OAM’s response to local restrictions

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rise in certain areas, we are seeing more local restrictions being imposed on regions. When such restrictions are applied, OAM commit to carefully considering the legislation and accompanying guidance to ascertain whether it is safe and legal to continue street evangelism in such places.

Thankfully, most local restrictions have been designed to keep households apart in settings where they have been mixing without social distancing (namely homes, pubs and restaurants). Such restrictions do not, therefore, impede open-air work in these areas. Our Evangelists, Associate workers and their registered supporters continue to adhere to our social distancing and hygiene procedures when operating in the open-air. For this reason, generally speaking, local restrictions haven’t affected the day-to-day work of the Mission.

However, some local restrictions have been different in that they restrict movement (e.g. not to leave home except for essential purposes). When such restrictions were announced we have responded accordingly. For example, earlier measures in Leicester, meant that it was not wise for our workers in those areas to engage in any open-air activity for the duration of the restrictions.

As a Mission we look at each local restriction on a ‘case-by-case’ basis in order to ascertain whether we can safely and legally continue operations in that area.

More recently, in Caerphilly County and Rhondda Cynnon Taf County Borough, restrictions limit travel to and from these regions, ‘without good reason’. It is, therefore, unwise for our local Associate workers to travel to these regions and lead open-airs. Yet, one Associate worker is resident of Caerphilly County and these local measures do not prevent him working in the open-air within the county.

Throughout this pandemic we have sought to heed the Apostle Paul’s exhortation, ‘Only let you conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ’ (Philippians 1:27a).

Coronavirus Update

Since our last review meeting, we have been encouraged by the opportunities our workers have found in the open-air. Whilst not actively handing out literature (except from a board/table to those who have engaged with us), there have been numerous profitable conversations with those who show a real interest in the gospel message.

The overwhelming feedback we have received is that it is wise to proceed with a slow and measured easing of restrictions, where appropriate. We are grateful to the patience of our Staff Evangelists, Associate workers and supporters and their adherence to current measures.

Whilst we wish to facilitate open-air evangelism we must give due diligence to considering Government legislation and guidance. With increased fear in the community because of a rise in positive cases and more localised restrictions being imposed, it was felt that we could only ease current measures slightly.

Although the Committee continue to recommend in most locations a maximum of four (Evangelist/Associate worker plus three registered supporters), based upon feedback received from our workers, it is recognised that it may be beneficial to increase the size of a team to a maximum of six (i.e. Evangelist/Associate worker plus five registered
supporters) in certain towns/cities. However, each Evangelist/Associate worker must ensure that an open-air venue is suitable to have a larger presence on the street. Social distancing must not be contravened, between team members, passers-by and any queues for shops/branches. Local authorities and the Police can issue fines from
breaching social distancing laws and so our public conduct must not bring our testimony into question. It is for this reason that the Committee recommend in most locations a maximum of four is sufficient.

These changes will come into force on Saturday, 19th September.

Our workers and registered supporters, should only go out into the open-air if they are not displaying any COVID-19 symptoms and are fulfilling the criteria of our risk assessments and insurance responsibilities by adhering to our current guidance and procedures.

A further review meeting is scheduled for Monday, 19th October with representatives from the Staff Evangelists and Committee in attendance.

Despite the frustrations and restrictions, which are currently part-and-parcel of daily life, we rejoice that the gospel continues to go forth on the streets of our nation. We are able to proclaim the sinfulness of sin coupled with God’s love in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ – Who is the key to life. May our conduct in a watching world commend the good news of Jesus and may many come to Him in repentance and faith!

16th September 2020

Annual Supporters’ Day (Online)

Timetable:

11:00am  Annual Supporters’ Day Video streamed on YouTube and on this page.

Reports of the work from each of the Evangelists and ministry by Prof. Andy McIntosh

7:00pm Informal ‘Zoom’ meeting (registration required)

An informal meeting including interviews, testimonies and reports from our workers

To register for the ‘Zoom’ meeting, please click here.

Coronavirus Update

The process of returning our Staff Evangelists and Associate workers to the streets has been slow and measured, giving due diligence to current Government legislation and guidance. Our return to open-air evangelism continues to be prayerful and careful, seeking to be God-honouring in our conduct. In a ‘watching world’ the finger of accusation would readily be pointed at us if our conduct was not deemed to safe and legal. The Lord Jesus reminded those He sent out, ‘Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.’ (Matthew 10:16).

Not only do our measures have a good testimony to maintain in a watching world, as an organisation (bound by Charity and Company law) we have a duty of care towards our workforce. Our workers are not just our Staff Evangelists but also our many Associate workers whose welfare is also our concern.

Throughout this phased-return we have committed to regularly review our measures. The latest such review meeting took place today with feedback received from our Evangelists and several Associate workers. The conclusions reached was that the slow and cautious easing of restrictions should continue, but listening to feedback we feel there is scope to safely and legally make some changes.

From Tuesday, 25th August up to three supporters will be able to join open-airs (still 2 hours in duration). This means a maximum of four can now work as a team (Evangelist/Associate worker plus three supporters). Each supporter must be registered by signing the updated Supporter Training Document, affirming their adherence to the measures in place. These should be returned ASAP for the centrally held register of supporters. Each supporter should travel independently to the open-air, avoiding public transport where possible.

Although we are not in a position to allow tracts/leaflets to be actively distributed during the open-air, there is some scope for movement here also. From Tuesday, 25th August team members will be able to offer appropriate literature to those who have engaged with us (i.e. those who have stopped to listen, talk or browse). Literature should not be held in your hands for long periods, rather picked up and offered from the table or display board. The item of literature should be offered with an extended arm and then retracted as soon as possible so as to ensure social distancing is maintained. Regular hand sanitising (as per existing hygiene protocols) is especially important.

We are grateful for the patience of our Staff Evangelists and Associate workers and their adherence to the measures the Mission has put in place. Adherence is not only necessary to protect our workers, those we come into contact with and the message we proclaim, but also to protect our insurance cover. We have risk assessments in place which demonstrate the steps we have taken to mitigate the risk of transmission. Strict adherence to these ensures that our insurance cover is not invalidated.

It was necessary recently to further restrict one of our workers in Leicester owing to a localised ‘lockdown’. As local restrictions are imposed across the country, we will consult Government guidance and legislation and ascertain whether it is safe and legal for operations to continue. For example, in the North of England additional restrictions have been brought in but these do no prevent our workers from operating in this area.

24th August 2020

Latest Report Video

Our latest report video to keep our supporters and supporting churches up-to-date, is now online. Please feel free to share it with anyone who may find it helpful.