During the months of quarantine, not only were people isolated, but many also lost their jobs. Unemployment claims spiked. People who had never visited a food bank found themselves in line, and awareness of the importance of frontline workers grew. The need for ministry grew at the very time people were told to stay home. It was a dilemma for those who wanted to help.
As things are adjusting to the new normal of masks and social distancing, the need for ministry continues. Yet you may wonder, how do I engage in ministry in safe and productive ways? Wearing a mask, washing your hands, and watching your distance are still key ways to protecting yourself and others. Taking these steps communicates your concern. It is OK to explain you are taking precautions because you care. Here are some specific ways to do that:
HELP JOB SEEKERS
As businesses reopen and some people return to work, many others are starting over. Previous jobs may be nonexistent or businesses may now operate on a smaller scale with less staff. This is a key ministry opportunity. Help neighbors and friends with job applications, résumés, and the job-seeking process. And get other to help you, too, if you can. Are there retired businesspeople or teachers in your church? Ask them to help with preparing résumés and coaching people in their job search with appropriate social distancing in person or via video chat.
CONNECT WITH THE ISOLATED
Most long-term care facilities have been closed to visitors for months. Yet resident of these facilities still need contact with family and friends. Find out how you can assist with bringing family to visit through social media. When visitors are allowed, go in person. Play the piano in a sitting room or take recorded music of favorite songs. You can take recorded music room to room, stand at the door of a room to play the music, and then talk with each resident from a distance.
BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR
Home repairs can be a great help to those who have limited income because of job loss. Not every homeowner has the skills or equipment to make repairs. Survey your neighborhood and learn about needs. When a project has been selected, enlist some helpers from your church and organize a team, gather equipment and supplies, and set a date to work. Travel separately and meet at the worksite. Be sure to bring hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Do not share tools unless necessary. Use wipes to clean handles and surfaces. Wear masks and gloves. Bring your own lunch and beverages. Go prepared to share the gospel. Maintain at least 6 feet of separation during conversations. Insist anyone who is sick stay home. Don’t put the ministry or team at risk.
VOLUNTEER TO HELP MEET BASIC NEEDS
Ministries such as food pantries, clothing closets, and Baptist centers need volunteers. Learn about the precautions being taken at the ministry site you volunteer with, and be a good example of following them for the sake of others as well as yourself.
As stores, restaurants, and other places have reopened, health precautions have tended to relax. Be wise and show concern for others by continuing to practice the simple things that help keep you and others safe. You want to spread the gospel, not a virus!
Joy Bolton is the WMU churchwide and associational lead strategist for national WMU.