Part of the Send Me Now team assigned to the Mission Centers of Houston. CLARISSA MORRISON/Special
Amidst uncertainty and changes as a result of COVID-19, the first Send Me Now missionaries of the year left for their assignments this week. Send Me Now is collegiate missions sponsored by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
Clarissa Morrison, the statewide Collegiate Missions consultant for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, coordinates the Send Me Now efforts. Morrison said originally there were 132 participants in Send Me Now before the pandemic impacted the program. This year, 75 students will be assigned to a variety of locations across the nation. The commissioning service took place online May 16.
Missions continue on
Morrison said many projects were canceled, but others opened more slots that would allow for more students to serve in those locations. Morrison said most of the assignments had been made in January of this year. As COVID-19 spread, most of the projects started to cancel or change. All camp-related assignments and international trips were canceled, with about 35 locations still available.
“It’s an ongoing process right now, and our students have been very patient,” Morrison said. “Students’ availability has changed. Some are working now because of their parents’ financial situation. Others have more availability.”
Morrison said travel arrangements for students have been an interesting and constantly moving target. Many of the COVID-19 guidelines are different across state lines, creating another element Morrison continues to work through. As an example, Morrison offered a project planned in Alaska, but there is potentially still a guideline that requires all out-of-staters to quarantine for two weeks after they land.
For the first summer missionaries, however, the guidelines are not as strict. Nine students flew out Monday and Tuesday and are divided between assignments in Lake Tahoe, CA, and Houston, TX.
Zoi Suddreth, a rising junior at Georgia State University, said this is her first year participating in the program. Suddreth will be serving in Houston at the Mission Centers of Houston. Suddreth attends B One Church in Fayetteville, Ga. She said God provided the way financially this year.
“At the end of the summer, I would hope to know that I went to a place where I was able to serve,” Suddreth said. “I’m thinking about doing missions after I graduate, and this is a good way for me to put my toe in the water. This is my first mission trip longer than a week.”
The Send Me Now missionaries stay in their assignments anywhere from two to eight weeks, depending on their locations. As with most businesses and organizations, COVID-19 impacted many of the Send Me Now mission locations.
“This was not my original mission trip,” Suddreth said. “I was doing to do disaster relief in the Bahamas, and that’s what I was preparing and praying for, but that was one of the last locations to be canceled. That threw a kink in things. Houston opened up, and I prayed about it. I felt God leading me there.”
Suddreth gave credit to Morrison for working with all the moving pieces of Send Me Now and COVID-19. “It’s been chaotic, but Clarissa has been doing an amazing job,” Suddreth said. “She’s been finding places for those who still wanted to go, and her hard work has not gone unnoticed.”
Daniella Imgrund, a rising senior at the University of Georgia, said she’s excited to work with the Houston community, the food pantry, homeless population, and children’s programs. Imgrund is studying health promotion.
“I hope to come back with a deeper relationship with God and see all of the ways he can work in people,” Imgrund said.
Not all of the students are from Georgia. Morrison said the program is for students active in their church or Baptist Collegiate Ministry on campus.
Lashonta Joe is a Florida resident, but she attends Valdosta State University as a senior. She’s a member of the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Gordonsville, Fl. Her hope for her Send Me Now experience is to grow more vocal in sharing her faith and not shy away from gospel conversations.
Asking for continued prayers
Each of the students shared prayer requests for their summers. They asked that people continue to pray for safety as they travel and for the virus concerns. In addition, they ask for opportunities to spread the gospel and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Morrison added an additional prayer request.
“Even though they may not be exactly where they thought they were going to be, I hope that their eyes would be open, and they would see God at work and join Him in that work. My hope is at the end of the summer their hearts will be so full, they’ll come back to campus, and, from that overflow, they will see God at work on their campus and join Him there.”
For a list of students participating, you can find the prayer guide below.