Resonate Global Mission volunteers had been planning to serve throughout the world for months when the coronavirus pandemic hit and halted travel.
“The biggest disappointments have been in canceling trips that have been planned and anticipated for months, and sometimes years. It’s been difficult to see the disappointments and realize that we have no control,” said Lisa Lankheet, who leads Resonate’s volunteer ministries.
Now, many Resonate volunteers are in a season of waiting as they anticipate serving in the future—but they are trusting God’s plans and have hope. Here are a few of their stories.
Cancelled at the Eleventh Hour
Shania Pol’s volunteer trip to Nicaragua was cancelled mere hours before she was scheduled to take-off, but she’s hopeful for another opportunity to serve in the future.
“I have been wanting to do a volunteer ministry trip since I graduated highschool in 2013, but ended up going to college instead and life got in the way of my dream,” said Shania.
Turns out God had plans to use her education and skills for her service. Shania studied education and works with students who have special needs. After years of dreaming, Shania connected with Resonate and found the perfect volunteer opportunity that utilized her experience. Resonate connected her with Tesoros de Dios, a ministry partner in Nicaragua that supports students with special needs.
“When I saw that Resonate had opportunities to volunteer with kids with special needs, I was very excited,” said Shania. “I always knew I wanted to volunteer somewhere, but I was so excited that I could use my previous knowledge and experience from my career to help ... they were excited to put me to work in their school.”
Shania was packed and ready to go when she got the news it was canceled due to COVID-19. While she was disappointed, she hopes that she’ll be able to volunteer with Tesoros de Dios in the future—and she may even be able to spend more time in Nicaragua.
“It is still my dream to go to Nicaragua and meet the children at Tesoros de Dios and volunteer there,” said Shania.
Ministry Continues Despite Changed Plans
A team of high school students and adult leaders from Ann Arbor CRC in Michigan had been preparing for months to visit Jim and Ruth Padilla DeBorst, Resonate missionaries that the church supports and partners with in Costa Rica. Their trip is delayed, but not the learning opportunity. They continue to learn about mission right at home in the United States.
Bill Vander Roest, a long-time member of Ann Arbor CRC and one of the volunteer group’s leaders, said they were excited to see Resonate’s ministry in Costa Rica firsthand. The church sends high school students on international mission trips every three or four years so students can learn about critical global issues, build deeper relationships with God and creation, increase cultural awareness, and more.
“It gives our students a real chance to experience what life as a missionary is like,” said Bill.
While they weren’t able to visit Jim, Ruth, and the community at Casa Adobe—an intentional Christian community where Jim and Ruth serve and work—the group has continued learning about the ministry and praying for the missionaries and the people they minister with.
And the team has hope for a visit in the future: the team has rescheduled their volunteer trip for August 2021. They’ll even have a few new faces joining the team. “We also invited our incoming freshmen to join,” said Bill.
God’s Perfect Timing
Matt Beukema was scheduled to leave in June 2020 to serve with the New Horizons Foundation in Romania. When borders closed, Matt’s plans for the next few years of his life were put on hold—but he’s seeing God at work in the extra time he’s been given before leaving for ministry on the field.
“A bit disappointing to put it on hold, but it was the right thing to do,” said Matt. The delay has given him more time to prepare and build a support network of churches, individuals, and families who want to partner with him and his ministry. And while the coronavirus pandemic has caused uncertainty about timing and when Matt can leave for the field, he still feels confident that he’s called to serve.
“Volunteering matters to me because, especially at New Horizons, it puts together so many things I care deeply about or have a talent for,” said Matt.
A Resonate ministry partner, the New Horizons Foundation works primarily with young adults in low-income areas of Romania. When cleared to travel, Matt will be working on one of the ministry’s latest ventures—developing ecotourism, especially with mountain biking.
“I’ll be building trails, expanding and maintaining a website with information on local adventure opportunities, and mentoring a local high school mountain bike team,” said Matt. “I’ll also be part of developing an ecotourism course for local high schools.”
These efforts are just one of the many ways ministries like the New Horizons Foundation can partner with people and build relationships to see communities thrive—and Matt is looking forward to joining in God’s mission there.
A Season of Waiting
“We keep reminding ourselves that God is faithful!” said Lisa. “God knew this would happen long before we did. We now need to look for other opportunities that God may be opening up to us during the waiting season.”
“I think that God is at work in ways we don't even see yet,” added Gillian Bruce, Resonate’s group coordinator for volunteer ministries. “My hope is that we all seek to serve the Lord wherever we are because that is what we are called to do. And, of course, that we are soon able to meet with our brothers and sisters around the world to learn, to serve and support the work of mission, to encourage and be encouraged, so that Christ is glorified!
"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!" Psalm 27:14