The International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention is now recommending that missions volunteers from U.S. churches postpone international missions travel through April 30 in light of the continuing global expansion of the COVID-19 virus (coronavirus).
Today’s recommendation comes from the IMB’s coronavirus task force and senior leadership. The April 30 date could be extended and will be reevaluated by April 15.
IMB also recommends that people who have not yet purchased tickets for future travel wait and monitor continued risks of travel before buying tickets. Individuals with pre-existing conditions or immunocompromised health issues are encouraged not to travel, according to the IMB statement.
The task force, which was formed to monitor the situation and make recommendations on behalf of the global organization, is extending recommendations to churches based on personal health risks, risks of spreading the virus, and the possibility of quarantine or delay by local governments including the U.S.
“We are thankful for the churches that partner with our IMB personnel around the world. The churches and their mission teams are vital to our work,” said IMB President Paul Chitwood. “This is an unusual time for all of us, but we know that God is sovereign and that His work will not be stopped by this virus.”
“This situation is changing moment-by-moment. We just don’t know where a group might be delayed or which countries may not allow international travelers to enter or exit,” said Chitwood. “We’ve already had to cancel several overseas meetings due to sudden travel bans and challenges associated with government-imposed quarantines. This recommendation for delayed mission-trip travel is temporary, but we believe it is necessary at this time.”
The IMB continues to recommend that everyone follow CDC travel guidelines and U.S. State Department guidelines. IMB personnel are not currently traveling to or through CDC level 2 or countries, as well as Hong Kong, according to the IMB statement.
Read more about what is happening with Alabama Baptist student missions teams here.
Read more about how Alabama government officials are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis here.
The Alabama Baptist will continue to follow this rapidly developing and changing story. (IMB, TAB)