The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the short-term travel model of mission engagement, along with so many other things in life. Nevertheless, that has not stopped local and regional UMVIM Coordinators from continuing to forge mission connections. With travel off the table, though, those connections look different. One model for continuing those connections is the "virtual mission trip."
UMVIM-NCJ has this resource page on virtual missions. The model they are promoting involves hour-long virtual conversations among mission partners for five days that aim to help participants "learn, explore, connect, and partner."
The UMVIM-NCJ resource page has four potential host partners for virtual missions (two domestic and two international), a list of suggested roles for church participants, and a sample schedule.
There is a fundraising component to support the on-going work of partner organizations (which are still doing ministry, often with increased demand and fewer resources). Yet the virtual mission trip goes beyond just a fundraiser to facilitate more extensive learning and interaction among partners.
While the idea of a virtual mission trip may seem strange to many, this is an interesting model for two reasons: First, as a response to the current pandemic that still facilitates global mission, it is an interesting short-term alternative. And second, given the critiques of some short-term mission practices as forms of helping that can hurt, it will be interesting to see if this virtual model, which is focused more on relationship-building, will be an attractive long-term model as well.