The Impact of COVID on ORU Missions & Outreach

What are the next steps for Missions and Outreach in the new world?

Mea Molnar, Staff Writer

The Friday before spring break 2020, the fast-paced spread of COVID-19 saw college students leaving campuses and businesses closing their doors across the United States.

Although Augustine and Allie Mendoza, co-directors of Missions and Outreach at Oral Roberts University, were quite shocked by the increasing changes, they quickly prepared for the course of action they needed to take. Across the globe, contacts for Missions were warning Augustine to not come.

“Worldwide, missions have been greatly impacted by Coronavirus,” Augustine says. “Everything, including short-term missions, has forever changed. However, despite missions changing drastically, it has become a good thing. It has given worldwide mission organizations time to breathe and reconsider how the process can be changed.”

This year, Missions and Outreach is planning spring and summer trips. Vaccines and personal health are becoming important factors to consider when deciding whether to go on or be involved with missions, ORU officials say

Augustine believes vaccinations will be more on the front end of conversations, especially for international travel, in the future.

At this time, vaccination requirements depend on the details of each missions trip. Additional COVID regulations for Missions will be on a case-by-case basis, ORU officials say.

“People must decide, ‘Am I willing to not only commit to finances and getting outside of the comfort zone, but am I going to put my health out there and how am I impacting others’ health?’” Augustine says. “Most people did not think about that two years ago; it was a foreign concept and now it is the first thought. They would travel and not once think about being unhealthy or transmitting disease to someone else.”

ORU has delayed mission trips since spring 2020.

“We expect to see gratitude and investment grow within our students and the opportunity to go will not be taken for granted,” says Augustine. “The process will be a humbling growth opportunity, and if a student ever wanted to be more like Jesus, they should go on missions this year because the student will be stretched in several diverse ways. However, in the most stretching seasons we see God do the most incredible things.”

Spring and summer mission trips are broken into two- and four-week intervals, from May 8 to May 22 and May 8 to June 5, according to university officials.

International destinations for two-week summer missions include Greece, Germany, Dominican Republic, Croatia, Italy, Panama, Peru, Romania, Scotland and Guatemala. With additional two-week national destinations encompassing Atlanta, Georgia, Osgood, Indiana and Wilmington, Delaware. Four-week international summer missions will head to Paraguay, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Brazil, and the UK. This year, spring missions are not being offered.

“If a student is interested in Missions and Outreach, they should not discount themselves due to qualifications, jobs, finances, or other circumstances,” says Allie Mendoza. “God will work through these. Missions is a lifelong commitment to Jesus, which starts here and now in the process of saying ‘yes’ to the calling. Do not give God a ‘no,’ when God wants a ‘yes!’”

For students who may have accommodation needs, are COVID-conscious or want to serve more frequently, ORU offers more than eight weekly outreaches within the Tulsa area. These opportunities include adults with special needs, soccer outreaches, afterschool programs, dinner with the homeless, and more. Outreaches run late afternoon Monday through Friday and are free to students.

Students can find information about Missions and Outreach through the ORU student app, ORU Missions Instagram or Tik Tok platforms, and ORUmissions.com.