The world was hit hard by a global pandemic that changed our normal modus operandi. Businesses closed doors, schools had to dismiss students before summer, families had to quarantine themselves from the rest of the world. Never before in a highly connected and globalized world did we have to reinvent ourselves and try to find solutions to unanticipated problems as we had in 2020.
Here at World Nations International we quickly decided to adopt a strategy to connect on a weekly basis with our leaders from all regions of the world. Leaders involved in projects in Asia, Africa, South America and Europe. I want to share with you what we have done and how much it has helped us to be more connected and focused in our mission during this time of global crisis.
A) Rescuing the why
Because of the highly uncertain global scenario that we are living in, new solutions were required. Our leadership quickly decided to create a strategic and collaborative virtual meeting every week focused on prayer.
During the first few weeks of quarantine we really thought that the situation would be under control quickly and it would affect our agenda at maximum the next 3 months. Deciding to connect on a weekly video call gathering our leaders from all over the world was initially more for the sake of staying connected online since most of our in person meetings were pending at this point. Later on, we discovered that our entire annual agenda would be affected and therefore, cancelled and postponed to 2021. Usually our management meetings are more clustered by region or by specific project and its members. If we wanted to talk about the See Change Brazil project that involves church planting and social initiatives with kids in poor communities in Northeast Brazil, the meeting would just involve a few actors and leaders from this specific project. However, during this time of Covid 19, we had to innovate and suggest a new weekly video call meeting gathering people from different regions of the world, involved in different projects and with the most diverse professional background.
After 6 weeks of weekly video call meetings we realized that a global health crisis was really being installed and consequently our entire logistics, mission trips planning and projects were suffering directly and indirectly from it. The world was chaotic and consequently everything was very shaky.
The question that hit us hard was: What to do in times of so much uncertainty? Everything that we do involves people, transportation, resources and training, lots of training. Now what?
First thought: We need to preserve what we already do. In times of storms we really want to protect ourselves. Our first strategy adopted was to reaffirm the core values and rescue the “why we love what we do”. In our case, our mission is to fight hunger and poverty through sustainable agriculture, healthcare access and businesses solutions as platforms to reach the lost and neglected of the world. Why do we really do that? Because that is what we are called to do. The circumstances can and will change, but what we do and the mission that we are committed to will not change. Your conviction will be tested in times of crisis and you have to hold on to what you believe most.
Not surprisingly, what is required when circumstances change is a different approach and a sharp strategy through how you will accomplish your goals. After weeks gathering together and updating our own team with each other's projects, vision and goals we understood once again our mission. Our “why” was clear again. Individually, each one of our project leaders and corporately all of us felt connected to the big “why”. We used the challenge of a global pandemic as an opportunity to reaffirm our own sense of mission and purpose.
Because of the health crisis, we decided to invest more time and energy in cultivating food at our mission training center in Indonesia. We discussed ways to improve soil fertility, strategies to retain rain water, types of crops that we wanted to sow. We came up with new social activities to provide food and hope to families suffering with lack of food and struggling with unemployment in different parts of the world during this season. We are providing basic hygiene kits and biblical literature to kids in poor communities in Brazil. We multiplied our efforts.
As we decided to reaffirm our “why” as a mission organization we had to dive deep into taking action to move our mission forward even with all limitations being imposed. Our circumstances changed. We had to adapt and innovate. But our mission still remains the same. We know our own “why” and with that we can move forward.
B) Slowly but surely. We will be known by our consistent hard work
As we decided to stay focused in our mission we also understood that in times of crises new opportunities will pop up and we have to discern which direction to go. What has always been our understanding here at World Nations is that we are a mission-driven organization and the mission itself will filter and direct our activities, projects, initiatives and guide our path. The weekly meetings were a reminder to stay rooted in the mission that we are called to and also an opportunity to maintain consistency in delivering the results that we have promised to our mission's partners and friends. Through these past few months we have applied ourselves consistently in improving our systems and also to utilize the resources that we have available despite all the barriers. One of the strategies we adopted is called "bending the curve" where you use the same or less amount of resources available to produce the same results with even better quality.
The main questions that we asked our team were:
What can we do that will use the same amount of resources and improve results?
Where are the main areas that we need to improve that with the same or less investment of time and funds will provide more quality in what we do?
How can we maintain what we already have and still branch out to show consistency in our mission work?
Those questions were so fundamental to increase our team's engagement level and also to encourage each and every leader to still keep doing their very best in the work that they have been entrusted with. We realized that because we have asked these questions our team felt a bigger sense of commitment with themselves and with the mission and purpose that God has called us to.
It was just a matter of stopping and looking around then we started to realize different opportunities to serve the communities where we are. We decided to branch out to serve instead of waiting. We have chosen courage instead of comfort. We truly believe that consistent hard work and faithfulness in small things will show us the way to overcome any obstacle. It is also a way to say to God, we trust the One that has called us is faithful and just to finish the good work that He has started in and through our lives.
C) Prayer saves time and money
Prayer is a core component of everything we do at World Nations. We want to be guided by God to do the work He called us to do. Before the pandemic, prayers were specific to each meeting, during the crisis we installed it as a weekly global conference call where we gathered leaders from our various initiatives to spend time in prayer. The results have been amazing. After 10 weeks meeting together online and praying together for one another our sense of mission and desire to make a difference in the world has increased. More encouragement was spread and we feel more connected in the Spirit and in purpose. We have acquired through prayer a stronger bonding as a team. We have developed strong relationships and also we have experienced breakthroughs in some areas that we were stuck without solutions before stopping and praying. The interesting fact is that as we do missionary work we also have to deal with all components of a business activity: filing licenses, record keeping, financial management, project management, leadership development, reports and metrics. I can't recommend enough this strategy as the most important one: Pray First.
In all the tasks that we perform I have never seen a better strategy than prayer.
Asking God to come and help us and also letting Him to be involved in everything has literally saved us time and money. We definitely felt that because we stopped to pray, we have gotten more done with the same resources even with more limitations than before. Now we know that prayer saves time and money. Consistency to the mission is key and leading with a “why” in mind is the direction to go in midst of a crisis.