PFI CEO and President, Andrew Corley, shares some thoughts and encouragement as we adjust strategies and face the Coronavirus as a ministry family.
Global leaders have been working tirelessly responding to the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The pandemic has impacted every sector of life, from causing a shortage of necessities to limiting which family members we can see, and when.
COVID-19 has also impacted the PFI family. And with new information emerging every day, it can become difficult to feel sure about the condition of the world. But I encourage you to consider three eternal truths to help give us strength in these trying times:
- God is sovereign and in control of the universe. The Son sits at the right hand of God with all authority and power. He did not abdicate, nor will He.
- God is at work in all our circumstances and at all times. He calls us to trust Him and be wise.
- God tells us not to be anxious about anything but to pray.
Of course, that does not change our current reality. But it can change how we understand it. Instead of getting frustrated about the possibility of not achieving our quarterly goals, we must set new ones in preparation for a second-quarter that will be different than the one we expected.
Rest assured, the health, wellbeing, and safety of the staff, partners, national ministries, and global volunteers who comprise the PFI family—as well as that of the prisoners and families of prisoners we serve—is our utmost concern. We are grateful for the people around the world who are working to contain the virus and stand with those on the front lines making difficult decisions every day.
That being said, operating under challenging situations is also nothing new to us. While we are taking precautions and following the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO), it is business as usual for us so far as what is in our control. By the grace of God, our vision remains to break the cycle of crime and restore lives worldwide through Jesus’s love.
PFI’s National Ministries around the world are still active and functioning, even in the midst of a pandemic. Though our staff is restricted from traveling internationally, program implementation by our affiliates is not impacted.
What could have an impact is a government’s response to COVID-19, especially when it comes to prison access? However, none of us can control that. Once restrictions are lifted, we will all be straight back in. With these changes, we have a chance to strengthen internal systems and fortify our infrastructure. We can emerge from this even stronger and better able to serve.
As you know only too well, many members of the PFI family are accustomed to operating in environments where infectious disease is prevalent. It is a daily reality, and our volunteers understand the importance of hygiene. I attended a graduation ceremony a week ago for 140 men and women in Thika prison, Nairobi, Kenya, where a vital graduation gift was soap. This was one way Prison Fellowship Kenya was battling the spread of disease in a prison that had a dedicated “cough corner” for those gathered for the graduation ceremony.
Vulnerable populations—especially prisoners—are at high risk of contracting the virus. This is a fact. PFI, through our National Ministries, has been serving these very populations for more than 40 years. We are uniquely positioned to continue ministering to prisoners and their families, even in this storm. It’s what we do every day. Thank God we are there.
COVID-19 will impact PFI’s operations. But we will focus on what is within our power to keep it business as usual. We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves and provide support as needed. In fact, our decentralized model allows us to better adapt to any situation, even something as unprecedented as COVID-19.
I attended a local church, with no communion or handshaking or embracing. No passing around of the offering plate. Not even tea or coffee. But we did sing this:
Father, hear the prayer we offer:
Not for ease that prayer shall be,
But for strength, that we may ever
Live our lives courageously.
Not forever in green pastures
Do we ask our way to be;
But the steep and rugged pathway
May we tread rejoicingly.
Not forever by still waters
Would we idly rest and stay;
But would smite the living fountains
From the rocks along our way.
Be our strength in hours of weakness,
In our wanderings be our Guide;
Through endeavor, failure, danger,
Savior, be thou at our side.
Selah, Selah, Selah