Health Alert – Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs (January 15, 2021)
Location: Worldwide: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director has signed an order requiring all airline passengers traveling to the United States, including U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test or recovery from COVID-19.
Event: Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide either a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel or provide a positive test result and documentation from a licensed health care provider or public health official of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel. Passengers must also attest, under penalty of law, to having received a negative qualifying test result or to recovery from COVID-19 and medical clearance to travel.
Airlines must deny boarding to passengers who do not meet these requirements.
U.S. citizens in countries where adequate COVID-19 testing is not available or may not be able to satisfy the requirements, should depart immediately or prepare to be unable to return to the United States until such time as they can meet the requirements.
Actions to Take:
Monitor the CDC website for latest guidance regarding testing requirements.
Check with your air carriers or travel representative prior to departure for the United States.
Dr. Ed Tutton, former staff member at Hyles-Anderson College and founder of “Teaching All Nations” and “Teaching Our People,” went to Heaven peacefully this afternoon. Dr. Tutton won the battle against Cancer today.
Dr. Tutton and his wife Carolyn have devoted their lives to Christian education both in the United States and on the mission field. They served together in Christian schools and Bible college ministry in the US before joining the FBMI China Missions Team and later the Ghana Missions Team, where they helped start Hyles-Anderson College of West Africa. After several years on the mission field, they returned to the US to work on staff at HAC, where Dr. Tutton oversaw the Student Recruitment and Alumni Departments. They spent their retirement years developing discipleship curriculum that is used worldwide to literally “teach all nations.”
Dr. Tutton was the epitome of a gentleman. He was a selfless servant who spent his life ministering to others. Heaven gained a great man today. Please be in prayer for his wife Carolyn, son Jon, and daughter Kathy during this time.
For new missionaries especially, don’t get thousands of pieces of letterhead printed right out of the gate.
You will find that you still have copious amounts of it years later, and with the trend toward emailing letters getting more and more popular, you are going to end up stuck with thousands of sheets of unusable letterhead, not good for anything except scrap paper for your kids to draw on.
Regarding printing your mailing address on your letterhead, you might want to consider just adding it to the bottom of your prayer letter each time, as your mailing address is more than likely going to change once you get to the field, and possibly even several times after you get to the field.
Your mailing address wouldn’t have to take up a lot of room–simply a “banner” at the bottom of each letter. That way, if your mailing address changes, you’re only having to make a correction to the prayer letter, not the letterhead.
In addition, you might want to change up your design over the years to represent more of where you are in your ministry, and you won’t want to have to throw letterhead away to do this.
In designing your letterhead, don’t allow your letterhead to overwhelm your prayer letter. While letterheads do draw people to your letters, the most important part is the content of your letter.
Regarding the picture, it might be best just to have the husband/wife picture on the printed letterhead, so that you don’t have to keep getting it reprinted every time another child is born.
Regarding the Supporting Church information, it might be best to leave the pastor’s name off, as pastors can resign, take another church, etc.
Always put a date at the top of your prayer letter (can be just the month and year).
Some type of greeting is recommended.
Always start on a positive note.
Update your readers/supporters on how your church is doing.
Give a personal soul-winning experience, not just corporate details.
Reference new ministries that have been started.
Always, always, always mention your family in some way–personal, ministry-related, etc.
Include prayer requests, which can be in list format or paragraph format. Unless a prayer request is extremely urgent and the main reason for the letter you are sending, prayer requests should probably be put at the end of the letter.
Recently, some of our missionaries received an email purportedly from Pastor Wilkerson. The email, which was a hoax, asked the recipient to purchase a gift card. Many missionaries wisely ignored the email or contacted us to ask about it. Unsolicited emails from unknown sources are not always so direct, but they are often both deceptive and dangerous. For this reason, email safety is a key concern to all internet users, including missionaries.
Another recent email to one of our missionaries is copied below. Notice especially the knowledgeable, purposeful use of church and ministry language. Here is the first email:
From: CBC Secretary <email@example.com> Sent: Thursday, July 2, 2020 11:14:54 AM Subject: [EXTERNAL] Quick Favor.
So sorry for disturbing you with this mail, i really need your favor.
Thank you and God bless,
Nancy Jaco Church Secretary
The missionary responded:
From:XXX XXXXX <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Friday, July 3, 2020 12:13 PM To: CBC Secretary <C_secretary@hotmail.com> Subject: Re: [EXTERNAL] Quick Favor.
Glad you replied. I need to get an iTunes gift card for my Niece, Its her birthday but i can't do this now because I'm currently traveling. I tried purchasing online with my credit cards but unfortunately no luck with that. Can you get it from any store around you? I'll pay back as soon as i am back, Kindly let me know if you can handle this.
Await your soonest response.
Thank you and God bless,
Nancy Jaco Church Secretary
Based on these and other emails, here are a few things that may help you with email safety:
Watch out for emails from unknown domain names. In the first email above, the email comes from an atypical address (mchsi.com). If in doubt, make sure to look carefully at the entire email address. While the name may be familiar, the email address may not match.
Watch out for grammatical errors. Many emails that pretend to be from large companies, recognized vendors, and even friends can be exposed by incorrect spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation.
Watch out for emails that are labeled as external but claim to be from within. If an email comes from outside FBMI or First Baptist Church of Hammond, it will be labeled as external. If you receive an external email from another FBMI missionary or from someone else within our ministry, you should be extremely cautious. While it is possible that they used a personal email to communicate with you, it is also possible that the email was sent by an imposter.
Watch out for unknown people. Sometimes, you may be contacted by a real person you have not met. If that is the case, do not share information that you are not comfortable with everyone knowing. If you do not know the person, you do not know the person.
Do not click unknown links for any reason.
Do not open unknown attachments for any reason.
Do not share private information through email.
Do not share any financial information through email.
Do not share any information through email that you could share in a more secure manner.
Do not share personal information about other people without their permission.
Thankfully, the examples above ended well. While we acknowledge that there are many people who are trying to deceive (II Timothy 3:13), we also believe that God can give us wisdom and prudence (James 1:5). If you have any questions or would like more help, feel free to contact us!
According to their website, the United States Postal Service has temporarily suspended international mail service to over 100 countries because of issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. To view the current list of affected countries, you may visit this page on usps.com. While large shipping companies remain open, their services have been affected in many places around the world. Many countries have suspended their in-country postal service, as well.
These kinds of service interruptions affect missionaries, supporting churches, family, and friends. If you are planning to ship or mail anything internationally, you may be unable to do so at this time. Please remember to check with the applicable mail service providers. Also, if you have any related questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.
First Baptist Church has begun emailing a weekly newsletter to many of our members and friends. Please enjoy reading the attached newsletter, which was sent out last week. Also, we would like to invite you to sign up to receive this newsletter, which includes news, prayer requests, and many helpful resources.
If you would like to subscribe, simply email email@example.com and mention that you would like to receive the weekly update.
This message will be brief out of respect for your time. I thought “shelter-in-place” would mean a degree of rest. On the contrary, all the work still must be done, and we now get to find new ways to care for everything. Oh joy! It hurts my “old brain” to learn new tech every day! When this is over, we probably won’t hear many complaints about the “daily routine.” Ha!
It seems the whole world has gone a bit loco. At home, we’ve been hearing a knocking for the last few days off and on and wondered where it was coming from. Both Lana and I’ve walked around the house looking for the “visitor” (or vandal) without any success. Yesterday evening it happened again, and Lana happened to be in the front room. A squirrel was knocking on the window . . . maybe for a facemask?!
In this letter, we’d like to bring you up-to-date with regard to four developments:
Pastor Wilkerson has been greatly used of the Lord to provide spiritual leadership, peace, and stability in these uncertain times. Every day at 9:00 a.m., he has a special Grace to Grow program, interviewing a wide variety of guests, including pastors, authorities in relevant fields, and civil leaders. Then at 7:00 p.m., he hosts a down-home, fireside chat with Mrs. Wilkerson and some fun guests. Special programs have also been developed by Bro. Judeh and Bro. Torres for the teens. We hope you can tune in on The Key radio station at https://thekeyfm.com/. Hopefully, these will help those suffering from “cabin fever.”
Finally, folks might be searching for more guidance on reducing their risk of infection and on strengthening their immune system. Both of these articles were written for at-risk populations, but the principles apply for everyone.
Finally, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a common thread of anxiety and fear in the words and behavior of those around us. This is the hour, dear missionary friends, to lift up the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. Ours is a message of love, joy, peace, and hope. This week I’ve been meditating on the following verse and the context of that great and true account. “And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” (Genesis 41:16) The solution for Pharaoh’s anxiety was truth from God. May we be channels of God’s blessings.
We hope these resources are helpful. Please know that we love you and are praying for you.
Bro. Siemer on Behalf of Bro. Bosje and Your FBMI Home Office Family
During this time, Fundamental Baptist Missions International and First Baptist Church of Hammond would like to make these important resources available to you. Please tap or click on any of these links to view or learn more.
The State of Indiana has issued a directive for Hoosiers to stay at home from Wednesday, March 25, through Monday, April 6. First Baptist Church and FBMI, as religious entities, are exempt and will continue to provide services to our missionaries, churches, and others whom we serve. Some of our staff will work from home, but our office will remain open. In addition, we will be available through phone and email. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.
Regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, this has been a rough week. Our country has moved from the calm approach of previous viral threats to an all-out public-health “war,” as President Trump stated today in his briefing with the Coronavirus Task Force. To see it, skip ahead to about 18½ minutes in when they enter the room (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38IwGCO8jcE).
Why is this new coronavirus so dangerous?
It is more infectious than influenza.
It is about ten times more likely to kill than regular influenza.
It kills differently than influenza. Influenza can lead to (treatable) secondary bacterial pneumonia, while COVID-19 leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS.)
There is at present no vaccine. We have influenza vaccines. The first possible vaccine for this coronavirus is being developed at record pace, but it is a long way from possible production.
There is no treatment. Influenza responds to some of the antiviral agents.
Because it is new, there is no natural immunity. Years of influenza outbreaks have led to some general immunity in the community, even helping with newer strains of influenza.
Why must we get involved? Estimates I’ve seen say that 40-70% of the U.S. population will contract the virus this year. It is now in 176 countries. The wise, informed participation of all is vital to help to slow the spread of this novel (new) virus. The slower it progresses, the better our medical resources will be able to respond effectively. (There are limited numbers of hospital beds and ventilators.) Here’s how we can all help: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guidance_8.5x11_315PM.pdf
How is First Baptist Church responding? I would encourage you to view Pastor Wilkerson’s videos (see the church website) that have been prepared in recent days. A week ago, churches were meeting as usual. Last weekend, assemblies were limited to a maximum size of 250, and on Monday this was further reduced to 50 and finally to 10. The situation is very dynamic and unprecedented.
Any word for missionaries? As pastors and spiritual leaders, missionaries must keep up-to-date with regard to these unforeseen and impactful developments. Everyone is watching. For the sake of those whom we serve and for the sake of our testimony in the community as responsible citizens, we can’t afford to ignore, overlook, or appear to disregard the direction of our public-health authorities.
How can we become well-informed? We must be disciplined, organized, and diligent in order to grasp and track all the complex elements and to respond appropriately. It’s tough to get a handle on everything. There is a lot of noise. We all need to know where to go locally for real answers for those whom we serve.
We’ve already published the following three updates, which are on the FBMI website:
From February, a general overview for the missionary as a spiritual leader
From March, a more focused update for all individuals in the church
From March, an approach to U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories
I’m adding today this letter with the following resources:
Any videos of the Presidential Coronavirus Task Force’s briefings to learn from the authorities themselves rather than from second-hand impressions.
Any guidance from the Bible?
We need knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. All are based upon a fear of God (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). He is the Judge of the whole earth. Let’s be right with Him and walk with Him daily.
We don’t yield to fear (II Timothy 1:7).
We stay focused on the Great Commission. Like Paul, in the midst of the storm, let’s lift up the Lord and point people to Him (Acts 27:21-26; 33-36).
We trust our sovereign God. He is perfect in knowledge, power, and love. We can trust Him and His decisions (Psalm 102).
Pray for all involved (James 5:16).
Please, take this seriously! In the White House briefing, it was mentioned that our experts are watching what happens in Italy and France to get an informed idea how the virus might affect our nation. Look at the figures from Italy on the worldometers.info/coronavirus site mentioned above. Today, the 18th of March, it was reported that Italy had 4,207 new cases and 475 new deaths. This is in one day alone, and the exponential curve is still climbing.
With our love and prayers,
Bro. Siemer on Behalf of Bro. Bosje and the FBMI Home Office Team