2020 will go down in history as a monumental year due to the COVID-19 pandemic altering reality, halting many plans, and resulting in many necessary pivots. This was also true for ServeNow. However, we determined early on we were not going to get caught up in everything we could not do, but stay focused on what we could do. Philippians 1:12 contains a statement written by the Apostle Paul while he was in prison. He too faced all kinds of challenges, restrictions, and limitations because of circumstances imposed on him by the outside. But in that verse, he reminds the Philippian believers of this truth: Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. We feel exactly the same way and have seen the evidence of this verse in the ministry of ServeNow despite COVID-19!
Below follows a brief summary/highlight recap of 2020 and vision as we look ahead to 2021.
- January: ServeNow’s President, Ben Foley, traveled to Asia for the graduation ceremony of our first bakery class in that region of the world, among other highlights and programs.
- February: ServeNow launched The Basic Series in Sri Lanka! Ben was in Sri Lanka for the launch of The Basic Things You Need to Know About Jesus, newly translated and printed in Sinhala.
- March: Lockdown measures began to be implemented mid-end of March worldwide, resulting in most normal programs being put on hold for a time. The final book in The Basic Series was completed in English!
- April: ServeNow’s Founder, Lars Dunberg, and Ben worked on writing a special edition book called The Basic Things You Need to Know When our World Falls Apart. This little booklet was translated into 15 languages for 12 countries worldwide, reaching thousands of people and serving to help believers process life during a pandemic and how we are called to respond.
- May: ServeNow quickly pivoted from many “normal” programs and projects to essentially providing hope through the special edition Basic Series book noted above, as well as tackling the emerging problem of hunger. Food/care packages were quickly organized to serve the most vulnerable in multiple countries worldwide in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Official numbers projected acute hunger worldwide to double, up an additional 130 million people facing starvation, compared to 2019, because of the pandemic.
- June: Some programs, such as some skill-training programs (tailoring/computer-IT), were able to slowly begin back up, albeit in a limited capacity and new structures. A few other projects were also able to start back up to serve those most in need. We also committed to ensuring pastors and their families that we are partners with were being taken care of through food/care packages. Additionally, bicycles for pastors with no other means of transportation were distributed in Africa and Asia.
- July: One of the most critical needs that began emerging was the need to help people with small micro-enterprise grants so they could start their own small businesses. Recognizing that this pandemic would be with us for a while, we moved to help women in Africa sell items such as fish, food, and soap. In Asia, we provided mini-skill training programs to help young men learn how to cut hair as part of a barber training program.
- August: We were very excited to host our yearly summer camps in Ukraine despite the pandemic and new measures that we had to follow. About 160 underprivileged children had the time of their lives and learned about Jesus!
- September: One of the new focuses that emerged because of the pandemic was an effort to utilize the gift of technology. For example, we helped reach millions of Arabic speaking people via a short video series called the Road to Paradise via You-Tube and Facebook. In Asia, messages were recorded, Zoom conference calls were scheduled, and devotional messages were translated and sent out to thousands of people that otherwise would not have been reached in a typical year.
- October: We launched the Spanish Basic Series in Mexico! Two books were printed in Spanish; The Basic Things You Need to Know About Jesus and the special edition Basic Series book When our World Falls Apart. The pastor training conference was held via Zoom with 140 leaders/pastors present for the training and launch.
- November: We launched The Basic Series in Nigeria! Two translations were dedicated at a pastor’s conferences, Hausa and Yoruba, as our reach continues to grow in Africa, meeting a critical need for these basic discipleship resources. We also assisted a very remote village in an Asian country with 10 water pumps to serve those considered to be “untouchables.” Another meaningful accomplishment that emerged only because of COVID was Ben and Lars writing a brand-new book called Hope Rising: Finding Hope in a Turbulent World. This book is now available to order on our website here: Hope Rising.
- December: We are looking forward to distributing around 6,000 Christmas gifts that have arrived in Ukraine to be given to the most underprivileged in January around the Orthodox Christmas season. Additionally, our teams in Asia are busy giving out winter coverings and blankets for children and the elderly most vulnerable this winter. Hunger and cold are two deadly enemies as winter is upon us.
- Plans: Our National Leaders worldwide are beginning to work on their ministry plans and budgets for 2021. We have learned a lot this year, though, about plans and budgets; they can change in a moment! However, with a name like ServeNow, we have always been ready to pivot and respond within our resources to urgent needs without layers of bureaucracy. We take the planning process seriously, but prayer and the Spirit’s leading just as seriously. We believe God guides both through planning and sometimes spontaneously or in ways we cannot humanly know or plan. That said, ServeNow has identified three main pillars under which our projects or programs tend to fall: Equipping the Church, Educating for Eternity, and Outstretched Hands. We also have a 3-year vision plan that we are now 1 ½ years into. This vision plan contains the dreams of those we serve worldwide and the greatest needs as defined by our national leaders in each country/region of the world.
- Big Dreams: we have some big dreams looking ahead to 2021! One of those dreams is a $1.5million Trade School Dream for Uganda. While this can be done in 5 phases, we have been preparing and praying for this dream for quite some time. Another objective, should funding allow, is to continue expanding The Basic Series throughout the world, digitizing the books, and putting in audio format to reach people in new and additional ways. A third major dream is a full bakery/training facility in Ukraine, estimated to cost around $150,000. Potentially half that funding is available once location is confirmed. The remaining amount needed would be to renovate, provide the proper bakery equipment, and ensure funding of operational costs for a year. Both the Trade School and Bakery would become self-sustaining after the initial capital investments are made. These centers would train hundreds of at risk women and young girls in the years to come and significantly impact these countries!
- Mission Trips: We hope at some point in 2021, some international team trips may become a possibility again. We greatly missed being able to take people on trips in 2020!
We invite you to join us in praying and partnering with ServeNow as we finish this challenging year of 2020 and look ahead to what God has in store for 2021 together!