How church planting wives — whom I’ve never met — changed my view of the pandemic

By Merry Emily Downing

I didn’t expect 645 phone calls with strangers to change me as much as they did.

Like many people, the pandemic shifted my role at work. I went from my normal responsibilities at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) in Marketing and Events to working with Send Network, calling church planting wives (never imagining a number that high).

What would I say? Do people want to talk or even have the time to chat with a complete stranger? As a single young adult, would I even have words to encourage someone who wears the hats of wife, mom, homeschool teacher, church staff and so many more titles? As I began these conversations, my mindset quickly changed.


These calls were meant to be an encouragement to these women in the midst of all the bad. I hoped they would remind our planting couples NAMB is here for them, we see them, and we are grateful for how they are continuing to walk in obedience in what God has called them to.

I didn’t anticipate I would leave each conversation equally encouraged. I talked with women who were newly married, married for decades and every year in between. New moms, soon-to-be moms, moms with kids in school and moms with adult children.

Regardless of their ages and life stages, there was a common sentiment in every call — God is still good. Story after story, situation after situation, in the good and the bad times — God is still good.

These statements were a resounding light of hope in a dark season.


Even though a lot has changed — and many churches have shifted to online services and small groups — community hasn’t. If anything, people are hungrier for it, and God’s people are more freely extending it.

In every conversation, I listened to women describe the increase they’ve witnessed in online viewings of worship services, and many people who never wanted to step foot into a church building are tuning in for a virtual worship service or finally accepting an invitation to a small group.

They shared stories of church buildings acting as food banks, meal providers and clothing drives — adhering to all guidelines and regulations while engaging and serving their communities.


Story after story, I was encouraged. Their patience, trust, determination and honesty were captivating and refreshing.

But what encouraged and humbled me the most was how almost every conversation ended with them asking how they could be praying for me — even though I was calling to pray for them! They asked for the names of my mom and sister (both nurses) and for my dad who is on staff at a church. They wanted to know my living situation and if I was doing well.

These planting wives are truly remarkable women.

This season is different, scary and unknown. It’s easy to allow fear to take over. It’s easy to feel like you’re alone and not seen. I’ve felt these emotions often over the last two months, but after each call I was reminded I’m not alone — a simple but powerful truth.

As believers, we are able to fight for one another, even when we are strangers. We are able to pray for each other and our families, even when we’ve never met. We can pray for jobs and provision, protection and healing, and endurance in suffering. We can do all of this because God is still good.

God can use anything to remind you of His kindness and goodness toward you — even strangers.

Curious about how church planting wives are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic? Watch this episode of the We are Send Network podcast.

Published May 12, 2020