Let’s Start Talking is carefully monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and it’s affect on our volunteers and partners. We are regularly monitoring the following official sources of information: World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control, and the U.S. Department of State. Additionally we are in touch with those who host LST projects at each of our sites. Due to the dynamic nature of this event we are making decisions on a daily and weekly basis in order to continue sending people responsibly. Below are additional details and/or updates to our response.
LST continues to offer meaningful opportunities for service and faith-sharing this fall with great emphasis on the opportunities available through LST Connect. Many FriendSpeak programs in North America are also coming back online as they follow local and state-mandated best practices for COVID-19 and social distancing.
We know many of you are eager to travel internationally on an LST project in 2021. LST is regularly monitoring global opportunities for travel and will resume LST projects as it becomes possible and safe to do so. Though LST is hearing regularly from our international hosts, conditions on the ground at a particular site matter very little until national or regional prohibitions on travel are lifted. Once such prohibitions are lifted and it becomes clear Readers are willing to engage person-to-person LST sessions it will be easier to talk about specific projects. In the meantime, we’re eager to remain in close contact with those interested in traveling with LST in 2021! This fall we encourage Workers to do the following: 1) stay in close contact with LST, 2) engage LST Connect and go through Basic Training, 3) remain flexible concerning sites, 4) ensure their passport is good for the entire 2021 calendar year, and 5) hold off on fundraising. Workers with questions about funds in their LST account can click here to review LST’s policy on those funds.
With current global travel restrictions LST is not currently sending any short-term mission projects. We continue to monitor global opportunities for travel and will resume LST projects as it becomes possible and safe to do so. LST has organized a number of virtual international mission projects with success. More may be available this fall. Locally, we’re helping congregations and campus ministries maintain an online FriendSpeak presence or begin new FriendSpeak works. On a larger scale, LST Connect continues to grow as hundreds of Workers and Readers meet online each week. LST Connect is the quickest and best way for people to get involved with Let’s Start Talking!
4/20/2020 – Update on LST Summer Projects
With the continued uncertainty of summer travel the LST Board has asked that all summer projects be deferred. LST will not be sending Workers internationally this summer (through the end of August 2020). We are hopeful about LST projects in the fall and will pursue those as opportunities arise.
4/15/2020 – Email update about LST actions in response to COVID-19
Dear Let’s Start Talking Family,
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact every aspect of our daily lives. I prayed this morning that you are healthy and able to serve friends and neighbors with the love that only comes in Christ. I’m writing three days after Easter and encourage you to remember the hope Jesus brings. Thank you for supporting the mission of Let’s Start Talking in this time of uncertainty. I would like to communicate a series of decisions the LST leadership has prayerfully made for the next few months in light of the pandemic.
LST Project Decisions
The Let’s Start Talking Ministry is postponing June LST projects
- This decision comes in consultation and prayer with international host churches, project participants and LST leadership. All parties believe this to be the safe and prudent decision.
July and August LST projects will be considered on a situational basis
- Together we (LST workers, Host Churches, LST leadership) will decide the safety and possibilities of July and August projects. Some of our postponed April, May and June teams are standing by, on the ready, in the event that July or August opportunities present themselves. Decisions will be finalized by May 15th regarding each project.
Fall 2020 LST projects are being considered at this time
- Many summer projects are tentatively considering Fall 2020 timelines and we are recruiting teams cautiously yet hopefully for Fall projects.
LST’s Mission Remains the Same
The Let’s Start Talking mission remains steadfast in this season of chaos and cancelled projects. We are dedicated to finding additional ways to “create life-changing conversations around the world and across the street”. Accordingly, the entire LST staff is developing new avenues to live out our mission. A healthy organization understands when the situation calls for “pivoting” to meet the mission. I invite you to join us in expanding the LST mission with your time and energy in the following ways:
- LST’s Virtual Conversation Projects (VCP)
When the Covid-19 epidemic began affecting summer LST projects, our team quickly developed a prototype to test the validity of an online Virtual Conversation Project. We contacted veteran LST host churches, asked them to approach potential readers in their neighborhoods and created avenues for international readers to sign up online. Concurrently, we approached LST workers from the last two years to sign-up to adopt an international reader. We have almost 75 partners reading scripture and practicing English each week from China, Italy, Croatia, Kenya, Cambodia and beyond. Would you join us by registering to work with an international reader?
- Online Training
Training workers in-person for either LST international projects or for LST FriendSpeak is not presently appropriate. Accordingly, we have conducted a number of training events online for our international Workers in order for them to be fully prepared for their future project. In addition, for those who are new to LST and would like to participate in the Virtual Conversation Project, we have a live, online training option available this month! Join us for an online training night from 7-9:30pm on Thursday, April 23th. Registration is required.
Let’s Start Talking joins the entire world in recognizing the economic downturn we now all find ourselves living with. Because we are not able to continue our summer projects, LST has been affected financially by Covid-19. The LST staff has made sacrifices to conserve finances while aggressively addressing the urgency to have a Godly response in this time of crisis. Therefore, we have decided to participate in a local and national emergency giving campaign designed specifically to help non-profits during this time of crisis. Let’s Start Talking is a vital tool in God’s toolbox for cross-cultural evangelism whether at home (FriendSpeak) or abroad (LST projects). Would you consider a special gift between now and May 5 to help sustain LST and spur us on to a brighter future? Thank you!
So much has changed in the last two months. LST’s mission has not. We invite you to join us in sharing the good news of Jesus. Whether you are an LST veteran or rookie, we are ready!
The LST leadership, staff and board are dedicated to an enhanced future for this ministry. We are prayerful about the hardships of this present time and believe LST will emerge stronger with new approaches for sharing Jesus. We will have virtual tools for continuous international outreach. We vow to train and send more people on projects when this insidious virus is tamed. More people becoming Christians around the world (LST projects) and across the street (FriendSpeak) continues to be our mission.
Please remember the LST Family during the Covid-19 pandemic. Pray for the new opportunities being developed and the fundraising efforts to sustain and grow LST. We are honored to be a part of your lives and to be on this life-giving mission together. Stay healthy. Stay hopeful.
Let’s Start Talking
3/12/2020 – Email update about LST actions in response to COVID-19
Dear Let’s Start Talking Family,
You are a valued member of the Let’s Start Talking family and I want to update you on LST, COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019), and the steps we are taking to send international LST workers responsibly. As a result of the global outbreak, and in response to the recent travel restrictions announced by the US Government (and the subsequent travel warnings produced by the CDC, WHO and US Department of State), LST is taking the following actions:
- LST is rescheduling LST projects that were slated to leave during the months of April or May. Those teams will be rescheduled to go June 1 or later.
- As of this writing, all LST projects due to depart June 1 and following are still a “go.” We are working under the assumption that all of these projects will occur as planned.
- We will hold off on ticketing those LST teams until April 15. By this date we believe it likely that the US travel restrictions against foreign nationals of Europe will be lifted. We also anticipate that we’ll have a much better understanding of the effect of global actions against the COVID-19. On this date we plan to start ticketing teams and conduct any necessary reassessing of our sites and projects.
- On the home front, to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19, all multi-team training events scheduled between now and June 1 will be held online. Additionally, all summer End Meetings for our college teams will be held online.
During times of international stress the Let’s Start Talking Ministry engages three important “F’s”:
Facts – We actively look at all the facts pertinent to the situation. Presently we monitor the Center For Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Department of State, and other appropriate organizations that provide updated and timely facts. We interact with our international hosts and missionaries to determine local conditions. LST works to make decisions based on facts.
Fear – We also realize that in addition to facts, there’s an emotional element at work. There are both good and bad elements to fear and we work to recognize the spiritual components of each side. Facts and fears allow LST to engage both our logic and emotions in decision-making.
Faith – The most important “F” is Faith. We pray, asking God for guidance and good decisions. We acknowledge that traveling and sharing Good News is always about Faith.
The leadership team at LST is committed to responsible decisions when sending people around the world to share Jesus. These three F’s are the backbone of our decision-making process.
Please pray with us as we try to balance present needs with long-term forecasting. In other words, we work one day out and up to a year into the future on joint decision-making with all of our ministry partners. In the last two weeks we have moved or rescheduled LST teams going to China, South Korea and Italy. Each team is waiting for a safer time for those locations or has been rescheduled for another country and project. Presently, we are monitoring several sites in partnership with local leaders and team members. We are committed to making nimble, quick and appropriate decisions. As always, we commit our safety and well-being to God and His provision.
Even in the midst of this season of uncertainty about COVID-19 we are living in faith that opportunities will be numerous for sharing Jesus in many countries. LST is committed to growing the Kingdom of God around the world and across the street. May God give us even more opportunities to share Jesus.
Scott Lambert, Executive Director, Let’s Start Talking