Communicating in the Time of COVID

Date posted: Friday 30 October 2020

BKB is built on three pillars: Prayer, Presence and Projects. Prayer and Projects continue. However, during this time of COVID, our ability to address Presence is greatly reduced. Most people are unwilling to travel anywhere, let alone fly to Tanzania. How can we best keep in touch with our friends on the other side of the world?


One of the ways congregations stay in touch with each other is through the tool WhatsApp. Many partners have found this a great way to communicate by sharing prayers and general news. (As a reminder, any financial commitments must go through the BKB office.)


But what is WhatsApp? It is a free service owned by Facebook which allows users to send text and voice messages, make voice and video calls and share images, documents and other media. Here is an example:

Following are comments from a few congregations about their experiences with WhatsApp. We hope that after reading this you give it a try with your partner!


Elizabeth Hendrickson from King of Kings, Woodbury says:

WhatsApp messaging has been a wonderful way for our church to stay connected to our partner congregation, Kilolo. We have been able to share short greetings, prayer requests, church milestones & celebrations, and updates from scholarship students. Just last week we received a choir video after their choir was awarded 2nd place in the district ranking. WhatsApp allows for quicker conversations, so that we feel connected to the ongoing life of our partner. We communicate two or three times per month, and our main WhatsApp contacts are the parish pastor and a council member. The frequent communication and sharing of pictures and videos has enhanced our partnership and helps to share the story of Kilolo within our congregation at King of Kings.


We heard from Becky Benson at Incarnation:

Incarnation's Tanzania Action Group began dabbling in WhatsApp when one of our members, Joy Alizadeh, visited our partners of Mkwawa and Kigamboni parishes in January of 2019. We started using it to communicate with Joy as she kept us updated on her experiences and with photos. In the months following Joy's return to Minnesota, we established two WhatsApp groups - one with Incarnation's Tanzania Action Group along with leadership of Mkwawa Parish and another with leadership of Kigamboni Parish. Communicating using these WhatsApp groups has opened up connecting between our communities in a wonderful new way; we are living into Presence even as we are far apart! At least monthly, and sometimes more frequently, we exchange messages of greetings, updates, prayer requests (including mutual prayers for our communities in the face of COVID-19) as well as pictures and videos. Our communication is now much more timely and multi-dimensional, especially as we share images with one another. We've even tried some voice calls which have worked pretty well. Our next attempt will be video chatting!


And finally, Ken Smith from St. Stephen, White Bear Lake tells us:

WhatsApp is ‘da bomb.’ I use it all the time with the SPP team, Agricultural Officer Sariya in Lukani and Sebastian Chaula at Lutangilo School.


Karen Sawyer Smith
Iringa Committee