Resilience

A recap of the Church Planters’ Conference 2018

from Kathy Stewart

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

This past week, our team from Indiana and Montana listened to Uncharted’s Burmese church planters humbly give testimonies of their year in ministry.  Again, we were astounded at the resilience and strength in which our friends daily live out their faith in the face of adversity for the sake of the gospel.  Each one treated as the lowest class of people in their tribes because of their faith in Jesus, these church planters have been victims of criticism and abuse — trash thrown in their yards, food and animals stolen, even land and homes taken away.  

But each testimony ended with a resounding: “yet we have seen the hand of God… Hallelujah!” One after the other, these ministers of the gospel shared not only the unbelievable difficulties in their lives, but also the miraculous victories.

“We love them first, then we evangelize,” was the strategy that rose to the surface most often. Whether providing good water to their neighbors, food to the refugees in their villages, access to surgery centers for children with tumors, soccer tournaments for local children, clothes for poor families, visits to neighboring villages to provide medicine and to evangelize, these church planters are finding creative ways with little means to show with actions and proclaim with words the love of Jesus to every corner of their country.

It was our team’s greatest honor to not only hear testimony of what God is doing in the lives of these brave people, but also to pour encouragement into them in tangible ways.  Each morning we had a time of fellowship and worship, followed by teaching on everything from flourishing in our personal relationships with Jesus (out of John 10) and fostering healthy relationships in marriage and friendships (out of 2 Corinthians 13), to surrendering our mission and ministries to the Lord (out of 1 Peter 4 and Romans 15).   In the afternoons, the men and women split up and were able to vulnerably share with each other a bit deeper into how they are enduring hardships and clinging to triumphs in life and ministry. I know I can speak for the team when I say that this time each day was a sobering perspective shift for all of us.

We ended the conference with a day in downtown Yangon: prayer-walking for the country of Myanmar around the largest Buddhist temple in the world, sharing a lovely lunch together, enjoying an afternoon of ice cream and shopping, and closing with a service of worship, communion and healing prayer.   With many tears and huge hugs, these dear people whispered into our ears, “This is my favorite week of the year. Thank you. I love you.”

As I think back on this week and how the Spirit spoke to each person at that conference, I am reminded at how weighty and significant it is what God has commissioned us to do.  Being challenged on a personal level in our own faith journeys, as well as supporting and encouraging our partners in ministry on the front lines of reaching the ends of the earth with the gospel, is the very heartbeat of Uncharted.  Some of us are asked to go— physically visiting, helping, teaching or encouraging. Some of us are asked to send— prayer support, operational support, financial support, or emotional support. Either way, we are all provided an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than ourselves—a valued role in the Great Commission, and it can’t help but compel us all to go deeper.  

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:58

Emily Luttrull