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Letter to My Sending Church

Feb. 24, 2015By: Kristie Burns

Dearest loved ones,

I am thankful that you support us in the calling God has placed on our heart.  We aren’t moving to Thailand because we think it will be fun or adventurous or an interesting experience… life would be much more predictable if we just stayed put in the US and Evan became a pastor

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of a church or taught at a seminary here.  Believe me, we have had those thoughts cross our mind.  But when we both go before the Lord, we are so deeply convicted that His calling on our lives is to spend ourselves to reach the least reached, to proclaim His glories among the nations.  In one sense, I think we have seen too much of the dire need out there, and God has miraculously supplied the funds and the grace needed and the faith needed to go, that it would be sin for us to stay and not to go.  We’ve seen too much.  We can’t sit back and let the peoples of China or the peoples of Thailand or the peoples of other Southeast Asian nations perish without the light of the glory of the gospel of Christ.  We are compelled by His Spirit, and because of His worthiness we go. 

 

We are compelled by His Spirit, and because of His worthiness we go. -Tweet this

 

Many talk about “counting the cost” in this pilgrimage Home as we follow Christ.  We do need to count the cost and radically follow Him in whatever He calls us to do.  Yet, I also believe that His Word makes it clear that He Himself is all-sufficient for our every true need and desire, and so, in some sense, following Him is a high privilege, no matter hell or high water, because when we follow Him, we get Him, and He is all-satisfying. 

The missionary David Livingstone said after years of difficult missionary service in Africa, “I never made a sacrifice.”  How could he say such a thing?  Because he counted Christ as the greatest gain  (Philippians 1:21  To live is Christ, and to die is gain).  Whatever loss he experienced was really not loss because Christ is all, and he had Christ.  I pray that somehow this Spirit-given perspective would pervade our hearts and yours.  That somehow, at the end of the day, you can join in saying with us, “We never made a sacrifice.”  The person of our Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel is so glorious and so rich, that even the things that seem difficult and challenging in this life, even the grief we experience in each other’s absence, cannot compare with the privilege it is that we go for the gospel and you gladly send us for Christ’s sake.  

I say that and wish that for us, knowing that it sounds impossible and ridiculous to some extent to say “We never made a sacrifice.”  We might not feel it to be true at times, as the sacrifice might feel so great this side of glory.  But the truth of this promise remains: 

‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.’”  (Mark 10:29-30)  

So if we look at this blood-bought promise of God and believe it to be true (even when it doesn’t feel true), we can ultimately counsel our souls to know that the grief we bear as we leave and the grief you bear as you gladly send us will result in an eternal weight of glory.  We will be rewarded greatly at the resurrection.  How will be rewarded?  He Himself will be our great reward.  In some way, Christ Himself will deeply satisfy our souls eternally in a way that we would not have known had we not by His grace been willing to go or had you not been willing to send us.

Another Scripture that has deeply comforted me during this time is in Acts 17. 

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:24-27). 

I love the huge, sovereign, Creator God that we serve.  He made everything and is the Ruler over all of it.  Particularly, the text says that He has determined the boundaries of our dwelling places, that people may seek him out.  One missionary friend shared this verse with me to remind me that HE has determined the exact timing (the allotted periods) and location  (boundaries of our dwelling) of each and every life on this earth.  He has determined that this would be the time we would go to the location of Thailand, at this point in our lives and at this age our boys’ lives, at this point in your lives.  He determines our dwelling place.  He who is the One and Only Sovereign, who determines every breath we take, every beat of our heart, every provision of every sparrow on the face of the earth, every blowing of the wind, every birth, every death, He determines our going and coming.  And this is His appointed time for us to dwell in Thailand and for you to dwell here in the US.  And why does He determine our location?  So that people might seek Him out.  Ultimately, so that people would be saved unto Him, so that people might turn to Him and seek Him.  He has us in Thailand so that we might seek Him, so that our boys might seek Him, so that others there might seek Him.  He has you here in the US so that your hearts might seek Him, so that others might seek Him.  May we kiss the Sovereign Hand that bids every coming and going and humbly, gladly submit to His determination. 

Finally a truth that I have found to be so true to me is that when people I love are removed from my life by distance or other reasons, I am forced to cling to Christ all the harder.  The separation from you will be difficult, and yet I thank Him and praise Him that it will cause me to cling to Him more and find deeper satisfaction in all that He can supply.  May this be true of your hearts in your grieving moments.  When you cry, may you cry to Him, knowing He cares so deeply, and that He Himself experienced grief at the death of Lazarus, his dear friend, though knowing Lazarus would soon be raised from the dead.  When your heart grieves, may you pour yourself out before Him, knowing He can fill every hole in your heart in a way that you would not know if you never experienced grief or loss.

We have to remember that this life is but a breath (Psalm 39:5).  Sometimes it can seem long and arduous.  But our lives are so short, like the grass which grows one day and withers the next (1 Peter 1:24).  Soon, in the blink of an eye, we will breathe our last breath and be with Him forever worshipping Him and enjoying Him forever (1 Corinthians 15:52).  We will walk together on the new heavens and the new earth and know His glories in infinite, eternal bliss.  May we be heavenly-minded, may the hope of resurrection stir our hearts to trust in Him.

May the banner that flies over my heart and each of your hearts be this:  “Our trust is in the Lord.”  Not in good circumstances, not in life being easy-peasy, not in family being close by, not in good health, not in financial stability, not in having our every temporal comfort met, but in Him.  Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.  (Psalm 20:7)  He wounds us that He might heal us, He kills us, that we might truly live.  (Job 5:18; 1 Samuel 2:6)  He is wise and good and to be trusted.  Pray with me and counsel your heart as I counsel mine to say over all that comes our way, “Our trust is in the Lord.”

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)? If the Father didn’t even spare His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, whom He infinitely, eternally, incomparably loves… if the Father went to such a great extent to purchase and redeem our souls, how will He not also with him graciously give us all things?  How will He not also supply us with every true need and desire—everything we might need for true life and godliness  (2 Peter 1:3).  Romans 8:32 is a precious promise to me.  The Son-giving Father has done the hardest thing—handing over His own sinless Son to death in our place—how then will He not do the easier thing—graciously give us all things we need for the continuous, sanctifying work of our souls?  He will indeed.  He’s done the hardest part (giving His only Son); granting us everything we need to truly know and live for Him is the easy part.  He will certainly do it.  He will cause all grace to abound to us (2 Corinthians 9:8). 

So when you miss us and our adorable little boys, may your heart turn to Him and trust and be glad.  The Word of God is so rich and His promises are so real.  We will miss you greatly, and we will have cause to trust Him more dearly.  Keep your hearts fixed on the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ  (1 Peter 1:13).  In that day, He will wipe away every tear.  One day we will walk with Him.  Behold, our God and our King, we will dwell in His presence forevermore. Lift up our eyes, oh Lord, and cause us to see You and trust You and rejoice!

With my deepest love, looking to Him who alone can satisfy.

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Missionaries Sent and Received in 2010

Feb. 11, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

From a 2013 study from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon Conwell. This is a listing of the largest sending and receiving countries. Notice the difference between the largest senders and the largest senders per million church members.Screen_Shot_2015-02-07_at_8.42.18_PM

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