Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pray With Us

Amazingly, our sovereign God chooses to work through the earnest prayers of His people.
We value your prayers, and we hope that the following will enable you to pray more specifically.

Recently part of Evan's job for TLI has included helping the TLI Vice President research, write, and edit a curriculum to teach the book of Genesis.  In January, Evan and a group of American pastors will travel to Athens, Greece to teach a pilot course on Genesis to European and Middle Eastern pastors.  Some of these pastors will travel to Athens from countries where they have little or no access to Bible/ministry training.  They will come to Athens hungry to study the Word of God.  

Pray that Evan and the group of American pastors will have great wisdom and grace to thoroughly teach the foundational book of Genesis.

Just this past week we received an email from our good friends FX & G, the house-church leaders from our former country of residence.  Recently FX & G traveled to another province to see a medical specialist.  While visiting the hospital where the specialist works, they met a local believing doctor.  They shared with this fellow believer a vision of the sanctity of life and the idea of starting a pregnancy help center in that city.  This believing doctor caught the vision and is pursuing steps to begin a work that would make known the greatness of our God and the gospel through offering help to pregnant women.

Pray that God would continue to use FX & G to bear much fruit for the gospel.  Pray that God would open the doors for this pregnancy help center to be opened.

In the end of February, the two of us will make a trip to Thailand to meet our future co-workers and to look for a home to rent.  Because of the brevity of the trip, we will be leaving the boys with their grandparents.

Pray that will provide a good home for our family that will enable us to glorify His name.   

The Lord continues to build our support team.  We have gone from being $2500 short each month to being only $800 short each month for the necessary budget for Thailand.

Pray that God would raise up the remaining support through brothers and sisters who would delight to partner with us in the work of the gospel's advance.

Finally, pray that God would glorify His name in and through our lives, that His Kingdom would come, that His will would be done, and that the good news of the cross of Jesus Christ would be lifted high among the peoples of Southeast Asia.

 


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Serving a Sovereign Savior

Before we even moved to East Asia, we sensed the Holy Spirit was directing us towards training house church leaders.  When we first ventured into missions, there was no apparent open door to do that kind of work.  Then in 2008 our good friend who had connections with house church leaders in our city of residence invited us to help train students at an underground Bible school.  This was a divine opportunity we couldn't have foreseen; indeed, we serve a sovereign Savior.  

As we labored to train house church leaders both in group settings and one-on-one, our hearts were burdened for the massive amount of unreached people groups in the Southwest area of the country.  We were burdened to see local believers trained to reach those unreached peoples.  As we learned the language better and made strong friendships within the house church network, we started pursuing relocation to a specific Southwestern province.  That province seemed to be a good hub for partnering with the house church connections we had for the goal of reaching the unreached, impoverished, and orphaned.  


We had been working hard to move to that province, and every door seemed wide open and led by the Lord, but then a year ago, all those doors were slammed shut.  There was no way for new teams to be started in that region with our former agency.

We began to think that maybe the Holy Spirit was actually forbidding us to preach the gospel in that region, very much like Paul’s missionary experience—“And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.  And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.  So passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’  And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Act 16:8-10).  But we didn't have a Macedonian vision to follow yet, so we waited on the Lord.  We considered taking that vision to another area of the country, but that still didn't seem like a good fit.

As we were investigating all our options to train house church leaders and reach the unreached, Evan interviewed with the president of Training Leaders International.  When asked what we would ideally like to do, he said we would like to help train house church leaders to reach the unreached.  At the time, TLI did not have any options for us to do this.

The next day after that interview the president of TLI was called by a missionary leader who had helped raise funds to build a large training center in Northern Thailand in the same geographic region to which we had hoped to move.  He asked the TLI president if TLI had anyone who could train house church leaders.  The president called Evan and said, "How does working in Northern Thailand with house church leaders from all over Southeast Asia sound?"  
It didn't take us long to see why the Holy Spirit closed the door for us to go to that certain Southwest province because there was an even greater option that we didn't even know to ask for.  This was a divine opportunity that we couldn't have foreseen; indeed, we serve a Sovereign Savior.


Recently as we considered avenues for obtaining a visa in Thailand, Evan was offered a faculty position at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, training pastors from all over Southeast Asia.  One reason the seminary was interested in Evan is because he has had experience working with house church leaders from our former country of residence, and ABTS has been asked to start a sister school in that country.  So Evan will also be helping with this initiative.  This is also a divine opportunity we couldn't have foreseen; indeed, we serve a sovereign Savior.

We now see that we can do more for the house church movement and the unreached people groups of our former country not by living there but by living in Northern Thailand where we can serve, teach, and train without scrutiny from the government of our former country of residence.  



It was confusing and difficult when the doors were shut for work in the Southwest area of that country; yet our sovereign Savior had something else in mind.  We rejoice to follow such a mighty, magnificent and sweet, sovereign Savior!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

August Update

Thank you for your prayers over the past month as we made the transition in July to ministry with TLI (Training Leaders International).  Our resignation with PI went very well; they were incredibly encouraging as we sensed the Lord leading us in a new direction.  They confirmed that this seemed to be a great fit for our gifts and passions.

RECENT HIGHLIGHTS:



  • Trip to China:  Evan returned to Beijing for a week in July to sort through and bring back important belongings that had been in storage.  He was able to spend time with our PI team leaders, our Chinese friends FX and Grace, and his ministry mentor--all of these brothers and sisters have been some of our most treasured comrades on this heavenward journey.  Evan stayed with FX and Grace, and he could see much fruit in their ministry and marriage.  Earlier this year, FX went to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel as a short-term missionary, and his desire is to serve in Jordan in the future.  He has been talking to Evan about the dynamics of serving in a foreign country, especially a Muslim one.  He is also very excited to assist Evan with teaching TLI’s curricula to Chinese house church pastors in the future.  We have an unusually close kinship with FX and Grace, and we are so grateful to the Father that they are flourishing and pursuing the missionary call. 
  •  First PhD Class:  Evan attended his first PhD seminar at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  We stand amazed at God's providential hand in leading him to this program and the incredible privilege it is to sit under such Bible-filled men.  His advisors are very enthusiastic about our plans for training national pastors and missionaries.  They have expressed strong support for our work with TLI.  One of his advisors is even on TLI's advisory board and another advisor has significantly helped with TLI's development and strategy. 
  •  TLI Media:  Kristie has been managing TLI’s media sources (blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and it has been a challenging new responsibility for her.  She has enjoyed editing the blogs and keeping the social media running smoothly.  Click here to read TLI’s blogs and some of Evan’s posts. 
  •  Twins to VBS:  Elijah and Isaiah attended their first VBS at a sending fellowship.  They loved it!  The other day one of the boys remarked, "I'm happy!"  We asked him why he was happy and the reply was, "Jesus."  They are understanding more and more everyday that there is a God who created everything, and He alone makes us happy. 

PRAY WITH US:

  • TLI Recruiting:  Evan has been tasked with recruiting men to serve as Bible teachers on TLI's many short-term intensive training trips (44 trips in 2013).  Please pray for the Father to raise up pastors, students, and teachers who will give 1-2 weeks to feed theologically-famished brothers in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, and South America. 
  • Long-term Location:  We have been seeking the Father about some long-term opportunities with TLI.  There are some possibilities, and the details of those locations are still being discussed.  Please pray for us as we pursue overseas options, and that God would open a door that is a good fit and that He would make it clear in the coming months. 
  •  Support Status:  Since we switched over to TLI in July, many of our previous supporters have not switched over, and one of our previous supporting churches has had to suspend their support.  We are down $1500 per month of our needed budget.  Please pray that the Father would provide according to His riches in glory. 
  • Twin Time:  We are attempting to potty train Elijah and Isaiah this week.  As all you parents out there know, we need the Father's grace, strength, and patience in this process!
Thank you for taking time to read this update and pray for us.  We truly labor together with you for the advance of the great Gospel of our King.  May He alone be our chief Treasure.

Ministry Transition Update

To our faithful support team:

When God closes one door… He opens another. It’s not always as quickly as we’d like or just the way we’d like it. But it’s in just the right time, and better than we could have planned.  God has closed the door for work in China with PIONEERS at this point in time. He has opened a door for us to work with an agency called Training Leaders International (TLI) and for Evan to work towards completion of a PhD from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.


What is TLI’s vision?



Throughout the world there are millions of pastors who are doing the difficult work of leading the church with little or no sound theological training.  Moreover, there are thousands of people groups in countries which American missionaries cannot access, yet there are national churches in those countries asking American missionaries to train them how to cross a culture and evangelize an unreached people group.  Christianity is exploding around the world. Every year 50,000 new churches open their doors. Every day 174,000 people become Christians…but few are trained to lead them. In the developing world there is a serious lack of trained, theologically educated leaders. TLI hopes to bridge that gap by: 1) Sending pastors, seminary professors, and grad students on short-term trips to offer theological training to local leaders, 2) Sending long-term teachers overseas to teach in Christian colleges and universities, 3) Starting theological schools and training centers in places where formal and non-formal training is most needed.

Why a PhD?


Evan has been encouraged to pursue doctoral work by our former missions leader in China and by two of his former professors in seminary who have served as missionaries. Having worked with Evan and seen his gifts, they urged him to specialize in a Bible/ministry-related subject because such credentials and specialization would open numerous formal doors for significantly influencing leaders, pastors, and missionaries around the world who could spread the gospel in closed unreached countries.


What will our ministry with TLI look like?


Evan will be serving as an International Trainer, traveling overseas two times a year to train pastors in modular course settings. He will also closely mentor pastors and seminary students in the US to help them become better cross-cultural communicators. Kristie will serve as an editor for all of TLI’s blogs and social media outlets. One potential project on the table includes helping translate TLI’s seminary curriculum into Chinese so that it can be used to train house church pastors at a training center located just south of China’s Yunnan province, an area God has laid on our hearts in the past.


Where will we be located?


While Evan begins his PhD studies, we will remain in Spokane, WA, working for TLI and serving at our supporting fellowships here. Because the PhD is modular, we will probably be able to move and start ministry overseas before the program is completed, but it is still too premature to determine those details.  We should know more soon.


What about going back overseas?


We plan to move back overseas as soon as we can, maybe even next year.  As Evan travels with TLI, he will be able to consider the long-term options.


Will we return to China?


It is likely we will not. One reason for this is that it is impossible to formally train Chinese pastors while living in China. Another reason we will not likely return to China is because of the twins’ asthma and the fact that the least polluted city in China is still more polluted than Los Angeles. But we still desire and pray to reach the unreached peoples of China by helping the Chinese church whether we end up moving to a training center just south of Yunnan province to formally train Chinese pastors/missionaries or whether we end up teaching at a seminary in Southeast Asia where many Chinese come to study.


How will we be supported?


We will continue to be supported by the generous and faithful giving of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We will continue to rely on the Father to provide for the work of the gospel through the sacrificial giving of His saints. Our support needs will remain similar to what they were when we served with PIONEERS.  We pray that our support team will prayerfully join us in this transition to serving with Training Leaders International. Beginning now, funds can be given to our account at TLI. As of June 30th, fund can no longer be given to PI.  All funds in our PI account have been transferred to TLI. See the very bottom of the blog page for information on how to support our ministry through TLI.


How can you pray for us during this transition?

  • Pray that we continually make knowing and enjoying God the work and delight of our lives.
  • Pray that God would be glorified in the exaltation of His gospel truth through the training of pastors and missionaries around the world. And that He would strengthen us to serve this cause however and wherever He sees fit.
  • Praise God with us for His incredible, wise hand leading us through this time of waiting and opening the door for us to serve the unreached peoples through the training of pastors and missionaries!

Friday, August 24, 2012

How to Partner With Us

The truth is, we can't do this alone. God has designed the Great Commission to be carried out by the Church as a Body working together. 

As the father of modern missions William Carey said: "I will venture to go down, but remember that you must hold the ropes." 

As God gives us grace, we are venturing to go down to the difficult work of the gospel's advance among the unreached of Asia, and we need brothers and sisters in Christ who will hold the ropes for us both prayerfully and financially.

To commit to holding the ropes through prayer, please email us at: ekburns@generalmail.com

To partner with us financially, visit TLI's "Give Now" website page. 

Step 1: Under "Select Ministry Area" select "Global Partners."
Step 2: Select "Evan and Kristie Burns." Click "Next."
Step 3: Choose a Donation Frequency.  For one-time gifts, simply fill in the online form to give by electronic funds transfer from a personal banking account or by credit card. To sign up for recurring gifts (monthly, quarterly, annually), you will be asked to create a secure online account.

You can also give by check payable to: Training Leaders International. Please include our account #7012012 on the memo line. Please do not put our name on the actual check.
Mail to: Training Leaders International, PO Box 15292, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

We are so grateful for your partnership in the gospel!


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