In 2004, God gave me a clear vision to raise up leaders who have the kind of faith Moses had. Just as God met Moses and sent him back to Egypt to bring his people to the Promised Land, God will meet immigrants today and send them back home to spread the gospel — we just have to raise up leaders.
My vision today remains the same as it was in 2004: praying that immigrants will become 21st century versions of Moses. On Sept. 16-28, 2019, I saw the vision become a reality as immigrant pastors and leaders from North Carolina took part in a vision trip to their native countries to help share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
With the help of the Great Commission Partnerships team at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, a group of North Carolina church leaders participated in vision trips to Myanmar (Burma), and I was able to serve as a team leader. We had no idea what God had in store for our time there, but it became clear that God is bringing the vision of seeing 21st century versions of Moses into reality.
What we did
Upon our arrival, we learned about the International Mission Board’s (IMB) strategies and how to assist IMB missionaries with indigenous leaders for evangelism and church planting. We visited areas where lostness is great.
In Myanmar, only 3.2% of the population is categorized as “Christian” and less than 1% is considered to be “evangelistic.” We went to streets and homes for door-to-door evangelism.
One woman was watching us share the gospel with her employees, and she joined the conversation rather than asking us to stop. She asked, “Could you tell us more about Jesus in whom you believe?”
It was a great joy to see how the Burmese leaders from North Carolina worked together with IMB missionaries and indigenous leaders with the same goal and heart to reach the lost for Christ.
Perspectives from the mission field
1. All IMB team leaders we met on the trip shared that this was their first time working with Burmese nationals from the United States.
2. The IMB team leaders also told us that local Burmese leaders could provide encouragement to the Burmese church planters serving in America with relevance and cultural awareness. Anglo missionaries, Burmese leaders from North Carolina, and indigenous church planters all worked together to draw, reach and disciple people in Myanmar.
3. Even though this trip was “a vision trip,” for Burmese leaders, it was more than that. To them, it was a homecoming. They shared what happened on the trip with their churches to recruit more people for long-term support.
4. Resources developed in the immigrants’ home countries are still refreshing and relevant for them in the United States. Burmese leaders brought back many Christian resources from Myanmar in their languages in hopes that these resources would help strengthen their churches in the United States.
5. Naw Bawk, the Burmese ministry coordinator from North Carolina, noted that after seeing the sacrifices IMB missionaries made to reach his people, he has confidence to communicate with his church members about why the Cooperative Program is important to advancing God’s kingdom.
How this work can continue in the future
1. Focused prayer partnership
Burmese leaders brought back the names of IMB missionaries and indigenous church planters. They now have a specific list of prayers to pray for their nation and people groups.
2. Intentional evangelism and disciple-making
The leaders on this trip will be more intentional in helping their churches, as well as Anglo churches around them, reach the Burmese community in North Carolina as they did in Myanmar.
3. Regular mission trips and support
The Burmese leaders on the trip said they hope to return to the region with more people and more support. They desire to help IMB missionaries directly, as well as through the Cooperative Program.