For the last few days I’ve been participating in the World Partners Asia Regional Forum. World Partners is an organization dedicated to church planting, church strengthening, and most importantly, disciple-making through integrated projects. Disciple-makers from nine different Asian countries, most of them serving among their own people, came together for a conference to share, encourage, and discuss issues such as identifying and developing leaders, working with local majority religions/groups, turning regional obstacles into opportunities, and serving with accountability and transparency. As a Caucasian, I was in the minority and I was thrilled about that as it gave me an opportunity to dialogue with people serving among their own, which lends a different perspective than my cross-cultural peers can give. We were also was able to get an inside scoop on what is happening in places such as Burma, Bangladesh, and another country that rhymes with “Too-bahn“.
I was moved and challenged to consider how the ministry to which I’ve been called will have an impact on our commission to make disciples. Don’t get me wrong, just because I’m not directly doing “church planting” work doesn’t mean that I’m not fulfilling the Great Commission. I already know that my medical skills and ideas on promoting health serve as a resource to the work at large, and I am actively making disciples of doctors. But I succumb to what many of my peers also feel at times: we are always willing to say, “Here I am, Lord! Send me!”. We are willing to go again and again and again!
Even while I was encouraged and inspired by the amazing work going on in other countries, the thing that particularly challenged me was hearing again of the great need among the Thai people. The number of believers in Thailand hovers around 0.7% of the population. Subtract the believers who are hill tribe people, and the number of Thai believers is only 0.2% of the population. Figures are debatable, but you get the point. In this country, poverty rages, education lags, and health care has wide gaps. Combine this with cultural/social acceptance of certain practices, and the passive Buddhist background, the physical, social, and spiritual needs are great. I’m continually challenged by the needs before me and I am motivated by what I have to offer to the work at hand.
So, what to do now? Keep doing what I’m doing, but always with eyes and heart looking up and beyond the current work itself (which can get idolized) and way beyond myself to the One who sees it all and weaves it all together. In one of the powerful testimonies by a Burmese brother, he summed its it up well: “If it is with God, nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37)
God is the history maker – let him write it!