Disciples of Jesus share the good news wherever they live
by Don Morris
“Boon” has a smile that reminds me of a high school buddy of mine—the Khmu version of my friend. Boon is a hard-working rice farmer, a man who typically rises at 4 a.m. every morning so he can have an hour for reading his Bible and praying before starting another grueling day. Not only does Boon farm all day long, often helping other farmers nearby along with tending his own farm, he’s also a pastor of a thriving church.
I met Boon on a recent trip to northern Thailand during the DNA Exchange Summit held at MB Mission’s Changed Life Center. The summit was a gathering of church planters from the United States, Canada, Japan, The Philippines, Thailand and areas surrounding Northern Thailand.
Boon, who lives in the northern area, endures great hardship and persecution due to his faith. So do other pastors and believers in the area. Christianity is not tolerated where Boon ministers to hundreds of people. But although persecution is a constant threat, the Mennonite Brethren church in this area of the world is thriving, with over 40,000 believers. There are many pastors and leaders who are willing to literally lay down their lives for the gospel. That is church planting dynamite!
I also loved talking with Sam, a pastor from the Philippines. He was consistently upbeat with a huge smile on his face. He beamed when talking about his church in the high country. He dreams of multiple churches being planted. His ultimate desire: to lead more and more people to Jesus.
The two church planters from Japan spoke of how extremely difficult it is to plant a church in that materialistic culture. But they remain committed, striving hard and doing all they can to reach more people. These men are humble ambassadors for Christ.
Church planting is also difficult in the Canadian urban settings of Vancouver and Montreal. It’s really tough in the 99 percent Buddhist nation of Thailand. It’s hard in America. Yet every summit attendee remains overwhelmingly committed to spreading the gospel.
Attendees heard an account of 60 people coming to Jesus on a single Sunday in one of our U.S. churches. We heard of multiple baptisms in muddy rivers and other remote places. We heard emotion-laden stories of radical commitment to Jesus in the face of threats of imprisonment. We cried together as people shared their stories. We even witnessed three people giving their lives to Jesus on the trip itself! The DNA Exchange Summit was all about sharing accounts of the gospel of Jesus moving forward in the world—with real, undiluted power. God’s power.
So we, U.S. Mennonite Brethren, must do all we can with God’s power to plant more churches here in America. After all, it’s incredibly evident that spreading the gospel is part of our DNA as followers of Jesus—all over the world.