Dear team members,
It has been way too long since we’ve sent out an update. Much has happened over the past few months, as most of you know. Thanks for your faithful support for us, even though we have not been the best communicators.
In Loving Memory
Of course, as most of you aware, the biggest event in our lives these past months was the passing of my father, David Burleson, on August 18, after several months of battling cancer. We are grateful he is no longer in pain, but we miss him dearly.
I was able to return to Texas for the memorial service and spend some time with my mom for a few weeks afterward. Thank you for your continued prayers for her as she grieves and adjusts to life without Dad. We are grateful to so many of you for the support you have shown our family during this time. Thank you!
More Family News
In other news on the home front, back in late April Ben announced his engagement to DakotaKate Lamkin! They are planning to get married on December 29, and we are blessed to be able to come home very briefly for the wedding (and Christmas!) We are anticipating the beginning of this chapter of their lives, and of course we’re excited to be adding another daughter!
Both Ben and Andrew finished their undergraduate work in May. Ben started an engineering job in College Station, and Andrew began medical school at Texas A&M. All three brothers are living together until the wedding, as Michael continues on in his undergraduate studies at A&M as well. He enjoys being a part of the A&M Century Singers choir, and has a job as a food server at a newly opened retirement home.
Back in PNG, Katie and Cara have had opportunities to experience mission life at a new level now that they are older. Currently, Katie is on a 3 week trip into Tigak, visiting the Beall family (fellow Aggies) and seeing tribal missions up-close and first-hand. Pray for her as she continues to seek God’s will for her life after graduation next May. Cara is on a ministry trip to Madang, helping with child care for our orientation program for our new church planting missionaries. We are grateful for longer school breaks that enable our girls to be involved in these opportunities!
One of the joys in my role as Managing Director for the field is casting vision for the missionary team that seeks to establish “a thriving church for every people” of PNG. As a leadership team we’ve been honing that vision statement. Part of it reads
We envision thriving churches among every people of Papua New Guinea with a clear understanding of the Gospel, reading the Scriptures in their heart language, worshiping God as obedient disciples of Jesus in Spirit-led communities governed by local elders. We will continue to send church planting teams to the unreached to disciple and teach foundationally until a revealed local body is equipped and a pathway for ongoing maturity and multiplication is established.
We rejoice that the Lord continues to raise up new laborers for the field. Our orientation class for next year is already full, and we hear from the training centers that many more are interested in joining us in the months and years to come. Praise the Lord!
This is good news because the need is great. Just recently, we heard of another language group asking for missionaries. Five men came to one of our current works from their village, a few days’ hike away. They made a formal appeal for an Ethnos360 team to start a ministry in their village. The lead speaker said that ever since our missionaries came to their village to introduce who we are and what we do, they have been talking about their need for a missionary team. He said (in the Melanesian Pidgin language) he is able to garden, and has had big gardens, but nothing gives him the real sweet potato (eternal food) that he is looking for. He talked about previous religious groups that have worked in their village in the past, but he said none of them have learned their language or taught them the Bible in their language and none of them have provided the spiritual nourishment the village needs.
Please pray with us as we evaluate this request, along with many others that we have received, in helping our new missionaries decide where to go next. These are weighty decisions with eternity at stake! Pray that we will be effective in our use of the resources God has given us!
Prayer Group: The Thirty
I mentioned last update our prayer group that we have formed: The Thirty for PNG. Named for the famous “Thirty” warriors who assisted David in his kingship, we envisioned Thirty prayer warriors who would support the work in PNG on their knees. Praise the Lord, we’ve had many more than Thirty join the group, closer to 100. But we’d love to involve others as well. So many people have commented how receiving these daily updates helps them understand and relate to the church planting mission in PNG in a greater way.
Message me on Facebook if you are interested in joining the group. OR, we also e-mail the requests once each week as well, so you can also receive them via e-mail if you prefer.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support for the ministry in PNG. God is doing great things here! Thanks for being a part of the team!
Neil and Becky Burleson and kids