Big Changes Ahead
Hello again from Texas! We pray you all are resting in the Lord in uncertain days. Recently, I have been encouraged by the Providence of God, that is, his sovereignty over life’s events whether large or small. It is a tremendous anchor for the soul to know that our Mighty God has everything in his loving hands. Our eternal hope in Christ is secure. This has been a source of comfort to us personally as well, as we are looking at some big changes ahead in our lives and ministry.
In our last letter we mentioned that one of our primary goals for this time of home assignment is to work out a good plan to help take care of some extended family needs, particularly for our parents as they get older. Although we would love to return to PNG whenever international travel opens back up, it seems that God has other plans for us here in the USA for now.
In order to best care for the needs of our extended family, we plan to transition to a USA-based ministry with Ethnos360. However, we will continue to be involved in the work of reaching the unreached of PNG (and the world), although our location will primarily be in the USA. We would like to take a minute to lay out for you what we will be doing, and how you can continue to be involved with us in ministry!
New Ministry Details
Although the exact details of this are still coming together, we are looking at filling two primary roles. First, we are looking to develop an “off-site” support team for the church planting effort in Papua New Guinea. What does this mean?
Recall that due to the poor infrastructure in-country, a sizeable team of support missionaries is required to reach the unreached tribal groups of Papua New Guinea. However, due to advances in technology, many things that we do to support the PNG church planting effort can now be done remotely. Specifically, many of our IT, finance, and personnel tasks can be done from our home countries. In addition, with travel greatly restricted for the foreseeable future due to new and existing hurdles, it seemed advantageous to the PNG field leadership to allow those of us who need to be in the USA for various reasons to organize a team that can work “virtually” to support the church planting effort remotely. Thus, the team will be doing tasks that were formerly done “in country,” but now can be done from our home countries (the USA, Germany, etc.) thanks to technology that allows us to do so. The PNG field leadership has asked Neil to manage this new team.
Secondly, there is a great need to have someone doing the ministry of missionary mobilization in Texas. The ministry of mobilization means representing Ethnos360 here in Texas, encouraging others to join in helping to fulfill the Great Commission! Our plan at the moment is to reside in College Station, Texas. Not only is it the home of Texas A&M University (70,000+ students), but it is located within easy driving distance of most of the major cities in Texas. It is a very strategic location for missions mobilization!
The great thing about all of this is that both ministries can be accomplished (mostly) from here in Texas, but they continue to help the church planting effort move forward both in PNG and around the world! We do anticipate taking occasional trips back to PNG as time goes on and travel opens back up a bit more, but the majority of our work will be done from the USA, allowing us to help our extended family in the ways that they need us.
Grateful for YOU, our Team!
We are so grateful for those of you who have been with us on our missionary journey for all or part of these past 24+ years. You all have kept us on the field through your prayers and giving. Just as it takes a team of missionaries (church planters and support workers) to reach these unreached tribal groups, it also takes OUR team (you all!) to keep us serving with Ethnos360. Thank you for standing with us so faithfully!
Just a few more details for those of you who might be interested in continuing to be part of our team financially! Missionaries who work in a stateside capacity raise financial support through churches and interested individuals in the same way that overseas workers do. Those of you who would like to continue to support us in this new phase of ministry are welcome to do so! You can continue to give in the same way that you have been. Thank you!
We expect that some people may want to choose this time to redirect their giving to other ministries, and we totally understand! On the other hand, if you would like to join our financial support team in this new season, we would be so grateful. Please drop us an e-mail and we can let you know more details on this!
Here are a few specific prayer needs we have at this time. Thank you so much for praying!
- Pray for us as we work with our mission leadership to sort through the details of these new ministries.
- Pray for the Lord’s direction in finding a place to live in College Station.
- Pray for our girls at Texas A&M. They are doing well and are enjoying living together again this year.
- Pray for direction for Michael as he is applying for various jobs since his graduation last May. Ben & DakotaKate and Andrew & Katie are enjoying married life in College Station.
- One of the airlines cancelled our tickets home last May. We have been promised a refund, but the airline has declared bankruptcy. This was several thousand dollars, and would really be helpful as we settle into life in the USA! Pray that God might move the hearts of those involved to issue that refund.
- Praise the Lord for new believers and a new church in each of these people groups: Wantakia, Pei, and Amdu. We hope to give more details in our next update, but pray for these new believers as they grow in their new faith in Christ.
Thank you for your prayers. Please drop us a note to let us know how we can be praying for you as well!
So grateful for you,
Neil and Becky Burleson