Once There Were None

You might wonder — how do we decide where to support a new church planter? Well, that is a difficult decision. We only have a limited amount of resources, (so we can’t support everyone that is deserving), and we make a five-year commitment, so we spend lots of time on our knees asking the Lord to guide us.

A long dusty road to get to the village where Pastor Ruat is establishing a church.

A long dusty road to get to the village where Pastor Ruat is establishing a church.

We do have some criteria that help, though. They come through the biblical philosophy that influences our mission. We start with a desire to support faithful pastors ready to evangelize their communities. The particular place requires the availability of one of those pastors. The places we reach are hard and deep into the rural villages.

We also rely on the evaluation of our local church leaders.

  • They consider the potential for successful church planting.
  • They appraise the availability of other local churches in our network that can come alongside and provide support.
  • They also reflect upon the response to the gospel in the area to determine if there might be an opening for the gospel.
  • Sometimes they just feel moved by God that “this” is the place that needs a church. That decision might be made because there is not even one Christian witness in the community.

When I visited with Pastor Ruat in his village of Myanmar, I asked, “How many Christians were here when you arrived and started the church?” “None,” was his reply. The government built this village by offering four acres of dry ground to anyone who was willing to come try to farm. They appealed primarily to ethnic Burmese people because they wanted to integrate them into the predominately ethnic Chin area. So there was lots of animosity in the region.

When Pastor Ruat arrived and started the church, in the early stages of his church experience ministry was tough. The community leaders excluded his family from receiving any of the government supplies offered to the other families. They indicated that because he was a Christian, he should get his supplies from God. “Your God should provide for you,” they would say.  The harshness of the leaders however worked in his favor because in many instances God did supply and provided not only his needs but also provisions enough that he, in turn, shared with his neighbors. Our God does supply– through you!

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Members of the church gather to welcome us on our visit.

Other local churches in our network came to assist Pastor Ruat. They dug a well, and now they provide water for all their neighbors. Through these acts of kindness and the generosity demonstrated by Pastor Ruat and his family, God began to draw others to faith in his son.  Now there are five families attending church.

The next step

Over time things wear out, and the simple building begins to decay. We can encourage and pray for them that God will provide the necessary materials to establish a more secure structure for this church.

Pastor Ruat points out the rotting post that is decaying and making the building less safe.

Pastor Ruat points out the rotting post that is decaying and making the building less safe.

Now the new families want to build a permanent brick building where they can gather and worship. The visual result of a substantial building provides a daily reminder to those who, in the beginning, tried to stymie the effects of the gospel. A permanent building and a growing body of believers demonstrate that Christians are overcomers through their God who supplies.

Pray for Pastor Ruat’s congregation. The path may be difficult, but through God’s grace, they will build a healthy church in this community.