Believing in Bhutan

raymond-burkholder-familyAfter several years of waiting and changing plans, August 3rd fi nally arrived. Once again we uprooted from Lancaster County, PA and moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Upon our arrival we were given a warm welcome by the Institute for Global Opportunities missionary staff. Our hearts thrilled to once again be in full time missionary service for our Lord Jesus. Naomi will be helping with the weekend cooking IGo as well as keeping our home. Jana (17) will be helping Naomi’s responsibilities. Lorida (21) will be teaching school for the IGo missionary staff children. Raymond will be teaching an occasional class at IGo, but his primary responsibility is to serve as director of the Macedonian Teaching Ministry (MTM).

MTM is another ministry track of IGo’s vision. The vision of MTM is to equip and mobilize native church leaders, church planters & missionaries to move out and win their own unreached people groups to Jesus Christ. This ministry will hold training conferences in various Asian countries working through native coordinators.

August 17-21 truly were the official commencing dates of the IGo Macedonian Teaching Ministry here in Asia. Val Yoder and I traveled to Bhutan, a very small country located in the foot hills of the Himalaya mountains. The experience of flying into Bhutan was a thrill to say the least. We flew in on an Airbus A319 jet plane literally, flying down the valley making numerous turns around mountain peaks & hills to follow the valley to where the airport was located. The runway was short due to lack of fl at valley space and we stopped hard and fast. It truly was an “only in Asia” experience.

Bhutan has a population of 700,000 people and only 2.5 percent are Christian. The country is primarily Buddhist and its influence is seen everywhere. Stupas (a place containing Buddhist relics), monumental images, monks, prayer flags and prayer wheels abound. We were overwhelmed with sadness at how dedicated these dear Bhutanese people are to spin those prayer wheels and walk around & around those Buddhist shrines seeking virtue & forgiveness of sin. In many ways their dedication and diligence shames Christianity. We know it is all to no avail. The scripture is clear that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Jesus Christ alone is humanity’s supreme sacrifice, in shedding His blood, for forgiveness of sin.

…We are to spread God’s glory among the nations. God has granted conservative Anabaptist people a very special privilege and opportunity. Please pray for us that we would have wisdom and discernment to faithfully walk through the doors that God opens before us. The next MTM assignment will be in Aizawal, India late November. Lord willing several IGo students will be traveling with us. This would be their ministry trip experience after 6th term. Presently I am also finalizing plans for a MTM teaching in Nepal & Myanmar in the near future. Thank you for your prayer and financial support.

By Raymond Burkholder, Director of IGo Macedonian Teaching Ministry (I Witness News/Fall 2008)

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