October 15, 2011
Over decades of missions ministry, Mustard Seed International® (MSI) has established many excellent Great Commission partnerships in strategic locations across Southeast Asia. Five years ago I flew 23 hours and 12 time zones to the other side of the world to meet with our MSI Regional Director and to familiarize myself with MSI’s ministry there. We began to dialogue, pray, and dream about the most effective ways to deepen relationships with our indigenous partners and reach more people for Christ. As one element of our long-term strategy, we decided to offer a training conference for the pastors and lay leaders from the many churches MSI has had a part in planting. We were surprised when almost 300 attendees came the first year (2006), some traveling from great distances to participate. As a result of those fruitful days together, and at the urging of the church leaders, we made plans to offer a similar training conference every three years.
We recently held that second MSI Spring Conference and the numbers attending grew to almost 400 this time. It was an inspiring three days of worship, practical leadership training, rich fellowship, and encouragement. Leading the workshops and helping were 14 short-term team members from my church, Graceland Baptist Church in Indiana, plus two additional volunteers from Summit Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The team joined with our MSI Southeast Asia missionaries for one common purpose – to serve our Asian brothers and sisters in new and even stronger ways. In addition to leading in various aspects of the conference, many from our team were faithful intercessors, investing hours of time praying with and for each and every attendee.
As the conference time came to a close, the participants re-affirmed their commitment to go back to their villages and the surrounding areas to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, regardless of what the consequences might be. Few of us in North America truly understand the price that minority believers must pay when they make a decision to courageously stand for Christ in a predominately Muslin culture…a decision that more often than not, alienates them from family, friends and neighbors.
After the conference ended, I, and several of the men on our team, accepted a challenging invitation to travel with an indigenous pastor to the “front lines” of his ministry. He had grown up in an animistic village where superstitions ruled and Christ was not known. But, as a child, God miraculously healed him from a very serious illness, one from which the village witchdoctor had declared he would die. The Lord used his healing to draw this young man to Christ. In the years that followed, he was trained as a Christian leader through MSI’s ministry and was led by the Lord to return to his roots and share the truth of the Gospel. We had the privilege of traveling with him back to his home area, to proclaim God’s Word and to support the fledgling work he has begun.
Our team can now say that we have truly journeyed “to the ends of the earth” and back. From the conference site, it was necessary to drive six hours to another city. From there, we got in the back of a pick-up truck and bounced another six hours along single lane roads (paved, unpaved, and filled with potholes) to a village. We slept there and the next morning began The Hike. Our group of Americans and Asians walked nine and a half hours through mountain jungles on narrow, muddy paths. We crossed rivers and streams and endured a series of drenching rain storms that soaked us and our possessions, not to mention the creatures we encountered. Weariness and dehydration made us wonder if we would ever get to our destination.
We did make it – and all of us were changed, both in this life and the one to come. Several of us came back with rashes, one had a sprained ankle, and another a cracked rib and twisted knee. Others were hit even harder – malaria and dengue fever. The greater impact, however, comes from the privilege of obedience – taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth, witnessing dozens of people making commitments to Christ as Savior and Lord. We were inspired by the dedication of front-line believers representing Christ courageously in villages where they are significantly out-numbered by Muslims, Hindus, and animists. Seldom do any of us western hemisphere Christ-followers suffer for our faith. What a privilege to endure a few days of physical hardship for the sake of Jesus!
One great joy I have as a Trustee of MSI is the experience of knowing first-hand the quality of leadership we are blessed to have in our missionaries and our indigenous ministry partners. These are gifted Christians, rooted in their faith, talented, dedicated, and people of integrity. I wholeheartedly endorse and support their work, and count it a privilege to serve Christ with them.
The kingdom of God is growing in Southeast Asia…as Christians, we are His hands and feet in planting, watering and nurturing this great spiritual work. Whether you have just come to know about MSI or you are someone that has walked with us for a long time, I want to encourage you to pray fervently for this ministry and to offer your financial support. Thank you!
Dr. Scott Miller
Graceland Baptist Church and MSI Trustee