MUP 2005 Conference
10 March 2005
When Tom volunteered to head up the conference planning team for our Mission to Unreached Peoples 2005 Worldwide conference he did not realize what he was getting into. That was three years ago, shortly after the last conference. Putting together a conference for over 300 people coming from many parts of the world provided many opportunities to see God work. One major way God blessed was through our keynote speaker, Mr. Ben Wong. He headed up a team that leads the largest cell church in Hong Kong and currently works to encourage cell churches around the world. He was an excellent speaker, tackling challenging issues with humor and sprinkling in lots of insight into Asian thinking.
Another clear answer to prayer came through Greg and Linda Hytha, our worship leaders for the conference. Greg was a childhood friend of Tom’s and they had been leading worship most recently at a church plant in Pennsylvania. They are both excellent musicians and did a great job leading us in worship and connecting worship with the topics of the speaker.
God provided in many other ways to make this a really good conference. As Tom noted, nothing major went wrong, the budget came out in the black and we heard only positive comments about how God had blessed the participants. Thanks for standing with Tom in prayer over this conference.
We would like to share a few stories and comments from conference attendees put together by Becki Lambert.
“Marry me and go to Thailand,” was how Michael Phillips proposed to Naomi. They have been there for 15 years, and have become part of a Thai family. Their ministries include 3 hostels, a training center, agricultural demonstrations and training, Community Health Evangelism, micro-farm loans and 20 churches. Michael is the chairman of the organization. On top of all that, they are also raising five kids.
When Michael was 32, he went wife shopping at a church. Instead of finding a wife, he found Christ. Soon, he was enrolled in Seattle Bible College. There, he met some Thai pastors who invited him to visit their country. As he was there, he knew he would return.
Four of the Phillips kids, Naomi and Michael all live in a Northern Thai village. (Their daughter is at university). Two of the boys were adopted from a family in the village. Instead of the boys becoming part of the Phillips family, they became part of the boys’ family.
When asked about the most rewarding part of their ministry, Naomi and Michael immediately think of some special families. Michael has worked himself out of a job. Just like David in the Bible had his Mighty Men, Michael has a group of men surrounding him. When they have prayer meetings, Michael is reminded that these men are a gift from God. Because of these men, when Naomi and Michael are gone, the ministry will live on. The wives behind these men are a great joy for Naomi. They share meals and prayers together, Thai style pot-luck on the floor. Within this context, their children are cultivating a heart for the lost. Naomi says, “Raising your family within your calling is not a sacrifice.”
An exciting moment happened for Dustan this February. He got on airplane. Getting on an airplane is not that exciting normally, but for Dustan it meant the realization of a dream.
At 16, he was an angry kid who hated everyone. Then, Jesus came into his life and changed that hate into a passion for the very people he had hated. Students took notice when this angry kid who used to practice witchcraft started a Bible Club at school.
Shortly after salvation, Dustan saw a video on missions. He told God that it would be a cool thing to do. God listened. Soon he was reading books like Jesus Freaks. His vision for missions was fueled by the stories of martyrs in other countries. He wanted to go help people like that.
Last year, he attended “Acquire the Fire.” During that time God spoke to him, “Get ready.” When he returned home, he started making preparations: he talked to his pastor and e-mailed every missions organization he could think of. MUP answered and they were eager to talk. He was accepted into Luke 10. Now, he is in his first month of a nine month commitment. He dreams of coming back to the States and mobilizing others to go. Dustan says, “That’s my dream for life. How I get there is to follow God one step at a time.”
Dawn Birkner has a vision to see what could happen in her area of Japan. Through wedding ministry, church planting and teaching English, she hopes to see multiple simultaneous churches grow.
When most people think of Japan, big cities filled with people come to mind, but that is not what Dawn sees. She lives in a traditional rural community on Shikoko Island. People there are open to hearing the gospel, but resistant to believing. She knows that it is God’s heart to give everyone a chance to believe. Therefore, her goal in ministry is to present the gospel thoroughly in a relevant way.