LFTF: Episode 8

Published 30th July 2016 - Jason Birkin | Series: Lessons From the Field

Jason Birkin and his wife Shirley spent many years church planting in the Philippines, today they continue to work alongside the local church there. We asked him the question –


What was the most difficult thing you faced during your time as a church planter overseas?

Thinking through it now there were a lot of physical things that were really hard. One of the great things, though, I thank the Lord for is that we began at a very young age when we did, and I think even though we were looked down upon by others for being so young and people often used to kind of make jokes about us being so young, I really believe, again, that this is part of God’s plan because there’s no way that I would ever go in there now at a later age and live like we did and do the things that we did, but we were so young, we had no children yet, we’d only been married a year. Very naïve. We just knew that God wanted us to go forward, and whatever he put in our way, we realized we didn’t have a choice but to trust him, and we did some really crazy things, I think back now. We lived amongst the people, eating their food and relying upon them for everything, making ourselves vulnerable in that situation, and that was hard physically and surely you probably see a little bit more about how hard it was to not only to eat their food but to learn how to cook on the fire and eat things that we would never eat otherwise. There’s a lot of physical things here, but the most difficult thing for me, I guess, was learning patience and learning to trust the Lord where wanted everything to happen quickly and we wanted people to respond quickly and we wanted results, and I think that that’s something that is in all of us. People expect that there’s going to be results from our ministry, that we’re going to get into ministry really quick, but God’s program in this situation was that we had to be trained, and even though we had 3 years training with the organization before we went out there, it was only just really scratching the surface, and as we got into each situation, God was developing us and preparing us for things that were going to happen further down the track, and we couldn’t get all that training all at once and just expect that we’ve made it. There was one of the hardest things, was trusting the Lord for a response, especially when you would spend all that time learning 3 languages and making relationships and then you’re told, “We can’t listen to this teaching because the spirits won’t let us.” That was a let down. We’re thinking, “Oh Lord, what are we doing here?” We’re just wasting our time, but again, the Lord showed us, “I’m working, and when the time is right, I will cause these people to respond,” and so our job was to pray and to trust the Lord, and often times we don’t like to pray and to spend time waiting on the Lord to answer. We just want to move ahead and do our own thing, but that’s been really hard, but I remember times on the trail where it was really hard, walking and for hours you would be heating up and your body would be hot and then it would be a downpour of rain and freezing wind and your body would go into cramps and you’re thinking, Lord, why am I going through all of this when people don’t even want to hear your message? I’d be praying for the people, “Lord, stir their hearts, Lord, cause them to listen,” and I’d pray for them individually and a lot of those people never did respond, but the first one did, and from there, people responded, but in the Lord’s time, so I guess the hardest time for me was during those times of waiting, and when you’re suffering physically and things don’t seem to be happening, just being willing to trust the Lord. I’m talking about not just days or weeks but years of sometimes waiting and living in the jungle for 2 years before there’s ever even a response, and waiting for 5 years just to see one person come to know the Lord, and that’s been really, really hard, but in the long run, after all these years, now we can look back and see the great fruit and results from those small seeds that were planted in the beginning and just be willing to wait upon the Lord. Even today I still want to run forward, and I haven’t yet learned to be patient, but just knowing in your heart that God is the one that’s in control and he’s going to work out this plan according to his timing, and we need to submit to that and allow him to be Lord in our lives, and I think that’s one of the big lessons that I’m learning still in life.

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LFTF: Episode 37

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LFTF: Episode 36

What are some of the things you like about being a ‘missionary kid’, and what are the challenges?

LFTF: Episode 35

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LFTF: Episode 34

As a missionary, do you have any concern about your child’s wellness or your child’s faith?

LFTF: Episode 33

If the language group I’m working with doesn’t have any similar words to the Bible, can I just create a word?

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