John & Claire* have worked with OMF for 25 years, most recently leading one of our multinational teams. Now they are taking on a new challenge of leading work focusing on the peoples of Myanmar. We chatted to John to find out more about their new role and how we can pray for them.
What was your journey into mission?
‘I had been working as a quarry manager and Claire was finishing up a PhD and we began to ask ‘God, what would you have us do?’ That coincided with a growing relationship with retired CIM/OMF missionary, Mary Welander, while the Bible spoke to us about “working for things that endure to eternal life”. God’s voice also came to us through Nehemiah and an article in [Billions], and he called us to work with an unreached people group called the Shan.’
What are some highlights from your ministry so far?
‘It has been a thrill to see God opening the eyes of Shan people, making them more receptive to the gospel. As churches and individuals catch the vision to see God’s Church multiply across our region, where many are hearing about Jesus for the first time, we are filled with hope and purpose.’
Why are you excited about your new role?
‘Over the past couple of years Claire and I have felt drawn more and more to the peoples of Myanmar. We are excited to combine the efforts of the existing team there with those of teams in the wider region working with the Shan, Lisu, Palaung and Wa peoples who are also found in Myanmar. In addition, the Bamar people, the majority ethnic group in Myanmar, are one of the largest unreached people groups in Southeast Asia. Seeing churches that are centred around Jesus, led by local Christians and sharing the gospel among all these peoples is a big vision. Yet far from being a pipe dream, we believe this is a vision in keeping with God’s word and his promise that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).’
How can we pray for you?
‘We have some health challenges in our family and as the years go by separation from our loved one does not get easier. My parents are ageing too and so please pray for grace. Pray for the ability to encourage and walk with our team. We have much to learn. Pray too for our learning Burmese. When God called us to the Shan we had the sense that he wanted us to learn three languages. With God’s help we learnt Thai and Shan years ago but starting to learn Burmese is going to need to be another “God thing”’.
*Names changed to protect identities.