Seventeen years ago, I traveled deep into the interior of China, up a mountain and to a small town. I sat on a hill at night overlooking that town and wondered if anyone there had ever heard the Gospel. I was overwhelmed with the thought of all the far-off towns and villages around the world that did not have the Gospel. I felt the Lord asking me, “will you go?” The Holy Spirit was working so deeply in my heart at that moment, it was as if I had no choice but to respond, “YES!”
I am Annie Burleson*. My husband Craig* and I have six children, and we are members of Calvary. For the last ten years, we have been serving as missionaries with the IMB to the 1.5 billion people of South Asia, one of Calvary’s new key partnerships. When we first came to South Asia, I prayed that we would be able to start one church. It took a lot of faith for me to pray that meager prayer, but I felt that if God answered it, He would far surpass my expectations. Let me tell you, He has done so much more than that!
A lot of what we do is simple Biblical teaching and discipleship, and we have seen God use this in powerful ways in South Asia.
In 2007, we began working in a country with four times the population of America. We started by simply going out and sharing the Gospel with anyone who would listen. At first, we did not get much response. But then, we started teaching national believers how to share the Gospel and we would just go with them. We found that they had an average of a one in three response rate to the Gospel, so we began to throw all our efforts into strengthening these believers to share the Gospel, disciple others, start churches, and grow healthy churches.
In 2011, we started working with Pastor Raj. When we first met Raj, his dream was to pastor a church of 1,000 people. We worked with him and helped him to catch a vision for starting a church that would plant other churches, constantly multiplying until a movement started with exponential growth. Raj was on board, and we have been working alongside him for the last six years. In that time, the network of churches under Raj has grown from one to over one thousand.
A lot of what we do is simple Biblical teaching and discipleship, and we have seen God use this in powerful ways in South Asia. For example, one time Craig was teaching about the Great Commission to a group of national church planters from our network, and he asked them, “who is your Samaria?” There was no question in the minds of the Hindu-background believers in that room that their Samaria was the Muslims of South Asia. That day, the Holy Spirit worked in their hearts to tear down years of hatred and fear of Muslims and He filled them with a passion to share the Gospel with Muslims. Not long after that, a Muslim-background church was started in a state that has been completely resistant to the Gospel for centuries. Today, that one church has multiplied into several churches.
Our family is not alone. We are one part of the body of Christ partnered with you, our church family, to bring the gospel to South Asia. We want to thank you, because Calvary continues to be one of the top givers to the International Mission Board through the Global Missions Offering, which fully supports us on the field. You pray for us, you welcome us home when we are on furlough, and you come work with us on the field. Thank you, Calvary, for your partnership with us and the IMB!
*names changed for security purposes