What Do Missionaries Even Do?

The Burkholders in 2014

The missionary life is actually a busy thing. A lot of missionaries are their own boss. They set their own hours, work at their own pace etc. However, for us in 2014, that is not the case, and we couldn’t be more excited. Tomorrow is the day that everything starts back up at Potter’s House. At 7:30 a.m., I will be carrying my travel mug full of thick, black coffee, as Jenny and I hop into our Kia Sportage to make the trek to Potter’s House. We will drive out of our neighborhood and begin the hour-long process of sitting in traffic.
            The drive is no ordinary drive. Most days it is 6 lanes of traffic on a 3 lane road. I will probably be running the A/C because, well, it’s warm here. It doesn’t matter how high I turn up the volume on the radio, you can’t drown out the mindless, incessant horn-honking. Everyone feels the need to tell everyone else that we are all, together, stuck in traffic.
            We will arrive at Potter’s House, probably around 8:30, and be swept up into the whirlwind of activity that doesn’t stop until December of 2014. Potter’s House is divided up into a couple of different areas. We are working within Family Integration, which is in part of the 5 programs offered by Potter’s House.
So, what will we be doing?
English Classes
Jenny is going to be offering weekly tutoring in English. She is accustomed to teaching Spanish to English-speakers. Now, she will be teaching English to Spanish-speakers. Regardless, she’s amazing at what she does. She is going to be working with the older students, ages 12-18.
Youth
We are joining/leading a team that will be hosting a weekly youth program. Essentially, we will be
running a youth group for 12-18 year olds. We are launching this on January 25, hoping to see 150 youth come and sign up to participate in the weekly program.
Men
I, Justin, will be running a bi-monthly men’s group, with the help of a whole slew of people at Potter’s House. This is a huge need, and a huge opportunity. We are hosting the meetings on Friday nights. Potter’s House encouraged us to do it on Friday nights because the men often get paid on Friday nights. This helps prevent them from taking their paycheck and immediately buying whatever vice they generally choose to consume over the weekend.
Couples
Jenny and I both will be running a monthly couple’s meeting. We hope to be studying Love and Respect, in Spanish, obviously. There are many couples that are living together because the girl got pregnant. They rarely know how to go from sexual attraction to committed, monogamous, gospel-centered marriages.

Discipleship Network
We will also be in charge of developing a discipleship network. We are still defining what this is going to look like, but we think it will resemble small communities dedicated to being and making disciples. We want to provide lots of accountability to encourage genuine transformation. Spirituality isn’t lacking here, and hearing the word occurs often. But, the doing of the word is the biggest challenge. Isn’t it for all of us?
Prayer Walks
We will also be involved in strategizing and planning the prayer walks that are done over 2014. Prayer walks are visits to homes for the purpose of prayer and encouragement. Each group that visits a home enters knowing the family’s situation, spends time getting to know them and encouraging them, prays for them, and leaves a small bag of food that includes about a week’s worth of food. These are HUGELY important meetings as they allow us to follow up on people with whom we’ve begun relationships. Our goal is to host 1,000 prayer visits this year.
Massive Evangelistic Events
We are also involved in the planning and execution of the massive evangelistic events. Potter’s House generally does about 4 a year. We do one on Mother’s day for moms, one on Father’s Day for fathers, and two others. Potter’s House has seen thousands of people participate in these events. This too gives us a great point of contact and initiation with new faces.
Miscellaneous Pastoral Work
We are also playing the role of Pastor-in-residence. There are a myriad of pastoral issues. We will be available for counseling, prayer, various discipleship meetings etc. I, Justin, am aiming to be meeting with Pastors from the community for training and encouragement. We will be on call for meetings with parents of troubled teens, present for the students in education, encouraging and discipling the staff etc. The opportunities are endless.
Oh, and our baby is born in approximately 22 days.
2014 is going to be an awesome, busy, productive, opportunity-filled year. However, it can’t reach any of those things, for us, without your prayer and support. Please pray for us. Pray that we will take full advantage of the opportunities that God has given us. And pray that we will also give full priority to our growing family.
We would love to hear what 2014 holds for you. Please drop us a note at j.burkholder10@gmail.com

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