You never know when one kind act, or one word of encouragement, can change a life forever.
- Zig Ziglar
Our days are filled with many activities. At times it move so fast that by the end of the day we are exhausted. Reflecting on a recent 24 hours, I realized that I took no time to reflect on the goodness of God in my life.
The following morning I turned off the noise, stopped the negative voices, and got involved with my passion. I planned to write e-mails, snail mails, text messages, etc. to friends in many places. My plan changed suddenly, and I picked the phone and began to call people. Their voices were so encouraging that I realized blessings to my soul.
Zig Ziglar's statement affirmed my decision to call others and I experienced that "...one kind, one word of encouragement, can change a life forever". This will become my weekly mission.
“I was born in the church and grew up in the church,” Howard Burkhart says. “The pastor kept talking about people being lost and not having Jesus. When I was about seven, I realized I didn’t have Jesus, so, on my own I prayed to receive Christ as my Savior. I was baptized shortly thereafter.”
Howard is a church planting catalyst with the California Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC) Church Starting Group. His ministry includes planting churches among often-overlooked language groups, working with the deaf and hearing impaired, and coordinating “Basic Training for Church Planters.”
“I was going to college and the church I attended started a deaf ministry, so I started to learn sign language,” Howard recalled. “I went to seminary and found out about the huge need for missionaries for the deaf.” While in seminary, Howard married his church’s sign language teacher, Tina.
The combination of two experiences led Howard as a young college student to recognize that God was calling him to be a missionary: learning sign language and going to Israel as an International Mission Board (IMB) summer missionary. The IMB assigned Howard to a missionary compound where they ran weeklong day camps for kids. He spent his time there as a camp counselor and lifeguard. The camps attracted Arabic-speaking children and children whose parents worked at various international embassies in the area.
“As a summer missionary in Israel, I was exposed to many different cultures in an area where I was no longer in the dominant culture. I was very fortunate to be able to see that,” Howard recalled. “The first day of camp, we registered children who lived in Nazareth and in Cana. I thought that was way cool!
“I fully enjoyed the cross-cultural aspect of things, too, which I had not done a lot of before,” he continued. “I found out that I was comfortable doing that.”
Howard attended the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, completing a degree in marketing and business administration. In 1984, after graduating from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a master of divinity degree, Howard accepted a position with CSBC and he and Tina headed for California.
While serving California Southern Baptists statewide, the Burkharts currently live in Benicia, in a home built in the 1800s. Howard is seeking to plant churches for the smaller people groups of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area such as Mongolians and Ethiopian-Eritreans. He has recently started working with the Filipino people.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch a church planter start the process and walk along with that planter until that church is doing well. That’s a lot of fun, and very rewarding!” Howard exclaimed.
“One of the challenges to my work is finding church planters,” he continued. “If we had a dozen church planters tomorrow, we could start a dozen churches. Another challenge is finding partnering churches to come alongside a church planter on various levels of engagement.”
Howard has helped start Romanian, Mongolian, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Indonesian, Burmese, Japanese, Haitian, Brazilian, Hispanic, Chinese, Filipino, Deaf, and Deaf Korean churches. He taught seminary classes for the deaf for 15 years as part of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s diploma program.
Howard and Tina have two children, Nathan and Victoria. Tina has master’s degrees in deaf education and religious education.
Howard’s message to California Southern Baptists: “Church planting is fun! A healthy church is also a reproducible church. If a church is not reproducing, it is not healthy. Being involved as a partnering church in church planting adds to a sense of purpose for a partnering church.
“Involvement gives people in the partnering church, who are spiritually gifted in certain areas, an outlet for ministry that they might not have in their own church. People in the partnering church get fresh ideas about being relevant in their own community. Certainly, the planting church benefits by having the help of a partnering church. I see it as a win/win/win situation.
“Come partner with us and take a mission trip and experience church planting in the Bay Area.”
Howard’s prayer requests:
Pray for Howard and Tina’s daughter, Victoria, who has many health needs and has been housebound for a number of years.
Pray for the churches reaching the various immagrant and refugee people as they look to adapt to the United States, learn English and look for employment.
Pray that God will continue raising up church planters for the San Francisco-Oakland region.
Pray that the Lord of the Harvest (Luke 10:2) will answer the prayers of those who are intentionally missional and praying for harvest hands every morning at 10:02. Set your alarms and join them.
Pray that God will open doors to reach smaller people-groups such as Mongolians, Ethiopian-Eritreans, and those speaking little-known Chinese dialects.
Pray for generous giving to the Cooperative Program, California Mission Offering and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
Praise God for the great work He is doing in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area and throughout California.
Praise God for the church planting partnerships He is developing in the Bay Area.
Praise God for the mission trips people are making to help reach people for Christ in the Bay Area.
Praise God for those who participate in the statewide Basic Training for Church Planters workshops.
Did you know? Basic Training for Church Planters is an intensive 18-hour workshop that walks teams through the process of church planting. More than 75 church planting teams attend the workshops each year.
Howard’s contact information: Howard Burkhart 229 West G St Benicia California 94510 707-746-8782 E-mail Howard.
“Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch, which I’ve got a hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” George Bernard Shaw.
121 1-2 I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.
It is important to look to God in our joy and difficulties. So often many of are struggling with a tsunami of difficulties and seek help from others. Over the years I am thrilled to know that God gives me strength and walk with me daily. It is so refreshing to "lean on the evarlasting arms" of God. He cares for each of us. 1. Take a walk, 2.-Slow down, 3.-Meditate and 4.-Reflect on God. A practice I follow often.
"Courage is telling our story, not being immune to criticism" (Brené Brown). Sharing the story of our lives can be exhilarating. Listening to friends this week share their journey was exciting, amazing and encouraging. Brené is right on target. Don't let the critics rain on your rainbow!
There are so many excellent stories of life impacting situation, I encourage each of us to take time an share.
Seth Godin is an incredible author. Recently I was reading his book "The Icarus Deception" and read this quote "The world is filled with ordinary people doing extraordinary things." I began to reflect on these words. Their faces came flooding across the memories, forgotten, unacknowledged, buried in history, and many times feeling the sting of loneliness as they departed this world.
Have you given any thought today to the many who built the bridges, highways, churches and ministries around us? We too will be just a "dot" in the road after we leave, yet for so many, each of us were touched deeply by their lives. This will probably be a blog much longer than just remembering.
I found an old "rolodex" recently in a box hidden away for many years. Wow! A rolodex. In a quiet corner I began to read names. It seemed as if they walked across the room to say hello. Faces long forgotten, yet imprinted on my heart. Men and women whose lives guided and blessed me. The world call them ordinary people. I remember them as "spiritual giants" for God. I am taking time to remember. God is so good! Thanks, friends. Some of us are thankful and do remember your lives.
Reading has been a passion for life. I love to read and try to read a book every couple of months. So much to learn from others. I finished a classic by Bill Hybels “Just Walk Across the Room”, (Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith). Often we are in a hurry to cross the world, and miss the opportunity to cross the room and share Christ with someone. I will continue to share my faith with others, beginning in my circle of family and friends.
There is joy in sharing Christ with others. We all have been “sent” as missionaries to reach the world, beginning in our Jerusalem. Are you aware of the “lostness” of your community? Have you thought of how to impact your community for Christ.
There are many methods and books written on evangelism. I believe there is a pent up legion of Christ followers waiting to be released for this very important task. Fear, uncertainty, anxiety and reluctance at times keep us from being the witness God wants us to be.
As I reflect on the “missed” opportunities, I do not live in the past. My desire is to pray, share, sit down for a conversation and tell the story of Jesus who came to die for me. His love is available to all.
Recently I was sharing with someone on the phone and he said “I have gone too far. Do you think I will be welcome?”, Yes, I answered, you cannot go too far where the love of God cannot reach you. We believe this when our Heavenly Father says, “Call unto me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which thou knoweth not. Jeremiah 33:3.......If you confess with you mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9)
Before the week is over, take time to “cross the room, street, office, etc.” and become a living testimony of the Grace of God.
Max Lucado is one of my favorite christian writers. I read this devotional a couple of days and was blessed.
Jesus On Your Side
“The One who died for us...is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.” (Romans 8:34 The Message) “Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.” Holman Christian Standard Bible).
Jesus is praying for us...Jesus has spoken and Satan has listened. The devil may land a punch or two. He may even win a few rounds, but he never wins the fight. Why? Because Jesus takes up for you...”He is able always to save those who come to God through him because he always lives, asking God to help them (Hebrews 7:27)...
Jesus, at this very moment, is protecting you...Evil must pass through Christ before it can touch you. And God will “never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG).
During these days, it is very difficult to maintain focus. Worldwide events, national fiscal problems, and social issues continue to invade our lives. The news continue to broadcast 24/7 and much of the information can be depressing.
There are so many inspiring stories around, if we would only look! I find it thrilling to hear the good news of transformed lives and communities. In my role as a minister, I believe in the miracle of transformed lives. I have seen so many lives climb out of the shambles of disaster when their spiritual lives met the Savior.
One of my goals in life is to live in the joy of transformation. This is how I do it: Listen to the promises of God, Celebrate the power and presence of Jesus, Walk in the presence of friends. I discovered years ago the importance of staying connected to the many who pray, support and guide me. They are unselfish individuals who are always available with encouraging words. Staying focused is my desire for all of us.