Walking in a small village in Myanmar, Jonny was not sure what to expect. He had seen Nat (spirit) houses beside almost every hut. He had passed through huts with animist signs. He knew the people he would be speaking to were Buddhists. When Jonny arrived at the hut, he saw 40 people gathered in the hut waiting for him to speak. Jonny shared his life testimony and how God changed his life. God’s presence filled the room, and everyone could feel the change in the atmosphere. They were engrossed, listening attentively. Some tried to hold back tears. Others pushed towards the front even though neither Jonny nor his friend, Pastor Robin, had made an altar call. The villagers gathered in the room already knew these people spoke the truth, and they had to have it.
Jonny grew up in a missionary family. One thing he remembers from his childhood was that his father was often away doing ministry. He hated his father’s absence; most of all, he hated that it kept his father away from home. Jonny was a rebellious child who enjoyed whatever his parents didn’t approve of. Jonny didn’t want to have anything to do with Christianity, let alone be involved in ministry.
It didn’t take long, however, until Jonny personally encountered the love of God at a youth retreat his father forced him to go. He became involved in different ministries; however, he still didn’t want to immerse himself in full-time ministry. “That is what my dad did, and I didn’t want to do that,” he said. However, he eventually developed a burden for missions. Whatever jobs he was doing, whatever ministry he was involved in with his church, he felt incomplete.
Jonny felt God was calling him to the mission field while he was ministering as a youth and missions pastor in his church. But he pushed the thought back and refused to accept it. “I am already doing ministry, I am already helping missionaries, and I’ve got other people connected to the mission. I don’t need to do more,” he kept telling himself.
When his yearning was too hard for him to ignore, Jonny took time off from ministry to think things through. During this season, he had a God encounter that changed the direction of his life. It happened in the most inconvenient place to be filled in God’s presence. Jonny was in a plane when he was overwhelmed with God’s presence, worshipping tears streamed down his face. People looked at him in shock as he wept, laughed, sang and spoke in tongues. He couldn’t control the presence he was feeling. Jonny knew God was telling him to go.
Jonny took a 3-month sabbatical leave to seek God in prayer and fasting to discern God’s will for his life, and to find out where he should go. During this time, Jonny received a call from Chuck Quinley. Chuck had called to tell him about MediaLight. He told him to pray to about taking ten weeks off and coming to Thailand for the program. Jonny responded that he had already prayed about it and took a season off from his ministry.
During MediaLight, Jonny realized that God had called him to be a missionary in Asia. While Jonny was a student at MediaLight, God also knitted him together with Pastor Robin, a fellow student. The friendship that started at MediaLight led to Jonny’s involvement Emerge’s ministry in Myanmar, which is led by Robin.
For the past seven years, Jonny has been serving in SE Asia. He adopted the vision to equip and empower young leaders to be change agents in their nations. “A foreigner in another country can only go so far,” he says. “It has to be a Burmese, Chin, Thai…” As an Emerge missionary, Jonny has been serving as MediaLight staff for the past six years in equipping young leaders to use media to share the gospel creatively. Besides serving in MediaLight, Jonny follows up on alumni in helping and encouraging them to produce gospel media in their nations. When asked about why he continues serving on the mission field, Jonny responds, “I see the harvest happen. I see people come to know about Jesus and encounter the truth for the first time in their lives. That is why missions is the most rewarding thing to do.”
With seasoned missionaries and media specialists, Emerge is a community of people passionate about reaching the lost in foreign nations. If you are considering a commitment to life as a missionary, we would love to hear from you. Online, we offer practical advice for missionaries and missionary training courses to equip you for effectiveness in your mission-field. Whether you are burdened for the hill tribes of Myanmar, the youth of a Malaysian metropolis, or your coworkers at home, you will find resources, mentors, and a community to help you reach and disciple the lost.
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