First, please allow me to apologize for not writing anything on this blog until now. It is very difficult to write about a ministry opportunity in a specific country when you are not yet living or ministering there. At this point in time, Points North Ministry is sort of like a bunch of scribbles on a little piece of paper. We have this big, amazing, awesome idea. We’ve told our families about it. We’ve asked our local church to partner with us. We know what we have to do in order to make it happen, but at the moment, we’re sort of in a holding pattern while we try and work out all these really important details that have to be sorted out before we can actually get down to the business of becoming full-time, on the field, honest-to-goodness missionaries. But, in spite of all these little trivialities, I can tell you that Sam and I are both over the moon thrilled with this opportunity and we’re going to be in Scotland by this time next year…unless of course the apocalypse happens, and then we’ll just have to play it by ear at that point.
So, as an introductory post, because you probably already know who we are and I don’t really need to blog about us, please allow me to tell you, in a nutshell, about the idea or the ‘vision’ that God has laid on our hearts for northern Scotland. We’re calling it Vision 20/20. That was Sam’s idea; I thought it was pretty clever. What do you think?
This plan is initially laid out as a 5-year plan. We think accomplishing this monster vision in five years could be a stretch for us, especially considering the spiritual climate of Scotland, but we know that anything is possible with God, and since we believe with our whole heart that this plan came to us from God who are we to question it, right? So here’s what it looks like:
2016: A year of preparation
This is year zero as we in the business world like to say. This year we will focus on two major areas: prayer and support.
We know that without prayer covering we’re going to flop in this adventure. We’re asking everyone we know, and everyone we don’t know who is reading this to please, please, please pray for us. We need wisdom, and not man’s wisdom. We need the armor of God in this. Already we’ve felt the attacks of the Devil as we begin to formulate our plans. Satan does not like that we’ve committed ourselves to this evangelism plan whole-heartedly and he’s working overtime to convince us otherwise. He will NOT win this battle, I promise! So please, add us to your prayer list. Add us to your church’s prayer list. Tell your neighbors to pray for us. Prayer is serious business and we believe in its power. In the eloquent words of Nike, just do it…please.
Okay, moving on…so, obviously, in order for us to actually go to Scotland we have to raise money. I wish we could just reach into our savings account and pull out all the cash we’d need in order to get on the field right now, but alas that well has gone dusty. Yesterday Sam and I were talking about how amazing this adventure is and I made the comment that we can’t move fast enough for me, literally. I’m ready to be there…like the day before yesterday. I can’t remember feeling as pumped up about a ministry opportunity as I am about going to Scotland. Unfortunately, the British government has made immigrating to the United Kingdom very, very difficult. I think America could take a few lessons from our old Uncle, but that’s another post for another day… Currently, Sam and I have come up with a number…it’s a big one…like, really BIG…$75,000 worth of big. That number is terrifying to me. When I think about trying to raise that much money in order to get on the mission field my heart starts to beat wildly, my palms start to sweat, there is a loud ringing in my ears, and I begin to think of all the reasons why that number is impossible. And then, I just shrug my shoulders and say, “Whatever!”
In all seriousness, we have to raise this much money just to get on the field for the first year. This number includes a bunch of stuff though that is really just one-time expenses. For example, the most costly piece to year one will be our visas, which is kind of a big deal if you’ve ever tried to live abroad. Our visas are going to cost us approximately $23,000. Now, the majority of that cost is money we will have to have in savings before we apply for our visas (approximately $17,000 as a matter of fact), as proof that we have the income necessary to live in the United Kingdom for at least 3-months, which is the amount of time it could take to obtain visa approval for both of us. In addition to the money we have to have in savings, the United Kingdom has established a minimum cost of living standard, which for both Sam and I will amount to approximately $34,000 per year, and we will have to show that we have at least that that much money pledged from supporters (outside of the United Kindgom) for the year. The additional $18,000 comprises our National Health Surcharges, airline tickets, a used vehicle to be purchased once we get there (seriously people, public transport is not cheap there, just readily available), taxes, and other miscellaneous expenses we’ll have to pay out before we get there. The good news for our supporters is, once we get on the field our annual fundraising needs drop significantly, to around $43,000, give or take a few thou depending on the currency exchange rates and taxes, etc.
So that’s year zero. I know, it’s a lot of information for an introductory post, and I promise the next four (plus) years will be a lot shorter. So lets get to ‘em, okay?!
2017: Laying a foundation
This will be our first year in-country, so it will be filled with all the things you expect to do when you move to a new and unfamiliar place. Besides learning the language (honestly people, Scotland does not speak English…well, at least not any kind of English this southern girl can understand!), finding the grocery store, remembering which side of the road I’m supposed to be driving on, and this whole dollars to pounds thing we have to do things like:
- Get established in a local church to use as our ‘home base’. Sam will join the teaching team of elders in this church and will preach several weeks of the month. I will get involved with the ladies guild (that’s what they call their women’s ministry), hopefully teaching and speaking on a weekly basis, or when invited to do so.
- Make connections within the community via various community organizations and clubs. This will be one of the best ways to find out what the needs of the community at large are as many of these clubs and organizations do charity work within the community just like they do here in ‘Merica.
- Make contacts in existing evangelical churches along the whole Moray Firth and northern and western coastlines. There are a lot of small, independent churches in this area that are struggling to find regular Bible teachers and preachers, and they simply don’t have the resources within their own congregation to teach God’s word and to reach out into their community.
2018: A year of prayer
As I said earlier, prayer is a big deal to us. In order for revival to come to Scotland it is going to take massive amounts of prayer covering. During 2018 we want to empower the network of Christians and churches from the work in 2017 to pray fervently for their church, their community, and their country. So in this year we’re going to be:
- Recruiting additional prayer partners from the States to come to Scotland on short-term trips to work with this network of Scottish churches for prayer walking, literature distribution, community transformation projects, and open-air evangelism.
- Establish the Scottish and American leadership teams for the 20/20 outreach events (more details to come below).
- Secure a 20/20 campaign venue and begin working on accommodations for the in-country and American missions teams.
2019: A year of care
This year is going to be all about community outreach and transformation. Sam’s slogan is: find a need and meet it, find a hurt and heal it. During this year we’re going to put into practice some of Jesus’ own ministry teachings…not that we’re not trying to do that all along, but this year is going to be specifically about physical work.
- Mobilize local congregations to meet the felt needs of their community as identified by previous year’s interactions through one-time work events like: winterizing homes, performing repairs on homes for the impoverished and elderly, working with foster parents and/or state homes, community clean-up workdays, etc.
- Organize long-term Scottish ‘care’ and ‘ministry’ teams who can work continuously within their community to reach the felt needs of their community through on-going outreach opportunities like: providing respite care for foster parents, offering weekly life-skills classes to the under privileged, providing financial counseling, etc.
- Offer short-term mission trip opportunities for teams from the States to partner with these local congregations as they minister within their communities.
- Offer training in ministry skills and outreach techniques for current church lay leadership.
- Identify local lay leaders for future church plants in coastal villages.
- Begin formulating the curriculum for the Points North Ministry Institute, which will offer formalized, practical ministry training and internships for individuals who want to go into ministry, missions work, or church planting (more to come on this topic later).
2020: A year of sharing, sowing, and reaping
This year is going to be power-packed and we’re super excited about it already, and here’s why:
- Host minster meetings in the spring to detail the year’s campaign and evangelism events which will begin in July.
- Meet with all local ‘follow-up’ teams to equip them for the decisions that will come out of the evangelism campaign events.
- Host evangelism rallies in partnering communities in July and August, offering Bible teaching, prayer, and discipleship at each event. The campaign events will be held from 1 – 3 nights per venue, depending on space and interest.
- Utilize local lay leadership as event emcees, and advertise local churches as venue points and after-care points.
- Utilize Scottish and American Bible teachers and preachers for each of the event rallies.
- Formalize discipleship and follow-up groups in each local church to solidify and grow all decisions that come out of event rallies.
- Host short-term mission teams from the States for specific events – worship teams for the outreach events, literature distribution teams, evangelism teams, etc.
- Host summer interns for college students who are seeking degrees in ministry or missions to assist in the evangelism events.
2021: A year of follow-up
In the words of the Apostle Paul to his friend Timothy, “train faithful men to train faithful men.” This is what 2021 is all about. We believe that the best and longest lasting kind of revival happens when local men and women rise up to meet the needs of their own people, and that’s what we want to see during this year.
- Establish the Points North Ministry Institute where we can offer practical training and internship opportunities for Scottish men and women. This training institute will host guest lectures by prominent and successful Christian pastors and leaders from around the globe who can teach local lay leaders how to minister effectively within their own congregation and community.
- Host quarterly retreats and workshops for lay leaders and professional ministers on topics like prayer, evangelism techniques, Biblical preaching and teaching, starting discipleship groups, community transformation, etc.
- Host short-term mission trips from the States to partner with local congregations as they continue their community transformations.
- Host summer internships for college students who are seeking ministry or missions degrees.
Okay, I know that’s a ton of information, and I really appreciate if you’ve stuck it out with me to this point. As you can see we have a God-sized vision for Scotland. It’s exciting. It’s going to be a lot of work, and it’ll take all of us, together, in order to pull it off. We’ve got our running shoes on, how about you? If you have any questions about ‘Vision 20/20’ or if you’d like for us to come and speak to your small group or church about partnering with us for Scotland we’d love to hear from you. You can contact us either by email, phone, or Pony Express at:
Sam & Brittan Burton
1223 Taylorsville Macedonia Road
Taylorsville, Georgia 30178