Meet Julie: Equipping Women & Planting Churches in South Asia

Meet Julie.

Julie 5 croShe’s a recent graduate of the International Church Planting (2+) program at SEBTS and is now serving overseas with the International Mission Board. Born and raised in the small town of Yulee, Florida, her transition to life in a major South Asian city full of darkness has allowed her to see the Lord at work in ways she had never seen before.

Q. What type of ministry are you involved in and what is your specific role?

A. I work on a Church planting team in a major urban center of South Asia. We see our role here in the city as being a catalyst to seeing healthy multiplying churches planted here. My specific role on the team includes handling the planning and logistics for volunteer teams as well as discipling and training of women.

What I love to do is to help national women realize their specific role in planting new churches here, equip them to do the work and mobilize the local church in America by providing ways for them to tangibly connect with the work here on the ground.

Q. How have you seen the Lord work in your ministry?

A. After living in South Asia, I am aware of the Spiritual battle that goes on in Kingdom work more than ever before in my life. I realize it has always been there, but after living in such a spiritually dark place, I’m more aware of a desperation to see God move.

It is common here to see the Lord use his power to bring South Asians to faith by healings or dreams. After these power encounters, the real miracle takes place as we see the men and women turn from the religions of their communities and the traditions of their families to follow the One True God. Seeing the gospel transform lives has been a testimony of the Lord at work here in this place.

Women Training

A group of native women at a discipleship training session.

Q. What has been one of the greatest challenges of your ministry?

A. Perhaps the greatest challenge for me has been simultaneously navigating both the stress of being in a new culture and the stress that comes from living in one of the largest cities in the world. I felt in many ways that I was prepared for and, for the most part, knew what to expect of South Asian culture but, there is really not much you can do to prepare for coming from a town of around 12,000 to a city of over 20 million.

It is a fast paced life and there is always a need or opportunity before you. I quickly realized this task was far greater than myself. The masses of people I am coming face to face with everyday are struggling with extreme poverty, human trafficking and great spiritual darkness. You really have to rely on the Lord to show you how and where to invest your time, energy and resources.

Q. What have been the greatest rewards?

A. The greatest reward has been seeing the local church, in both South Asia and America, catch the vision for reaching the nations! I have been so blessed to connect with several churches in the States and see them mobilized to take the gospel to those who have little to no access to it. It is such a blessing to know that there are people holding the ropes for the work here in South Asia and partnering with us on the ground here to see the work carried out.

It has also been such a reward to see our national brothers and sisters find their role in the Great Commission. Our team believes that if the workers are truly in the harvest, then South Asia has the greatest potential for sending capacity and reaching not only South Asia, but the world. With a population well over one billion and not a place in the world where South Asians do not already live, what better strategy than to train them to carry the gospel with them as they are scattered to every corner of the globe for work. Seeing nationals catch this vision has been incredible!

Julie 2

Locals participating in Holi, a Hindu festival.

Q. How can we best pray for you and your ministry?

A. Pray that I would remember that no strategy or plan can replace the power that comes from spending time with the Father. Pray that the Lord would continue to give me grace as I continue to learn the local language. Pray for unity and clear direction for our team as we seek to work together to reach this city with the gospel. Pray that nationals would have the opportunity to hear the gospel and that it would resonate in their hearts as truth. Pray that our national brothers and sisters would embrace Revelation 7:9-10 and see their role in making disciples who make disciples. Pray for several key partnerships that we have going on with churches in America who are looking to send business professionals and students to plant here in the city.

Q. What was the most practical lesson you learned from your time at SEBTS now that you are overseas?

A. The value of real community. When I reflect on my time at SEBTS, the thing that stands out more than anything is the community with other students and my church family. This even carried over to my time on the field as I connected with other students during the 2+ modular. It was just a great reminder that while we all come from different backgrounds we are all heading in the same direction to accomplish the same task and we’re not in this alone. Community overseas often looks different from the ways we’ve had it in the past, but it is powerful.

Q. Do you have any advice for students who feel called overseas?

A. Don’t think that a lifestyle of praying for the lost, building relationships, sharing the gospel and discipling others will just happen automatically when you get oversees if you’re not doing it where you are now. Someone once told me, “the seat belts on the plane are not magic.” If you are not doing it before you go, it is not just going to begin automatically when you step foot on foreign soil. While the methods of how you go about those things may change as you seek to contextualize in your new culture, the principles you have learned in the past will be invaluable to your work overseas.

Q. Is there anything you wish you would have known or taken advantage of before moving overseas?

A. Looking back, I wish I would have done a better job of partnering with local churches before I came. After being on the field for a couple of years, I realize how important it is to have people in the States holding the ropes for you. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity while Stateside last year to develop and strengthen these partnerships, but there was certainly more I could have done before leaving the first time. In your rush to get overseas, don’t forget to invest into the relationships that will carry you while you are there.

Southeastern Family Features are designed to highlight the ways that current students, professors, alumni and staff are serving the Church and fulfilling the Great Commission. Contact Bethany Brown in the Student Life Office if you have any questions or would like to suggest a SEBTS family member to highlight.