Portrait of a Messenger Missionary

"There [are] people who are a lot more capable and qualified than I am. But I know that God doesn’t depend on my abilities, and I’m humbled by that.” –Gary Burkett

Messenger - India 

About Gary Burkett:

Burkett runs a small home improvement business in Taylorsville, Kentucky—that is closed for business three to six months out of the year. During that time, Burkett pursues his true calling: to bring God’s word to the nations. He and his wife live modestly in order to support his frequent international mission trips. Burkett has visited roughly 25 countries in the past decade, partnering with missions organizations in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, as well as numerous countries in Africa.

Three years ago, Burkett began working with Amit Malik, a pastor in the slums of Delhi, India. Burkett introduced Malik to the In Touch Messenger, and their team has since distributed over 800 Messengers to disciple believers in the house churches taking root in the slums.

How did you first meet Amit Malik?

“I met Amit about three years ago when he came to the States. A friend asked me to pick him up at the airport. It was the first time he had been out of India. It’s interesting; he came to my city for a conference that he knew nothing about because somebody insisted he needed to go to it. The ministry that he’s doing—reaching out to the village area—is exactly what I was trying to do through our ministry. About six months later, I was in Delhi with him.”

Messenger - India

How did you first hear about the Messenger?

“I [was] looking for audio Bibles in Hindi. I had partnered with In Touch for over 20 years, but it blew me away when I found out they provided these [Messengers] at no cost. It’s hard to find that kind of generosity, even in a ministry. The Messengers are priceless—they really are changing lives. We pass them out in these remote villages where people can’t read—you put one of these in their hands and it’s just amazing. Unlike in America, when you get tired of something and it ends up in a junk drawer in your kitchen, those [Messengers] will get passed along from person to person until they quit working. I can’t say enough good things about In Touch for providing those.”

Unlike in America, when you get tired of something and it ends up in a junk drawer in your kitchen, those [Messengers] will get passed along from person to person until they quit working.

How do you partner with Pastor Malik and his team?

“For the most part, we go to some of the house church meetings. I tell people all the time, I’m just the pink elephant, that’s about all I am. People will come to these house meetings just to see strange people and hear their strange languages. But while I’m there, they make a connection with Pastor Amit, and then they come back.

People ask me sometimes why I don’t move onto the mission field, but there are great benefits of traveling back and forth. I’m able to bring in much-needed resources, tools, and money that otherwise wouldn’t get to them. Each time I go, I carry in as many resources as I can: money for medical camps and food supplies, a sewing ministry for the women, bikes for his pastors to get back and forth to the house churches they oversee, water filters in the slums, Bibles, and Messengers in their language.”

Would you share some stories?

“It’s amazing to think that just an hour outside of some of these cities, there are so many who have literally never even heard the name Jesus. I walk up to some villagers saying I’ve come to tell them about Jesus, and they look around at the group of people with me and ask, ‘Which one is he?’

Messenger - India

I had a Sikh taxi driver a few years ago that would take us to meetings and appointments. I gave him a Messenger that he’d listen to in the car while he waited for us to finish our meetings. After a few days he told me, ‘I’m so confused,’ questioning everything. We prayed with him, counseled him, and three to four months later he sent me a text that he’d surrendered his life to Christ. Those kinds of stories are happening all the time.

In Ghana, a chief over two or three villages refused to let us come into his village. He said, ‘We have our gods, and we don’t need yours.’ But then he fell really ill and the son invited us to come in. So we went in and shared the gospel. At the end of a couple weeks’ time, we had planted a church, helped them build a building, and placed a pastor there. The village pastor we went in with said, ‘I’ve been trying to get in these villages for years, but they would never let me.’ The reason they let us in was because we were from the outside.

What spurred your heart for missions?

“Eight or nine years ago I met a man who invited me to go on a missions trip to Africa. I told him that before I committed to it, I needed to make sure it was of God. During a time of praying and fasting, I had this dream that I was in Africa at a wedding. The bride turned and looked right at me and said, ‘Gary, you must come to Africa.’ I asked her, ‘What’s your name?’ and she said, ‘My name is Kanisa.’ That was the end of my dream. I found myself in the Congo several months later and got to tell the story about my dream to some African pastors. Through the interpreter, I found out that Kanisa means “church” in Swahili. So the bride that asked me to come was the church in Africa. That’s where I got the name of my ministry—Kanisa’s Call—the call of the international Church.

I had been on many construction trips to Honduras before, but until I went to Africa I never dreamed of doing evangelistic work. It’s great to build a building, but taking the gospel to somebody is really what it’s all about. That gave me the purpose that I needed. The Bible says that without a vision, people perish—if we don’t have a purpose, a reason, and a vision, we lose hope and just lose sight of it all. I’m not trained in anything; I’m just a layman. I do construction. I’m more comfortable working with a truckload of two-by-fours than standing in front of people sharing anything. There [are] people who are a lot more capable and qualified than I am. But I know that God doesn’t depend on my abilities, and I’m humbled by that.”

The Reach of the Messenger Lab:

We don’t always see the impact of our giving. Thanks to our partners, In Touch is able to provide free resources so people like Gary Burkett and Amit Malik can continue their work. Theirs is just one of many stories of ministry taking place around the world because of the In Touch Messenger Lab.

Read more about Amit Malik's ministry in India.

Learn more about the In Touch Messenger Lab.

Related Topics:  Evangelism

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