A Serving Family

By Karissa Uhlig

Anyone with a large family knows that a road trip can be an arduous task. The “are we there yets” from the back seat alone can make the trip daunting. That’s why it means so much that the Burner family recently drove at least 463 miles—an eight-hour drive—from Ohio to JAARS to serve as a mission team. 

JAARS is a support organization, but in order to best serve Bible translation, sometimes we need support too. Mission teams of different-sized groups, from four to twenty people, come to JAARS from all across America and help with various renovation and landscaping projects. Brice and Chelsea Burner brought their seven kids, ages 4–16, to Waxhaw, North Carolina, to give some extra help to our grounds maintenance team. One of their primary responsibilities has been mulching flower beds and other areas around JAARS.

The Burners and their children, Kaitlyn, Brooke, Jack, Joshua, Caleb, Cade and Kyrie (ages 4- 16)

When the Burners considered going on a mission trip, they wanted to find one that all of their children could be involved in. When Chelsea and Brice read a biography of William Cameron Townsend, the founder of JAARS, to their kids, it alerted the family to the existence of JAARS. Now, years later, they came to serve at the very mission organization they had read about.

JAARS was a logical choice of a mission trip location for the Burner family because it was one of the few mission organizations that would allow them to bring their small children along. Serving here was also the most cost-effective option for the family. Raising money for an international trip can take a significant amount of time, while raising funds to come to JAARS didn’t take nearly as long. According to Chelsea, the children were able to raise much of the money themselves by mowing lawns and doing other odd jobs. They were excited to come here!

Mission trips to JAARS are not all hard work, however. Each member of the Burner family enjoyed taking an airplane ride, a special treat since it was the first time in an airplane for most of them!

Another aspect of the trip that the family enjoyed was the relationships they built with JAARS staff and volunteers, especially those who have served overseas and now serve here. Talking to these mission workers helped them see that many people involved in missions are not pastors or evangelists. Kaitlyn (age 16) said, “I met an accountant; he’s not an active pastor, but he’s friendly and spreads the love of Jesus just by being happy to talk to everyone.” She appreciated the fact that his care for people makes them feel Christ’s love.

For Brice, a high school math teacher back in Ohio, seeing people with many different skills working at JAARS has inspired him to consider his place in missions. He had written off serving here long-term when he heard about the organization, since he was under the impression that JAARS mostly employed translators, and he’s no translator. However, God used the trip to show him that God can use anyone, with any kind of skill, to expand his kingdom. 

Serving at JAARS has also opened up Brice’s eyes to how God can use his entire family in mission work. He didn’t want missions to be something that only he pursued, but that his whole family also felt called to. He wanted mission work to be a family endeavor. All of the Burner children have joined in to contribute as a part of their family’s mission team, and JAARS is truly blessed by their passion to serve!

Go here to see how you can use your passion to serve at JAARS, whether as part of  a mission team or in a long-term commitment.