Interview: Karolyn Burch

Photos: Lisa Hamm

Photos: Lisa Hamm

In January, the C2C Network hired Karolyn Burch as director of ministry to church planter spouses. MB Herald copy editor Angeline Schellenberg talked with Karolyn about how God led her to this place and about her role at Gathering 2014.

What is your mandate with C2C?

To come alongside planters’ wives and care for them, investing in women as God uses them in leadership alongside their husbands, so we don’t have churches closing because couples are falling apart.

How will you do this?

On my knees. One day at a time. I’ve been travelling, meeting with wives, trying to get clusters together. I’m doing a lot of listening; I don’t want to assume we know what they need. 

What needs are you hearing?

For a connectedness with others on a similar journey, “a soul spa” – someone to listen to their heart. I’m asking God to raise leaders across the country to walk alongside planters’ wives. Just as C2C trusts the Lord to bring planters, he will find the mentors. He loves them more than I do.

What past experiences prepared you for this role?

My pivotal growing-up years were spent at a Bible family conference centre. My dad was strict about us going out to meet people and hear their stories. That was part of God’s training in my life. 

I was a pastor’s wife for 23 years with all the opportunities that brings: I worked as youth director, worship leader, speaker at conferences and retreats; I mentored young women and led Bible studies. 

Volunteering at YMCA for eight years, while Mark was pastoring Willow Park Church in Kelowna, played a huge part in building me up. God surrounded me with people who believed I was more than what I believed myself. I was working the front desk; they encouraged me to teach fitness. I even quit, but they kept on me to finish. They gave me a Special Someone Award – I can’t even tell you what that did for me.

Did you feel a specific call to this ministry?

Five years ago, I had a vision: Jesus put his hand on my shoulder and turned me around; I saw a sea of women and every face had the same joyless expression, like their souls had been stolen. 

The enemy has stolen women’s identity, convincing us beauty is all about the flesh. My heart breaks when I see women who don’t know that Jesus in them makes them beautiful.

What’s your vision for ministering to women?

“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). I desire, not just for planters’ wives, but the impossible picture: that every woman in Canada would be marked by her freedom in Christ. 

What brings you the most joy?

Long moments with my Saviour, reading the Word and sipping coffee. Second to that is doing life with my neighbours.

I’ve heard you spent time every day in the Bible as a stay-at-home mom.

Yes, my mornings are for Jesus. More out of desperation; I crave to be with him. 

I pray over his Word as I read it, asking the Holy Spirit to tattoo those words on my heart. I listen for names he brings to my mind. I pray my mind will be so uncluttered that I’ll hear the faintest whisper.

That’s still my routine. God has been reaffirming to me that he’s not asking me to give that up, no matter how much this ministry grows. My passion is to know him. That’s what drives me. Not women. Not ministry. It’s knowing Jesus. 

Tell me about your experiences at Gathering 2014. What blessed you?  

It felt like we were coming home. We’d been away from the MB family for a couple years while Mark was pastoring a Baptist church. But our entire ministry before that was with MBs. At Gathering, we reconnected. MBs are a beautiful family. I felt loved and grounded.

What is it about MBs that makes you feel at home?

It’s the spirit of servanthood, of genuine concern for each other’s well-being. We’ve sensed that love. We’ve experienced the humility of
people affirming each other’s calling without feeling threatened.

There’s no way we’d be on this journey without this family around us. Mark’s first senior pastorate was Arnold Community Church in Abbotsford. God always had couples just ahead of us who put their arms around us. 

What surprised you?

It shouldn’t have surprised me, but I was amazed at how quickly the family came together in anticipation of God showing up. There was a thunder, a hunger to be able to worship together, then a resonant silence.

As MC, you stood after the worship and said something prophetic.  

I apologized that we had to do announcements because the presence of God was so prevalent, I didn’t want to break it. I said God didn’t speak to Elijah in a noise, but a whisper (1 Kings 19:12). God was waiting for the quiet to show up.

What inspired you?c2c-logo

The words of affirmation from brothers and sisters: holy moments when God was speaking to me through them. Marvin Dyck (of Crossroads MB, Winnipeg) affirmed a childhood dream that God asked me years ago to lay down: the intense desire to use words so others would be drawn to the Father. 

God took me through six years of brokenness and removal of every identity I’d known myself by. He didn’t want what I could do for him, he wanted me. My pursuit became about him alone.

At Gathering, I heard God saying, “I haven’t forgotten the dream.” Like with Abraham, he gave Isaac back to me. 

For more Gathering 2014 stories, photos, videos and blogs, see reports in this issue

CCMBC receives approval for sandbox

CCMBC restructures financial ministries, presents budget

Editorial: Gathering top four

Ministry updates

Board of faith and life

L2L 

Experience Vancouver photo essay

Gathering 2014: Multiplying for mission

Gathering 2014 Photo Gallery

Interview: Karolyn Burch

AND blogs on the 2014 Gathering website

gathering.mennonitebrethren.ca

 

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