by Seth Van Tifflin, appointed to Southeast Asia
April-June 2016 issue Free Methodist World Missions Pulse
Playing “cops and robbers” with my brother and “school” with my sister were always my favorite childhood games. I always dreamed of working as a police officer or a teacher. My mother and grandmother, though, had visions that I would become a pastor.
In May 2006 I was working as a teacher’s assistant and a reserve police officer when I received an unexpected phone call from the FMWM VISA office. I was invited to join the upcoming VISA IMPACT team serving in Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) in two months. I prayed about this opportunity and felt God impressing me to join this mission team.
The people in Asia were impacted through our team’s ministry, but I was also impacted by them. During this trip, God confirmed He wanted me to serve as a missionary. I submitted my resignation to the local school district and to the police department and immediately contacted Spring Arbor University. I began Christian ministry and mission classes during the fall 2006 semester.
During school breaks, I continued traveling back to Thailand and Myanmar teaching English, preaching and working in orphanage homes. I became great friends and a ministry partner with Pastor Pa Kep, the superintendent of Myanmar. In 2009 I began dating Hlawn Hlawn (pronounced with a silent h), Pa Kep’s sister. In January 2010 Hlawn Hlawn and I were married; our wedding took place in Myanmar. I was also blessed to have known Hlawn Hlawn’s father (Rev. Dr. F. Tial Kung) who was the founder of the Free Methodist Church in Myanmar. Ten months after our wedding he went home to be with Jesus.
In 2012 Hlawn Hlawn and I established In Better Hands, a nonprofit foundation, to care for orphans (protecting them from trafficking) and widows in Southeast Asia.
God answered my mother and grandmother’s prayers; in June 2015, I was ordained in the Free Methodist Church, Southern Michigan Conference. God has been preparing the way for Hlawn Hlawn and me and blessing our ministry throughout our time of serving Him. In September 2015 we were appointed as career missionaries to serve in Asia.
We have all been given different talents from God; whatever our gift is we need to wisely use this ability for the glory of God. We have dreams for our lives, but the most important thing is to live with Jesus every day. God loved us so much that He gave His Son for us. Whoever accepts Jesus into their life no longer lives for themselves – they live for Him. Our personal vision for Asia is to tell the people about Jesus and give them the opportunity to invite Him into their lives.