Friday, June 29, 2007

Apologetic Mission in Asian Context

The Mission Training School started this Monday, and it is keeping me busy for a while. I am also working on the our library which in my opinion has good books in it courteousy of our Chin Pastor who studied at Myanmar Institute of Christian Theology. I would say his collection maybe small, but there are impressive titles in it. I also added some of the books given to me by a friend who moved out from here 4 years ago mostly books on pastoral care and counseling and very old, may I add.

As I was trying to record the books and catalog them, I noticed the initial issue of journal on missions and evangelism with a title Missio Dei published by Myanmar Institute of Theology. There are lots of good articles on it, and I may post some of it here.

One of the papers is written by Augurlion. He is a lecturer of Church History at Myanmar Institute of Theology. With the coming of many missionary agencies trying to win people to Christianity here in the Mekong Region, and I would say up to this point the missionary movements have not been very successful, his article makes us think to go back to the old method of evangelism and that is what he called Apologetic Mission.

I will post his paper here little by little, because people have a tendency to skip long post. So in the next days, I will be posting from this journal hoping to get some reactions and conversations. Here is the first part:

A number of mission strategies and mission models have developed in the course of Christian history as Christianity encounters the changing contexts of the world. However, no matter whatever strategy is used the objective is to win converts or to Christianize. This objective comes from the understanding that evangelism is to make converts for Christianity. Evangelism or Christianization was successful in the West, especially, before the rise of secularism. However, its success was and is very limited in . Moreover, Christianity has faced with the counter-acts of the non-Christians in . There are theological and moral attacks on Christianity from other religions. Therefore, in such a pluralistic , Christianity should think of its mission in defensive terms rather than aggressive terms.

One of the traditional aspects of Christian mission is "proclamation" or "to make known". In fact, it was an important task of the Church in pre-modern period because in that period the names, "Jesus" and "Christianity," were foreign to many parts of the world. But they are no longer foreign to the world in post­modern period. Also in post-modern , Christianity and Jesus are no longer the new names to be proclaimed. Most Asian people have become familiar with what Christianity is. The problem for Christianity in Asia today is not "it is the unknown," but "it is misconceived or attacked." Therefore, there are more for the Asian churches to defend than to claim or conquer. To response to this challenge Apologetic mission may be a suitable model of the churches in Asia.

[1] ' The word "Evangelism" is misleading. It was and is often identified as the verbal proclamation of the gospej. But it is also defined as consisting of both preaching and social action. See John R. W. Stott, Christian Mission in the Modern World (Illinois, Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1975), 15-28, for the definition of "Evangelism" and its relationship to social action.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Barefoot and homeless

I'm really amazed on how God put people together to work for his kingdom. I was looking at the mixed of people worshiping together in our church this morning and although we have different colors, speak different languages, radically different cultures and some times have different views and interpretation of some particular passages of the Bible we know that we are one in Christ. We believe the same thing about Jesus Christ and that's what is important.

The followers of Christ can have different views and convictions about some of the issues that confront us today, even while they participate together in sincere Bible study and devoted worship. With sincerity and devotion we are called to place our views and convictions under the light of the compassionate God who embraces the world. In theology and in ministry, we must become "barefoot" and "homeless". Kosuke Koyama

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Water Buffalo Theology

On my way to the country church, I never fail to see a herd of water buffaloes gazing in the muddy field. This sight is an inspiring moment for me. Why? Because it reminds me that the people to whom I am to bring the gospel of Christ spend most of their time with these water buffaloes in the rice field. The water buffaloes tell me that I must preach to these farmers in the simplest of sentence structure and thought development. They remind me to discard all the abstract ideas and to use exclusively objects that are immediately tangible. "Sticky rice," "banana," "pepper," "dog," "cat," "bicycle," "rainy season," "leaking house," "fishing," "cockfighting," "lottery," "stomach ache,"--these are meaningful words for them. This morning I say to myself, "I will try to bring the gospel of Christ through the medium of cockfighting!"

Kosuke Koyama, Water Buffalo Theology

It was Aung San Suu Kyi' birthday too

My wife found out out that the 19th of June was also the birthday of Aung Suu Kyi and proudly told me that I share my birthday with too many famous and great people. Although I know little about her before, working with people who come from Myanmar afford me to hear stories about her sometime.

Aung Suu Kyi is Burma's nonviolent pro-democracy activist and leader of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar (Burma), and a noted prisoner of conscience. A Buddhist, Suu Kyi won the Rafto Prize and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990 and in 1991 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her peaceful and non-violent struggle under a military dictatorship.

In 1990, the military junta called a general election, which the National League for Democracy won decisively. Under normal circumstances, she would have assumed the office of Prime Minister. Instead, the results were nullified, and the military refused to hand over power. This resulted in an international outcry and partly led to Aung San Suu Kyi's winning the Sakharov Prize that year and the Nobel Peace Prize the following year in 1991. Her sons Alexander and Kim accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on her behalf. Aung San Suu Kyi used the Nobel Peace Prize's 1.3 million USD prize money to establish a health and education trust for the Burmese people.

Aung San Suu Kyi spent her 62nd birthday under house arrest o­n Tuesday while her supporters marked the event at her National League for Democracy’s headquarters in Rangoon.

According to Myint Thein, a spokesman for NLD, about 100 people—most likely from the government-backed Union Solidarity and Development Association and the “Swan Arr Shin,” a paramilitary group—were gathered outside NLD’s headquarters when Suu Kyi’s birthday was celebrated.Wikipedia and Irrawaddy News Magazine

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Yesterday was my birthday!

Yesterday was my birthday. We didn't do something special to celebrate but work. My wife worked at the Day Care Center until late at night and I had to sit with her until the work was over. I had been preparing my lectures for next week class. I think it is a good idea to have some kind of PowerPoint presentation. I will be teaching in English and somebody will interpret for me in Burmese. I don't really like using PowerPoint but there were times that it is extremely helpful. And a lecture that needs to be translated is one of those cases.

Over at Levellers, Michael share some information about two great men who share their birthday with me.
19 June 1623 was the birthday of Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), the French mathematician, physicist, and Christian philosopher. Pascal was an apologist for Christianity to the skeptical French “philosophes.

19 June 1834 was the birthday of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), the most famous British preacher of the 19th C. and one of the greatest Baptist preachers of all time.
Another great man who share the same birthday was Jose Rizal. He is the national hero of the Philippines and pride of the Malayan race, was born on June 19, 1861, in the town of Calamba, Laguna. He was the seventh child in a family of 11 children (2 boys and 9 girls). Both his parents were educated and belonged to distinguished families. He was a Catholic but many historians believe that he had some kind of conversion experience.

The changed could have been the result of contemporary contact, companionship, observation, research and the possession of an independent spirit.Being a critical observer, a profound thinker and a zealous reformer, Rizal did not agree with the prevailing Christian propagation of the Faith by fire and sword. This is shown in his Annotation of Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.

Rizal did not believe in the Catholic dogma that salvation was only for Catholics and that outside Christianity, salvation was not possible even if Catholics composed only a small minority of the world’s religious groups. Nor did he believe in the Catholic observation of fasting as a sacrifice, nor in the sale of such religious items as the cross, medals, rosaries and the like in order to propagate the Faith and raise church funds. He also lambasted the superstitious beliefs propagated by the priests in the church and in the schools. All of these and a lot more are evidences of Rizal’s religious philosophy. In one of his letters about the church, he said that:
Priests offer themselves as our so-called "spiritual fathers" as if the spirit or soul had any father other than God. You know that the will of God is different from that of the priest; that religiousness does not consist of long periods spent on your knees , nor in endless prayers, big rosaries, and grimy scapulars, but in a spotless conduct, firm intentions and upright judgment.

Saintliness does not consist in abjectness, nor is the successor of Christ to be recognized by the fact that he gives his hand to be kissed. Christ did not give the kiss of peace to the Pharisees and never gave His hand to be kissed. He did not cater to the rich and vain; He did not mention scapulars, nor did he make rosaries, or solicit offerings for the sacrifice of the mass or exact payments for his prayers.

Saint John did not demand a fee on the River Jordan, nor did Christ teached for gain. Why, then, do the priests now refuse to stir a foot unless paid in advance? And, as if they were starving, they sell scapulars, rosaries, belts, and other things which are nothing but schemes for making money and a detriment to the soul; because even if all the rags on earth were converted into scapulars and all the trees in the forest into rosaries, and if the skins of all the beasts were made into belts, and if all the priests of the earth mumbled prayers over all this and sprinkled oceans of holy water over it, this would not purify a rogue or condone sin where there is no repentance.

Ignorance has ever been ignorance, and never prudence and honor. God, the primal source of all wisdom, does not demand that man, created in his image and likeness, allow himself to be deceived and hoodwinked , but wants us to use and let shine the light of reason with which he has so mercifully endowed us. He may be compared to the father who gave each of his sons a torch to light their way in the darkness, bidding them keep its light bright and take care of it, and not put it out and trust to the light of the others, but to help and advice each other to find the right path. They would be madmen were they to follow the light of another, only to come to a fall and the father could scold them severely and say to them : "Did I not give each of you his own torch?"; but he could not answer if the fall were due to the light of the torch of him that fell, as the light might have been dim and the road very bad.

Prudence does not consist in blindly obeying any whim of the little tin god, but in obeying only that which is reasonable and just, because blind obedience is itself the cause and origin of those whims, and those guilty of it are really to be blamed. The priest can no longer assert that they alone are responsible for their unjust orders, because God gave each individual reason and a will of his or her own to distinguish the just from the unjust.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Arminian vs. Calvinist

From ChurchLaughs.Com

Scholar of the Scriptures

"The church seem always to be swinging between extremes: 1) to use the sword and power, or 2) to accommodate the message to culture and deny Christ's divinity. This why theological education is important. We need to be good scholars of scripture and listen to the Holy Spirit interprent scripture through the ages. Whe Jesus sent out his disciples, we are reminded that He breathed on them the Holy Spirit! (John 20:22) Not new methods, but a new indwelling of the Holy Spirit is what is bringnig men and women to Christ worldwide."

Denton Lotz, General Secretary of Baptist World Alliance

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ten Commandments for Dynamic Teaching

I'll be teaching Bible in the next two weeks and I have to admit that this task is hard to do. I'll be teaching church leaders from different tribes and what makes it difficult is the language barrier. Here I want to share with you an interesting article from my sister about teaching. The first 3 relate to the teacher, the next 3 relates to the teaching process and the last 4 focus on the learner’s response.

1. Power of the Spiritthou shalt depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish spiritual goals (1 Cor. 2:10-15).

The biblical understanding of teaching and learning process, it is the Holy Spirit who teaches, indwells, enlightens, and empowers both the teacher and the student. He is the teacher (Jn. 14:26). He does not only guide the student into all the truth, He is the truth (Jn. 16:13; 14:17). The help of the human instrument and the structure of situations may be designed so that there may be a time to study but the Spirit alone affects the learning. The Spirit helps the learners reassess and change their understandings, attitudes, values, and motives. To appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit, one needs to have (1) a prayerful preparation—for understanding the Bible and for sensitivity to the learner’s needs; (2) prayerful presentation—for effective use of methods; (3) prayerful follow-up—for achieving lasting results in the pupil’s lives.

2. Example of the Teacher—
thou shalt be what you expect your pupils to become (1 Tim 4:12)

there are two indispensable things that an effective teacher counts on: (1) the power of the Holy Spirit and (2) the proof of the holy life. The teacher needs to know and embody the truth.Know the truth. Dedicated incompetence is still incompetence. The teacher needs to know the truth in its biblical framework, seeing God as the source of all truth (Co; 2:3).

As a teacher he will have as his goal the experiential knowledge of Christ in whom all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom dwells (Col 2:3), the one in whom all things consists (Col1:17) and the one who is the truth (Jn 14:6). The teacher will further appreciate the limitless scope of the subject matter. He will be inspired by the magnitude of his task—that is the unveiling of the glory of God in every phase of the curriculum.

Embody the truth. The most compelling method is the embodiment of the truth—living a life of Christlikeness. The quality of teaching is not only the impartation of information but the impartation of one’s life as well as what one believes. The ideal teacher is described by Lawrence as whole mind into his preparation, whole soul in his presentation, and whole life into his illustration.

3. Relationship of Love— thou shalt demonstrate Christian love for your pupils (1 John 3:23).

The Spirit is the enabler for the teacher to embody the truth, He is also the one who engenders Christian love (Gal 5:22). Building a loving relationship with the student is time consuming—and sometimes costly. But be reminded that our Master teacher never gave anyone money. He rarely gave them food. He gave them love and service. He gave the greatest gift of all. He gave himself (Jn 4:4). Love brings life to a dead doctrine. By this all men will know that you are my children if you love one another (Jn. 13:35).

4. Methods that Involve—thou shalt select appropriate methods to get the attention and hold interest (Jn 4:7)
It was said that one can know the good teacher from a novice teacher in just two minutes. The new teacher looks at the notes, and the proficient teacher looks at his class. A dynamic introduction gains interest and suggests, “let’s not get bored today!” Methods are employed to catch attention and hold interest. Involvement brings fullest result to any teaching-learning experience. Teachers need to develop the skill of creativity as a teaching tool.

Communication with clarity—thou shalt choose words and concepts that are clearly understood (1 Cor 2:4, 14:9)..

Good communication begins in the mind of a teacher. Sort out precise messages and determine how to project such thought into the mindstream of the students. Graendorf summarizes some guidelines to expedite communication: (1) Step down the high voltage of thought so that it can be grasped and appreciated by the students (Jn 6). (2) Avoid technical words if common ones can carry the message. (3) Clarify simple words when there is danger of misunderstanding (Jn 21:15-17). (4) Use multi-sensory approach if it will expedite learning. Use visuals.

6. Pattern of Appreciation—thou shalt move from the known to the unknown by easy, simple, natural steps (Jn 4:7-29; Heb 5:12).

One of J. Herbart’s greatest contributions to education is Apperception. It is the idea of connecting new ideas with the old. John emphasizes the need to adapt teaching to the pupils’ developing maturity (1 John 2:12-14). Paul adapts new truths to former concepts, shown in the way he uses figures of speech and illustrations. Jesus employed the same principles in his parables, illustrations, and visual aids. Teachers are being encouraged to present lessons small enough for students to follow. Do not give too much information too fast.

7. Joy of Discovery—thou shalt stimulate discovery, not mere listening (Ps 34:8).

Gregory once said, “Knowledge cannot be passed on from mind to mind as apples are from one basket to another, but must in every case be recognized and rethought by the receiving mind.” Education is about finding the truth, first by the teacher and then by the student with the guidance of the teacher. It is the teacher who opens the gate for learning and understanding. It is a dynamic situation wherein the teacher may ask a question which lights a fuse.

Discovery learning needs preparation. The teacher needs to: (1) focus on the learner’s need; (2) identify the relation of the study to the felt need; (3) select methods that will involve the students in participation, evaluation and application.

On the other hand, the learner needs to: (1) identify the relation of the study to his need; (2) study the Bible to find solutions, and observe how the Bible appeals to his personal interests, problems, and needs. But the teacher continues to guide. This kind of learning gives the satisfaction describable as “the joy of discovery.”

8. Appeal to the Heartthou shalt elicit emotional response by the pupil (Rom 10:10).

The teacher needs to be aware that after the students have already recognized and interpreted the truth in their mind, a deeper response must be expected. Depth is experienced in what is called, “belief in the heart” (Rom 10:9; Eph 1:18).

The common mistake a teacher often commits is to believe that the learners know exactly what to do. On the contrary, learners do exactly what they want to do. It is the teacher’s role to make use methods that will appeal to students and make them respond positively to the lesson. The balance approach to touching the mind, the heart, and the will must be taken into consideration.

Many teachers are uncomfortable to bring down the lesson to the heart level of the student. Unknowingly, the heart is usually the driving force for the human will to respond. Jesus as the Master teacher used stories to elicit a response on the emotional level. He used parables to elicit response from the hearers (Matt. 13:34).

9. Response of the Will—thou shalt give sample opportunity for volitional response (Jn 17:17).

Truth when learned properly produces result. Evidently, an effective learning experience touches the mind, the heart, and the will. The student finds a need to act. It is the role of the teacher to provide the suitable stimuli in order to elicit the expected positive response. Ideally, the response may include the learner’s entire personality. It is advisable to provide ample time for the student to respond to an appeal to the heart. Make sure that at the end of each lesson, the teacher has left room for the Holy Spirit to work—and to allow the student to express such change in conviction.

10. Living Demonstratorsthou shalt help the pupil to embody the lesson in everyday living (James 1:22-25).

The teacher in general should be able to let the leather-bound Bible to be transported into shoe leather relating Bible facts to human acts. Impressions need to be consummated into expressions.

Life needs to reflect the truth that has been acquired. Learning is completed as the objective truth becomes the subjective experience of the learner.

The teacher’s skill is not only measure on the facts imparted but more on the character formed in the students. Developing a person is the aim. That development is to desire for each of the learners becomes a true disciple, follower of Christ, acknowledging His lordship, and conforming in his image.

The Bible teacher reaches for such an ambitious goal, however, one needs to acknowledge the facts, that, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5), and just like the claim of Paul, “I can do all things through Him” (Phil 4:13.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Missionary Kids

While teaching Sunday school, my wife asked her pupil what they would want to pray for. One of the children, a five-yare old daughter of a Filipino missionary answered, “I pray that my Tatay (Father) can buy an airplane so that we can go back home to the Philippines.” The answer was funny, but it expresses what a typical MK feels, they’re missing home so much. They miss their lolo and lola (grandparents), their cousins, their friends, and their home.

I look at my children and I sometimes get depressed for putting them in a situation they don’t exactly like. I’m not certain about their future. We don’t have a mission agency that gives us an assurance that they can go on with their education. Getting them to college in the future seems an impossible task for us, much more, the certainty that they will finish their high school here.
Although they have local friends here, most of the time I feel that my children are lonely. They didn’t have the chance to enjoy the friends that they might have if they are studying in a regular school. They won’t enjoy JS prom, or sports event among other. I just pray that everything would turn out to be okay for them.

On a positive note, here's a short article about missionary kids. MKs tend to be open-minded and tolerant of many diverse cultures. They often feel more at home in culturally rich environments and can be "homesick" for their foreign home. Their knowledge of a country and its culture typically exceeds language fluency. In many cases, MKs know more about a particular country, its history, geography, politics, etc. than the nationals of that country. Upon returning to their home country, MKs possess unique skills that can be helpful to academics and governments. Because of their international experience, they often have a much broader worldview than their peers. This broader worldview can also lead to mixed emotions about their passport country and its foreign policies.

MKs may not be aware of many of the pop culture influences within their passport country, yet are able to discuss, in great detail, world politics. They may be able to name the best places to get good food at any of 25 different international airports, and yet not be aware of the most popular television show in their passport country. They are likely to be able to mentally calculate the exchange rate of up to 5 different currencies yet not be able to identify the sport that a given athletic team plays. These things can cause awkwardness when they return to their passport country.

I’m hoping that there would be a ministry in the Philippines that would cater specifically to children of their missionaries.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Care for the lost like Jesus did (2)

The second lesson to learn from these stories is that God’s love and care for us is individual and personal. We are not just a part of a family or a tribe or a culture or a nation. We are individually known and loved by God. God doesn’t look upon us as a mass of people. He sees each of us as a person. God is not impressed with high percentages or a 99% success rate. God is not like a businessman who rights off a certain percentage of loss and rejoices in the 99% he still has. God goes in search of the one that is lost, and doesn’t give up until he finds him.

What is its implication to us as missionary? How do we imagine the gospel will spread in Thailand or in Myanmar? How will 108 million people come to know the gospel of Jesus Christ? With such big numbers of people it’s tempting to think in terms of mass communication. How do we get most people to hear the message of the gospel in the shortest period of time, and with the most efficient and cost-effective methodology? We look at maps and population demographics, we pray for dramatic revivals and people movements. We count the number of converts or baptisms and calculate our success. None of this is inherently wrong.

But God looks at individual people. He knows their name, their past, their deepest regrets and their most proud moments. He loves them enough to spend time searching for them as if they were the only person here in all Thailand.

In our sophisticated multi-media world of mass communication we sometimes forget that the best way for the gospel to spread is not from one person to thousands of hearers, but one-to-one. Jesus set the model for us by sitting and socializing with the lost and sinful people. He gave them time to observe good news and to experience the love of God. It radically changed their lives.

Walter Hendrichson, in his book Disciples Are Made Not Born, describes an interesting comparison between a dynamic evangelist who wins 1000 people to Christ a day, and an average Christian who manages to lead only one person to Christ over the course of a whole year.

At the end of year one the evangelist has 365,000 converts the average Christian has just one. However, lets suppose that in that one year the average Christian not only introduces a new convert to Jesus but also disciples and trains him to the point that in year two his new convert is able to do the same thing—lead one person to Christ over a 12 month period. At the start of the 2nd year the disciple has doubled his ministry—the one has become two. During the second year they both go out and lead not 1,000 people per day to Christ but only one person per year. At the end of the 2nd year there are four people. The process is much slower that the evangelist who now has 730,000 converts. But note that the slower process is producing not just converts but disciples who are able to reproduce themselves. At this rate of doubling every year the disciple leading one person per year to Christ will overtake the evangelist numerically somewhere in the 24th year.
That which at first looks like very slow process eventually becomes the most effective.

There’s a third lesson we can learn from these stories of Jesus. We should spend time with lost people. Jesus was criticized by religious people for spending too much time with lost people.

The attitude of the religious leaders in Jesus’ days towards those they labeled as sinners was really sad. They assumed God didn’t want to have anything to do with them. They were lost and hopeless and unredeemable.

Jesus got a lot of criticism from religious people because of the company he kept. His response was simple: people who are well don’t need a doctor. In other words, spending time with those who are lost and stuck in sin is God’s priority. God doesn’t only rejoice with those who are found, he came to seek and to save who are lost. Lost people matter to God. So, he deliberately left the security and sanctuary of godly community in order to spend time with those who needed him most.Lost people often don’t know they are lost. It takes time and patience in becoming their trusted friend before they can understand their need. This is the condition of millions of people here in Thailand they are unaware that their relationship with their creator our God is severed.

How do we reach them? Jesus would say: the answer is simple; you spend time with them. You deliberate become their friends and you eat with them and socialize with them. You deliberately choose not to spent all your time with fellow Christians, and instead become friends with the poor and destitute and sinners.

Here is one of the greatest missiological challenges facing the church in the 21st century. Most followers of Jesus no longer have friends who are non-Christians.

Why is this a missiological challenge? Because most people who become followers of Jesus do so through a friend or relative who introduces them. Some years back the Institute of American Church growth conducted a survey of 14,000 Christians. They asked them the questions: What or who was responsible for your coming to Christ and into your church? Some said they had a special need. Some said they just walked in off the street. Others listed the pastor. Some indicated a special visitation program. Others mentioned Sunday School. There were those who listed evangelistic crusade, or a special program the church had. Finally, some listed a friend or relative as the primary reason they’re a Christian today and part of their church. Then they put percentages; the results were amazing:

Special need 1-2%
Walk in 2%
Pastor 5-6%
Visitation 1-2%
Sunday School 4-5%
Evangelistic Crusade 0.5 -1%
Church program 2-3%
Friend or relatives 75-90%

Here’s the challenge: Unless we who know Jesus are willing to step outside the comfort and security of our Christian community and make friends with unbelievers, we are in the last generation of the church. This is primarily how the gospel spreads.

It is also the model Jesus set for us. He treated every individual as an object of love and care. He took the risk of friendship with sinners and outcasts. He got to know their names and wasn’t put off by the circumstance. He loved people, and saw the power of God change their circumstance.

Let us be friend to those lost people whom the Spirit of God is pursuing. If all our friends are followers of Jesus, if all the people in our neighborhood are already Christians, maybe it’s time we moved.

This is adapted from Dr. Brian Winslade's message at the 7th Asian Baptist Congress.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Care for the lost as Jesus did (1)

God put us a burden to reach the lost in a country other than our own. He put a burden in our hearts to go to the unreached people here and tell the people here that they are lost if they don’t believe in Jesus Christ. My wife and I attended a short mission training course and every time we will pray for Buddhist people in Indochina, we could not help but become so emotional. We would cry praying for them. We know for sure that we have been called to go overseas mission four years before we actually left. Why did it take four years?

For one thing, we could not muster enough support for the trip and for our living expenses as we minister here. The Southern Baptist denomination in the Philippines just doesn’t have the structure and the capacity to send overseas missionary. It doesn’t even have any program or platform that we can utilize as we come here. Nevertheless, we trust God that if he wants us to go, we will follow. And now we are here and the rest is history.

Now I believe the challenge for us is how are we going to do mission without an organization that can provide us a good ministry platform? How can we reach lost people and eventually make them believe that they need to believe in Jesus Christ because he alone can save them?
The answer: We only have to look at lost people just like Jesus did. In Luke chapter 15 verses 1-15, Jesus told a series of stories about the lost.

1Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." 3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. 8"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' 10In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

The first story is about a sheep farmer. Being a shepherd in Jesus’ day was a little different. It wasn’t an easy job. Good pasture was not plenty so that shepherd would take his flock where it could be found. There weren’t fences to contain sheep so they would wander and get lost or fall over a cliff and hurt themselves. Sheep are not smart, so it wasn’t unusual that they get lost. It was not unusual for a shepherd to find a lost sheep for some distance even risks his own life to bring the sheep back to the fold. He would not stop until he would bring the sheep back to the village which at that time collectively owned the flock. The return of the shepherd with the lost sheep in his shoulder would bring joy and celebration to the whole village. Jesus was saying, that it is what God is like. God is like a shepherd who wonders the hills searching for lost and injured strays.

In the second story Jesus talks about a woman who loses a silver coin. Today it would not be hard to look for a lost coin inside our house. But during those time houses were dark inside, the only light would come from a small window. The floor was probably beaten earth covered with dry reeds. The woman would have lit a lamp for extra light and then swept the floor in the hope that she might see light reflects off it, or it might make a noise as she moved it.

There are two reasons why a silver coin would have been worth the search. First, it represented a lot of money for a poor woman. To lose it meant hunger. Secondly, it may have sentimental value. One of the marks of a married woman in those days was a headdress made of 10 silver coins linked together by a chain, like my wedding ring it declares a commitment in marriage. Maybe the chain had broken and she could only find nine coins.

The picture Jesus painted was of someone desperate and determined to find it. This was a coin of huge importance; she would turn the house upside down until she found it. Jesus was saying, that is what God is like towards those who are lost. He values lost people like a woman searching for her coin.

So what are the lessons Jesus wanted us to learn from these two stories? Several come to mind. The first is that lost people matter to God. The gospel of the message is that God goes to unbelievable lengths to find lost people.

This was a radical new thought to the religious teachers of Jesus day, who criticized him for eating and socializing with people who were sinners. To their way of thinking, people who don’t live by God’s rules are ignored. God only cares for those who stay close to him. Those who are lost are beyond the scope of his love and mercy.

But according to Jesus, the reverse is true. God’s love and care for lost sinners is immense. He pursues them until he finds them, and when he brings them home all of heaven celebrate.

This is adapted from Dr. Brian Winslade's message at the 7th Asian Baptist Congress