Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Some words on short-term missions

Ever since we came in the mission field, we had lost count on how many short-term missionaries both individuals and teams we have received and hosted in our house. Short-term missionaries are huge blessing to us in several ways.

First, they have been a source of encouragement to missionaries on the field. Talking with people who speak the same language and from the same culture is indeed a big encouragement.

Second, they have been a source of encouragement to the national church. National churches on the mission fields are usually small and struggling. They feel alone and isolated. Success stories of big churches from all over the world provide inspiration knowing that the belong to the world wide body of Christ.

Third, short-termers have been able to gain greater vision for the missionary enterprise. Being in the field witnessing how career missionaries are working make them envision the kind of ministry they can do on the field.

Fourth, short-term workers have been able to partner with long-term missionaries in many different kinds of ministries. Short-termers have assisted career missionaries in building projects, evangelism, teaching in Bible schools, agricultural projects, etc.

Although short-term missionaries have been a blessing, there are some things they need to remember.

First, they need to realize that their main purpose in going overseas is not to be tourists. They need to think carefully how to maximize their time doing ministry. They should minimize unnecessary travel time and unlike tourists, they should show authentic love for the locals. They should not criticize the local culture--their language, food and the way they do things.

Second, short termers need to realize that missionaries have their own work to do. Missionaries are not meant to be tour guides, or negotiators for bargains in the local shops and marketplaces. They need to talk with the host about their plans ahead of time so they can arrange their schedule.

Third, they need to realize they are not there to question and argue with the career missionary with regards to the way they do their ministry. They should not assume that they know more than the people on the field just because the have more education and training. They need to remember that the missionaries have been on the field longer than them.

Fifth, they need to realize that most career missionaries have limited financial resources. They should not burden their host to spend for their housing and food. They should share with the expenses they accrued during their stay.

Sixth, they should not act as visitors waiting to be served and entertained by their host. They should also do house chores like cook breakfast, lunch and dinner or help in the cleaning of the house and the ground.

Finally, short-term missionaries need to realize that God may be calling them to long-term missionary service. While more and more people are going on short-term missionary trips, fewer and fewer individuals seem to be accepting the call to enter into career missionary work.

The ideas come from an article in the old periodical entitled Evangelical Missions Quarterly written by Jim Lo.

MOST Training

I had a meeting with Jethro the other day. Both of us are ministering cross culturally here in Thailand. He is leading an NGO that focus on agriculture and community development.  He has an extensive experience training the church and the community about the importance of holistic ministry. He trained church and village leaders how to farm and hence help to support themselves.

My involvement with community development is very little. However, I have enough church leadership and theological education experience. Basically, these are kind of work I have been doing since we came to Thailand five years ago. It is true enough to say that God had used me in starting two Bible training centers. (Continuing to work though is a different story).

Between Jethro and I we have more than 10 years experience in doing training in our respective field in this region. We decided to work together. We will start a training center for church and community leaders. The training will be done within three months with 10-12 people. The projection is that we will have three (3-month) training a year. The venue will be the NGO's agricultural training site since they have dorms, training hall, kitchen and other facilities.

We formulate our goals, mission and vision. Along side this, we create a curriculum that we best think would meet the need of the people we addressed to train. The annual budget will cost U$6,000 a year.  Please help us to pray about this project.

Mae Sai Out of School Training (MOST) started from the vision of Christian workers ministering in Northern Thailand and Myanmar.  MOSt also stands for Mae Sai Outreach School of Theology. They see the needs of the churches and community in both sides of the border. The School is designed to meet these needs by training people who will become competent leaders in both the church and community. It is a joint program of Asia Rural Life Development Foundation (ARLDF) and Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary Education by Extension (PBTS-SEE).

To assist and facilitate church planting activities in a community where there is no existing church.

To train 10-12 church leaders from 5 churches and partners entity annually.
To enable the students to demonstrate and mentor other on what they learn.
To assist at least 10 churches in ministry development.

To train and equip God-called people to be Christ-like leaders in their church and community.

Under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we envision seeing Christ-like leaders in the church and community.

  • Knowing the Bible (Introduction to the Bible)
  • How to Understand the Bible (Interpretation)
  • Teach the Bible Through Story (Chronological Bible Storying)
  • How to Share the Gospel (Evangelism)
  • How to Disciple (Follow  Jesus Training)
  • How the Gospel Spread (Condensed World Mission Course)
  • How to pray (Devotion and prayer)
  • How to lead like Jesus (Leadership)
  • How to share the gospel (Evangelism)
  • How to preach (Homiletics)
  • How to plant a church (CPM)
  • How to be a true worshipper (Leading praise and worship)
  • How to do village farming (ARLDF)
  • How to do community development (Church and Community Development-CCD)
Any suggestions and help will be highly appreciated.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The old van

It was 2006 when we came to Mae Sai. We didn’t have any means of transportation so we used our feet. We walked going to the church, market and to the places of ministry. Angela, seeing our predicament lent us a very old motorcycle and we used it for two years. Through friends, God provided us with a brand-new Honda motorcycle. However, my children were growing bigger and obviuosly it would take us several trips to go to the church and other events that require the presence of the whole family.

A fellow Filipino missionary in Chiang Mai had been blessed with new pick-up truck and he had no parking space for his almost thirty-year old van. He tried to sell it but nobody wanted to buy it for a decent price. He thought it would be more useful for the ministry. We received the van with open arms and he was proven right, it is indeed useful to us. Not to mention that later, we had started a children’s home and the van was not only useful for the family but it became indispensable in transporting the children to and from School and to the church.

So, we drove the van from Chiang Mai to Mae Sai for five hours and except for its tendency to overheat the van did well. The whole family worked very hard in cleaning it inside and outside. Making it look newer than it really was. However, when my daughter closed the sliding door, it fell off. We could not restore it so we brought it to the mechanic. We pay almost 2,000 baht just to have the door reinstalled. That was the time when we have our second thoughts. Was the van a blessing or another problem that would siphoned down our already depleted ministry funds for its maintenance?

To make the long story short, we have the van for almost four years. It undergone some major repairs that cost us a lot but overall we are quite happy with its performance. We even thought of having body and upholstery works and have the aircon installed.

However, this week the van broke down twice and this reminds us once again that any upgrade is not worth and that we have to pray harder for a new van. Some friends who had seen its condition had contributed seed money in the fund raising for the new van. Jonathan gave U$ 200 and another friend gave 5,000 baht. We thank the Lord for their contributions. We believe that this “little fund” becomes big when we place it in God’s hands for his kingdom work. Please join us in praying for this need.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wind of change

We are waking up up each morning with unusually cold and foggy mornings, it’s funny how weather seems to change every year. It has been said that the only thing constant in this world is change. Missionary work is the same. Our goal remains the same but the means and the opportunities to share the gospel and make disciples change. Only God and his faithfulness remain the same. As the Psalmist says:

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. (Ps. 102: 25-27)

Although we have been anticipating big changes since last year, we are still blown away that they are finally happening.

Firstly, it is now certain that we are leaving Mae Sai Church. We had been working with Burmese migrant workers for 5 years now and this church had been the avenue through which we minister to these people. No one could have thought that several years ago the church have no sunday school, no migrant primary school,no nursery, no children’s home and no trained staff. There were very few worshippers especially in the morning. We are happy that we had been part of its growth and to know that our presence is no longer needed. At the same time, we are sad that we are leaving and will have to look for another church to work with.

Secondly, when the English worship was cancelled, Jethro and I among other Filipino Christian workers in Mae Sai decided to gather together once a month for worship and fellowship. It is a simple gathering but we are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit if he wills that a new church will come out from this fellowship. We are praying that it will expand to become a church that is open to all nationalities and tribal groups.

Thirdly, it is now definite that we are leaving The Foundation that is providing us visa.  Nonetheless, we praise the Lord for his timely provision. The school Rong Rian Powihan is willing to give Narlin a volunteer visa. In addition to this, Asia Rural Life Development Foundation (ARLDF) is willing to sponsor our visa if the the school arrangement didn’t work out.

Fourthly, our partnership with an agricultural NGO is now official. The NGO will have a regular 3-month (spread through out the year) discipleship and agricultural training. Jethro, the NGO director will teach agriculture and I (Joey) will teach the discipleship part using Seminary Education by Extension curriculum. The training will tentatively start in March.

Finally, we are praying for the probability of working with a charitable Christian organization from Bangkok. People to People Foundation found itself in a very unusual situation. They stumbled upon very cheap properties between Mae Sai and Chiang Saen and they believe that God has planned everything. A team from the USA came, bought the properties and is now financially supporting the construction of the building. They will call it The Indo-China Mission Training Center. The construction will be finished in August. The coordinator of the Foundation is a Filipino who is married to a Thai lady. We came to know him through a local Pastor in Mae Sai. He had a meeting with us and told us that they have the facilities but they are still praying for people who will oversee its daily operation and activities. Since we are already in Mae Sai for five years, he believes that we are God’s answer to their prayers. He had invited us to join their Camp and Conference in Bangkok this coming April in order for us to know the leaderships of the organization.

We are excited with the changes that will happen this year. We are confident in God that we can continue on serving him this year in whatever capacity because you are praying for us.