Sunday, July 31, 2011

Responsibility of the Sending Body to its Missionaries

I found this article written by someone named Dr. Isaac T. Saoshiro and this was presented at the Global Congress on Church Ministry and Missions some time October 2001. This article is about the Sending Body’s responsibility to their missionary. Organizations who wants to send missionaries should read this article. I will present his main points and will give my comments. The article is divided into four responsibilities of sending body to their missionaries namely: (1) Its responsibility to the missionaries in the field; (2)Responsibility to the missionaries during furlough; (3) responsibility to missionary kids and parents; and (4) Responsibility to the supporting churches.

Responsibility to the missionaries in the field

First, the Sending Body (SB) needs to give clear guidance to the missionaries regarding their duties to the home office, expectations in the field, their relationship with other bodies, and their goals. SB should give the missionaries a clear job description.

Second, the SB should have regular correspondence. It is essential for the SB to communicate regularly with the missionaries. Missionaries are required to submit regular ministry reports as well as financial reports. Because of the internet, this correspondence can be done in the most convenient way. SB can know the situation of the missionaries on the field in real time and there is no way to prevent them from extending assistance. Urgent prayer requests can also be communicated in no time at all.

Third, the SB has the responsibility to visit the field. Email communication can limit the understanding of the real situation of the missionaries. The SB should be responsible to visit the field and get a first-hand information and listen to the missionaries about their difficulties, problems, victories and future plans.

Fourth, the SB should provide pastoral care to missionaries. SB should assigned a person most likely an experienced Pastor who can provide spiritual counseling and prayers. The person does not necessarily need to report what transpired in this pastoral sessions. This will help the missionaries to have a healthy outlet concerning their struggles. Moreover, the SB needs to give pastoral care for missionaries by sending movies, audio, missions magazines and books as a way to encourage them spiritually.

Finally, SB should provide physical and psychological care to the missionaries. They must provide a good health care system for missionaries such as periodical health check. SB should provide professional counseling, medical insurance, and health care information through medical books and magazines.

Responsibility to missionaries during furlough

First, SB must provide housing for missionaries during furlough. Usually, when missionaries left their country, they sold everything they possessed. Missionaries do not have a house and have to live with their family and relatives. The SB should provide a rented house, a guest house or a mission house ideally near the airport where the missionaries could stay while they are on furlough.

Second, the SB has the responsibility to receive and send off missionaries. When missionaries come back from their mission fields, they experience an enormous culture shock. They face many adjustments and challenges in the seemingly new lifestyles. Cities do change a lot and missionaries who have gone for a long time may get lost in the city. The SB should extend all the assistance that the missionaries might need when they return to their own country.

Thirdly, the SB should plan for the missionaries deputation schedule. The SB should arranged for the missionaries schedule to speak in churches, conferences and other requesting organizations. Arrange the time and location wisely so that the missionaries do not have to make unnecessary travel. They could arrange also that part of the furlough could be spent on studies related to the missionaries ministries. It is good for the SB to arrange for their missionaries to have rest and retreats.

Responsibility to missionary kids

Schooling for the missionary kids is not an easy matter. This is the greatest concerns of the parents. There are very few schools in the mission fields that can provide good education. International schools are expensive and the SB should do everything they can to extend assistance. Some SB provides tuition fees for the missionary kids until they finish high school and partial scholarship when the kids are in college.

The SB should also take special care for the missionary kids who are returning home from the mission fields for education or work. Their family and relatives may take a big role in this area, however, the SB must provide any assistance needed in the areas such as missionary kids’ residence, job hunting and introduce fellowship groups that would encourage MK to adjust to the culture smoothly.

Responsibility to supporting churches

The SB needs to communicate with supporters and supporting churches effectively by newsletters. The SB should have regular and proper financial reports to the supporters. It also needs to organize mission services and missions’ day of prayer to educate the church about the missions and the missionary they are supporting. SB should be active in raising funds for mission works and continually raise supporters’ interest for mission.

In our situation, we are not send by any sending body (in the real sense of the word). Although, we have been approached by few sending bodies about the possibilities of working with them, we really did not make any steps to be part of any sending body. We have been in the mission field for almost six years and the Lord never failed to provide for our needs. We are totally dependent on God and we are enjoying our independence. Apparently, the SB has huge responsibility to the missionary they are sending, otherwise missionary should reciprocate that responsibility. Any SB should not claim any missionaries as their own if they are not committed to do their responsibilities.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pitfalls Facing MIssionaries

Our friend keeps on moving to a new place and she got tired of moving her things around so she put all her books and book shelfs in our house. Of course, I don't mind it at all. But everyday I would browse the shelfs and look for something to read.

I found a photocopy bound compilations of missionary articles. I believe it is a good idea to share some articles here that I think would be very useful to missionaries and theologians.

This article is entitled "Pitfalls Facing Missionaries and Christian Workers" written by Dr. Ken Seino. In his article he presents several pitfalls that missionaries tend to fall. I give my comments in each.

Pitfalls of Pride

He says that missionaries are famous because it is being announced in the denomination or by deputation. They become famous because they are being prayed for by many people in many churches. In my opinion, this is only true if you are a missionary who comes from a big denominations with big churches. He warns that the missionary should not be proud because they are not famous because of their personality but for the kind of job they are doing.

He claims that sometimes the missionaries are given opportunity to serve in large meetings and conventions or interviewed by Christian newspapers. He says, that in certain cases, missionaries are "stars" among fine Christians. And this would cause the missionary to be haughty and arrogant. I could only hope that what he says is always true.

Pitfalls of Hypocrisy

Missionaries have the opportunity to work with wonderful leaders and thus they may belong to a ministry that are able to lead a great numbers of soul to the Lord and construct new church buildings. However, sometimes this accomplishment eclipse one of the most important goals of missions and that is for the believers to experience spiritual growth and that includes the missionaries own growth. Numbers do not necessarily means success.

Pitfall of Martyrdom

Missionaries tend to project themselves as living in a very difficult situation. They present themselves as miserable people who missed everything in their home country. The are tempted to create a story that tells the people back home that they are facing bigger hardships than ordinary Christians. Of course, all of these are true but missionaries have also blessings that ordinary Christians

Pitfalls of Money

The temptation of money is common to missionary. The missionary should be accountable and make a record of incoming and outgoing expenses. Missionaries should be a good steward of the Lord's money. This is most true if a missionary is being supported through a mission organization. Nonetheless, independent missionary should keep everything in orderly record. The ever present of spending the money to something not needed should be avoided.

Pitfalls of Dishonesty

Missionary should never lie for profit. Many missionaries fall into the trap of getting support from different missions organizations and keeping it a secret to them. Missionaries should be transparent. Just be honest about the sources of your support to the people or other missions group that want to help you and your ministry. Simple honesty will go a long way.

The over-simplification or slight exaggeration should be avoided at all times. An intentional misinformation may make for a good challenging story that may motivate people to support missionary works but it is still dishonest and the Lord of the harvest will not be pleased.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Vehicle Project

We are sincerely grateful for your love and prayers. This week, heavy rains fall continuously and the need for a vehicle hit us more than ever. The older children walk to school with their raincoats and umbrellas and the younger children ride with me on the motorcycle.

Few more friends have been touched by the Lord and generously contributed to our vehicle project. I realized that they don't want their names and the amount they contributed to appear in this email. So what l give you here is the summary info. We need to raise 270,000 Baht to buy a good second hand truck. To date, friends have rallied behind us and contributed 163,700 Baht. THIS IS NOTHING SHORT OF A MIRACLE (PTL!). We still have a long way to go, but we're almost there.

All things are possible with God. He can do anything he wanted in an instant but I believe he is giving us the privilege of being part of the Kingdom work through giving. Your contribution will be a big part of God's mission here in Mae Sai.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Just a quick update

The Lord gave us the calm assurance of your friendship and you do include us in your prayers. Thank you so much for your love and generosity. Please include us once again in your personal and church prayer time. Here are our immediate prayer concerns.

We thank the Lord for the opportunity he had given to us to be part of the consultation in a conference of well established NGOs, Foundations, and Religious organizations who are doing similar program for women and children. We were able to present our ministry in the conference. The conference were beneficial to us in several ways: (1) We were able to share our ministry and hence gained recognition from like-minded people and organizations. (2) We learned about the rights of the children under our care. The Thai government recognizes the right of the children regardless of ethnicity, citizenship, or economic status. (3) We had the opportunity to expand our network. The organizers talked to us personally and told us to consult them if we are experiencing difficulties in getting our children to school.

We thank the Lord for our fellow missionaries who left their vehicle for us to use while they are home. We are using this vehicle in bringing the children to and from the school. This is convenient for us because of the heavy rains we are experiencing now. It also gives us the chance to have the old van repaired.

Please pray for our need for a new vehicle. The van is very old that the mechanic refused to do a body repair. The roof is pull of holes that the water leaks when it is raining. Narlin and I will do the body work so that we can use it a little bit longer. I will write another story about the fund-raising we are doing for the new vehicle.

Please pray for Ma Eng, our hardworking, kind and reliable helper. She had been staying with us for two years. She was extremely helpful with our ministry with the children. She needs higher salary because she is supporting her mother and sisters in Burma. She was offered a job in Bangkok. We were sad to see her go but she has a big need that we cannot afford to provide. Please pray for her safety and that she will not become a victim of human trafficking.

Pray for our children shelter ministry. We took in another two little girls aged 4 and 5. They are both totally orphaned. We also took in a baby girl of nine months and her mother. The husband got involved with human trafficking and now in jail. They don't have a place so they are staying with us in indefinite period of time.

Pray for our visa and work permit extension in July 14. Pray for provisions and safe travel to Chiang Mai. Please pray also that the process will go on smoothly.

Thank you so much and God bless.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Moltmann Quotes

Looking for some materials for my dissertation, (Yes, I am still trying to finish my second draft), I stumbled upon insightful Moltmann quotes from this site.

Some quotes from Moltmann’s presentation at Garrett are below:

“Despair can be like an iron band constricting the heart.”–Jurgen Moltmann

“The turn from this end [despair] to a new beginning came from three things. A blooming cherry tree, the unexpected kindness of Scottish workers and their families, and the Bible.”–Jurgen Moltmann, the spark of life when he first left the prisoner of war camp after WWII

“Christ’s own ‘God-forsaken-ness’ on the cross showed me where God is present where God had been present in those nights of deaths in the fire storms in Hamburg and where God would be present in my future whatever may come.”–Jurgen Moltmann

“Imprisoned professors taught imprisoned students free theology.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on studying theology at the POW camp at the Norton Camp in Nottingham, England

“There are various names for this ‘Spirit of Life’ because there are various life experiences.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on the Holy Spirit

“God is not only a divine person who we can address in prayer, but also a wide living space … We human beings are giving each other space for living when we meet each other in love and friendship.”–Jurgen Moltmann

“With every righteous action, we prepare the way for the New Earth on which righteousness will dwell. And bringing justice to those who suffer violence means to bring the light of God’s future to them.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on the future of God

“Americans as no one else in the Old World are looking ahead and are future-minded without the limitations of traditions and can look ahead without the burdens of the past.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on America

“To reinvent your own country you need a great audacity of hope.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on the recurrent desire of American presidents to reinvent America

“[In 1967] The ‘Hope Movement’ replaced the ‘God is Dead’ movement.”–Jurgen Moltmann

“Christian hope does not promise successful days to the rich and the strong, but resurrection and life to those who must exist in the shadows of death.  Success is no name of God. Righteousness is.”–Jurgen Moltmann

“There were two different expectations … in this land of the future. On the one hand the the optimistic belief in an unending progress with millenarianistic overtones and on the other hand the doomsday expectation of the final battle of Armageddon. Both are perspectives are uniquely American and both are inter-related.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on the messianic politics of the American founding fathers

“No where else in Christianity does the terrible or heroic name of Armageddon play such role as in America. Not even in the Revelation of John.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on the Left Behind series

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Migrant and Stateless Children in Border Areas

Conferences and meetings occupied most of our days this week. We received an invitation to attend a Conference sponsored by a well-established and large NGO here in Mae Sai. The theme is: “Working Collaboratively for Child Rights Protection Policies for Migrant and Stateless Children in Border Areas.” We did not why we were invited. The only reason we could think of is that this big NGOs are starting to know that we exist.

The participants were divided into groups. NGO, religious group (monks, pastors, and catholic priests), and foundation. At first we were dumped together with the religious group. However, when they realized that our knowledge of Thai is very limited, they put us together with the international group. Apparently, they were expecting more foreigners were coming to the conference. But they didn't came, so Narlin and I were the only people in the international group. They assigned persons who interpreted for us and facilitated us in the discussion.

Nine groups were formed and each group was given the opportunity to present the result of the small group discussions. And since were were the only English speaking person, I ended up presenting what we are doing in our children shelter ministry.

In my impromptu presentation, I told the audience that we are just a small group with very limited resources. However, when I was presenting what we are doing, the audience realized that our experience is extensive. We provide shelter for the migrant and stateless children, we were able to rescue a little girl from child trafficking, we were able to take care of the orphaned children, we had the opportunity to take in child whose parents had died of AIDS/HIV, and we are able to send the children to Thai school.

After my presentation, some people serving from different organizations approached us and expressed appreciation of what we have accomplished for the children. Likewise, we were happy to be part of the conference. Our network has widened, people and organizations are starting to recognize the ministry that we have been doing for the children.