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Why Villages Matter: How the Church Died in North Africa, but Survived in Egypt

Kakopetria Village Stock imageIn recent years, it has become popular among evangelicals (especially Reformed evangelicals) to emphasize church planting in big cities.  Numerous books, articles, and blog posts have put forth the call to plant churches in the major urban centers of the world,under the belief that what happens in the city will eventually influence the rest of society.  In many ways, the renewed emphasis on cities is a good thing.  We should not neglect the cities, and we should seek to influence the influencers of society in hopes of having a broader impact upon society at large.  

However, with all the rhetorical emphasis on the city, some people have begun wonder, “Hey, what about the countryside?  What about small towns and villages?  Don’t rural areas matter too?”  Although I don’t think we could find anyone who’d say that rural areas don’t matter, the unspoken message is that the countryside matters less.  Way less. Rural areas are not strategic.  They are not centers of influence. What happens in the countryside stays in the countryside.  In sum, small towns and villages are not strategic in terms of impacting a society for the Gospel.  Or are they?

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How Then Shall We "Go"?

airplane-traveling-the-globe-mdIt seems like such a simple command. “Go”, said Jesus, “...and make disciples of all nations...” (Matt. 28:19). But who exactly is supposed to go? Some have claimed that Jesus’ command to go and make disciples was only for the original apostles, and that the Great Commission was subsequently fulfilled by those apostles.  But such an enormous task would have been impossible for just eleven men to complete.  And Jesus’ promise to be with them “to the end of the age” implies that the validity of this commission would extend beyond the lifetime of the apostles.  If that’s so, then the church has inherited this commission from the apostles. And it is the church’s responsibility to obey the command of Christ until He comes again.

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Who is Taiwanese Evangelist Peter Christ?

During the month of September, Taiwanese evangelist Peter Christ (Chinese name: 許榮彰) is doing a tour of churches in Thailand, leading revival and healing meetings in the North, Northeast, and Bangkok.  The Thai-language promotional video (below) advertising his meetings raised some questions and concerns in my mind, which led me to gather some more info on him.  It seems that he has prosperity gospel leanings, or at the very least he is sympathetic to that form of false teaching.

Click here to watch the above video on YouTube

I want to use the rest of this blog post to list several of the unanswered questions and concerns that I have about this evangelist, so that missionaries and Thai Christians will have some idea of what they can expect if Peter comes through their area.

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Dumb Decisions and Ministry Success

doh300pxIt is easy to think that success in ministry depends upon us making good decisions. If God’s plans for this church / ministry are going to succeed, we need to discern His will and follow it.  But what about when we make dumb decisions?  Can our failures ruin what God wants to accomplish?  Certainly, our decisions have a real impact in our lives and the lives of others.  We should pursue holiness and make the best choices we can. But at the same time, our missteps, miscalculations, and general failure to follow God in every way do not prevent God from accomplishing his plans.

We see this principle at work in the story of Abimelech and Abraham in Genesis 20.  Abraham and Sarah move into Gerar, the territory of King Abimelech.  Abraham has some inkling of the trouble that is ahead, so he tells Sarah to say that she is his sister instead of his wife.  Abimelech then takes Sarah as his wife, but before he gets to sleeping with her, God speaks to him in a dream and tells him that she has a husband already, and Abimelech will thus be punished.  Abimelech pleads his innocence, returns Sarah, and berates Abraham for lying to him.  At the end of the day, Abraham gets his wife back plus a lot of gifts from Abimelech who wants to clear his name and escape from divine wrath.  

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Bad Language Day

After more than 8 years in Thailand, I would like to think that I speak and understand Thai at a fairly high level.  I can usually teach and preach in Thai, and carry on conversations without major problems.  My language is not perfect, of course, and I can’t speak or understand 100% of what I would like to.  But in general, my Thai language ability seems to function okay for what I need to do.

But sometimes it all falls apart.  I can’t find the right word.  I stumble over what I want to say.  Someone tells me something and I can only guess what they are trying to communicate.  And it always hits me by surprise.  Why is it that normally I do okay, but today my language ability has regressed about 5 years?  I’ve had this experience many times.  Seemingly out of nowhere, my language ability disintegrates before my eyes. But I’ve learned to not get too discouraged by my bad language days.  

Because that’s just what it is: a single day.  

 

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Timeline: Thai Church History in Global Context

Embedded below is the English version of a timeline of "Thai Church History in Global Context."  The Thai version was developed as a study aid for my students at Bangkok Bible Seminary, and it is my hope that the English version will be useful for my fellow Thailand missionaries and interested Christians worldwide.

Click on each frame of the timeline (or use your left and right arrow buttons) to advance to the next frame or use the scroll bar on the bottom to travel back and forth through time.  In the top right corner you also have the option to view as a chart (default) or as a list (vertical listing of events).

 

 

  Download Timeline (text only) .doc  .pdf