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Academic Shame and the Honor that Really Matters

At some time, most of us have found ourselves in a new situation where we wanted to feel competent and get things right but were afraid of getting it wrong and feeling embarrassed in front of others.   Maybe it was starting a new job or going to a new school.  Maybe it was a parent or romantic interest whom we wanted to impress.  I’ve certainly felt that way many times in life. Most recently, I have moved to a new country and started a doctoral program.  In my new station in life, I’d rather appear as neither an ugly American nor an ignorant fish-out-of-water at the university.  But the reality is that I probably come across as one or the other or both from time to time.

Given my recent move, I was particularly struck by the following story from Mark Baker in “Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures: Biblical Foundations and Practical Essentials.”  I’ve been slowly working my way through this book over several months, and providentially I came across this testimony of Baker’s experience of being a first year Ph.D student at the same time I had just started my own Ph.D studies.  As Baker points out near the end of his story, a lot of people can’t identify with studying for a Ph.D but but all of us have experienced shame at some point and tried to hide the feeling that we just don’t measure up to those around us. 

Tags: Education
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Book Review ~ The Fundamentalist Movement among Protestant Missionaries in China, 1920-1937

Kevin Xiyi Yao, The Fundamentalist Movement among Protestant Missionaries in China, 1920-1937. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2003.

reviewed by Karl Dahlfred

 

Cover "The Fundamentalist Movement Among Protestant Missionaries in China, 1920-1937"Fundamentalism among missionaries in China has been lightly touched upon by scholars of Chinese history, Chinese Christianity, and fundamentalism more broadly but there has been little focused attention dedicated to fundamentalist missionaries in China.  In this published version of his doctoral research, Kevin Xiyi Yao has aimed to fill in this gap with an historical study of the events, people, and institutions associated with fundamentalist Protestant missionaries in China during the years 1920-1937.  As Yao points out in his introductory chapter, such a study is needed because previous scholarship on missionaries in China has almost exclusively focused on the social, cultural, and political impact of missionary activity while neglecting questions of the theological dynamics of missionary motivations and activities.  However, the story of change in China during the first half of the twentieth century is multi-faceted and the role of missionaries in those changes cannot be explained with socio-cultural approaches alone.

The primary goal of Yao’s book is largely historical and explanatory, intended to be a preliminary work upon which other scholars may build in order to investigate fundamentalism in China more precisely.  A secondary goal of the book is to show that fundamentalism in China during the period in question was neither a mere importation of foreign doctrinal disputes onto Chinese soil, nor simply a continuation of the conservative Protestant missionary consensus of the nineteenth century, namely a belief in an inerrant Bible and the necessity of believing in Christ for salvation.

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My Life in Thailand - A Missionary Kid's Perspective

During the course of our home assignment in the States, I gave the same Thailand presentation at so many churches that our oldest son Joshua (11 years old) started to raise his hand and tell everybody parts of my talk that I hadn’t gotten to yet, or volunteer other details that he thought people should know.  He did this so many times, I suggested that he do his own presentation some time.  He must have thought I was only joking because his jaw nearly hit the floor when I told him I had arranged for him to share with the all the kids at a partner church we were planning to visit in Northern California.  After getting over his initial shock, we helped him prepare his presentation.  Some slides were borrowed from my presentation, but other slides were completely his own idea.  When the big day came, his presentation went so well that when asked how it went, Joshua replied, “I think I could do that again sometime.”  Therefore, I arranged for him to do it again at another church.

In the video below you’ll see Joshua's full presentation to the kids at Grace Presbyterian Church in Yorba Linda, California, followed by still images of the powerpoint slides he used.  I included those at the end because they are kind of hard to see in the video.

We keep telling the kids that God has called our whole family to the mission field, and that they are an important part of what we are doing.  Therefore, we were really pleased to see Joshua's interest in getting involved as our family has been on the deputation trail visiting churches.  I believe this has also been a good opportunity for one of our kids to give voice to his experiences in Thailand because it is not only Sun and I who are experiencing life overseas, but our kids too.

Watch "My Life in Thailand - A Missionary Kid's Perspective” on YouTube

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Church Members Say the Darndest Things to Their Missionaries

guest post by Larry Dinkins

Growing up, I enjoyed a TV program called, “Kid’s Say the Darndest Things” hosted by Art Linkletter. A few of my favorites are:

What do we learn from the story of Jesus turning water into wine?
The more wine we get, the better the wedding is.

When God punished Eve, what did he make her become?
A housewife.

What ever happened to Adam and Eve?
God sent them to Hell and then transferred them to Los Angeles

 

Recently I read an article called “25 Really Strange Things Members Said to Their Pastors” on churchleaders.com. It made me think of strange things that I’ve been asked during my 37 years as a missionary to Thai people. During my mission career, church members have come up to me saying they have been following my ministry for years and would like to ask me some questions. I am pleased, of course, but many questions are so clueless that I am thinking of making a large laminated FAQ sheet with answers printed on it so I can simply point to the answers (a few of the following questions are fictitious, but most are questions I’ve been asked in all sincerity):

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Why I Love Teaching Church History on the Mission Field

Luther at the Diet of Worms, by Anton von Werner, 1877
 
As I have been visiting churches during our home assignment (furlough), I am occasionally asked why I teach church history in Thailand.  “Do they really need to learn church history?  Don’t they need the Bible more?”  The answer to both questions is , "They do."  The top priority in discipleship should be teaching the Old and New Testament, helping people to know and love their Bibles as a natural outgrowth of knowing and loving their Savior.  But in a full-orbed approach to discipleship, Christians need to know some history too… even on mission fields where Christians are few and far between.
 
As the church grows, it needs leaders who know the past in order to chart a better future.  I teach church history and missions at Bangkok Bible Seminary, a ministry training school that aims to prepare leaders for the churches in Thailand.  I love teaching there. I love helping form an upcoming generation of Thai Christian leaders.  I see students benefitting from the classes I teach and feel like I am making a real contribution.  I love seeing the lights go on in students' minds as they get their questions answered and get a better biblical grounding under their feet to minister to the people in their churches and to do outreach.  I love to read student reflections on the stories of Hudson Taylor and John Sung and the lessons they have learned from their lives.  I love to see students grasp the implications of the doctrinal debates of the early church and to discuss with them the mixed fruit arising from the legalization of Christianity under Constantine.  Did you know that the altar call is only about 200 years old?  Most of my students don’t know that coming in to my class and discussing the history of evangelistic methods gives them ideas about what they might (or might not) want to do in their own evangelism.  I love questions like...
 
“My friend said that if you worship on Sunday it is a compromise with paganism. Is that true?  I wanted to ask you since we're studying the section on the Roman Empire now”
 
“Teacher, can I get a PDF of Jonathan Edwards' sermon in Thai and English that you had us read for class. I had the opportunity to read it again. Its really good. I felt like I had to repent of a lot of things."
 
Learning church history provides my students with a multitude of benefits for their personal walk with Christ and their ministry to others.  For example, 
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3 Global Strategies We Should Learn from Prosperity Preachers

It is no secret that the prosperity gospel in booming globally.  Although many Western Christians may brush off prosperity preachers as fringe hucksters and con artists, anyone who has ministered in churches in the global South is aware that health and wealth preachers are a major force to be reckoned with.  They are gaining huge audiences and exerting tremendous influence on shaping the beliefs and practices of large sections of the church worldwide.