Bats, Cats, Rats and COVID-19 ~ a Missionary’s Perspective

Guest post by Larry Dinkins

Despite being the most scrutinized pandemic in history, the Corona Virus leaves numerous questions unanswered. Many of these questions will no doubt remain unanswered, but there is one that topped the list with SARS as well as Ebola and remains the key question with this present virus: Precisely how did Covid-19 originate? The answer to this $64,000 question could go a long way in helping remove the source of the next potentially devastating global pandemic. Helping scientists in this task has been the work done by Chinese researchers in 2017 who traced the last Corona type pandemic (SARS) “ … through the intermediary of civets to cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Yunnan province.”[1] In the case of Covid-19 most research points to the wet-markets of Wuhan province that sell live animals like bats and pangolins.  The mention of people eating such exotic animals is actually addressed in the Old Testament and has caused me to look afresh at what the Bible has to say about Old Testament dietary laws.

bat IMG 3688

Book Review - The Unfinished Mission in Thailand by Samuel Kim

Kim, Samuel I., The Unfinished Mission in Thailand: The Uncertain Christian Impact on the Buddhist Heartland, Seoul: East-West Center for Missions Research and Development, 1980

the unfinished mission in thailand sameul kimThere are not too many books on the history of the church in Thailand and my most common go-to books are S.G. McFarland’s Historical Sketch of Protestant Missions 1828-1928 and Alex Smith’s Siamese Gold, which brings the story of the Thai church up to 1982.  Both books, however, do a better job with chronicling earlier Thai church history (pre-WWII) than post-war.  Truth be told, Smith’s book does cover the post-war period, though he provides more information on evangelical missions working apart from the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT) than he does the CCT itself. Kenneth Wells’ History of Protestant Work in Thailand, 1828-1958 is somewhat useful if you want an official sanitized version of the American Presbyterian Mission and CCT in the post-war period but if you compare Wells’ book with Samuel Kim’s The Unfinished Mission in Thailand: The Uncertain Christian Impact on the Buddhist Heartland, it becomes immediately obvious that there is a lot of dirty laundry that Wells left out.

Samuel Kim begins his book with a couple of general chapters discussing Thailand, Buddhism, and the history of Christian missions in Thailand up through WWII, most of which you can easily find in the other books I’ve just mentioned.  However, beginning with chapter 3, he begins discussing tensions between the American Presbyterian missionaries and Thai Christians leaders after World War II up through the late 1970s.  It is this second part of the book that is the most valuable and forms Kim’s unique contribution to understanding the history of Christianity in Thailand.

"Siam, Land of the White Elephant" - Video of American Presbyterian Mission & Thai churches, schools in 1932

In January 1932, the Publication Department of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church (USA) sent Rev. Henri R. Rabb, a missionary in India, to visit Thailand to gather footage to make a short film about Presbyterian missions there.  Arriving on Feb 2nd with his wife and 8-year-old son, Rabb visited Bangkok and Chiang Mai.  Paul Eakin, the executive secretary of the Siam Mission, assigned Rev. Paul Fuller to assist Rabb in Bangkok, and Dr. D.R. Collier to assist him in Chiang Mai.
 
Title Screen
Title Screen "Siam, Land of the White Elephant"
 

My Ph.D Thesis... in One Image

When people hear that I am working on a Ph.D, they inevitably want to know what it is about.  Doctoral theses, by nature, are very specific and are often challenging to explain succinctly to people in a way that is both clear and understandable.
 
But recently I was presented with the challenge of summing up my Ph.D research in a poster.  Is that even possible?
 
Every year, the city of Edinburgh holds a “Doors Open Day” where historic buildings that are not normally open to the public open their doors and let people in to have a look.  New College, the home of the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh decided to participate this year, and the director of postgraduate studies put out the call for volunteers to produce posters of their Ph.D research to be hung up inside the New College building for visitors to look at on Doors Open Day.  There weren’t too many rules for how to do the poster, except that it needed to interesting and attractive for the general public wandering through the building who might not know anything about the field we are studying.
 
It enjoyed looking at the various posters from other students and faculty. I was fairly happy with how my own poster turned out too so I thought I would share it here on my blog for those who are curious to know what I am spending my time working on here in Edinburgh and how it relates to my missionary work in Thailand.
 
I appreciate that few people actually read Ph.D theses but over time I hope to produce various articles, blogs, etc. that will give little nuggets of useful info and insight into the things that I have discovered with the hope that the fruit of my research will benefit others.  This poster doesn’t include everything that will appear in my finished thesis but I hope that it serves as a taster of some of the major themes that I am looking at.

Click here to view the full-size image 

English Teaching vs. Evangelism - A Lesson from 19th Century Bangkok

On August 4, 1851 a unique opportunity opened up for Mrs. Sarah Bradley and a couple of other missionary women in Bangkok. It was a chance that any missionary would have jumped at, but also one that needed to be managed well… which it wasn’t, as will be seen.

Despite the general neglect of women’s education in mid-nineteenth century Thailand, King Mongkut (Rama IV) invited Mrs. Mary Mattoon, Mrs. Sarah Bradley, and Mrs. Sarah Jones to teach English to his wives and other women in the royal palace. The king was a forward-looking and modern-minded monarch who was eager to gain Western knowledge from missionaries and other Westerners. Previously, missionary Jesse Caswell had been a private tutor to the king and as a result King Mongkut became quite adept in English and was eager for others in the royal household to learn English as well.

View of Bangkok during Mongkut's lifetime, Grand Palace shown in center
View of Bangkok during King Mongkut's lifetime (Grand Palace is shown in center)

Dystopian Movies and the Gospel

My oldest son has asked me many times why I like dystopian movies and I haven’t been able to put my finger on it.  It seems weird to enjoy movies about a bleak, horrible future where life is awful and we are all living under the shadow of alien/robot overlords, or a catastrophic natural disaster, or some other extremely unpleasant state of affairs.  Isn’t there enough horrible stuff in real life already that I should not enjoy watching movies about horrible stuff too?  But it finally occurred to me what the attraction is, at least for me, and perhaps for others as well.
 
dystopian buildings in city
Image by Carroll MacDonald from Pixabay
 

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