Print

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):

Print

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, 
Print

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. 

Print

6 Reasons I am Pursuing a Ph.D... "even though" I am a missionary

New College, University of Edinburgh (Photo: Kim Traynor)
 
As some readers of this blog may already be aware, our family is planning to move to Scotland for a few years so I can work on a Ph.D at the University of Edinburgh.  As we’ve been visiting churches and mission partners in the States, a number of people have asked me why I'm going to do a Ph.D. That's an excellent question.
 
For most missionaries, a doctorate really isn't necessary. They plant churches.  They do direct evangelism.  They work with street kids.  This is all important work and it is really helpful to have some kind of bible college or seminary degree for greatest effectiveness (why?), but probably not a doctorate.  So why am I going for a Ph.D?
 
In this post, I want to answer that question by briefly laying out six reasons that are motivating my pursuit of doctoral studies.  It is my hope that readers in general will understand why Ph.D studies might be right for some missionaries, and that our mission partners in particular will understand why I personally am pursing a Ph.D.  At the end of the post, you’ll find a curated list of some helpful articles by myself and others about the relationship between theological education and mission work.
Print

6 Visa Options for Missionaries in Thailand

Over the years, many people have asked me how to get a visa to do missionary work in Thailand, so I have put together this post to give a brief overview of the options.  My intention here is to give signposts for where to start, not to provide comprehensive instructions for everything you need to do to successfully apply for a visa.  Government regulations and requirements can change without notice, and vary from location to location, so what follows is merely general guidance and pointers, which may or may not match what you actually find when you apply for a visa.  With that said, the various visa options for those wanting to do (Protestant) missionary work in Thailand are as follows:
 
"Extension of Stay" stamp for Religious Affairs (RA) Visa
Print

20 More Things I Have Noticed Upon Returning to America

About one week after our family returned to the United States after spending the last four and a half years living and working in Bangkok, Thailand, I wrote a blog about "20 Things I Have Noticed Upon Returning to America."  Those were my initial observations.  But now that our family is more than two months into our stay in the U.S, I have noticed a bunch of other things that I didn't run into during my first week here.

Reverse culture shock is the gift that keeps on giving, and while I don't walk around every day feeling stressed, there are still a lot of things that make me think, "Well, they don't do it like THAT back in Thailand!"  Sometimes, that is a good thing.  Sometimes that is a bad thing.  But sometimes it is just neutral. Not good - not bad - just different.

So, without further ado, here are...