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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. 

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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.
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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
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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...

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20 Things I Have Noticed Upon Returning to America

After spending the last four and a half years living and working in Bangkok, Thailand, our family recently came back to the United States for a six month home assignment (furlough).  My wife and I grew up here, though our kids have spent most of their lives (so far) in Thailand.  For all of us, however, there have been many new or not-as-familiar-anymore aspect of life in America to get used to. 

Many people have heard of culture shock, the experience of unsettledness and uncertainty when you experience a foreign culture.  Fewer people, however, are familiar with reverse culture shock, the experience of unsettledness and uncertainty when you re-enter your home culture after being in a foreign culture for a long period of time.  But I can verify that reverse culture shock is a real thing because our family is experiencing it.  Although “shock” might be too strong of a word for it, there are certainly a lot of things to get used to again.  Here’s a list of several things that I have noticed this past week about life in the United States, after having lived in Thailand for a number of years.

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My Top 5 Books in 2016

At the beginning of 2016, I set a goal of reading 50 books this year.  It was an ambitious goal but I thought I could do it.  It turns out that life happened, 2017 is upon us, and I only ended up reading 36 books this year.  Not as much as I would have liked, but probably more than I would have read if I hadn't been aiming at 50.  Out of the 36 books I read in 2016, I picked my 5 favorites and have included a brief review of each.  These are not necessarily the best of books that were published in 2016, but are my top picks (in no particular order) among the books that I read in 2016.   Read one of them and maybe you'll find a new favorite! 

The Way Thais Lead: Face as Social Capital

This was an excellent, well-written book with lots of insight about the different types of "face" that Thai people (especially leaders) strive for... and fear losing.  The author draws out the implication for relationships between leaders and followers, and drives towards a conclusion that presents an alternative indigenous way of leadership in Thai culture that flies in the face of less noble (but more common) alternatives.  The author got his Ph.D from Fuller Seminary, but this book is very obviously for a general audience, so he stops short of offering any biblical or theological reflection on the topic of face and Thai leadership.  All the same, this was a very engaging book with lots of colorful quotes from Thai leaders.  It gives a good framework for understanding what is happening all around you in everyday social interactions.  It is a must-read if you live in Thailand.

  Buy from Silkworm Books (within Thailand)