Evangelism Idea - Pocket Books that Serve as Subway Cards

In the video below, books are given away with 10 free trips on the subway (underground) in Brazil in order to promote reading. The subway scan card is embedded into the back cover of the book, and can be refilled online.

What if this was done with some Christian books? evangelistic literature? In addition to promoting reading, people might find themselves reading about the Gospel sheerly by virtue of having it in their hand while traveling. Granted that many people in the world today are oral-prefered learners, but I would bet that many people don't prefer reading simply because they are not used to it.  Toting a book around in order to use the subway or train or bus might just encourage people to do something they otherwise would not have chosen: read a book.

Reaching such an agreement with public transporation authorities in some places would definitely be a challenge, but this idea seems pregnant with possibilities for both reading and evangelism.

[ส่องงาน #CannesLions2015] นี่คือแคมเปญโปรโมทหนังสือและส่งเสริมการอ่านที่ผมอิจฉาที่สุดเท่าที่เคยรู้เคยเห็นมาในชีวิตนี้ ทำไมเราถึงไม่ใช่คนที่คิดงานนี้ได้นะ

Posted by Zcongklod Bangyikhan on Friday, June 26, 2015

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The 7 Characteristics of a Good Learner of Foreign Languages

Nearly all missionaries need to learn at least one foreign language (sometimes more) and I thought the following list reposted by a missionary friend was a good reminded of what it takes.  If you see characteristics that you have on the list, be encouraged.  If you see characteristics on the list that you don't have, don't worry.  Some things can be worked on, and some things can be done without, but you can still learn a language effectively.

Before I started learning Thai, I was asked if I was musical. I said "No" and there was an audible "Oh" at the other end of the phone. The veteran missionary went on to explain that Thai is tonal and that musical people do better at learning Thai. So, that was depressing. Later on, someone told me that out of 66 million Thai people who speak Thai fluently, not all of them are musically gifted. That was encouraging.


Taken from Rawlangs Blog, this is a slide from Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann on what makes a good language learner. What would you add?

Posted by Memrise on Tuesday, May 26, 2015

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Why Has the Gospel Advanced So Slowly in Thailand? (1871)

Over the nearly 200 years of Protestant work in Thailand, there has been one unanswerable question that every missionary has asked: “After all these years, why aren’t there more Christians?”1 

I was recently reading “Siam: Its Government, Manners, Customs, &c.” by Rev. N.A. McDonald, and was struck by the fact that he was asking the same question more than 140 years ago.  McDonald was a member of the American Presbyterian Mission in Siam (now Thailand) from 1860-1870, after which time he returned to the United States.  At the time of writing, Protestant missionaries had been working in Siam for a bit over 40 years.  

I have included below the full text of McDonald’s brief answer to this question that appeared in his 1871 book (minus one phrase that might be objectionable in the current political climate in Thailand). I have left his spelling as-is, but have added headings for his various points to make for easier reading.  Those who are familiar with Christianity in Thailand today will note that many of the points he raises are still applicable today (although the modern reader may not agree with, nor express, all of the points in the same way).

Also take note, that he ends his answer with a desire to see more missional business people in Siam. In this regard, he seems a bit ahead of his time.

Missionaries, Protect Your Marriage

A while back I wrote an article on “How to Protect Yourself from Moral Failure on the Mission Field”, but I failed to include something important.  After reading my post, a missionary colleague many years my senior wrote to point out that my “how-to list” should have included “nurturing your marital relationship”.  He was right.  And in light of recent news of Tullian Tchividjian’s resignation due to infidelity, I thought it might be a good time to make a few observations on missionary marriages and longevity on the mission field.  I don’t want to comment on Tchividjian’s case in particular, but rather the broader issue of protecting your marriage, as it relates to missionaries.

As with anyone in full-time ministry, there are lots of stresses and demands upon missionaries, including language and culture stresses that are a much smaller factor when you are working in your home country.  And in the midst of various pressures, the marriage relationship is easily neglected.   And if the marriage is neglected, that relationship is no longer the joyful, life-giving fount that God intended it to be.  A good marital relationship can be a shelter and refuge from the stresses and demands of the outside world.  It can be a place to laugh, to cry, to rant, to debrief, and to share all those things that would cause you to be virtually tarred-and-feathered if you shared them on social media.  

Missionaries and Materialism

Some people might think that missionaries don’t have problems with materialism.  After all, these are the people who have “given up everything” to move to a foreign country in order to preach the Gospel.  Or, at least, that is the traditional way that missionaries have been viewed.  In the age of globalization, however, the division between “home” and “field” is not so simple and the ease of communication and transportation can lead to heightened expectations for being able to maintain a lifestyle and standard of living similar to what you enjoyed in your home country.  And that is a problem because it leads to disappointment, bitterness, frustration, a lack of satisfaction in one’s life and ministry, and in some cases attrition.

What is the root of this materialism?  And how can we address this issue and keep missionaries on the field longer?  I believe that the core issues are expectations and attitudes of the heart.  

Book Review: "A History of Thailand" by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit

Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit, A History of Thailand, third ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), Kindle Edition.

Years ago, I read David Wyatt's "Thailand: A Short History" but it was a bit too dry and not too short. I nearly gave up as he went on and on reconstructing the pre-history of Thailand. But Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit's “A History of Thailand” has been a completely different experience. The authors have written a briskly moving narrative that gives you the big picture, highlighting the important people and events in the development of the country without getting bogged down in the details. The first chapter (Before Bangkok) takes you through early history to the founding of Bangkok in 1782. In not too many pages, the authors give a helpful picture of the 15-18th century, the empires of Southeast Asia, the old Thai feudal system, and the steps leading up the founding of the Chakri dynasty. And it is the Chakri dynasty and the last 200 years of Thai history that form the bulk of this book.

As the book unfolds however, tracing the political, cultural, and economic development of the country from Rama 1 (1782) to the pre-coup political climate of March 2014, it becomes obviously that writing a history of “Thailand” is problematic. As it were, there was no “Thailand” per se, until the colonial powers forced the kingdom of Siam to define it borders in response to French and British colonial acquisitions in Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia. In the late 19th century, the kingdom of Siam spread across what is now Central Thailand into Western Cambodia, while the Lao kingdoms and Shan States functioned rather independent of Siam to the north, albeit many of them in a tributary relationship to Siam. The region that constitutes modern day Southern Thailand was also only loosely connected to Bangkok. But as the colonial powers claimed some of these territories and agreed that others belonged to Siam, the government of Siam felt that it was necessary create a sense of unity and nationhood among these different territories and peoples in order to consolidate power and ward off interference from foreign aggression. These reasons, along with the belief that the majority of “Thai” people are passive peasants, led to justifications for a strong state with Bangkok as the center. The strong state was first embodied in the absolute monarchy, but after the revolution of 1932, the strong state re-emerged on-and-off in the form of military dictatorships up through the 1970s and beyond.

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