Announcing the 2014 Southeast Asia Reformed Conference

In the world of evangelical missions, there are lots of ideas, methodologies, and strategies. Some are biblical and helpful. Some aren’t. Few are developed from a consciously Reformed framework. What should the Reformed faith (what's that?) look like in Asian soil? What does it look like to proclaim and live out the implications of a Reformed, Gospel-centered faith in Southeast Asia and beyond?

Earlier this year, a missionary friend in a nearby country asked on Facebook if their were any Reformed conference in Southeast Asia.  No one could think of any, so some of us decided to do something about that. Started by four missionaries from three organizations in two countries, the newly launched Southeast Asia Reformed Network aims to bring together Reformed believers (and those open to Reformed teaching) to answer those questions. The Southeast Asia Reformed Network's is a network of Reformed believers who want to see an increasing number of missionaries and Christians in Southeast Asia grounded in a Reformed worldview and able to apply the Scriptures faithfully to life and ministry in Southeast Asia.

3 Reasons Missionaries Should Learn Biblical Greek and Hebrew

John 1:1 in Greek New TestamentHow should missionaries best prepare themselves for the field?  What do they really need to know in order to serve God overseas?  In many places in the world today, the greatest need is basic evangelism and foundational biblical teaching in the local language.  So obviously, a growing personal faith in Christ and knowledge of the Bible is necessary.  And skills in cross-cultural communication and language are a must.

As a result, many missionary preparation programs (both formal and informal) focus on culture learning, anthropology, communication skills, and some basic Bible courses.  And there is often a lot of talk about strategy and methods.  But higher level courses in theology, biblical interpretation, and the original languages (Greek & Hebrew) are often left out, either because of time constraints, or because they are thought to be not very useful on the field.

Why Villages Matter: How the Church Died in North Africa, but Survived in Egypt

Kakopetria Village Stock imageIn recent years, it has become popular among evangelicals (especially Reformed evangelicals) to emphasize church planting in big cities.  Numerous books, articles, and blog posts have put forth the call to plant churches in the major urban centers of the world,under the belief that what happens in the city will eventually influence the rest of society.  In many ways, the renewed emphasis on cities is a good thing.  We should not neglect the cities, and we should seek to influence the influencers of society in hopes of having a broader impact upon society at large.  

However, with all the rhetorical emphasis on the city, some people have begun wonder, “Hey, what about the countryside?  What about small towns and villages?  Don’t rural areas matter too?”  Although I don’t think we could find anyone who’d say that rural areas don’t matter, the unspoken message is that the countryside matters less.  Way less. Rural areas are not strategic.  They are not centers of influence. What happens in the countryside stays in the countryside.  In sum, small towns and villages are not strategic in terms of impacting a society for the Gospel.  Or are they?

How Then Shall We "Go"?

airplane-traveling-the-globe-mdIt seems like such a simple command. “Go”, said Jesus, “...and make disciples of all nations...” (Matt. 28:19). But who exactly is supposed to go? Some have claimed that Jesus’ command to go and make disciples was only for the original apostles, and that the Great Commission was subsequently fulfilled by those apostles.  But such an enormous task would have been impossible for just eleven men to complete.  And Jesus’ promise to be with them “to the end of the age” implies that the validity of this commission would extend beyond the lifetime of the apostles.  If that’s so, then the church has inherited this commission from the apostles. And it is the church’s responsibility to obey the command of Christ until He comes again.

Who is Taiwanese Evangelist Peter Christ?

During the month of September, Taiwanese evangelist Peter Christ (Chinese name: 許榮彰) is doing a tour of churches in Thailand, leading revival and healing meetings in the North, Northeast, and Bangkok.  The Thai-language promotional video (below) advertising his meetings raised some questions and concerns in my mind, which led me to gather some more info on him.  It seems that he has prosperity gospel leanings, or at the very least he is sympathetic to that form of false teaching.

Click here to watch the above video on YouTube

I want to use the rest of this blog post to list several of the unanswered questions and concerns that I have about this evangelist, so that missionaries and Thai Christians will have some idea of what they can expect if Peter comes through their area.

Dumb Decisions and Ministry Success

doh300pxIt is easy to think that success in ministry depends upon us making good decisions. If God’s plans for this church / ministry are going to succeed, we need to discern His will and follow it.  But what about when we make dumb decisions?  Can our failures ruin what God wants to accomplish?  Certainly, our decisions have a real impact in our lives and the lives of others.  We should pursue holiness and make the best choices we can. But at the same time, our missteps, miscalculations, and general failure to follow God in every way do not prevent God from accomplishing his plans.

We see this principle at work in the story of Abimelech and Abraham in Genesis 20.  Abraham and Sarah move into Gerar, the territory of King Abimelech.  Abraham has some inkling of the trouble that is ahead, so he tells Sarah to say that she is his sister instead of his wife.  Abimelech then takes Sarah as his wife, but before he gets to sleeping with her, God speaks to him in a dream and tells him that she has a husband already, and Abimelech will thus be punished.  Abimelech pleads his innocence, returns Sarah, and berates Abraham for lying to him.  At the end of the day, Abraham gets his wife back plus a lot of gifts from Abimelech who wants to clear his name and escape from divine wrath.  

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