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People often ask me how to get a Christian book translated into Thai and published in Thailand. Most of those people are missionaries, but occasionally a Thai Christian wants to know how to get an English-language book or a Thai-language book that they wrote into print. I don’t claim to know everything about publishing in Thailand but I have worked part-time as an editorial and theological advisor at a Thai Christian publisher for a number of years, which is probably sufficient for providing some advice for getting starting in publishing a Christian book in Thailand. With that in mind, what follows is some general guidelines for publication but I make no claims of being comprehensive and the policies/procedures of various publishers and printers may change without notice.
Thailand needs lots of good, biblical literature to support the work of evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and leadership development and I am glad whenever I hear of someone’s desire to publish a good Christian book of that variety. I assume that anyone who wants to publish a Christian book wants it to make as big an impact as possible, so there are two major issues to consider here:
1) the actual translation and publishing of the book
2) distribution of the book AFTER it is published
I’ll get to distribution later in the post (as well as some FAQs), but please don’t skip that part because distribution is just as important as publication. In terms of publication, there are 2 primary routes for publishing a Christian book in Thailand:
Reformed literature in Thai is very hard to find. If we define the term "Reformed" somewhat broadly, then some Reformed titles may be found at various Thai publishers. A few of those titles don't seem to be translated well, so I can not recommend them with confidence. However, I can recommend the following titles
Published by Kanok Bannasan (OMF Publishers Thailand):
The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul (currently out-of-print)Concise Theology by J.I. PackerPilgrim's Progress by John BunyanToday's Gospel by Walter Chantry Self-Image: How to Overcome Inferiority Judgments (Resources for Biblical Living) by Lou Priolo
Published by Biblica:
Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Available for free online:
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Thai can be downloaded here.
The Heidelberg Catechism in Thai can be downloaded here.
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 ทำไมเราถึงไม่ใช่คนที่คิดงานนี้ได้นะPosted by Zcongklod Bangyikhan on Friday, June 26, 2015
Click here if you don't see a video above.
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.
One of the projects that I have been involved with at Kanok Bannasan (OMF Publishers Thailand) this past year has finally been published. “Christianity and the Cults” (Thai title: รู้เท่าทัน) covers six cult groups that are operating in Thailand that Thai Christians may encounter. In the post, I want to give an English summary of what’s in the book so that missionaries and other English speaking Christians can knowledgeably recommend it to their Thai Christian friends and use it in ministry. This is not a translated book, but is an original Thai book that has been written “in-house” by Kanok, with the help of various contributors.
The introductory chapter addresses three areas that help set the tone for the book, and assist readers in preparing themselves to meet cult groups and false teaching in general. First, why this book? For some people it may seem distasteful to label someone a false teacher or to say that such-and-such group is a cult, but these are things that we must do because the Bible makes such distinctions.
A number of people have asked me for apologetics resources in Thai, so I thought I would assemble a list of what is available. You’ll find that list down below but before you go get the goods, there are few things that need to be understood about apologetics in the Thai context.Apologetic Issues in Thailand are Different than in the West
Apologetics resources in the English language are intended to meet the challenges to the Christian faith in the English speaking world. For various cultural, historical, and religious reasons, not all of those issues are applicable to a Thai-speaking audience and thus do not need much attention (if any) when teaching on apologetics in Thailand. Issues that the vast majority of Thai Christians are not dealing with include higher criticism, secular humanism, the historicity of Adam, the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible, atheism, and postmodernism. Those are Western issues that grew out of historical and cultural forces in the West stemming from the Enlightenment, Rationalism, and the Fundamentalist / Modernist controversy. For the most part, Thailand did not experience those movements in Western thought. To the degree to which Thailand has experienced those movements, it has only been peripheral and mostly confined to the more educated upper-classes who have lived abroad or received a Western education.Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that the issues I’ve listed above don’t matter or are not important. They are important. They do matter. But the the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible are not being called into question in Thai churches, so why mount an apologetic defense against an enemy that your listeners haven’t met (and probably won’t meet) in their context?
reviewed by Karl DahlfredThe Creedal Imperative, by Carl Trueman. (Crossway, 2012, 208pp.)Within the world of evangelical Protestantism, creeds have fallen on hard times. They are old, irrelevant, and go into way too much detail about non-essential doctrinal points that just cause conflict. “Doctrine divides, mission unites,” as they say. Therefore, it is a massively difficult task that Carl Trueman has taken on in “The Creedal Imperative”, making the case that not only are creeds helpful, but also essential to the life of the church. For many people, the whole idea of creeds conjures up words like “dry,” “dusty,” and “academic” but Trueman does a brilliant job of making his case for creeds readable and understandable for those who are not familiar with them, and are not sure whether they should be.From the very first page, Trueman addresses himself to the popular objections to creeds. His leading example is a pastor who claimed that his church had no creed but the Bible, yet at the same time taught the five points of Calvinism, dispensationalism, and form of church government drawn from the Plymouth Brethren. Trueman points out that while this pastor’s church claimed “its only creed was the Bible, it actually connected in terms of the details of its life and teaching to almost no other congregation in the history of the church. Clearly, the church did have a creed, a summary view of what the Bible taught on grace, eschatology, and ecclesiology; it was just that nobody ever wrote it down and set it out in public.” (Kindle Locations 119-122)
“I am just calling to order books, right?” replied the confused secretary, taken aback at why she would be asked such a strange question. She had simply been asked to order some books for a professor, and now the publisher wanted to know if the professor was a Christian?Uncertain about where the conversation was headed, the woman on the other end of the phone explained, “Yes, that’s right. We are a Christian publisher, but this title can be used by both Christians and those who are not Christians.” The secretary didn’t say whether the professor was a Christian or not, but did proceed with an order of 40 books for the students in a Southeast Asian Studies course at a well-known state university in Thailand.
Contest is now over. The two winners have been notified via email. Thank you to everyone who participated!
I love getting good resources into the hands of people who can use them so I am running a missions books giveaway for three quality missions books. I will select two winners from everyone who enters and each person will receive a set of these three books.“Help, My Halo is Slipping” by Larry DinkinsExtremely readable little book (about 100 pages) about Larry Dinkins and his family’s life as new missionaries in Thailand in the 1980s. Things in Thailand have changed somewhat in the thirty years since this was written, but it still gives a very good picture of life on the mission field, especially in Thailand. (Larry has written a number of guest posts on my blog, which you can see here)
reviewed by Karl Dahlfred
In "Telling God’s Stories with Power: Biblical Storytelling in Oral Cultures,” Paul Koehler identifies and presents a solution to a problem that continues to plague many missionaries and national Christians worldwide. In short, traditional modes of Gospel communication in many so-called developing nations don’t seem to be working. Bible schools are churning out graduates and these graduates are preaching and teaching the Gospel but people are tuning them out. Converts are few. Discipleship and church growth are stunted. What’s gone wrong?
reviewed by Karl DahlfredAre worship and mission doomed to be in never-ending competition for the time and resources of the church? Must we choose between looking inward and looking outward? In “Worship and Mission After Christendom”, Alan and Eleanor Kreider give a resounding “NO”, pointing readers to a third way of looking at the relationship between worship and mission in light of the demise of Christendom in the West.
Raised on the mission field in Asia, Alan and Eleanor Kreider served as Mennonite missionary teachers in England for thirty years before returning to the United States, where they continue their work teaching, speaking and writing about issues of worship, church history, and peace making. In “Worship and Mission After Christendom”, the Kreiders bring together the results of their studies in these areas, together with personal experience to present an alternative vision of the relationship between worship and mission.
Living in God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture, by David VanDrunen (Crossway Books, 2010, 208pp.)----- reviewed by Karl DahlfredShould Christians be transforming the culture? Is there a specifically Christian way of being a teacher, politician, or businessman? Is there a difference between what individual Christians are called to do, and what the church is called to do as an institution? What is the “kingdom of God” and what does it mean to do “kingdom work”? These are some of the questions that drive David VanDrunen’s recent book on two kingdoms theology. The term “two kingdoms” is unfortunately not very well known outside Reformed and Lutheran circles. This is a real shame because I found the two kingdoms, as VanDrunen lays it out, to be a helpful and Biblical framework for understanding the relationship between Christianity and culture. And the world of evangelical Christianity certainly needs more thoughtful reflection on how to approach culture as a whole.
Perhaps my favorite Bible reading plan is the one put together by Robert Murray M'Cheyne. In one year, M'Cheyne's Bible reading calendar takes you through the Old Testament once, and the Psalms and New Testament twice. Each day has about four chapters of Scripture to read - usually two Old Testament readings, and then either two New Testament readings or a New Testament reading and a Psalm. It is a rigorous regiment to keep up with but I really enjoy keeping my mind in various parts of the Bible at the same time, and it is a great aid in not getting bogged down in books like Leviticus since there are other, perhaps more accessible, daily readings to go along with it.
It’s not new. It’s not innovative. It’s not trendy. It doesn’t produce immediate results. But it is a key element to church planting and the long-term sustained growth of the church. It’s pastoral visitation. As part of church planting efforts in the rural community of Nong Doan, Pastor Jareun and I have been visiting Mr. Ting, teaching him chronological Bible lessons and addressing various issues that come up. Sometimes he gets it and sometimes he doesn’t. “My sister is Catholic and worships Mother Mary. Is that the same as what we do?” “I know Jesus rose from the dead but we still go through many reincarnations, right?” It takes a long time to help inquirers and new Christians to get their mind around what the Bible teaches about God and ourselves. Preaching and church attendance are an important part of the discipleship process but regular visits at home to go over the Scriptures and discuss matters more personally are an invaluable aid in helping people move from a Thai Buddhist worldview to a Thai Christian worldview, anchored in the Bible.
—reviewed by Larry Dinkins You wouldn’t expect a pastor of an International Church in Melbourne, Australia with a name like “Cioccolanti” (Italian for “chocolate”) to claim an inside track to the mind and worldview of Buddhists. However, his claim to an insider’s view of Buddhism is substantiated by his Thai upbringing and exposure to a very religiously diverse extended family. Besides his Thai Buddhist roots, Steve has added to that a broad education in America and Europe which allows him to address Buddhist issues from both an oriental and occidental viewpoint.
For English speakers, there is a massive amount of Christian books and resources available but for many other languages in the world, it is simply not the case. Two recent experiences really drove this truth home, as it relates to Thailand. I had the chance to visit Bangkok Bible Seminary (BBS), take a tour, and talk to some teachers and students. When we went up to their small library to look around, I was surprised to see that only about one-fourth of the library was Thai Christian books and the rest were in English. The students all know some English but the majority really don’t know enough to make use of these English books at any significant level. So, about 75% of their seminary library is functionally unusable for the majority of the BBS student body. If the English level of the majority of students is insufficient to make good use of the resources in the library, why not add more Thai books? Because they just don’t exist.
Confessions of faith, creeds, and catechisms have largely fallen into disuse among evangelical Protestant churches. They are still around and used regularly in some churches but by and large have fallen by the wayside as many believers and churches have put more emphasis on experience and just loving Jesus. Or some have claimed that "we have no creed but the Bible" but as soon as you say "I believe that the Bible teaches such and such" you have made a summary statement about Biblical teaching. Such a summary is in essence a creed or confession. No statement of faith ever takes the place of the Bible but it can be a good tool to help people get an overview of what the Bible teaches and learning how to express what we believe the Bible teaches. Some confessions or creeds are better than others but a good one should contain nothing that can't be fairly clearly deduced from Scripture. Along these lines, I wanted to share a brief story from the autobiography of Daniel McGilvary, pioneer missionary to Northern Thailand:
"In May 1876, Nan Inta was ordained our first ruling elder. The story has oft been told that before his ordination the [Westminster] Confession of Faith was give him to read carefully, since he would be asked whether he subscribed to its doctrines. When he had finished the reading, he remarked that he saw nothing peculiar in its teachings. It was very much like what he had read in Paul's epistles!" (Daniel McGilvary, "A Half Century among the Siamese and Lao: An Autobiography", Fleming H. Revell Company, New York, 1912, p.169-170)
As a young missionary, I (Karl) like talking to veteran missionaries to get their perspective on things. At our recent OMF Thailand annual conference, our guest speaker Larry Dinkins spoke on cross cultural evangelism and overcoming barriers in communicating the Gospel to Buddhists. Larry & his wife Paula came to Thailand as new missionaries in 1981 where they did church planting and theological education until 2002 when they needed to go back to the U.S. for Paula to receive treatment for cancer in her bone marrow. The treatment for Paula’s cancer has been successful and she is in remission. As a result Larry and Paula have been acting as mobilizers and recruiters for OMF in Southern California as well as the Midwest. They are involved in Thai churches in the U.S. and have made numerous trips back to Thailand as well.
(UPDATE, Feb 2012: Since this article was written in 2009, Paula has gone to be with the Lord, and Larry has subsequently returned to Thailand to continue to minister among the Thai people).
After listening to Larry speak at the conference, and later in a recorded lecture, I became curious and sent him an email, asking, “If you could go back to your first term on the mission field, knowing then what you know now, what would you do differently? How would you go about planting a church in Central Thailand if you had to do it all over again?” Larry was kind enough to email me back and here’s a bit of what he had to say:
It is important to be practical and realistic in ministry, especially when it comes sharing the Gospel and establishing new churches. But is it possible to be too practical? It certainly is when the desire for results and finding methods that “work” outweigh a desire to search the Scriptures and find out what are God’s priorities and God’s methods for building his church.I have just started reading the 9Marks July/August 2009 eJournal on pragmatism in missions. One of the first articles, “Pragmatism, Pragmatism Everywhere!” by Andy Johnson frames the discussion well and is a must read. Johnson puts into print what I have been thinking about for some time: Is there some sort of disconnect in the minds of missionaries and other Christians who claim to uphold the authority of Scripture yet deny it in practice?
It is always good to know that someone is speaking from experience and not just theory. Therefore, following on from my previous post about Nevius’ thoughts on finding local leaders, I wanted to share Nevius’ account of how he and his missionary colleagues made the mistake of appointing elders too hastily:“Twenty years ago our mission in considering this subject reasoned on this wise: We are Presbyterians, and our churches should be organized from the first on Presbyterian principles. If we cannot get men for elders as well qualified as we should like, we must take the best men we can find, men who seem sincere and earnest Christians, and who may develop in character and ability to fulfill the duties of elders by having the duties and responsibilities of this office laid upon them. With these views and expectations several churches were formally and constitutionally organized. It was found, however, in not a small proportion of cases that the elders did not, or could not, perform their official duties, and were an obstruction to any one else attempting to do so. They were placed in a false position, injurious to themselves and the churches of which they had the nominal charge. Some were hardly able to sustain the character of an ordinary church member and others were in a course of few years excommunicated. We then took action as a Presbytery, determining that