FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Thai Bibles & Books | Churches in Thailand | Thai Language | Ministry & Doctrine | Missionary Preparation | Thailand

 

 

 

Thai Bibles & Books

Where can I buy a Thai Bible?

If you are currently living in Thailand, you can order from the Thailand Bible Society (Thai Standard Version) or any Christian bookshop in Thailand (see list)

What's the difference between the different versions? Read my article, A Brief Survey of Thai Bible Translations.

Living Outside of Thailand?

If you are living outside of Thailand, and want to buy the 2011 Thai Standard Version, you can order directly from the Thailand Bible Society in Bangkok.  They will ship internationally to you. The postage will be expensive but you'll have lots of choices in Bibles (Thai only, Thai-English, NT only, etc.).  The Thailand Bible Society produces the Thai Standard Version that is used in the majority of Thai church. To order, click here to go to the Thailand Bible Society website.

The New Thai Translation Version (NTV) is available from Kanok Bannasan (OMF Publishers Thailand), and can also be shipped internationally.  Please contact Kanok to confirm availability and pricing.  As of 2016, the NTV includes Genesis, Pslams, Proverbs, and the entire New Testament.

Alternatively, you can try ordering from a Bible society or website (such as Amazon.com) located in your home country.  I've included below links to some places in the USA and UK where hard copies of Thai Bibles can be bought, as well as links to digital versions.

In the USA

Multi Language Media and Bible in My Language both have Thai Bibles and a small selection of Thai Christian books available for ordering within the USA. 

Thai Standard Version is available from the American Bible Society

In the UK

In the UK, you can get either a full Bible or a Thai/English New Testament from the British and Foreign Bible Society.

Online

Multiple versions of the Thai Bible are available online at the YouVersion website.

The Thailand Bible Society has a Thai Bible iPhone app in the iTunes store.

The Thai Easy-to-Read New Testament is available from the Bible League International as a free download, and is also available for Android devices on the Google Play store.

The Thai New Contemporary Version (similar to the NIV) can be read online at the Biblica website.

The Thai King James Version (KJV) is available for purchase or download from Philip Pope's website.

An audio Thai Bible, a free MP3 download is available at Faith Comes by Hearing

Where can I buy Thai Christian books?

You can buy Thai Christian books from several online and brick-and-mortar publishers and retailers within Thailand (for book sellers outside of Thailand, please see the bottom of the list below)


Kanok Bannasan (OMF Publishers Thailand), 86/122-4 Soi Tha Kham 28/1 
Rama 2 Road, Khet Bang Khun Tian, Bangkok 10150, Tel: +66 (0) 2417 2511-3, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[Kanok also has a bookshop called "The Reader's Friend", located inside Bangkok Christian Hospital (first floor, across from the elevator) on Silom Road near Sala Deng BTS station]


CED (Church Education and Development), 433/11 Soi Suan Pluu 8 
South Sathorn Road, Bangkok, Tel: 022861067-8 or 082-024-8760, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Tyrannus Centre, 39/534 Mu 13 Soi 69 ChokChai 4 LadPrao 53 Bangkok 10230, Tel: 02-931-1206


Baptist Student Center Bookstore, 473 Sri Ayuthaya Road, PhayaThai intersection, Ratchatewi, Bangkok, Tel : 02-354-4980-81, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Bangkok Christian Guest House, 123 Saladaeng Soi 2, Bangkok, Tel: 02-233-6303


Radiant Book Center, 10 Soi Romyen 17, Pattanakarn Rd., Suan Luang, Bangkok 10250, Tel: 02-319-0399, 02-319-0400, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Voice of Peace Bookstore, 27/1 Nongprateep Rd. Nongpakrung, Chiang Mai, 50000, Tel: 053-242654 ext.114,email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


here 276/10 Tung Hotel Rd., Watgate, Muang, Chiang Mai 50000, Tel: (053) 240 447, Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Publish2Day Bookstore, online bookstore featuring print-on-demand Christian books in Thai and English, located in Chiang Mai. Phone: 053-447038, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Raintree Resource Center, 3 Charoen Muang Road, Muang, Chiang Mai 50000, Tel: 053 -262-660, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Foreign Christian BooksMulti Language Media, and Bible in My Language have a small selection of Thai Christian books available for purchase in the United States.

Where can I buy Thai gospel tracts?

The biggest producers of Thai tracts are Kanok Bannasan and CCMA.  For my top picks for Thai tracts, see here.

Where can I buy Reformed literature in Thai?

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. Packer
Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Today'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.

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Churches in Thailand

 

Can you help me find a Thai church in _________ ?

The eStar Foundation has two website to help people find churches in Thailand. 

To search in English, please visit https://thaichurches.org/

To search in Thai, please visit https://tuthai.org/

What church denominations are in Thailand?

The church landscape in every country looks a bit different, depending on local conditions and the missions history of that nation. Here in Thailand, Catholics have been in the country since the 1600s, and Protestants since the early 1800s. The Christian groups recognized by the Thai government, registered through the Department of Religion are the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT), the Thailand Baptist Convention, the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand (EFT), and the Seventh Day Adventists. Pentecostal groups with a significant presence in the country include the Hope of Bangkok church association, the Rom Glao (ร่มเกล้า) and Rom Yen (ร่มเย็น) church associations, Jai Saman church (large Bangkok church), the Full Gospel Church association, and the Assemblies of God (Christian Samphan). There are other church associations, I am sure, but the ones mentioned above are the biggies. It should also be noted that the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cult groups are in Thailand as well although I am not sure how they are recognized by the government or how they get their visas.

CCT was started by American Presbyterians in the 19th century and currently maintains fraternal ties with the Presbyterian Church (USA), although it now includes Baptists, Lutherans and Pentecostals and is overall probably more evangelical than the PCUSA. The Church of Christ in Thailand is not associated with the Church of Christ denomination in the United States.

The Thailand Baptist Convention is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention in the USA, and the EFT is really more of an umbrella organization that includes many different smaller church groups, including the Associated Churches of Thailand (ACT), a broadly evangelical church association which is connected to OMF, the mission organization that we are part of.

Generally speaking, Pentecostal churches make up a significant section of Thai Protestant churches thought I don't think that they constitute a majority. That said, Pentecostal theology and worship style extends far beyond churches that would identify themselves as Pentecostal. It seems that a majority of Thai churches are egalitarian to a large degree although most pastors are still men. However, the few explicitly Reformed churches that exist (and some Baptist churches) retain more a traditional complementarian view (only men as pastors).

Can you recommend an English-speaking church in Bangkok?

We are usually in Thai speaking churches but on occasion, we have had the opportunity to worship at an English speaking church in Bangkok. I don't know enough about any of them to give an unqualified endorsement, although at the ones we have had occasion to visit, the experience has been positive on the whole. Check out their websites for more information, directions, and worship times.

Chaengwattana Community Church (http://www.cccthailand.org) is a standard evangelical type church, with a very American feel, located in northern Bangkok on Chaengwattana Road (not far from old Don MuangAirport)

The Evangelical Church of Bangkok (http://www.ecbbangkok.org) is located more downtown and I am told that it is quite international interms of worshippers and overall feel, but I have not been there myself

Christ Church Bangkok (http://www.christchurchbangkok.org) is an Anglican church in downtown Bangkok, in a large building that looks like it was imported straight from England. Decent sermon when I visited a couple years ago on Easter.

International Church Bangkok (http://www.icbangkok.org/) describes themselves like this: "ICB's morning worship is in a traditional Presbyterian style. Evening worship is sort of InterVarsity meets casual contemporary. We are a church where anyone (Christian or non-Christian) can come and draw close to Jesus in an atmosphere that is safe, honest, and open. We come from a wide variety of countries, cultures and ways of thinking about just about everything. What we have in common is a love for (and an interest in learning about) Jesus. He is at the center of everything we do."

Are there any Reformed churches in Bangkok?

There are two Reformed churches in Bangkok that I know and can recommend, both of which are associated with Mission to the World (MTW), the denominational mission board of the Presbyterian Church in America.

New City Fellowship ChurchNew City Fellowship Church

This church is in southeastern Bangkok, right next to Ramkhamheng University 2 campus. They worship on Sunday mornings in Thai, and there is sometimes translation of the sermon for non-Thai speaking visitors.

Website: http://www.ncfcthailand.org/

Grace City Bangkok ChurchGrace City Bangkok Church

This new church plant currently meeting for worship at 4pm on Sunday afternoons. This is a Thai-speaking church, although there are a large amount of bi-lingual folks there, both Thai and foreign, and the sermon translation into English is available.

Website: http://www.gracecitybkk.org/

 

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Thai Language

Are you fluent in Thai?

In the absolute sense, we will never be fluent in Thai, at least not in the way that a native speaker is fluent. However, for practical purposes, both of us can hold our own in most conversations in Thai, although we often don’t get 100% of everything that is being said. We can read and write Thai although admittedly much slower than we can read and write English. The Thai language has its own alphabet and is read left to right.

We can share the Gospel in Thai and Karl regularly teaches and preaches in Thai although it will take a long long time before we are anywhere near a native speaker. Thai is a tonal language and that presents an ever present pronunciation challenge for us.

We have both completed OMF's Thai language curriculum which is one year of full-time language study, followed by two years of part-time language study. But language study is never really over and we will always be learning and growing in our ability to speak and understand Thai.

How long did it take you to learn Thai?

This is difficult question because, as a non-native speaker, we will always be learning Thai.  But for practical purposes, it took about six months to get to a basic conversational level on some everyday topics, and about one to two years to begin to share the Gospel, pray, and enter into some deeper issues.  Starting at about the three year mark, I (Karl) started to preach in Thai.

Can you recommend a Thai language school for missionaries?

If you are looking for a formal Thai language school, you will most likely need to go to either Bangkok or Chiang Mai.  You can find someone to try to tutor you privately anywhere in the country, but the quality will varying widely and you may not get the type of teaching you are looking for.  To get a solid foundation in Thai, you need to learn the tonal and pronunciation system, as well as the writing system, all of which need concerted time and effort.  Thai is not like some European languages that you can pick up as you go.

There are various regional dialects in Thailand (such as Northern Thai, Southern Thai, and Isaan) but even if you plan to work in one of those dialects, it is best to learn central (Bangkok) Thai first, since that is the standardized dialect used in government, schools, and the media.   Knowing a local dialect such as Isaan will be great for working in Isaan but if it is all you know, your ability to minister will be limited in the long run (especially in bigger cities, in formal situations, and with younger people who don't speak Isaan).  I would strongly recommend learning central Thai first (1-2 years) and then start learning a dialect after that (if you a dialect is what you need).

Schools in Bangkok

In Bangkok, there are several well-known Thai language schools for foreigners that are used regularly by missionaries:

Union Language School
http://www.unionlanguageschool.com/

Unity Language School
http://www.utl-school.com/

AUA
http://www.auathailand.org/thai/index.php

There are various other Thai language schools in Bangkok as well, such as Baan Aksorn and California language school.  If you want to read some comparisons, there is a guy who went and visited most of them and blogged about it here.

Schools in Chiang Mai

When I asked my fellow missionaries in Chiang Mai where they study Thai language, these are the schools that came up:

Araya Langauge School
http://arayalanguageschool.com

Cornerstone Language School
http://www.cornerstone.co.th/

Payap University
http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/197434-payap-university-class-notes/

Chiang Mai University
http://www.learnthaicmu.com/

This article doesn’t include Araya or Cornerstone, but covers all the other
Thai language school options in Chiang Mai: http://chiangmai.thaivisa.com/taking-a-thai-language-course-in-chiang-mai/

Personally, since my wife and I are with OMF, we went to the OMF Thai language school in Lopburi (3 hours north of Bangkok).  The OMF school (called Lopburi Learning Centre) is an ideal place to study because the classes are one-on-one, they emphasize conversation (vs. mere vocab memorization and busy work), and have a phonetic system and teachers that will get you saying tones correctly.  I am not saying the other schools are bad, but simply that I had a really good experience at the OMF school.

Although the OMF school is generally only for OMF missionaries, sometimes they don't have a lot of OMFers there, and accept missionaries from other organizations to come study for 1-6 months.  Even if  you can’t get into their school, you can buy their study materials and use them with a language helper of your choice.  I am glad that I went to the OMF school because they gave me a really good foundation, and mandated that I had to do 3 years of study (1 year full time on-site, 2 years part-time non-residential).  You can contact the OMF supervisor for new OMF missionaries in Lopburi (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to inquire about openings for study, or contact LLC directly to buy materials (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Putting the necessary time into language up front seems tedious at times, but it is essential to set you up to succeed.  I've talked to too many missionaries who didn't get a good foundation to start with, and have been hampered in their ministry in the long run.

 

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Ministry & Doctrine

 

What do you believe?

We are evangelical Christians in the historic Protestant tradition.  A brief statement of faith is available here.  Karl is an ordained teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and holds to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger & Shorter Catechism.

What is your primary ministry?

Karl teaches missions and church history at Bangkok Bible Seminary, and assists with translation and editing at Kanok Bannasan (OMF Publishers Thailand), one of the few publishers of Thai Christian books. Living right next to the seminary campus in downtown Bangkok, both Karl and Sun have opportunities to invest in the lives of students, the next generation of Thai church leaders. They are also involved in a new church plant called Grace City Bangkok, and Karl does itinerant preaching at various churches in the Bangkok area and beyond.

What church or mission organization are you with?

We are sent by, and responsible to, our home churches in the United States but are working in Thailand through OMF International, an inter-denominational missionary organization that includes missionaries from a variety of countries and Protestant churches. Sun’s home church is Calvary Church of Santa Ana and Karl is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

Where can I send a donation?

Donations may be sent to:

OMF International
10 W. Dry Creek Circle
Littleton, CO 80120

With your check, please include a note indicating support for "Karl & Sun Dahlfred"

You can also click here to donate online.

Can you send me your prayer letter?

If you would like receive our prayer letter and/or give financial support, please sign up at the OMF website.

 

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Missionary Preparation

 

How can I become a missionary?

I often get emails or Facebook messages from people who want to know how to become a missionary. They sense God’s call but don’t know where to start. Who should I go with? How do I prepare? Can I support myself? Do I need shots?

Actually, I should probably step back a moment. Apparently, they do know where to start: Google. That’s how they end up on my website, sending me an email asking where to start.

Since I get email inquiries like this somewhat frequently, I thought it would be helpful to do a post on how to move from “I want to be a missionary” to actually going to the field. There is no precise formula but here are some practical steps that should get potential missionaries going in the right direction.

1. Talk to Your Church

Talk to your church leaders. It is amazing how many people start researching and contacting missions agencies without first bringing their church in on their plans. Missionaries are sent out from, and are responsible to their local church. You need to be a member in good standing in a church, and have the support and endorsement of your church in order to go forward. Talk to the pastor and elders of your church (but not 5 minutes before the Sunday worship service begins). Tell them your desire to be a missionary and get their thoughts. If you’ve been a member of that church for a decent period of time, and been involved there, then your church leaders should have a good sense as to whether you are ready to go out to the mission field, and they may have some advice and/or requirements for you. Please listen to their advice and guidance, even if they don't think you're ready yet or have some things they'd like you to do first (like formal Bible school training, for example) before you go to the field. Not all churches know what to do with someone who volunteers for missionary service but hopefully, if you are in a decent Gospel preaching church then your church leaders are concerned for your spiritual growth and service in God's kingdom. They are on your side. If you are going to go the mission field, you will need their support and partnership. It is never too soon to start that conversation and get them involved in the process.

2. Talk to Your Family

If you are young and single, it is highly advisable to talk this through with your parents, whether they are Christians or not. Some people find that their parents are initially opposed but warm up to the idea over time as they learn more information, as you pray for them, and talk with them.

If you are married, both you and your spouse need to be sold on the idea of being missionaries, otherwise this plane will never get off the ground. Or it will get off the ground and be a very short trip. Men, make sure your wife really wants to be a missionary too, and is not just going along with you in order to be submissive. It will not work. Many couples are not initially both on board with the idea of being missionaries, but you can embark upon a discernment process together, praying and talking about your developing thoughts on the matter over a period of time. If God wants you as a couple, and as a family, to go to the mission field then eventually He will bring both spouses to that conviction. Don’t rush this.

3. Talk with Those You Trust

Talk with those whom you know and trust, and ask them, “Knowing what you do about me, could you see me being a missionary?” If you have a close friend who can be brutally honest with you, that would be great. If the Lord’s people say to you, “Yeah, I could see you doing that” then it is a good sign. If they are not sure, don’t take that as a “stop” sign but rather a call to more carefully re-evaluate and see if there are some things that need changing before you are ready for such a move. Also, if you want to be a missionary but are not sure if you can do it, other people may be able to give you that confidence boost that you need to move forward. Sometimes other people know us better and see more potential in us than we do ourselves.

4. Take the Perspectives Course

Offered all over the United States (and in some other countries, I think), the Perspective Course on the World Christian Movement has a lot of really good info about missions, from the standpoint of the Bible, history, culture, and strategy. Not everyone will agree with every part of the course material as it runs the gamut as far as evangelical missions goes. But overall, I think that it is really worthwhile to orient you to what is going on in missions today, and it will help you think about the options out there as your discern your next steps. See http://www.perspectives.org for more info and to find a class in your area. Alternatively, you could take a missions course at a local bible college or seminary, or online.

5. Research Opportunities to Serve

If you get some positive encouragement towards full time missions when you pray with your family/spouse, and talk with church leadership, then start investigating opportunities to serve. Get suggestions for agencies from your church leadership. If your church is part of a denomination, then your denominational missions agency should probably be your first stop in checking out opportunities to serve. You also might ask what organizations the missionaries supported by your church serve with? Write to them and see if they like their organizations. Missions organizations can look very similar on the surface, but if you dig a little you’ll find that they all have distinctives that will make them either a good fit or a bad fit for you. Types of ministry, location, theology, and many other variables determine which group you should serve with.

After looking at websites, send some emails and make some phone calls to organizations that look like they might be a good fit. Not everything available is on the website, especially for missionary service in countries that don’t give missionary visas. If you actually talk with a living, breathing person at a missions organization, they might have some ideas and advice that you wouldn't have run into just by doing an online search.

After doing some data collection and talking to people, you could go for a short-term trip initially to survey the options. Or you could go out for 1-3 years initially to get some more experience, and then if God confirms that that is the place for you, then you could go longer term. Or you could just go long-term directly. Getting some Bible school / seminary classes in preparation for long term service is highly recommended. Increasingly, some Bible college and seminary courses can be done online so you might even be able to serve on the mission field while doing formal Bible training at the same time. Either way, don’t sell yourself short in preparation just because you want to get out to the mission field right away.

Hopefully the above five tips will get you started in the right direction. Now you know where to start, so get out there and find your calling!

 

Do you need a Bible degree to be a long-term missionary?

Because the need for people to hear the Gospel on the mission field is so urgent, it is sometimes claimed that doing a lot of Biblical studies or earning a degree in Bible is not necessary to be a long-term missionary. “People just need the basic Gospel, and you don’t need a degree for that”, it has been said. There is a lot of truth to that statement. However, once someone becomes a Christian, you need to disciple them. And you’ll need to help new believers form themselves into a church community. And to do that, a missionary is going to need to know a LOT more than just a basic Gospel outline.

Not all types of missions work require the same level of Bible knowledge and thus it may not be necessary or advisable for all people going out as missionaries to get a Bible degree. And in many places, you can get into a country and do missionary activities without technically having a missionary visa. However, if you are going to plant churches or focus primarily on evangelism and discipleship in some sort of other ministry, then I would get all the Biblical studies (formal and informal) that you can get. If you want to plant churches and train pastors, then get an Masters of Divinity (M.Div) or an equivalent degree which is the standard for pastoral training in your home country. If not an M.Div, then a degree in theology, biblical studies, NT/OT, or similar would be most helpful.

Although I would definitely encourage those who want to purse long-term missions to go to seminary or Bible school, one great route to long-term missionary service is to go out to the mission field for one to three years to get your feet wet before going to Bible school. That way you have some idea of what you’ll be getting yourself into long-term as you start your formal Biblical studies. Your preliminary knowledge of the language and culture of the place that you hope to serve in will help you get more out of your time at seminary or Bible school, and enable you to choose paper topics that will be more directly relevant to your future ministry.

Even though the need is great on the mission field, that does not mean that less Biblical preparation is needed but rather more because missionaries need to be able to filter things down to Biblical principles, and know what is merely tradition or Western culture, and what is the Biblical truth that needs to be applied in a new setting. Although Biblical truth does not change, you can't always just cut and paste the application of that truth from back home. The church practices that you have brought from home need to be reviewed against the Bible for appropriateness in a new cultural setting. That doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel because a lot of Christian traditions from back home, you’ll end up keeping - like celebrating Christmas, for example. But some you won’t.

There are new and different questions and issues that missionaries face in evangelism and discipleship that they never met in their home country. A really good grasp of the Bible is necessary to meet new situations.

Because of age, family, or life circumstances, it is not always easy/possible for those called to long term missions to go do a full time degree but the mentality we need to have is maximalist rather than minimalist. We need to ask ourselves, "How can I best prepare myself for the ministry that God has called me to?" not "What is the minimum that I need to do in order to get a visa or meet mission agency requirements?"

 

Does my wife need to be a missionary too?

Sometimes there are situations where a man feels called to the mission field, but his wife doesn't, but they go anyhow because the wife wants to be submissive to her husband. While this is admirable, it is unwise. Moving overseas is a huge commitment, and a huge lifestyle change for the whole family. It is totally unlike staying in your home country where family life might look similar regardless of whether the husband is a pastor or businessman or plumber.

It is unwise for a couple to go to the mission field thinking that only the husband is the missionary. Both husband and wife must think of themselves as missionaries, and be committed to the calling that God has placed on their lives together. In cases where the wife merely follows on the husband’s coat tails, these couples don't last long on the mission field. The wife often ends up resentful of having to do something she really didn't want to do to begin with. Unless you are convinced that God has called you to the mission field, the stress from living in another language and culture (FAR from family back home) is too much to endure. Men, if you want to be a missionary, make sure you take the necessary time, together with your wife, to pray and talk about it and discern together if God is calling you as a family to go. And if your wife is not on board 100%, don’t go.

With that said, the role of the wife on the field varies from family to family. For some couples, the husband is the one doing outside the home ministry, and the wife is mostly at home with the kids. For other couples (who don't have kids, or whose kids are grown), both husband and wife are active in outside-the-home ministry. For other couples (such as my wife and I), the husband does the bulk of outside the home ministry, but the wife disciples some women and shares the Gospel as she is able.

The fact that both my wife and I see ourselves as missionaries doesn’t mean that we have exactly the same roles. And those roles may change over time as our kids grow up. During this stage of life when we have small kids, my wife is largely at home with the kids, homeschooling, etc. Last term when we were doing church planting up country, I would sometimes be with the kids so my wife could go out and visit some ladies to study the Bible, pray, and disciple them. When our kids our grown, the situation will change yet again. Each couple needs to decide for themselves what the role of the wife will be, but both spouses need to be totally invested in what God has called the family to do, even though roles will differ depending on gifting, time, ability, and stage of life.

And at the end of the day, some couples discover that the people around them learned just as much (if not more) about God from watching their family life and how they raised their kids, as they did through what was taught. Teaching the Word of God should never be neglected, but at the same time we cannot underestimate the importance of wives and mothers in reflecting the glory of God on the mission field, both inside and outside the home.

 

How did God call you to be a missionary?

I want to share with you a very practical story about how the LORD called me and sent me to the mission field. It is an ordinary story but it is about an extra ordinary God who calls people to himself and into his service. You don't need to been struck by lightning or have a vision in order to know if God's calling you to missions (or to anything for that matter). Through his Word and His people, he makes His will clear as we pray and seek Him (Ps 37:4). And even when we don't get it right, He will set us back on track as He did Saul. If God has called and chosen you from all eternity, setting His love upon you (Eph. 1:4-5), then you can be certain that He has a wonderful plan for your life and He will accomplish it in spite of your sins and weaknesses.

(Sorry for the poor quality of the video. The audio works fine, however)

If you have trouble viewing the video above, click here to view it directly on YouTube.

 

Where do missionaries get their money?

As my wife explained to a long-time friend how we need to get our support back up before returning to Thailand, a puzzled look came over her face. “Don’t they pay you a salary?” Actually, they don’t!

The idea that missionaries get paid a salary just like an employee at any other company is one of the biggest misconceptions about missionary support that I’ve run into. And I know that my wife and I are not the only ones who’ve encountered it.

Unlike NGOs who apply for grants to fund their operations and pay salaries, missionary organizations generally don’t have those funding sources available to them. So where do missionaries get their money? In this post, I want to briefly explain the three major ways that missionaries are funded. I hope that this will be a help for those interested in becoming missionaries, for those who wonder how missionaries get their money, and for missionaries who want to help their friends and supporters understand their circumstances.

Self-Funded Missionaries

There are some missionaries who don’t need any external financial support from churches or individuals. Some of these self-funded missionaries go to the field when they are older and have retirement savings to live on. Others may have served in the military for twenty and have a government pension to live on. Others are bivocational missionaries who have regular secular employment in the country where they serve. The school where they teach or the business they run provide ample income for them to live and minister. Within this category, we might add those missionaries who are partially self-funded. They have an internal source of income that contributes to, but does not provide fully, for all of their needs. So, they still need traditional missionary support in addition to whatever pension or local salary they draw from.

Denominationally-Funded Missionaries

There are some church denominations who fully fund all missionaries who are accepted to work under their denominational mission board. The biggest of these is the Southern Baptist Convention, although the Christian and Missionary Alliance and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church use the same type of pooling system. On the plus side, missionaries who get their money this way don’t have to be concerned about raising or maintaining a certain level of financial support. On the down side, there is sometimes less personal connection and commitment between local churches and individual missionaries. And, more significantly, if the denominational mission board needs to make budget cuts, they may eliminate funding for your position, or for your entire field of service. Under this system, there is still occasion for missionaries to need funding for exceptional needs above and beyond what is in their normal budget. However, regular living and ministry expenses are covered by the denomination.

Individual & Church Funded Missionaries

The majority of missionaries rely upon the generous donations of individuals and churches to make up their budget for living and ministry costs. Whether they are working under their denominational mission board or an independent or inter-denominational mission organization, it is up the missionaries themselves to find their own support. This generally involves contacting individuals, families, and churches to see if they want to partner with them in prayer and finances. In the American context, some missionaries are quite forward and will solicit money directly, asking you to consider a gift of $50, $100, or more on a monthly basis. Others merely present their ministry, ask for prayer, make their needs known, and leave it up to the individual/church and God. The best, or most biblical way to go about support raising is a huge topic in itself but it will suffice for now to note that the majority of missionaries cannot do what they do without the voluntary financial support of local churches and individual believers.

Transparency in Finances

The question of missionary finances can be mystifying at times, for all involved. Churches want to know, “Does this missionary really need money? How much? How will the money be used? Are they doing a ministry that we want to support? How do we ask this missionary about finances without seeming too nosy?” Missionaries want to know, “How interested is this church in supporting with us? Is there any rhyme or reason behind how much they give or don’t give? How can I be upfront with my financial needs without seeming like a mercenary?” Supporters (and potential supporters) want to know, “Does this missionary need my support? Will my contribution really make a difference? Or will it just go into some organizational blackhole somewhere?”

Not everybody has the same questions about missionary finances but regardless of where someone stands, missionaries and those who support them should be brave enough to ask good questions and openly communicate about finances as needed. Personally, I do not like to seem like a salesman. But at the same time I know there are people who are interested in what my family and I need as missionaries and want to help us if they are able. But they are not going to know unless I tell them. The most helpful guideline that I’ve heard regarding communicating about money is, “Share about finances commensurate with interest.”

Dependent on God’s Provision

There are pluses and minuses of each model of missionary support and many missionaries, at one time or another, wonder if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But what type of support is best for a given missionary (and his family) will depend upon one’s home church and sending organization. At the end of the day, however, all missionaries are dependent upon God to provide the resources that they need to do what God has called them to do.

My wife and I are thankful for the many churches and individuals that provide our support and trust God to raise up new supporters at the right time when current supporters are no longer able to give or when needs increase.

“God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply.” - J. Hudson Taylor

 

Can I study at an English language Bible college or seminary in Thailand?

I sometimes get asked about places to do theological studies in English here in Thailand but unfortunately there are not many options... largely because most people in Thailand don't speak much English. Most Bible colleges and seminaries in Thailand offer instruction in the Thai language only.

However, the following schools offer English-language theological studies courses within Thailand, mostly on a modular basis (i.e. instructors fly in for one to two week intensive courses in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or some other large city)

Asia Baptist Graduate Theological Seminary - Th.M and Th.D

Asia Graduate School of Theology Alliance -
MA, M.Th, Ph.D, some of which have course offerings in Thailand. Other courses are in other nearby Asian countries

Asia Biblical Theological Seminary - MA in Religious Education, and MA in Bible, Theology, & Ministry. This school is associated with Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.

Biola University - Cook School of International Studies - Chiang Mai Extension - MA in Intercultural Studies, D.Miss, and Ph.D in Intercultural Studies or Intercultural Education. The entire MA and D.Miss programs can be completed in Chiang Mai, but only half of the Ph.D can be completed there. The other half must be done through summer intensives at Biola's campus in La Mirada, California, USA.

Fuller Theological Seminary - Chiang Mai Extension Program - D.Min in Ministry and Leadership in Asian Contexts

Bangkok Theological Institute - This is an extension program of the Asia Pacific Theological Seminary in Baguio, Philippines. This is an English language Assemblies of God school with an extension campus in Hua Mak, Bang Kapi, Bangkok. They offer one masters level class per quarter, taught by APTS or Assemblies of God Theological Seminary teachers. For information on the classes in Bangkok, contact Leely Lee at +66 (0) 2732-3553.

Global Theological Seminary (GTS) - interdenominational school offering M.Th and D.Th courses in English in various Southeast Asian locations, taught as 2 week intensive courses.  Courses taught largely by Korean professors who fly in to teach the short-term courses. GTS Facebook Page.

Distance Education Degree Programs

If you are interested in doing formal theological studies while living in Thailand, please check the websites above for more information. Other than these, you need to have Thai language ability or look into doing distance education courses online in English, such as those offered by Reformed Theological Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, or Third Millennium Ministries/Birmingham Theological Seminary(free for non-U.S. residents).

Related Articles

Do You Need a Bible Degree to be a Long-Term Missionary?

Theological Education and Preparing for Missions in the Muslim World

Theological Education in Thailand: An Interview with Daniel Kim

Interview with Dr. Manoch Chaengmuk, Director of Bangkok Bible Seminary

How can I get a missionary visa for Thailand?

The primary visa type that a potential missionary to Thailand should be looking at is a Religious Affairs (RA) visa, however there are a number of other options. For more information, please see my article on “6 Visa Options for Missionaries in Thailand”

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Thailand

 

What kind of government does Thailand have?

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy.  The King of Thailand has a significant moral influence over the country but the day-to-day affairs are handled by a prime minister and Parliament.

What is the main religion in Thailand?

About 95% of Thai are Buddhist.  4% are Muslim and about 1% are Christian or other.  Only about 0.58% would be counted as Protestant, the majority of which would probably fall under the category of broadly evangelical.  For the latest statistics and maps of Protestant Christianity in Thailand, please see the eStar website.

Is there persecution of Christians in Thailand?

Although Buddhism is the predominant religion of Thailand and has the official sanction and support of the government, there is freedom of religion for all people in Thailand.  There is no government opposition to the open and free practice of Christianity or other religions.  However, Thai Buddhists who become Christians (or Muslims or some other religion) often face opposition from their families and friends and experience social pressure to return to Buddhism.  This pressure can be very strong during family and community activities such as weddings, funerals, and neighborhood events.  To not participate in the Buddhist or spirit-worship aspects of these activities can be misunderstood as disloyalty to family or nation.

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