Missions Launch

Helping those who help the world

Missions Opportunity in Northeast Thailand

by Melissa Chang |

Asia, Missions Organizations, Thailand

isaan farmer

Looking for a great opportunity with a great team and a wonderful missions organization?  How about serving with OMF International on the Northeast Thailand (called Isaan) team.

Isaan is the Northeast of Thailand. Over 20 million people are living there, forming a distinct ethnic group, the Isaan. Among them are approximately 32,000 protestant Christians, or 0.16% of the population.

In the whole of Isaan there are less than 100 missionaries. Almost half of them are working in just one city. Several provinces with hundreds of thousands of people do not have any missionary at all. Isaan needs people to proclaim the Gospel!

Here is what they have to say:

We are an OMF-International team working among the Isaan people. The OMF is an interdenominational mission agency that accepts candidates from countries all over the world. Do you passionately love Jesus, and do you passionately want others to experience His love as well, than you could be our new team member!

Our vision:

Christ-honouring churches all over Isaan.

The churches that we envision

• Worship God using Isaan cultural forms

• Are built up in the faith through careful study of the Word of God

• Often will be led by unpaid leaders

• Often will be house churches

• Have an impact on their community through social service

• Multiply themselves

Our strategy

• Evangelizing and church planting in districts without churches

• Using the bridges that God gives (often relatives) to enter unchurched districts

• Reaching whole families

• Chronological Bible teaching

• Using the Isaan language and cultural forms, especially in rural areas

• Facilitating new Christians to start leading house groups

• Using methods that are reproducible by Isaan people

• Creativity in building self-supporting churches and church leaders

Your opportunity

All of our team members need to share the desire to plant churches. Within that framework, there is a wide range of possibilities:

• Rural church planting in the thousands of villages without a church

• Urban church planting in lower class neighbourhoods, in flat apartments, in slums.

• Development work in a church planting context: e.g. micro enterprise development, agricultural development.

• Developing contextual ways of evangelism and being church

• Training Isaan Christians to be church planters

• Networking with churches and missions to find bridge-people into unreached districts of Isaan

• Itinerant evangelist-church planters, who follow up promising contacts in a wide area in Isaan 

With this wide range of possibilities, we are confident that we can find a place where your gifts can make a valuable contribution to reaching the over 20 million Isaan who are not Christian yet! Normally, we expect team members to have had a Bible school training in addition to their other education.

We are mainly looking for team members who will join us for the long run. If you are interested, please contact us. We will be more than happy to discuss the possibilities with you. If you can come for a short-term visit to Thailand, we will be happy to receive you.

Second-career missionaries are particularly suited for the role of networking with churches and missions to find strategic people to work with in Isaan. We are very open for applications of senior Christians who want to serve as missionaries for at least three years.

To find out more visit out Isaan website.

Also, for those of you who follow Twitter, Marten Visser (Twitter @martenvissereng) is the team leader.

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If you want us to feature YOUR missions opportunity, just send an email with info and how to get involved to editor@missionslaunch.com

Featured Twitter Missionary 8/20/09

by Melissa Chang |

Asia, Missions Twitter, Thailand

thai2

We at MissionsLaunch like to let you know what’s being tweeted about in the world of Twitter surrounding missions. This week our theme is “Tweets from the Field.” We have especially been enjoying the tweets of dahlrfred who is a missionary living in Thailand. Read and enjoy. Also, be sure to follow dahlfred on Twitter. Happy Friday!

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dahlfred: communing with nature in Thailand: a foolish toad almost got squished by hiding out in my shoe for the second night in a row

dahlfred: Redland Parish UK short term team headed home tomorrow. Thankful to God for their helpfulness, flexibility, and desire to learn.

dahlfred: forcing myself to sit down and do more Thai language study. Self-discipline doesn’t come easily for me

dahlfred: as we ate, our 3 yr old points to a huge floral display in the restaurant and asks, “Is that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?”

dahlfred: RT @martenvissereng: The suffering of missionaries is part of God’s plan to build his Kingdom (see Col.1:24).

dahlfred: Contextualization is not about making people comfortable, but about making the Gospel clear, doing away w/ obstacles that obscure the Gospel

dahlfred: nearly 500 John’s Gospels handed out at market by Thai Christian Students in Lopburi, as part of open air evangelism. Completely Thai run.

dahlfred: @martenvissereng Our message is forgiveness of sins but many in Thailand seem to preach a message of “Our God blesses better than yours”

dahlfred: Rain stopped. Take UK team for kids club in NongDoan then join up with Thai Christian Students in Lopburi for open air evangelism at market

dahlfred: learned that Thai equivalent of “shoot yourself in the foot” is “knock over your own rice pot” (?????????????????)

dahlfred: nothing distictively Christian about guest preacher’s sermon today. Muslim could have easily preached the same thing. Completely moralistic

dahlfred: Thailand grows massive insects. Unwittingly let one in. Almost got me in the face as I tried to drive him out. Monster Cricket: 1, Karl:0

dahlfred: glad for opportunity to preach God’s Word yesterday. Humbled by feedback that my Thai pronunciation was difficult to understand at times

dahlfred: driving out to Nong Doan to teach chronological Bible study then English teaching & Bible story at the elementary school in the afternoon

dahlfred: found a baby snake in Joshua’s room. About 1.5 inches long. Scooped it up in the dustpan and threw it outside.

dahlfred: “I have found there are 3 stages to every great work of God: first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” Hudson Taylor

Photo by zoutedrop

Thailand:Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by Lizbeth Pereira |

Asia, Cultural Sensitivity, Thailand

boats.b
Photo by René Ehrhardt

THAILAND: FACTS & STATS

mapLocation: Southeast Asia; bounded on the West by Myanmar and the Indian Ocean, on the Southeast by Malaysia and the Gulf of Thailand, on the East by Cambodia, and on the Northeast by Laos.

Capital: Bangkok

Climate: Hot summers with tropical rain and cool winters

Population: 63,038,247 according to 2007 estimates. The Thai economy has recovered from a major slump in 1997 and now sees a steady growth due to a rise in exports, industry, tourism, and private consumption. Unemployment rate is just about 2%.

Ethnic Make-up: Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, Others 11% Religions: Buddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.7%, Others 0.1%. The government guarantees freedom to practice the religion of your choice, and evangelism is legal.

swimLanguage: Thai, English

Government: Constitutional monarchy

Travel Issues: For a 30-day stay, visitors hailing from U.K., U.S., Australia, Canada, EU, and Japan do not require a visa, but must have a valid passport and a confirmed return ticket. Others can obtain an entry visa at the immigration checkpoints at major ports of entry. You need to note that queues for this service may be interminably long.

For visits longer than 30 days, you need to apply for a visa at the Thai Consulate in your country. Submit a completed application form, with 2 passport-sized photos, visa fees, stamped, self-addressed special delivery envelope, an international health certificate, and a letter from a Thai business partner if requiring a business visa.

Health & Safety: Immunizations against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Tetanus, Diphtheria, MMR, and Japanese encephalitis are strongly recommended. You should also be aware of the risks of avian flu, traveller’s diarrhoea, malaria, and HIV/AIDS infections.

Dehydration is something you should watch out for when being out in the tropical sun. There is a smoke haze hazard in the northern states which might trigger respiratory ailments. Watch out for jelly fish stings while swimming in the sea.

dancers.b
Photo by Butch Osborne

SOCIETY & CULTURE

fruitThe People: Thais are very informal, friendly people famous for their smiling countenances. Traditional values and conservative behavior mark rural life, while the cities are epitomes of modernity. They are very hospitable and eager to please, and make visitors welcome.

The Religion: The religion of the majority is Buddhism, followed by minorities of Christians, Muslims, Hindus and others.

eyesRole of Family: Families in rural areas continue age old lifestyles based on farming and agriculture. Women take up the duties of running efficient households and bringing up children. They are subservient to the rule of the male but have total control of the home economy. Men rarely interfere in home affairs and often have no clue as to the intricacies of household management.

Ancestors: Thais have enormous respect for their ancestors and have various rituals and commemorations to honor their dead forefathers. The ancestors are counted on to help in times of need and bring good fortune, if suitably venerated.

Anything else important for this culture: Under the smiling countenances lie deep rooted traditional values of respect, discipline, and manners. Respect for elders is palpably shown in greeting and body language.

temple.b
Photo by RussBowling

ETIQUETTE & CUSTOMS

Meetings & Greetings: The traditional greeting is called a wai, and you do this by holding your palms close in front of your chest and bowing slightly. The higher you hold the palms, the more the respect. The highest is reserved for monks, elders and senior family members. Hello and Good mornings are equally acceptable in business circles. It is customary to shake hands as a form of greeting. Handshakes are never vice-like but rather limp. The former is considered aggressive and insulting.

soupCourtesy: Thais believe it is rude to disagree outright, and so always seem to agree even when they are not inclined to do so. It takes practice to discern their covert disagreement. It is considered rude to talk ill of monks, the royal family, or important persons.

Gift Giving: It is customary to give gifts to cement a relationship, though it is never done in the initial stages of a meeting. If after you have reached an agreement and find that everything is going well, you can consolidate your new relationship with a gift. A gift is also considered appropriate when invited to someone’s house.

Never use black or white gift wrappers; red is considered auspicious. Do not gift leather items to Hindus, or alcohol to Muslims.

hutDress Code: In spite of a reputation of a frivolous nature, the Thais are a surprisingly conservative society. Especially when travelling through rural areas it is recommended that women cover their shoulders, arms, and knees. Men can get by happily in shorts. In business circles your casual attire might not raise eyebrows but you would most certainly be considered low brow. It is best to suit up to impress your Thai counterpart.

Dining Etiquette: Dining is serious business and seen as a means of consolidating relationships than a mere exercise in consuming food. Traditional seating involves sitting on the floor and eating off low tables. While seated on the floor you need to keep your legs folded by your side. If you find that uncomfortable, you can sit any which way you like but make sure the soles of your feet are not pointed at anyone. Some foods are best eaten with your hands, but others can be eaten with a fork and spoon.

Visiting a home: When visiting a home, take along a suitable gift. Leave your footwear outside the home. Thais are extremely hospitable and will bombard you with their care and concern.

market.b
Photo by RussBowling

Communication Style: Thais have a placid bonhomie that makes conversing with them a lesson in relaxation. Aggression is considered a sign of weakness according to Buddhism and so you’ll be hard pressed to find them lose their tempers as often as the rest of us. They go to great lengths to not lose face, which means to avoid being disgraced in public either through arguments or shouting matches.

monkDos and Don’ts: When visiting temples, make sure your attire is suitable. You need to be fully covered and dignified in your behaviour. All statues of Buddha, even those in a state of ruin, are considered sacred. You should not indulge in frivolous behavior in their vicinity. Women should avoid looking at monks or making eye contact with them. Do not touch people on their heads or point your foot in anyone’s direction. This is the height of ill manners

It is important to note that the king of Thailand is deeply revered by the Thai people and should never be insulted.  Even when folding money, it is polite to make a 3-way fold so as to not create a crease on the face of the king. On certain days, a majority of people will wear yellow shirts to show honor to the king.

stand
Photo by tootafunk

Map by Steph & Adam
Monk by Akuppa
Soup by joaquinuy
Village hut by Mot the barber
Fruit by Alaskan Dude
Floating kid by hélê
Boy’s eyes by Sarbil Olivier

The Dangers of Over-Contextualization

by Melissa Chang |

Contextualization in Missions, Stories from the Field, Thailand

Buddha StatuesWhen it comes to contextualization, how far is too far? This is a question faced by missionaries on the field every day.  One such missionary is Karl who is currently residing in Thailand.  He has been faced with the question of contextualization lately in his dealings with new Christians, ex-Buddhists, and the local church. This is an excerpt from his blog, Gleanings from the Field.

I’ve heard about a missionary in Northeast Thailand who is teaching converts to call themselves “New Buddhists” (new in the sense that they believe in Christ). Okay, so perhaps the offense of being perceived as converting to a Western religion is avoided by avoiding the label “Christian” but there is certainly an equal if not greater problem which is created. Isn’t the term “New Buddhist” disingenuous? Doesn’t it create confusion and a lack of clarity? I’m all for hanging onto all aspects of culture that are not sinful but doesn’t there have to be some break with the past as a person takes on a new identity in Christ? If I were from an secular humanistic atheistic background and I believed in Christ, could I legitimately stay in my cultural context in order to win my atheist friends and family to Christ by calling myself a “New Atheist”? People whom we are trying to share Christ with are smarter than that and Christians should be more honest than that.

Another example: My wife and I were eating with some Thai friends recently, a Christian couple who work with students. The husband told us that his brother, who is an elder at a well known church in Bangkok, was told by the pastor there that he shouldn’t make a fuss about participating in the Buddhist part of his wedding ceremony as he got married to a Buddhist woman. I don’t know the exact reason why this Thai pastor, who did a PhD on contextualization at a seminary in the West, advised this man in such a way. Our Thai friends who told us this certainly did not think that this was either appropriate or faithful to the Gospel. But I do wonder if this pastor gave such advice in the name of not causing offense that could impede eventual acceptance of the Gospel by the bride or her family.

Does Handing Out Tracts Do Any Good?

by Melissa Chang |

Asia, Cultural Sensitivity, Evangelism, Stories from the Field, Thailand

This is an article originally posted by Thailand missionaries, Karl and Sun.  They write a blog titled Gleanings from the Field. 

thai temple
Photo by René Ehrhardt

“Before I came to Thailand in 1999, I had never handed out a tract in my life. The practice of handing out tracts is not very common in the U.S. anymore and even among evangelical Christians it seems to be regarded as some kind of weird unnatural activity that only really over-the-top religious nuts engage in. Perhaps the current emphasis on friendship evangelism and building relationships in order to share the Gospel (which is good and proper as the primary method of personal evangelism) has contributed to the disdain which has fell upon handing out tracts. Tracting can seem very impersonal and artificial, but it IS one means among many that God uses to reach people with the Gospel. It really shouldn’t be a stand-alone method of evangelism, but just one link in a chain of Gospel sowing that can contribute to people understanding and accepting the Gospel. Granted, lots of tracts end up in the dustbin or along the roadside, but God does use tracts as the following story illustrates. A fellow missionary gave me permission to share this encouraging story:熊出没攀岩滑梯

Buddhist Monk“This past Sunday two visitors came to church at In Grace Church: Colonel Surasak Banjukaew and his wife, Wanpen. I know them a bit (he attended SEANET this past year), but as I sat eating lunch with them I was able to learn much more about them. Surasak is the founder of a ministry among members of the military and the police force. Being a Christian in the military or police cannot be easy in this country. I find myself very encouraged that someone of his rank serves Christ so openly.

What I took special note of, though, is how Surasak and his wife became Christians. Back in the 80’s Geoff Case, an OMF Missionary in Bangkok, was going door to door, handing out tracts, and came upon Surasak’s home. At the time he was a clear Buddhist, rising in the ranks of the Thai army. Wanpen’s interest grew, and as she studied the Bible with Geoff’s wife, Surasak became interested too. They both turned to Christ and immediately started going out with the Cases doing open air evangelism and tracting.

It is this two part involvement that we aim for: Sowing with things like tracts, and saturating through Bible study with seekers. Often we don’t feel very good at either of these. Surasak’s and Wanpen’s words this weekend have encouraged us to keep our aim and press on. Thank you for backing us in prayer.”

Monk photo by Akuppa

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