He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 

Forgotten Mission Fields: Taiwan

What percentage would you guess are believers from Taiwan's population? 25%? 20%? 10%? Try 5%. And if you're talking about Evangelicals, only 2% of Taiwan identifies with that label.

Operation World cites:
"A decline in numbers of missionaries working in Taiwan has become evident in the last 20 years – more marked than any other country in Asia. This is not due to a finished task, but rather to attrition and the attraction and fruitfulness of other locations. The door is wide open for missionaries to enter and serve in many capacities; it is especially ideal for those looking to do full-time mission work rather than tentmaking. Cults such as the Mormons seize this openness by sending huge numbers of missionaries; how can biblical Christians allow it to be ignored? Pray that this window of opportunity might be fully exploited by evangelical missions."

 Would you pray for the 23 million lost of Taiwan? 90% of Taiwanese see themselves somewhere in the spectrum of Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Taiwanese folk religion. Even mainland Chinese visitors have been known to comment on the spiritual darkness in Taiwan. Please pray:

- against materialism

- for more pastors and full-time workers
- for more missionaries (to reverse the current, shrinking trend)
- for the rural areas made up of indigenous peoples that are very unreached

As I read about Taiwan, it reminds me of my beloved Japan. Politically open, spiritually closed, in need of indigenous pastors and leaders, blinded by cultural religion and materialism. God, send your Light to Taiwan!

Thursday, January 16, 2014 

Indonesia Missiographic

Indonesia: Think BIG!
eople groups. Then ask God how He wants you to respond to this BIG place.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

A brother in Christ, veteran missionary, astute theologian,  missions leader, and professor once gave me these guidelines as I wrestled with going to the mission field, or staying, and then getting another degree here to be more prepared there, etc...I think all those with a call to missions and desire to be as equipped as possible could find this very helpful as you think about if, how, when, and where to go.
Here are some general principles that I have found both sound and useful:

1.       If God has given you a heart for unreached peoples, your default should be to take the gospel to them unless He clearly tells you otherwise. Others will line up to take pastoral positions here in the US. Too few are lining up to take the gospel to the unreached.

2.       Your educational efforts should be in support of your ministry. Only pursue a further degree if it equips you better to fulfill your calling.

3.       The earlier you move overseas, the easier it will be on your children. However, if your kids are already teenagers, you probably want to wait until they leave home before moving cross-culturally. Teenage kids generally have too much else going on in their lives to handle a cross-cultural move very well.

4.       You should not pursue academic studies for the first couple of years you are overseas. You need to concentrate on learning the language and loving your family through the transition.

Friday, July 26, 2013 

"Go, Preach my Gospel, Saith the Lord"

In Francis Wayland's two volume biography of the life and labors of Adoniram Judson, he writes how a young Judson's, about 7 years of age, favorite hymn was then "Go, Preach my Gospel, Saith the Lord," by Isaac Watts. Considering Judson was not converted until he was a young man, you cannot help but delight in God's providence, that this favorite hymn of Judson's was to be a divine foreshadowing of his life and call to come. Here are the lyrics to a missionary hymn, indeed:

Go preach My Gospel, saith the Lord,
Bid the whole earth My grace receive;
He shall be saved that trusts My Word,
He shall be damned that won’t believe.

I’ll make your great commission known,
And ye shall prove My Gospel true,
By all the works that I have done,
By all the wonders ye shall do.

Go heal the sick, go raise the dead,
Go cast out devils in My name;
Nor let My prophets be afraid,
Though Greeks reproach, and Jews blaspheme.

Teach all the nations My commands,
"I’m with you till the world shall end;
All power is trusted to My hands,
I can destroy, and I defend.
He spake, and light shone round His head;
On a bright cloud to Heav’n He rode;
They to the farthest nations spread
The grace of their ascended God.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 

Five Questions for a Missionary

I was able to spend the summer with *Brent and his family in the summer of 2006. They have been working with Muslims in Southeast Asia for over a quarter of a century. *Brent was gracious enough to spend some time answering some questions for me. I hope his family's faithfulness and perseverance and insight challenges, inspires, and encourages you.

How many years have you been in Southeast Asia? In all that time, what has been the greatest ongoing struggle during your time there?

We have been in SEA since April 1986. We spent two years in the Philippines doing evangelism, Church planting and pastoring in Manila. Once we received our visa we moved to our current country of service in January 1988 and have been here ever since.
The Greatest ongoing struggle has been ministering in a Cross Cultural setting. This a struggle that one not only deals with when you first arrive on the field but even when you have been here for over 25 years . You constantly are struggling with making sure you communicate clearly and effectively.  Even after a quarter of a century here, it still is challenging to communicate to folks here effectively.
2) What has been the greatest ongoing blessing over the years in SE Asia?

The ongoing blessing has clearly been seeing Muslims come to faith in Jesus. Nothing puts "the wind in my sails," so to speak as seeing folks coming from a Muslim background and coming to know the TRUTH that is in our Lord Jesus . The hope and peace that he gives is quite a contrast to the rigid rules and regulations the other religion gives with NO hope for eternal life. That has and will continue to be the greatest blessing in serving here for 25 years.
3) You raised three children in this part of the world. All reached adulthood and are well adjusted and seem to have a love and appreciation for both the US and SE Asia. What advice would you give to missionary parents who long to see their kids well adjusted, loving the Lord into adulthood, and even returning to the mission field like yours have?

First of all we have no magic formula for seeing kids turn out so well. Goodness, we have really made our share of mistakes down through the years as parents. But God is gracious, we have managed to communicate to our kids the importance of Loving the Lord with all of our heart, and loving each other as a husband and wife.

Letting your kids see that you really love your spouse is essential for building a good family life. Dads are extremely important in this area. Spending time with our kids as a family when they were growing up was important. We all loved basketball and played it together as a family. We even loved to watch UK (wildcats) basketball together, especially my son and me. This also helped us form a link between getting our kids to build relationships with national kids as well. In our first term all three of our kids were a part of a basketball league and learned how to communicate with their friends in the heart language of the people by playing with them them almost every day. When we moved to our second assignment in another town, we lived at the Baptist hospital which had a basketball court on the grounds where we lived. My son and youngest daughter had national friends over everyday and this gave them more opportunities to improve their language skills in a SAFE environment.
4) What advice would you give to those seeking to understand if God has called them to the mission field or not?  
It was helpful for me to relate my call experience to some biblical character that was also called by God. My call was very similar to Isaiah’s call in Chap 6 , where after seeing God’s Holiness in a new and fresh way, he became aware of his own sinfulness and of his countrymen . It was then after seeing the needs (spiritual) around him that he felt compelled to go and preach the Good News to the Lost people of Israel. My wife came to her call much different than I did. Hers was more like Jonahs ! But bottom line a call is something that you struggle with and seek God’s voice about. It always is helpful in knowing that God primarily speaks to us through the Holy Spirit in one of the following fours ways, 1) Prayer 2) The Word 3) His Church 4) Everyday circumstances in our life.
A different but somewhat related question is, what advice would you give to new missionaries - maybe in their first months or years, who may find themselves struggling?  It is not a question about whether struggles and problems will come, it is when they come how do you respond to them once they do. I just say that we have to go back to our call. After we lost our son in a tragic automobile wreck, some questioned whether we should or even would return to the mission field. One thing that helped us would be to remember that my son too felt called here and we concluded that if he were still alive he would remind us “Mom and Dad you were called by God to clearly go to this place, these people. I wasn’t able to, but you can. Follow your original calling”. That has helped us! Lots of tears and pain, but bottom line God has called us to reach the Muslims of Southeast Asia!
5) What are three ways that readers and I can pray for either you, your family, or the people you are laboring to reach?
1) You can pray that God would bring a Spiritual Awakening among the people group we are serving among. Included in this request is that our Team of missionaries and also our National Locals Team would experience Revival and that God’s power and love would be more clearly seen by Muslims here in the part of Southeast Asia where we serve.
2) Pray for our two daughters who along with their families have moved to back to this Muslim land to serve as Missionaries. Pray for our oldest daughter and her husband as they serve as teachers at the International School and as Dorm Parents. Pray for our youngest daughter, son-in-law, and our granddaughter, as they are studying language and will be moving to serve as Evangelists and Church planters in one of the other islands.
3) Pray for our core team of national Evangelists *Abraham, *Hosea, *Daniel and *Josiah and their families, that God would continue to give them boldness to share the Good News here in their country, our adopted home, and be able to gather new believers into small groups and disciple them to become multiplying believers. 

*Names changed for security purposes

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 

Pray for Terengganu, Malaysia

Terengganu - 0.2% Christian.

According to the ever-trustworthy Wikipedia, Terengganu practiced a Hindu-Buddhist culture combined with animist traditional beliefs for hundreds of years before the arrival of Islam.

Terengganu was the first Malay state to receive Islam. Now, if you are Malay, legally, you are a Muslim.

Terengganu did not receive many Indian or Chinese immigrants, unlike many areas of Malaysia, so Malay cultural influences are strong and deep throughout this state.

Would you begin praying for the Malays of Terengganu, bound by birth and law to be Muslims? The all powerful God can can shatter hurdles and grant new hearts. Pray for laborers for this harvest. I believe there may be only one couple here in this state aiming to reach Muslim Malays.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 

Are We All Missionaries? Redefining the Mission for All Believers

The following is an excerpt posted with permission from the author, Dr. Greg Wilton. Please pray for him and his family and they are commissioned today to serve as missionaries in Southeast Asia. I heartily agree with the whole quote from Dr. Wilton, and appreciate the grace he pushes back with when making the case for reclaiming the term "missionary."

Those with the perspective that every Christian is a missionary are trying to help all Christians see that God’s mission is for all of God’s people. When you see the point behind the point, it not only makes sense, but it is also very helpful for Christian living and practice.
On the other hand, some disagree with the notion that all Christians are missionaries. For instance, Stephen J. Strauss and Craig Ott believe McLaren’s statement and subsequent belief distorts the specific calling on some Christians to devote their lives to full-time, cross-cultural witness:
If we nevertheless choose to call every Christian a missionary, then we will need to create a new term for the Christian who is specially called, gifted, and commissioned for cross-cultural mission. Otherwise, this unique, essential, and divinely appointed role is at risk of being lost altogether. (2010, 225) 
Strauss and Ott believe that all Christians are called to live on mission for God, but some are called to mission in a specific way. They believe the word “missionary” was created to help define a particular group of Christian men and women who were called to fill a particular kind of mission. They suggest new terms to replace what the word should mean, but I believe the word must not be replaced, but rather reclaimed.

- Dr. Greg Wilton @gregwilton

Friday, April 12, 2013 

You Don't Know What You Don't Know

This week I've been beset by some slow, rolling cold or sinus or allergy thing that no over-the-counter medicine seems able to cure. I was able to function and operate and plow through most days, but everyday by 3pm, I was exhausted.

As Wednesday night rolled around, I was responsible for teaching on prayer and biblical repentance out of Psalm 51. That morning I arranged things where half the class I was "up front," but the second half of class was a time to break up into small groups and look over Psalm 51 together to reflect on that beautiful, hope-filled passage. It gave us some time to be in the Word more intimately as men and women (groups broke up by gender) as well as kept me from passing out from teaching for over an hour.

As we probed, studied, read, reflected on, and discussed the weight and glory of Psalm 51, my missions mind kicked into overdrive.

For almost four years I never had the opportunity to do what was so accessible to me at that moment. While I was a missionary in Japan, I never got together with another believer who spoke my mother tongue to study and reflect on a passage from the Bible. Our time together on Wednesday night was so rich, and even being just over a year removed from Japan, I was almost acclimated enough to US church life again that I took it for granted.

But that nagging missions bug I have, the one that there is no cure for, the one that has been given to me by God, out-dueled my flesh and won the day.

We don't even know what we don't know. We have no idea how blessed we are that we can go to our church library, or to a computer, and within seconds or a couple of days, have our choice of hundreds of resources to better equip us for whatever we are struggling with. Want to know how to be a better parent? Want to know what the Bible says about raising teens? Want to learn more about the Trinity? Want to figure out how to be a more godly steward of your money? Want to preach better? Want to know how you can fight depression in truth with the power of prayer, the Word, and the Spirit?

All you have to do is spend a few seconds and you can download or purchase resources - books, CD's, mp3's, sermons, journals, go to friends, pastors, trained professionals, experienced believers, and there's a wealth of equipping and insight and resources to help you fight for faith.

Even during my time in Japan, a modern country with high speed internet, getting my hands on a helpful resource in English was extremely costly and usually involved me putting out some family members to get them here. After I received a Kindle as a gift, it did become much easier to get possession of some tools that could help me grow.

But even in a place like that, even with a technological tool like a Kindle, it cannot replace for you what community with the body centered around the Word can do for you. This Wednesday night I was challenged, convicted, encouraged, amazed, saw anew God's glorious character in a refreshing way, and felt the love and camaraderie that only the saints of God share during that 45 or so minutes with my brothers in Christ.

Next time you are having a good day - think of those believers who are minorities in their cultures, think of those missionaries who have voluntarily forsaken those relationships and resources, and pray for them. Next time you're having a bad day, remember those same believers and missionaries, and think what it must be like for them to have a "bad day" and not be able to be surrounded by resources and the body of Christ and corporate worship the way you are.

When you're healthy, think of the advanced medicine and patient care and facilities and technology we have to care for us. And think how scary it would be, even if all those things were in place, to not understand what your doctors were saying to you because you were learning the language. Or you knew a lot of the language but not the medical terms. Think what it would be like if you had both poor medical care, run down facilities, and you did not know the language or understand what was wrong. Pray for missionaries and believers in areas where sickness is a serious life issue, not just a hindrance to their plans for the week.

Next time you're looking for help with something, and you download a resource at the touch of a button, go to your mailbox and hungrily pour over it, benefit from a mature brother or sister's advice to you, or find the answer sitting under the sermon of your faithful pastor, pray for believers across the nations and missionaries among them who are parched for the very gift you just enjoyed.

We're so ignorant that we don't even know what we don't know. Next time it's Wednesday night or Sunday morning or evening, or your small group meets, don't act like that's an optional add-on to your life. Understand what a precious gift it is that you are so surrounded by the Word and God's people to the degree that you have actually come to the point of taking it for granted! What a loving God that He would so saturate your life with spiritual riches that you would think of diamonds as dirt.

If we're not going, the least we could do is give and truly pray for the nations and those serving among them. And if we're staying, the least we could do is live in gratitude at the spiritual treasure of people and resources He has given us to help us grow into maturity.

If you've read this far, now you know what you didn't know before. One way you could do something about it - send a missionary a Kindle or an iPad along with gift certificates from Amazon throughout the year to make sure that they at least have some access to self feed themselves while they're away from church and home. I'm serious. Do it! Because now you know!

Friday, February 01, 2013 

The Divorce Between Head and Heart

Friday, January 25, 2013 

Once by the Pacific

by Robert Frost

The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,
The cliff in being backed by continent;
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God's last Put out the Light was spoken.


I know I'm a broken record always yapping about Japan, but you can't tell me that this poem doesn't seem like it was written about the Great Tohoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster of 3/11/11. Uncanny. It almost feels like Frost was prophesying about this event (I'm well aware he wasn't). Chilling. God save Japan! 

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