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

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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

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