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actual photo of me as a missionary before i got white hair

MEssions

It sounds arrogant to say I'm trying to reinvent missions, so let's say I want to evaluate myself as a missionary. Rick Warren reminded us in The Purpose Driven Life that “It's not about you.” But I recognize that missions for me has been more like MEssions. I say I'm here to serve the Thai church but I report to you in America and Korea. So the end product has to be an appealing portfolio of me as a professional missionary, more so than a first-hand look at how the locals have been served, pressuring me to focus on activities that you and I value even if they're not necessarily ministries the locals need. Imagine a foreigner telling your pastor and leadership board to overhaul everything to fit the "biblical" model or "kingdom culture" or whatever jargon they embraced from some conference or book, or a YouTube video.

One thing I can think of changing is to do the opposite of what I've been doing, or instead of a centralized structure of missions I will try to decentralize ministry activities. I started ministry here with a traditional emphasis on church and seminary. Now I'm more of an adviser or consultant to small nonprofits and a network of Bible studies. I believe I've been decentralizing my ministry structure unintentionally. I've been studying the Bible with Tu and his sister in Silom four times a week, Mon and Fri, lunch and dinner, as well as two online sessions with others, joking with my son about how I'm sharing more meals with Tu than my own son these days! I'm planning to expand Bible study groups online now, beyond OLC, so I will keep you updated and invite you to help out.

Another thing that's been holding me back was my fear of rocking the boat, or upsetting the status quo, even hurting my fellow missionaries and my supporting churches eventually. Why bite the hand that feeds you? But I have to choose between being like the pharisees dead set on protecting the structure that feeds me (Acts 5:28) and honoring Jesus by working faithfully for the Great Commission. Jesus said that we must carry our cross, but we water down the application of it in our polite small groups to encourage each other to be diligent, not quite the same as being prepared to die.

Update on Project Items

I'll give up on going to the Mavuno conference in Kenya due to a lack of pledges. Let me know by the end of May if I should plan In His Time, a pilot project inspired by In Dew Time, thank you for your feedback.

For PayPal donations under $1,000 please use the "family/friends" options here; that way PayPal doesn't deduct a fee. Thank you! The list of email addresses on this frequent update is separate from the one in my official newsletters; you can (un)subscribe (from)to this list and my official (but less frequent) newsletter list separately. paulmkim

 
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