Category Archives: Questions & Answers

Questions: Persecution, Boldness, Fear

The following are questions that I sent in to Austin Gardner to be answered on his “Leadership with Vision” podcast. He answers these questions in the podcast below:

Answers Podcast #1: Persecution

 

Answers Podcast #2: Missions In Creative Access Countries

 

Answers Podcast #3: The 007 Missionary And Tent Making Ministry

 

Answers Podcast #4: Boldness In The Mission Field

 


Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions that I send you. Your answers are always a tremendous help to me as I try to think things through. This time I want to ask you questions concerning the topics of persecution, fear, and boldness. I think this is an appropriate topic at this time since two of our friends were recently deported from a closed country. I think their example can help me, and others think through how missions in closed countries can be done.

Persecution
What is bible persecution? What is not considered persecution? Is persecution only real if it includes violence? Should we avoid persecution? Should we seek persecution? What are reasons that people will suffer persecution?

Closed Countries
Should missionaries work in closed countries? What are some respectable ways for missionaries to enter closed countries?

What about tent-making in a closed country?

Sometimes working in a closed country is financially advantageous and easy way to obtain a visa but takes up a lot of your time, whereas, going in as a tourist (or a non-working visa) cost lots of money, visas are harder to get, and usually multiple border runs are required but you have more free time, which do you think is best? Why?

Caution
What caution needs to be taken into consideration when going to a closed country as a missionary? I know that you and I have both heard and experienced many things concerning the caution one should take, what areas do you think there needs to be caution and what areas are overemphasized or wrong?

What do you think about a missionary to closed countries use of media (prayer letters, prayer cards, internet, email, social media, etc.)?

How can one be cautious and yet wise? How can he be cautious yet bold? How can he be cautious yet obedient?

Should one speak in code? Should one say, “J” instead of Jesus so people do not know whom he is talking about? Should one shy away from using “Bible Words” so that people will not discover that he is a Christian?

Should one encourage national believers to just “believe in their hearts” but conform to the world on the outside so people won’t persecute them? Should believers hide that they are Christians? Should one deny Christ to avoid persecution? How much can one deny before crossing the line of denying the faith?

Should we not tell people we are ministers of the gospel, pastors, missionaries, etc.?

Fear
How afraid should a missionary be to go to a closed country? Is fear a biblical concept? How do we keep fear out of out lives? What causes people to fear? How does people’s “concerns” often cause fear in missionaries?

Fear is usually a battle of the mind and heart, what can we do to overcome fear? What if I live in a scary place? What if all the other missionaries I am around are scared and it rubs off on me, what should I do?

Boldness
What is biblical boldness? What does it mean to be bold with the gospel? What does boldness in a closed country look like? What are bible examples of boldness that are instructive to us today?

When ministering in the country, what are nonnegotiable? What are things we should do no matter the cost? What things are just methods that can change from country to country?

Serpents and Doves
Many people justify the way they do things using Matthew 10:16, can you give your thoughts about what you think this verse means? What is the context? What does it mean to be wise as a serpent? What does it mean to be harmless as a dove? What would the disciples of thought after hearing Jesus say this to them?

Encouragement
What are ways to encourage those going to closed countries and not discourage them? What are ways to encourage those going through persecution? What are ways to encourage your church if they were being persecuted? What are ways to encourage missionary wives?

Deportation
Once a person is deported from the country for preaching the gospel, what should he do next? Should he stop being in the ministry? Should he look for opportunities in the States? Should he find a group of people who speak the same language as his previous country and try to reach them? Should he choose a new country and learn a new language? Should he find a country that speaks the same language? Should he try to find alternative ways to re-enter the country he was deported from? Should he try to establish a border ministry so the people he was training can come there and get more training?

Questions: Survey Trip

The following are questions that I sent in to Austin Gardner to be answered on his “Leadership with Vision” podcast. He answers these questions in the podcast below:

Answers Podcast #1

 

Answers Podcast #2


I recently returned from a survey trip to Japan with two fellow missionaries and we had a good time. Since this is fresh on my mind and you were a tremendous help to me on my survey trip when we went to China in 2009, I wanted to ask you several questions about taking a “survey trip” that will not only help me in future reference but might help other missionaries who are going to be taking survey trips in the future.

What is a Survey Trip?

I think we would agree that a survey trip is “when a missionary travels to his future mission field to learn what he will be facing when he moves there permanently and to form a strategy that will help set the course for future ministry”. Do you agree with this, why or why not?

Time Frame

So with this in mind, my next question is when should a missionary take a survey trip? Before deputation or during deputation? How much support should he has raised to take a survey trip? How should a missionary fund a survey trip?

Pre Survey Trip

Today, we have the internet and can easily find out almost all the information that we would need to know about a country; we can even call or Skype with missionaries, so what kind of information does one need to gather before a trip likes this? With the ability to do this kinda of research from America, does one even need to take a survey trip?

How long should a survey trip be?

Senior Missionary

I have always heard you say that a new missionary taking a survey trip should take a senior missionary with him on his survey trip because his experience will help them see things from a different perspective etc. Can you explain what you mean by this? How will taking someone with missionary experience help a new missionary on a survey trip?

What kind of missionary should he take with him? Does he need to be a missionary in my country? What are the dangers of taking the wrong missionary with you? Should he pay for all the senior missionary’s expenses?

Who Should Go?

Should a missionary take his wife with him on the survey trip? Should he take his children? Why? What are the pros and cons? Should he take two survey trips, one with his wife and one without his wife? If he doesn’t take his wife or children, what are things he can do to help them know what the country is like?

During the Trip

To learn from a trip like this a person would need to gather information, firsthand knowledge and personal experiences about being a missionary there, the practical side of life there and what it is going to take to get started; what is the best way to do this?

  • Cost of living – How does he calculate the cost of living? How does he figure out how much support he needs to thrive instead of survive? How does he price items, appliance, food etc.? How does he figure out the transportation cost?
  • Language School – How does he pick out a language school and figure out what the best method of learning the language is?
  • Missionary Mentor – Should he work with a missionary on the field? Why or why not? If so, how does he find someone he can work with? If no, how does he pioneer his own way?
  • Right Location – Most missionaries know the country they want to go to, but how does he pick a city? How many cities should he visit on a survey trip? What are things he should be looking for in a city? What do you mean when you teach on “strategic cities”? After he knows the city, how does he choose what part of the city to live?

Asking Questions

You often say we need to be constantly asking questions, especially on a survey trip, to be learning. Can you tell us some of the questions we should be asking when visiting the following:

  • Missionaries – What should he ask missionaries he visits on the field during his survey trip? Is there anything he shouldn’t ask them? How does he evaluate what is told to him?
  • Churches – What should he ask the national pastors or missionaries when he visits their churches? What kind of things should he note or look for?
  • Language Schools – What does he need to know about a language school? What are specific things that he should ask them?
  • Realtors – If he finds a real-estate agent or however they rent houses or apartments in his country, what are the practical things that he needs to ask about? What things would he need to ask about that might be different than America?

Extras

There are some extra things that people can do during a survey trip, would you recommended doing the following:

  • Visit Religious Sites? If he visited a religious site in the country, such as a Buddhist temple, what are some things he should ask them?
  • Get a Bird’s Eye View of the city? Is it a good idea to find the tallest point in the city and go there to get a view of the city, pray over the city and realize the task ahead of him?
  • Gather Resources? What kind of resources would you encourage him to gather? Take video, pictures and/or buy items that will help give voice to their burden?

In closing, if a missionary’s survey trip is done in the wrong way or a person doesn’t prepare properly then how would that differ from just taking a vacation in their future mission field? What are the final precautions you would give a new missionary to help them understand a survey trip and to keep them from wasting time and money?

Is there anything else I missed that you would include about a survey trip?

Questions: Randomness, Interns, Presenting the Gospel

The following are questions that I sent in to Austin Gardner to be answered on his “Leadership with Vision” podcast. He answers these questions in the podcast below:

Answers Podcast

 


Randomness

Baptism: How do you handle people who come to your church who have been baptized in other “churches” who hold to a different doctrinal position or who have been baptized by a female pastor? Should a person only be re-baptized (or receive real baptism) if they have never been biblically baptized, meaning administered by another (irreverent to who this is) by immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as testimony of their faith in Jesus (no merit for salvation)? How do you explain that women shouldn’t / can’t baptize without a person negating their baptism if it was administered correctly but by a women.

Sermon Preparation: How many hours a week do you spend in each sermon if you are preparing to preach three times a week? How many hours to you spend preparing for other classes and courses you are teaching? And/or how many classes should you plan to teach if you are already preaching three times a week?

Language: After language school, what are things that you did that helped you continue learning the language and pushing your language ability to the next level?

Time Management: What is the best thing to do with your time after you finish language school but before you have “guys” that you are spending your days with training? If you have a church, but you don’t have any disciples who are committed to full-time ministry yet, what should you be doing?

Mobilization: How do you get young guys to be interested in the ministry? What are things we can say and do to let guys know that being a full-time minister of the gospel is an option for them and that they should consider giving their lives?

Interns

We are having two male college age interns join us in December. They are staying between 6-8 weeks. The can speak Chinese and English.

  1. What goals should we try to accomplish with them?
  2. What are some things that they should be doing?
  3. What classes should we teach them?
  4. How would you encourage them to see the need and come back as full-time missionaries?
  5. One of them asked about getting a job while he is here and thinks it would be a great opportunity to live among the Chinese, and use work as a medium to engage with people. How would you respond?

Presenting the Gospel

We have been working with several unbelievers for a while now.

They are slowing understanding the gospel as we teach them every week.

One of the challenges that I have come into recently is encouraging one to believe without putting too much pressure on them to just get a decision and not putting enough pressure on them as if this was just a decision on what where you are choosing to eat for dinner.

Common sayings here are, “I believe 70%.” or they will say “I am on the way.” We encourage them to come slowly with understanding, but what are some things we can do to help them see the seriousness of the situation at hand.

Also, another thing that seems to be common is the idea that once they choose to believe they have to follow all the rules of the Bible. They will say “I am not ready to live that way, stop cussing, smoking, drinking, tithe, etc.” It is almost a mindset that if I believe I have to live perfectly, but if I don’t believe I can live however I want.

Of course, we teach and believe salvation by grave through faith in Jesus justification. But where do you encourage or discourage this type of thinking. Should we respond with, “you don’t have to follow a bunch of rules, just believe” and then they believe and you try to get them to do the things a Christian should do (aka follow rules…not sinning or choosing to live holy would be following rules in their mindset, so this isn’t a word game). It would seem the above would have a problem with repentance.

So my question is: Would it be wrong to say, that the decision to believe and repent is a decision to live according to the will of God and everything that warrants. How would you teach someone who has never heard the gospel to ” believe and repent” without them thinking that works is part of salvation?

Questions: Time on the Field

The following are questions that I sent in to Austin Gardner to be answered on his “Leadership with Vision” podcast. He answers these questions in the podcasts below:

Answers Podcast #1

 

Answers Podcast #2

 


My Questions

I would like to know from your personal experience and your current opinion on what a missionary’s time on the field should be in today’s world. I know this can be a complicated answer that has many different aspects, so I will try to clarify below:

A missionary, as we would define it, is someone who is living in a foreign country, learned the local language, and is actively discipling believers, planting churches and training men. Therefore, his job should be and is carried out by being “on the field”.

In today’s world, getting from country to country is generally cheap, easy and convenient; meaning old reasons to keep a missionary on the field, such as “it’s too expensive to travel” or “it’s to complicated or hard” is not longer valid. People come and go between their home country and the mission field with no problem.

Furlough Time

Traditional, missionaries have done a 4 years on the field and 1 year off the field plan. Today, many people are switching to 2 years on the field and 6-9 months off the field. Also, many are taking several small trips back-and-forth between their “scheduled” furloughs.

So my question is: Do you think this new shift is wise? Should this be encouraged or discourage? What are the benefits and downfalls? What are expected consequences of the short-furlough that are yet to be seen?

Trips Between Furloughs

Furthermore, the ease of travel between countries has led to more missionaries being in the States more often. The reasons for going back are vary from person to person and usually go unchecked or without accountability. Some of the reason people go back are as follows:

  • Visit family for the holidays.
  • Take a vacation.
  • Visit family and friends.
  • Participate in a mission conference.
  • Have baby in the States (not a medical emergency).
  • Funerals friends and family members.
  • Visit sick family members or friends.
  • Participate in the wedding of a friend or family member.
  • Wife’s Happiness.

Also, there are some obvious reason that a person would go back that everyone understands:

  • Death of a close relative.
  • Family member who is sick or near death.
  • Medical problems that can’t be resolved in your country.
  • Adopting a child from the States.

So my question is: What are reasons that people should and shouldn’t go back to the States in-between their scheduled furloughs? Since it is easy to travel and missionaries raise enough money to do whatever they want (at least those who train under you) what should they do?

Family

Wife – You often say we should do whatever we can to make our wive’s happy, so would this mean if going back more often than not made her happy, it should be something that we plan to do or no? How much would you plan or advise others to plan going back to the States based on the preference of the wife, how often she wants to go back?

Children – You want your Children to know American culture and not be disconnected from it. Does more trips more often help accomplish this goal? Or do you think less often but longer trips help accomplish this goal? Should trips to the States be less frequent when the children are young and more frequent when they children are older? Why? When my daughters are of dating age, should I consider moving back to the States? Why?

Location of your Field

Another factor which plays a role in the decision to how often does one go back, seems to be the location of one’s field. The closer you are to the States the more convenient and cheaper it is to travel back often. If you live in the same time zone as the States and tickets are the right price, could that permit you to come back more often than someone whose tickets are twice as much and the time change can be as much as 12 or 13 hours different.

So my question is: Should there be different ways missionaries organize their time back in the States based on their location? How would you advise those based on their location?

If it cost someone in South America $600 for a plane ticket and they live in the same time zone and the flight only takes 6 hours, should their plan to how often they visit the States be different that someone who is coming from Asia, that has a plane ticket that cost $1,200 and lives in a time zone with a 12 hour difference and it takes 13 hours to fly there.

If it is convenient and cheap enough, can I visit my family every year for a month okay to do?

Or if I budget it and plan it, can I visit my family every year for Christmas?

Where should we draw the line? Why?

Ministry

The last aspect that I see between this topic at hand is the maturity of one’s ministry. If someone doesn’t have a ministry yet, they can travel easily back and forth without a problem. If someone has a very mature ministry with trained leaders they can also travel back and forth without a problem. Even people in the the middle, who don’t have trained leaders, can usually find someone to fill in for them or at least play a movie for the time they are gone.

So my question is: How would you advise a person based on where their ministry is? In the beginning stages of ministry, should it be more time on the field, such as the 4-year-on-1-year-off plan, and then as your ministry matures, you move to the 2-years-on-6-month-off plan? What does a person need to have in place if he is going to travel to the state more frequently?

What are ministry reasons to go back to the States? Should a missionary who becomes well know because of a successful ministry fly back often to preach in conferences, teach in seminaries, participate in missions events and mobilize more people for the mission field? Just because those doors are opened for them, how often should they take advantage of them verses focusing on starting more churches and training more men on the field?

Accountability

Accountability in Communication: Missionaries go back to the States and it is often with no accountability. People usually don’t know where they are or what they are doing. Many even try to hide it so people don’t see they are back in the States often. They will turn off their Facebook so family won’t write on their walls, they stop blogging and giving updates, and start acting as if it is something know one else needs to know about. Reasons for this may vary but it is usually to keep churches uninformed so they don’t loose support. Should missionaries be honest and open about when they are on and off the field, or is this something that supporting churches don’t need to always know about?

Accountability in Work: As I already said, a missionary, as we would define it, is someone who is living in a foreign country, learned the local language, and is actively discipling believers, planting churches and training men. Therefore, his job should be and is carried out by being “on the field”. If the missionary is no longer on the field he can no longer do his “missionary” job. So during his time in the States, during furlough, or a short-term 1 month trip to visit family or participate in a wedding, what are things that he should be doing? Normal working people don’t get the advantages that missionaries do, such as, leave their place of work for the amount of time of their choosing, so what are things they can do, that is still consider “ministry work” while they are not on the mission field to ensure churches they aren’t just stealing money or taking advantage of the system?

Accountability in Finances: Missionaries have the money to fly back as often as they want and also to usually setup house, buy/rent cars, and spending lots of money in-between. Should finances dictate how our trips work or because we can afford it, it doesn’t matter. Two six-month trips within a period of five years cost much more that one one-year trip in a period of 5 years. Is more frequent trips wasting money? Or did we raise money for it to be used in this manner? How should finances affect the way we plan trips?

Final Question

How do you think the ways things are currently being done (within the realm of this topic) affect the rate of missionaries leaving the field? If at all?