Monday, October 18, 2010

Let us walk into Nations!

The term Tentmaking is becoming more familiar in the Indian mission context these days as more and more people are willing to use their professional identities for strategic proliferation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I present before you an abstract of Tentmaking opportunities based on my observations during my field mission assessment trips to these neighboring countries of India. All of this is presented with faith that people would stand at the gap for the issues at hand, through prayer and active Christian collaboration.


The Nation: Thailand is called the land of smiles and is famous for the pleasant and courteous hospitality of its people. Thailand is predominantly Buddhist and tourism is its most thriving industry. Thai is its most prevalent language.

Religious Snapshot: 95% of Thailand is Buddhist, 4% is Muslim and a meager 1.7% is Christian. The Thai Christian church was instituted by the colonial rulers of Thailand. The church to this day is influenced by its colonial legacy and past. Their type of worship and lines of thinking belong to an era gone by. The one great failure of the Thai church is that it has not been able to adapt and diffuse itself within the local culture or society.

Information in Context of Missions: Thailand best resembles Sodom and Gomorrah as spoken of in bible times. The sex industry is the most flourishing and contributing industry to the economy of Thailand. One reason why the sex industry thrives in Thailand is because of the inflow of a huge quantity of foreign tourists. Foreign tourists indulge with lust in the no-limits barred sex trade within Thailand. The trade of human flesh is a sad reality in Thailand, as close to 2 lakh Thai women are exported as sex objects from Thailand every year. Not alone are Thai women exploited, but close to 40000 women from neighboring Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia are imported and trafficked within the local Thai sex industry. I see this as Thailand’s most captivating bond. For the nation to be transformed, this bondage of lust needs to be broken. Out of every ten visiting male seven of them come for sexual pleasure. RS.60000 Crores is the income to the Thai economy through foreign tourists. Because it includes variables as strong as money and lust, I consider it as a significant spiritual stronghold. Another big stronghold is the religion of Buddhism. Everywhere you go you get to see Buddhist monasteries and monks around in Thailand. Buddhism encourages a short time monk commitment which is quite popular with the young Thai people and you get to see several of them dressed up in red flowing robes walking from monastery to monastery in a kind of a pilgrimage. This gives them a perception that their sins have been washed away and they return to normal life. This spiritual blindness imposed by the religion of Buddhism in Thailand is another powerful stronghold.

Status of Christian work: The local Thai church is very much held back from progress as it continues to be short sighted, unable to break barriers and build bridges with the local sentiments. Even an international Christian conference held inside Thailand did not feature significant local Thai representation. I am not very encouraged looking at their evangelical thrust and their desire to do ministry. But there is a lot of foreign missionary involvement all over Thailand. These foreign missionaries minister through orphanages and such social homes for the deprived. A few of them minister to a focused Muslim population. A few others work as professionals in the cities and act as spheres of influence in the high societies they mix. Some others work among the sex workers themselves. They work toward rehabilitation these sex workers, caring for their ignored or orphaned children, offering sex workers a way out of the sex trade, and help them achieve self dependency through a healthy livelihood and pattern of life.

Opportunities for Ministry: I want to see a revival among the local Thai church in a bigger way and I’m sure that it can’t be achieved without the local church breaking its barriers and embracing the local way of life in Thailand. That is when the whole of Thailand can be reached with the Gospel of Jesus. Though several foreign missionary agencies are working in the urban parts of Thailand using some help from the local Thai church, there is not much ministry happening in the interior parts of Thailand. The local Thai church needs to be motivated to reach these forgotten interior parts of Thailand. From the Indian perspective, I believe it’s a good opportunity for people from the seven north Eastern states of India to venture out as missionaries to these parts of Thailand. I say this because their mongoloid features will easily help them break mental barriers and feel accepted. Any other outside missionary going into Thailand should attach himself to local Thai Christians and work by motivating them. Another important feature about Thailand is it’s a free nation and it does not impose restrictions on freedom of religion. This is an open door in front of us. I encourage Indian Christian professionals to make use of this opportunity and take up Tentmaking jobs in Thailand and be spheres of influence for our Lord in Thailand.


The Nation: Myanmar is a nation under military rule and so life in Myanmar is full of regulations and impositions. Every government department is headed by an army chief. 7 states and 7 divisions comprise the whole of Myanmar. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, where poverty and inflation has made life miserable. For a comparative statement 50 Indian Rupees is as valuable as 1250 Kyat (Currency of Myanmar). Yangon is its capital. Myanmar is frequently hit by natural disasters like cyclones and flooding of the Yangon River. Opium trade is another significant feature about Myanmar.

Religious snapshot of Myanmar: Myanmar is a Buddhist nation, 89% of its approximately 5 crores population is Buddhist, 4% Christian and 1% Muslim. There are a lot of migrants from India and Bangladesh. South Indian Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam speaking migrant groups are a significant minority.

Status of Christian work: Myanmar being a military governed nation, the church functions with a lot of fear in its heart. All sorts of denominations are found within Myanmar; Methodists, Baptists, Seventh day Adventists, Catholics, Assemblies of God, and more. 4% out of the total population is a significant number. We can see big cathedrals and British-style church architecture scattered as remnants from the colonial era. But in spite of the gripping fear and prevalent poverty the churches of Myanmar show great desire for ministry and souls.

Opportunities for Ministry: The interior parts of Myanmar have much need.  The local church involvement needs to be encouraged and channelized towards Evangelism and outreach. Their desire to do something needs to be productively leveraged. There is a reception availability of a large number of Tamil satellite channels through which effective Christian broadcasts reach into Myanmar. Christian programs orienting viewers with evangelical thrust and programs encouraging them to reach out to the unreached among their countrymen need to be broadcast. Tamil Christian messages and songs, CDs and DVDs are very much available within Myanmar. This too can be used to influence directive Christian agenda within the church at Myanmar. Another great opportunity for Indian mission organizations to work within Myanmar is through social work and disaster time relief as successive natural disasters have left much of Myanmar still a wreck.


The Nation: Singapore is a very small nation but has made its strategic location count as it has galvanized itself into an economic world hub. Singapore speaks many languages, the predominant of which are English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. The population of Singapore is approximately 50 lakhs. Singapore is a free trade zone country providing the most open of economies for trade to flourish, and hence has become one of the most sort after countries in the world.

Religious snapshot of Singapore: 51% of Singapore is Buddhist, 15% of it does not follow any religion, 15% of it is Christian and 4% is Muslim. Singapore is a tolerant and balanced religious society, where even residential apartments are ensured to be balanced with a fair mix of races and religions to ensure racial harmony. The Church in Singapore is a vibrant, activity rich, and evangelical in its functioning. There are many small groups and focused worshipping fellowships too within Singapore.

Opportunities for ministry: Singapore suffers from work sophistication, and much of its people are bound by their very work and careers. GEMS PROFIT(PROfessionals Fellowship of Indian/International Talents) has made this opportunity count by encouraging professionals towards reaching out to colleagues in their respective work place. GEMS PROFIT has initiated gatherings known as PROFIT CHAPTERS among the medical professionals, engineers and doctors in equipping them for workplace evangelism. These PROFIT CHAPTERS draw upon the core values of GEMS, Bihar and defines itself in a corporate setting. Several non-Christians are reached out through group outreach activities of these PROFIT members. I see Singapore as not just a hub for business, but a hub for ministry through which the whole of South East Asia can be reached out with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Another significant factor in Singapore is that, Christians are dispersed into all levels of Singaporean society, which when well tapped or networked can contribute wholesome societal change. The greatest need and hence our opportunity is the ‘Work-o-holic’ Singapore addicted to the hold of the mundane. Kingdom principles and perspectives need to be instilled among the work obsessed Singaporeans.

Conclusion: As so much of Indian mission work has come to mean concentrating on people groups, villages, tribal people etc, focus on another large chunk of people has been compromised. Let us be open to viewing India and other nations through the eyes of God. May God open our eyes to look at the un-reached Urban Crowd, Corporate Sectors, Government Offices, Educational Campuses, Closed Countries, and Creative Access Countries. God sees people only as the saved and the lost; the reached and the un-reached; and as Christians and Missions we are meant to reach the un-reached and the lost, irrespective of what the term Mission work has come to represent. The Lord has a call for us wherever we are. The call to stand at the GAP! The call to care for nations!

Rajesh Duthie
Dr. Rajesh Duthie is serving as one of the Assistant Directors in GEMS. He heads the Research and Development department of GEMS. He also facilitates Tentmaking and Research Network of IMA (India Missions Association).

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