Have you ever wanted to get a Christian perspective on the people and places of East Asia? While we can learn a lot from documentaries and history books, there’s something special about hearing how God is at work in other countries and there are many exciting stories that don’t make it into our social media news feeds. We asked Sam, our previous media intern, to share about a series of the Serve Asia podcast he helped produce that offers a different perspective:
What is the Discover series?
The Discover Series is one of our newest seasons on the Serve Asia Podcast, taking a deep dive into the culture and current Christian context of five different countries across East Asia. This series is all about helping you learn and grow as a follower of Jesus. We hope it introduces you to some countries you may not know so much about, but where God is very much at work. Each episode provides a brief history of the nation and how that affects the culture and the church today, as well as ways that you could be a positive influence for sharing the gospel among its people.
This series is also unique in that you’re not the only person learning! Each episode features a segment with a ‘student’ who has been taking on this new information alongside you, so you’ll also get to hear some of their reflections on what they’ve learnt and how they plan to put it into action, giving you different perspectives on the lesson.
Who is involved?
For this series we sought out ‘teachers’ who grew up and have lived within the culture of the country they’re teaching us about, in order to provide a rich understanding of the location and its development over time. The guests are also actively involved in various ministries and their local church so are well placed to share about the Christian context in their country. For example, in our episode on the Philippines we spoke to Jojie, who serves with OMF training missionaries and helping churches think about how they can get involved in cross-cultural mission.
On the other side of our lesson, the students are individuals that have a personal interest in the country, who are also looking to deepen their knowledge so they can learn the best way to make Jesus known among East Asian people groups. I was personally involved as the student for Discover Japan, as I’m planning to serve there on short-term mission for a year as soon as the borders re-open.
What do we discuss and how will it help you grow?
Across the season we focus on five countries, travelling through Japan, the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, and Taiwan, with each one getting its own episode. At each stop on this journey our three main points of discussion are history, culture, and church.
With history we look into past events the country has gone through, touching on subjects like Japan’s early wave of Christianity in the 16th century and Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge. This appreciation for what past generations have experienced helps us move into understanding the modern day culture, opening up why these cultures have certain practices and how the people have been influenced by their past. I personally found this an incredibly helpful segment as it helped me think about how to respectfully interact with people in the country, such as the proper way to greet a person or how you should be dressing. The final key area that we explore is the state of the church in the present day there. This includes how Christianity is represented within the country, and what members of the church are currently doing to share the gospel with those around them.
Whether you end up visiting these places or not, each episode gives you not only useful information about the country but also how you can be praying, exploring the culture further, and welcoming people from these countries. Like Susanna, the student for our Cambodia episode, you could come away with new things to pray for, a better understanding of the culture should you ever meet someone from the country, as well as ‘a taste to learn more’.
For me a huge personal encouragement was hearing from Yuya, who works for the KGK Student Christian Fellowship in Japan and is passionate about mobilising people for global mission. He told us Western missionaries are valued in Japan and can have a big impact in sharing the gospel among the local people. It doesn’t mean I’m expecting the work to be easy, but it’s good to know that I can make a positive difference in my time there. And it wasn’t just Japan where this was the case; other teachers expressed how they value the short-term workers that come their way.
Another aspect I found fascinating was getting to hear about what life within countries I’m largely unfamiliar with is like, from people who have thorough first-hand experience of living there. Having never lived in Asia (…yet) this was a great opportunity to hear about the spiritual and cultural challenges they face, and how I can support them through prayer from here in the UK.
To learn more about how God is at work in East Asia and how you can be a part of that, click the button below. Why not share the podcast with a friend who might be interested too?
Take a peek behind the scenes
Sam shows us what goes into making an episode.
Media Intern 2020/21
Sam was born and raised in the hills of Yorkshire where he grew up with his family. After spending eight years studying and working in the software development industry he came to work with OMF (UK) as a media intern where he learnt all sorts of new and exciting skills.