Elijah recently attended Launch in preparation for his Serve Asia Placement. Journey with him as he shares what he learned, the challenges he faced, and how you can pray for world mission.
Before I went on my Serve Asia placement I spent one month in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the Serve Asia Launch course. The purpose of Serve Asia Launch is to prepare Serve Asia workers, such as myself, for cross-cultural mission. I felt my main responsibility was to be like a sponge learning about cross-cultural work and understanding the role of short-term workers in a long-term mission context.
3 Things I learned at Launch
- Learning the biblical purpose for world mission
- Preparing practical steps of stepping into cross-cultural work well
- Understanding the difference between surviving and thriving in a cross-cultural setting
What Launch Was Like
- During Launch, we were generally in a class setting.
- We would wake up in the morning and have breakfast together.
- We started class around 9AM/10AM; I’ve actually forgotten the exact time.
- Each class covered a different topic, taught by various missionaries/teachers from all over the world.
To learn from people who have committed their life to world missions and are at that moment intentionally pouring into you is surreal. It gives you crazy perspective on what it means to be committed to Christ being known and passing down that desire from one generation to the next.
Weekends at Launch
Weekends were always a nice change of pace. We went on short vision trips, visiting various parts of Thailand. These trips included visiting Chiang Rai to see the work being done there with the Tai Yuan people, as well as visiting Chiang Dao to visit a center built by OMF to disciple and teach bible students from all over Southeast Asia. We also used our free weekend times to explore Chiang Mai.
What I Learned From Thailand and My Team
I feel like I got a taste of the world; mainly from two perspectives: Thailand, and my team.
Perspectives from Thailand
Thailand is such an interesting place with unique cultural norms that are an amalgamation of folk Buddhist beliefs. It’s interesting to see how the national identity, being Thai, is very much connected to their religious identification of being Buddhist and how that affects their daily life. It’s always interesting walking down the streets and seeing the connection between their beliefs and the tangible ways that they choose to live.
As a coffee enthusiast, I also appreciated understanding more of the coffee industry in Thailand and how it has boomed. Northern Thailand, being of higher elevation, and specific soil content does naturally allow coffee growth. It was so interesting to learn how the Thai government has really pushed the growth of coffee in Thailand as a way of increasing national GDP, but also how God has used that as an opening to do ministry in Thailand.
Perspectives from My Team
Within our team, staff included, there were about 7 or 8 countries represented. There were times when I felt cultural tensions within our team. Understanding of sarcasm, humor and love languages is different between cultures. Yet, the necessity of unity in Christ becomes more apparent as we navigate these tensions.
Though at first it felt complicated to be with people of so many cultures on a regular basis, I felt like it became the most encouraging aspect of Launch. As an American-born Chinese/Vietnamese, I have always seen myself as this strange combination of multiple cultures. But, when I see my teammates coming from Singapore, Japan and South Africa, spurred for the movement of the Gospel and I hear their life stories and their family lineage, it puts into perspective God’s movement. Though yes, it was crazy culture shock, it is such a blessing to say that within cultures, God uses Himself to tie us together.
This faith we have is a world movement. As I had opportunities to meet and become friends with believers from around the world, I am that much more moved into world missions. I have a better vision of what the world being reached looks like. It encourages me to understand that it is being done and that it is to be continued.
This team was a great example of our Father’s vastness and His grandeur, the proclamation of Him as faithful God around the world.
Will You Pray?
Pray for strategic short-term workers. I see the importance of short-term work and its ability to give vision and help aid a Spirit-driven movement. However, I do pray that short-term workers, including myself, come strategically, with forethought, but most importantly with prayer.
Pray against loneliness. From what I hear from most of my own cohort/team and even know for myself, loneliness is a trend while on our Serve Asia placements after attending the Launch course. Most of us are the youngest people on our placements, but also haven’t acquired the local language which makes it difficult to connect cross-culturally. Pray our time with the Lord would be sweeter because of this, and that we can relate and find healthy community where we are.
Pray about being a participant. When we’re in our home countries, it’s easy to get distracted by the day-to-day activities and just try to survive in life. Our God, however, has bigger plans for His glory, and even for ourselves. Pray simply that you would be a willing participant in the nations knowing the Lord.
And seriously…. Pray for men. Statistics say that within world mission, only about 10% are single men. Within my current placement, I am the only single male in my team. Even during Launch, there were only two of us single men out of all the staff and attendees, and that’s higher than the average statistic. Paul says in Corinthians, there is a strength and advantage in singleness, yet single men are not going into world mission.