Global ministry trends and issues, part 8: Mission training in the 21st century

No Comments » Written on October 6th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Press Releases, Programs, Students

A few years ago I was invited to consult on a mission and development project that was focused on caring for at-risk kids. As I approached the residential group home where several dozen young people were being cared for, I couldn’t help but notice the despair in the eyes of the mission volunteers and caretakers of the children. You see, the missionaries were passionate about seeing young lives transformed by the gospel. There was no doubt in their sincerity to see these lives restored, but the tools and training they had received did not match the challenges they were facing.


Whether it be working with at-risk youth and children or church planting, cross-cultural workers need proper preparation. When our academic and training programs fail to properly prepare them for the immensely difficult task of working in a new culture, communicating with a different set of standards and training in specializations needed in the field, we prevent them from fully thriving. Fortunately, some see the need and will seek additional training, some will burnout and unfortunately others will cause harm to the very ones they seek to care for. Sadly, this was the case with the group mentioned above and they were eventually closed by the local government authorities despite our best efforts.


Mission education and training (on both the undergraduate and graduate level) must continue to reinvent itself in the coming years. The field of mission training, as I argued in my first blog post, must keep pace with global changes and issues. This means that mission education must also keep up and even in some cases lead the way on strategy and best-practices. Mission programs are by nature an applied discipline. Developing practical skills is critical to whatever field one aspires to work in. Jim and Judy Raymo conclude that, “Skills and training are essential for successful workers of every generation” (39). As described by Moreau, Corwin and McGee, training can take place through informal, nonformal and formal opportunities (173). While all of these areas are important for mission preparation, I deeply believe that formal academic training provides students with the best opportunity to establish themselves and prepare for a thriving ministry and career in international and local contexts.

The World Evangelical Fellowship recently identified four critical skills as essential for lessening attrition rates and providing an environment in which future cross-cultural workers will thrive. They are: Spirituality, Relational Skills, Ministry Skills and Training (Taylor xiv-xv). I would argue that both undergraduate and graduate programs related to the field of mission, international development and global studies should seek to incorporate these components.

Spiritual Formation: There is no substitution for spiritual formation. One’s spirituality must seek to develop an intimate relationship with God. This will prove critical in those moments of despair and hardship. J.D. Payne discusses the importance of “being continually filled with the Spirit of Mission (Eph. 5:18)” as part of our daily task in serving Christ in mission (165). One of the goals of formal Christian training should include, “genuine growth toward spiritual maturity” (Moreau, Corwin and McGee 173). This growth should be nurtured while the student prepares to serve cross-culturally. This takes place through the integration of spiritual discipline practices in the classroom and assignments related to this.

Interpersonal Skills: Relational skills provide an atmosphere for which team-work and friendships can develop. Academic programs in this field must focus on demonstrating humility and teachability as two key skills. These skills can be nurtured in students preparing to serve on a team (especially a multicultural team). According to Moreau, Corwin and McGee “these attitudes are built on proper self-appraisal” as we encourage mission students to reflect on their purpose and service in the kingdom (176). Teachability is a critical skill in developing global partnerships. Students should be prepared to learn from others from different cultural backgrounds. “A teachable person is one who recognizes the inherent worth and wisdom of others” (Moreau, Corwin and McGee 176). Most agree that “loud, impatient, demanding people with weak interpersonal skills often fail on the mission field and in team situations” (Raymo and Raymo 45).

Ministry Skills: These skills are another critical piece to developing and preparing future cross-cultural workers.        Learning to disciple others is critical to forming leaders who will bring transformation. Whether students are working in humanitarian contexts, business contexts, diplomacy or other areas, discipleship must be emphasized. Cultural sensitivity is also an area that must be developed inside the classroom through simulation activities and group interaction.

Another area that deserves attention is professional development. Professional skills must be viewed as part of our training. Integrating both ministry skills and professional skills not only opens up more opportunities for students of mission, but provides them with the foundation they need to succeed. One of the ways to develop these skills is by providing practical experiential opportunities.

Practical Training: When working with a multicultural team or engaging with unreached people groups one notes the critical training in cross-cultural communications and competency. This is often times referred to as Cultural Intelligence. These skills can be discussed in the classroom, but must be developed on the field. This is where experiential opportunities such as internships and practical assignments move the student from the classroom to a real-life laboratory. Guided internships provide opportunities to develop these skills. According to researchers Jim and Judy Raymo, internships are an essential tool in preparing cross-cultural workers in today’s world (50). Another viable means for ensuring an experiential learning environment is through study abroad programs. In particular, study abroad programs that incorporate first-hand interaction with the culture and social realities is most valued. These and other experiences are key for practical training.

“Equipping God’s people to accomplish the missio Dei in the twenty-first century will require more diversity and cooperation than has been known hitherto” (Elliston 232). The complexity of mission training has only increased. As Edgar Elliston rightly notes, the preparation for global mission engagement will require more diverse efforts.

Andrew Kirk calls for a listening of two voices when reading Scripture. We are to listen to the voice of God (Scripture) and the voice (cry) of the people. This process will help us to combine the “universal nature and intention of the Christian’ foundation document with the particular reality of every situation into which the message and life of Christ comes” (14). The cry in our world today has been highlighted in the issues and trends discussed in this eight-part series. The voice of God will continue to shed light on healthy global engagement with these issues and many more that we will face in the coming months and years as we seek to be salt and light in our communities and world.


If you would like additional information on either the B.A. in Global Studies or the M.A. in Global Development and Justice degree programs, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Greg Burch via email at gburch@multnomah.edu



Works Cited

Elliston, Edgar. “Moving Forward from Where We Are in Missiological Education.”  In Missiological Education for the 21st Century: The Book, the Circle and the Sandals, edited by Edgar J. Elliston, Charles Van Engen and J. Dudley Woodberry. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996.

Moreau, A. Scott, Gary Corwin and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2015.

Payne, J.D. Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 2013.

Raymo, Jim and Judy Raymo. Millennials and Mission: A Generation Faces a Global Challenge. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library. 2014.

Taylor, William David, ed. Too Valuable to Lose: Exploring the Causes and Cures of Missionary Attrition, World Evangelical Fellowship, Globalization of Mission Series. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library. 2007.

New biology professor integrates faith and science

Comments Off on New biology professor integrates faith and science Written on September 21st, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, General, Press Releases, Programs

For the true scientist, faith is something that must be simultaneously held at arm’s length and embraced. Being in a field where knowledge is tested, retested and tested again forces the scientist to stand at a certain distance from what he or she knows. Some scientists who are perched in that place see faith as a distraction, or at worst a limitation. Some, however, see their faith as precisely the force that gives them courage to delve fearlessly into the mysteries of life. Dr. Sarah Gall, chair of the biology department at MU, is this latter type of scientist. Read the rest of this entry »

Campus Happenings, Fall 2016

Comments Off on Campus Happenings, Fall 2016 Written on September 2nd, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Newsletter, Pray For MU, Programs, Students

Dr. Derek Chinn selected as interim dean of Multnomah Biblical Seminary

Dr. Derek Chinn, who directs the seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program, assumed his new role on August 1. “I’m going to work closely with my colleagues to pursue what God is calling Multnomah to be in our rapidly changing society,” he says. Chinn takes over for Dr. Roy Andrews, who served as seminary dean for the past three years.

MU community raises support for family of Khen Tua Tang

Khen Tua Tuang was getting ready to start his second year of the Global Development and Justice program when he was tragically killed in a car accident on July 28. He left behind his wife Huai and their young daughter ZemZem, who will need tremendous financial help in the months ahead. You can support them by contributing to the Khen Tua Tuang Family Fund here.

Multnomah announces arrival of new student center

MU is excited to introduce The Den, a student gathering space opening in January 2017. The industrial-style lounge will serve as a living room for commuter students on weekdays. During evenings and weekends, it will be a go-to spot for general student events. The Den concept was born thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor and the creativity of various university employees and student leaders.

Business students volunteer in Italy

MU’s business program has forged an on-going partnership with Kingdom Ministries, a local nonprofit that equips ministries in Italy by connecting them to volunteers who can serve in their camps, English classes and city festivals. Five business majors interned in finance, marketing and project management roles to promote, arrange and fund this year’s summer camps. “They’re getting experience they won’t get anywhere else,” says Kingdom Ministries co-founder Andrew Stone. The interns’ work culminated in a trip to Italy in June.

Athletics Department adds indoor track and field

The Athletics Department is happy to announce the addition of indoor track and field to its sports lineup, which also includes outdoor track and field, basketball, cross country, golf, volleyball and soccer. Stay connected to our sports teams by visiting gomulions.com.

Global ministry trends and issues, part seven: Unreached people groups

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part seven: Unreached people groups Written on September 2nd, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Feature, Missions, Theology

This is the seventh post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog. Read the rest of this entry »

MA TESOL students run Bible camp in Japan

Comments Off on MA TESOL students run Bible camp in Japan Written on August 31st, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Programs, Students


This month, a team of MA TESOL students and professors led an English Bible camp for college, high school, junior high and elementary students in Kobe, Japan. In addition to preparing English lessons for each day of camp, the group also planned games, rallies, campfires, worship services and special activities. Team members spent a week before the 12-day trip studying Japanese culture and taking a collaborative approach to camp planning.


The team worked with Pastor Akinori Taniguchi of Youth Harvest Church, which offers English Bible Club classes throughout the week. For Taniguchi, TESOL is a way to engage his community, build relationships and share the gospel. “Churches in Japan are small, and the work can be discouraging,” says MA TESOL Director Kristyn Kidney. “Our collaboration with this local church allowed us to support, encourage and pray over their workers.”


It also allowed them to richly bless their Japanese students. “They had a lot of fun, and they learned a lot of English,” says Kidney. “We saw first-time professions of faith. We saw campers memorizing scripture together and discussing the meaning of the verses. We even saw some attend church for the very first time.”


But the campers weren’t the only ones who were impacted. “It was amazing to see how God spoke to our team members through this experience,” says Kidney. “Some discovered new confidence in their teaching as they relied on God and found him faithful. Others felt a new tug on their heart to connect their TESOL training to overseas missions.”


The theme for this year’s camp was Great Discoveries. “Both campers and our team discovered a great deal about language, friendship, and love of God,” says Kidney. “We delighted in getting to know them, teaching them English and seeing God work in their hearts.”

Youth Harvest Church has invited the team to return next year.


Global ministry trends and issues, part six: Children and youth

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part six: Children and youth Written on August 30th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Press Releases, Theology

This is the sixth post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.


This week’s focus has been the primary issue for me as a practitioner and researcher in life. Children and youth continue to experience pressing needs in our world today. I think particularly of those affected by global poverty and other factors that have led to an increase in children growing up in circumstances that put their lives at risk. One-sixth of the world’s children are living in crisis (Douglas and Steffen 349).

This population represents some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. Street-living and working children, child soldiers, gang-affiliated youth and others are in desperate need for mission praxis that is informed through best-practices in the field (best practices are models and approaches that derive from research and agreed upon standards from experts in the field). In the least developed areas of our world, children comprise 41 percent of the population (Payne 113). In some countries, that percentage rises above 50 percent, yet so often our mission training programs focus on the other half of the world’s population.

Scripture speaks boldly about the importance of children. Noted researchers in children’s spirituality focus on several biblical narratives where children are involved (Scottie May, et. al 39). One such story is the reunification of Esau and Jacob. When Jacob responds to Esau’s question about, “Who are these with you?” Jacob joyfully responds, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant” (Gen. 3:5). Other biblical passages from the N.T. are noted as well. The authors argue that “not only is the presence of Jesus’ teaching on children in the Gospels significant, but the emphasis in those teachings heightens their importance . . . understanding what Jesus says about children is at the heart of being a true disciple of Jesus” (39).

Given Scripture’s clear emphasis on recognizing the importance of children, understanding the risks they face is important.

Statistics reveal the need for caring for these young people:

• Two million people between the ages of 15 and 24 die each year globally from preventable diseases.
• 20% of adolescents experience mental health problems every year.
• Interpersonal violence kills about 565 young people between the ages of 5 and 29 every day.
• AIDS or AIDS-related illnesses account for the deaths of more than half of young female Africans (Payne 119).

Global development and mission organizations will continue to look for qualified candidates that are well-rounded in their skills and training. Local churches are critical to engaging with young people on the margins as well. “From the perspective of a missional engagement with children at risk, there is no replacement for the establishment of churches among every group of children who suffer the atrocities of a fallen world” (Pocock, Van Rheenen and McConnell 75).

Yet to care for these children, churches and agencies must move beyond a mentality that holds to a myopic approach to transformation that divides physical and emotional needs from spiritual realities. Spiritual conversion is critical for transformation, but a holistic approach that is focused on proclamation and formation, demonstration of compassion, restoration and development, and finally, confrontation of injustices will be critical to addressing both individual and structural issues that continue to contribute to the vulnerability of at-risk youth and children (Castellanos 136). Another way of saying this: We need to couple Word and Deed in our missional models for engaging with youth and children.

The implication of the abovementioned statistics recognizes the need for people to be trained through interdisciplinary programs that prepare caregivers from the fields of theology, business, psychology, sociology and health professions. General practitioners will continue to provide care as they launch programs that respond to the needs of at-risk children around the world. Combining the disciplines above will lead to robust programs that care for the whole child (thus bringing together the spiritual and physical realities).

One such example of a program that seeks to bridge both Word and Deed are found in some child sponsorship programs. Johnson and Wu, in citing a recent Christianity Today article describe the powerful effect that child sponsorship programs are having on vulnerable children (181). Sponsorship programs need not only passionate people trained in child survival practices, but business and marketing backgrounds as well. Happily, we have seen some Multnomah students from our programs going that direction. Children and youth also need pastors who are willing to open up their churches to serve those most vulnerable in their community. Academic programs that are multi-disciplined can provide the essential training that is needed for this type of ministry.

The need for partnerships and interdisciplinary approaches is critical for preparing future workers among this population of young people. Internships and practicum opportunities, as well as working with organizations that understand best practices, give students the opportunity to put into play what they are learning in the classroom. This is a critical piece for preparing younger generations in mission engagement. As a student at Multnomah in my undergrad, interning with a nonprofit organization in Colombia played a critical role in my vocational calling. It was that interplay between theory and practice, the classroom and field work, that eventually led me to full-time work in Latin America upon graduating.

Children and youth are clearly seen prioritized in the ministry of Jesus as he places the child in the midst of His disciples (Matt 18:12). It is time that our academic training institutions follow His example and provide programs that focus on those most vulnerable in society.


Works Cited

Castellanos, Noel. Where the Cross Meets the Street. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2015.

Johnson, Todd and Cindy Wu. Our Global Families. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015.

May, Scottie, Beth Posterski, Catherine Stonehouse & Linda Cannell. Children Matter: Celebrating Their Place in the Church, Family, and Community. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 2005.

Payne, J.D. Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 2013.

Pocock, Michael, Gailyn Van Rheenen and Douglas McConnell. The Changing Face of Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Steffen, Tom and Lois McKinney Douglas. Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2008.

Global ministry trends and issues, part five: Human slavery

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part five: Human slavery Written on August 22nd, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Press Releases

This is the fifth post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.


As I return from Asia, cruising at 35,000 feet, I am reflecting on the numerous lives caught up in distinct forms of human slavery. It disturbs me greatly. This is an issue I wish we did not have to focus on, but the mission of God includes those who are victimized and invisible to most of us. “Estimates go as high as 27 million people being enslaved globally. Internationally, 600,000 to 800,000 are trafficked annually, 80 percent of these being women and children” (Steffen and Douglas 346).

The implication for a biblically based justice-mission among these populations is clear. Christ draws our attention to His mission and the fulfillment of Scripture in quoting from Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

Freedom for those enslaved certainly involves a spiritual freedom, but a favorable reading of this text, in conjunction with the practices of Christ, would also lead us to believe that this passage should be understand holistically. Lives are transformed spiritually, emotionally, socially and in many cases physically as well. This notes a need for organizations like the International Justice Mission (IJM) and others that are seeking to work around the world, meeting the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of people victimized through exploitation and greed (Myers 3).


Some examples of children and others enslaved are:

  • An estimated 168 million are caught up in child labor with at least half of that number enslaved and working in hazardous conditions (Johnson and Wu 48).
  • 700,000 children forced into domestic labor in Indonesia (Batstone 6).
  • The largest incidences of slavery in the U.S. are found in California, Florida, Texas and New York (Batstone 214).

Critical training resources and interdisciplinary programs focused on caring for those who have been enslaved are essential. Social justice and advocacy initiatives are also needed to target structural changes that might need to be confronted (e.g. bonded slavery due to debt). There is a lot of interest and passion among students to serve in these areas, but as Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert rightly point out, sometimes trying to help without the right knowledge can end up hurting those we seek to rescue or care for (21-25). Training programs must work hand in hand with organizations on the ground involved in this work. Partnerships between academic and non-profits are a recognized way forward to prepare students with both knowledge and practical experience.

“Christian researchers and practitioners have much to gain from greater interchange of ideas” (Judith M. Dean, Julie Schaffner and Stephen L.S. Smith 6). This is especially true for those desiring to produce quality research and training that will target lowering human slavery indexes. The authors insist that collaboration at all levels between academics and those on the field are critical if we are to have success in reducing poverty and its demeaning results (33-47). As we work together, we build on local knowledge, and the results lead to better practices and career/vocational placements for our graduates.


Works Cited

Batstone, David. Not for Sale. New York: Harper Collins. 2010.

Corbett, Steve and Brian Fikkert. When Helping Hurts. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers. 2012. Print.

Dean, Judith M., Julie Schaffner and Stephen L.S. Smith. Attacking Poverty in the Developing World. Waynesboro, GA: Authentic. 2005.

Johnson, Todd and Cindy Wu. Our Global Families. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015.

Myers, Bryant. Walking with the Poor. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis. 2011.

Steffen, Tom and Lois McKinney Douglas. Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2008.

Global ministry trends and issues, part four: Indigenous ministries and partnerships

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part four: Indigenous ministries and partnerships Written on August 15th, 2016 by
Categories: Events, Faculty, Missions

This is the fourth post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.


Here I am at a Global Mission Gathering.

This week I’m writing from Seoul, South Korea, where I’m participating in an international conference that has pulled together mission scholars from all over the world. With every region of the world and dozens of countries represented here, one gets the sense that the mission of God is being fulfilled. South Korea in particular is a good place to write about indigenous ministries and partnerships. There are more than 20,000 Korean missionaries serving around the world today. The percentage of Christians (representing both Catholic and Protestant churches) in South Korea is at about 32% with over 7,600 churches in the capital city (Seoul) alone.

Globally we note a proliferation of indigenous churches, ministries and global partnerships. This is often referred to as the growth of the majority world Church (see J.D. Payne chapter 3). As noted by African scholar, John Mbiti, today the Church’s center of power does not remain in places like New York, but rather in cities like Manila, Philippines. More and more people around the world are engaging in global mission. It is estimated that nearly 35,000 American Hispanic churches are increasingly becoming involved in global missions. The following chart highlights just a sample of the growth of international missionary movements:

Country Missionaries
India 82,950
China, PRC 20,000
Nigeria 6,644
Philippines 4,500
Indonesia 3,000
Ghana 2,000
Ukraine 1,599

These statistics reflect those missionaries serving more than two years and represent Protestant, Independent and Anglican missionaries. They also do not reflect the numbers of those who might consider themselves missionaries, but are living internationally due to diaspora.

This proliferation of global involvement has changed the very nature of how we understand missions today. Bill Dyrness recently noted, “Missions is now mutual exchange among the multiple centers of influence and learning and resources traveling all directions…” (Borthwick 39). No longer can we refer to the United States as a missionary ‘sending’ country. The same can be said for many countries that have traditionally been ‘receiving’ countries of missionary involvement. Significant mission organizations that were once based in these receiving nations are now focused on sending out missionary candidates.

With these changes within global mission activities must also come a new order for partnerships. North American Christians and agencies must now consider sharing decision-making opportunities with those they traditionally considered ‘receiving’ nations. Pakistani missiologist, Michael Nazir-Ali, says “partnership in mission must mean partnership in the whole of mission. Churches in the global south need to be involved with the North in the identification and articulation of mission issues as much as in addressing them” (211).

Appropriate and contextual training will be needed for those going out to serve within multi-ethnic and international teams. Students of mission will need to understand the reality of multi-ethnic teams and global partnerships if they are to succeed. The training must include cultural sensitivity and competency in foreign languages (sometimes multiple languages). Preparing students for such action will need to be incorporated into new training courses in the U.S. and abroad.

Here at Multnomah, we continue to develop courses that will prepare students to engage with sensitivity with those from distinct cultures. This is needed in business, education, counseling, pastoral ministries and other degree paths, just as much as it is needed in Global Studies in today’s world.


Works Cited

Borthwick, Paul. Western Christians in Global Mission. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2012.

Mandryk, Jason. Operation World. Colorado Springs, CO: Biblica, 2010.

Nazir-Ali, Michael. From Everywhere to Everywhere: A World View of Christian Mission. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock. 2009.

Payne, J.D. Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 2013.

Global ministry trends and issues, part three: Discerning globalization

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part three: Discerning globalization Written on August 8th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions

This is the third post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.


Globalization is an important issue for those concerned with global mission engagement. We are now far more connected globally than ever before, yet with globalization comes benefits and risks, and as noted below, opportunities for global ministry.

Defining globalization is no easy task. One author defines globalization as a slow process that began in the 15th and 16th centuries in northwest Europe. As the network of material exchange grew, so grew the world capital market. Ankie Hoogvelt notes, “This network developed over time into a world market for goods and services, or an international division of labour” (14).

As noted below, this economic reality in the twenty-first century has benefits and risks for the global poor. Merilee Grindle (2000) comments on the lack of equality in the distribution of globalized expansion of “goods, services, capital, and information that characterizes this process of change” (179). And we know from the teachings of Scripture, when the poor hurt, the Church is to hurt with them. This is most evident in the teachings and practices of Christ. Matthew 25:31-46 is one of the clearest examples of Christ’s calling for solidarity with the poor and those exploited. The Old Testament is filled with references for God’s heart for the poor. This often times is referred to as biblical justice. Because God acts justly toward the rich and the poor, we too are to act rightly and seek His justice for them. Proverbs 29:7 says, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” Scripture places emphasis on care for the poor given their place of helplessness in the midst of difficult situations that impact their lives. Noteworthy are laws concerning widows, orphans and foreigners among the Israelites. See Ex. 22:21-24; 23:9; Lev. 19:33; Duet 27:19. Such laws were presented to the Israelites to help guide justice among those who were living in precarious situations in society.

Also important to point out is the negative impact globalization is having on the planet. “Destruction of habitats and environmental pollution have been the fallout from some companies seeking to take advantage of business in a world that is more “liquid” and “light” (Payne 80). The consequences of these ailments will undoubtedly continue to demand that those who serve Christ in international contexts understand the complexity of our ecological systems and the negative impacts that environmental decay has on the very people they are called to serve. Environmentally sensitive missionaries will seek to mitigate harm caused by globalization’s impact on the environment.

As noted above, globalization must be understood economically, but we must also acknowledge the socio-cultural effects that our globalized world is having on cultures and societies. Globalization can also be understood as a societal process that impacts political, cultural and social arrangements in our world today. Take travel for example. As migration and travel increases, so does the sharing of ideas and culture. This is a distinctive of globalization in our world today and will continue to effect relationships into the future. Societal changes are taking place much faster today due to globalization.

Tom Steffen and Lois McKinney Douglas in Encountering Missionary Life and Work (where many of these trends are also discussed) make mention of the important shift in global theology and identify the need to become a learner of these changes within theological studies. This is what I would refer to as global theologizing. With this new opportunity for collaboration on globalized theology, come some challenges as well. There will be disagreements on contextual perspectives on theology, but with these differences there should be a pursuit of dignity and respect between believers.

Stephen and Douglas recommend becoming a “learner-leader” as we see globalization both critiqued and embraced (344). This is true for a globalization of theology and even mission theory. As missionally driven followers of Christ, we desire to see the effects of globalization translate into societal processes that positively impact all of God’s creation. This will sometimes lead us to advocate for policies and laws that seek to equally distribute the benefits of this phenomenon.

Mission endeavors will continue to be impacted by this global occurrence. One of the benefits, as acknowledged by J.D. Payne is the impact quick travel now has on those who work internationally. “Now we have the blessings of instant verbal, textual and visual communications with loved ones back home. Return trips are quick and practical” (80-81). For the most part, gone are the days of the missionary packing their worldly resources into their coffin as they wave goodbye to friends and family, never to hear from them again. While this is true, there are additional risks as well. The time one has to adjust and deal with culture shock must be mitigated. Member care is now a must for any organization that sponsors international mission trips or career placement. I often tell our students, if the organization does not have good member care, consider looking elsewhere.

Globalization and its results effect ministry in many ways. For some it creates an urgent need to care for those negatively impacted; for others, it creates some remarkable benefits in both access to goods and services. The Church must be vigilant to the needs of those negatively impacted, while leveraging the opportunities to impact our world for Christ.


Works Cited

Hoogvelt, Ankie. Globalization and the Postcolonial World. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press 2001. Print.

Grindle, Merilee S. “Ready or Not: The Developing World and Globalization." In Governance in a Globalizing World, edited by Joseph S Nye and John D. Donahue. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2000. Print.

Payne, J.D. Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 2013. Print.

Steffen, Tom and Lois McKinney Douglas. Encountering Missionary Life and Work:     Preparing for Intercultural Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2008. Print.

A tribute to Khen Tuang (Tua Tuang) from Dr. Greg Burch

1 Comment » Written on August 1st, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Media, Students

Khen with his wife Huai and daughter ZemZem.

Last week the Multnomah community lost a friend and fellow servant. Khen Tuang was killed in an automobile accident on Thursday, July 28, along with his friend Peter. Khen’s wife and daughter were also in the car accident and survived. Peter, a refugee from Myanmar, tragically lost his wife in a Thai refugee camp in 2008 — the couple’s three children are now orphaned.

Khen was part of the Global Development and Justice (MAGDJ) program at Multnomah University and was loved by his peers in cohort 3. He was from the Zomi ethnic group (generally known as hills people/tribe throughout Northwestern Myanmar) in the Chin state of Myanmar (Burma). Khen graduated from Bible College in Myanmar and was active in his local church. He had a passion to see peoples’ lives transformed through faith in Christ and community development work.

Khen was all in. He was fully committed to returning to Myanmar in order to serve those who suffered in his community. Khen was passionate about seeing everyone reach their full potential as people who have been made in the image of God.

This past year, while researching child poverty in Myanmar, he wrote, “The Bible commends us to take care of the oppressed, vulnerable and the poor. We, as a church, need to help eradicate, holistically, from a biblical perspective, child poverty, while we nurture and feed those who are hungry and provide shelter to the homeless.” Khen’s research and the topics he covered were often focused on those who were marginalized, such as refugees living in Portland and children living in poverty.

Khen also had a keen eye for research even in a language that was not native to him. This past semester here at MU in Applied Field Research, Khen flourished as he learned and applied common development research tools to help the Zomi refugee community succeed in transitioning to life in America. Working with a local Zomi congregation (along with pastor Muana Khuptong, a Multnomah Biblical Seminary alumnus), Khen formed a research group with a Guatemalan student and a South Sudanese student. Together they rose to the task of adapting these complex research tools to help identify resources and needs that are common to refugees moving to the Portland area. Over a 15-week period of time, they met with several refugees and developed a plan to provide additional support to this community.

Khen also loved his family. Even before he arrived in Portland, Khen told me that his family would not be able to join him during his first year of studies. As we discussed this, he communicated that it was going to be difficult for him, but that he would work out a plan so his wife and daughter could join him after the first year. And he did just that. Just a week before the accident that took his life, Khen —grinning — walked into my office with his wife Huai and daughter ZemZem. We talked about their plans as a family, and he asked me to pray for them, as he often did. As we were standing there, Khen removed his sandals and knelt down on the carpet with his wife and 2-year-old daughter following. I knelt with them and prayed a prayer of blessing over their sweet family. As they left my office, Khen, like he often did, thanked me profusely for the prayer. He was always so grateful.

Khen’s peers have taken it upon themselves to raise funds in order to help Huai and ZemZem as they face some difficult challenges ahead. Visit their GoFundMe site for an opportunity to support them during this painful time.

We are grateful to have known you, Khen. The world is different because of you.


Khen (far right) with his pastor and friend in front of MU.