Recently, I was interviewed for a blog article on our church’s website that eventually became this article. Here are just the questions and answers that that article was based on.
1. What led you to go into the foreign mission field? Have you always had a desire or no?
When I was in high school and had just decided to start living right, my grandpa took me on a missions trip to Romania and I think the Lord used that to plant some seeds of missions work early on, but I went to college thinking I was going to be an evangelist. Over the course of the 4 years of college the Lord kept working and giving me an increasing desire to be a missionary until it finally dawned on me that that is what he was calling me to do.
2. What did you do to help prepare for the mission field?
I learned a lot in college that I appreciate. The focused study of the Bible there will always be a benefit to me, but still when I graduated I was unprepared and I knew it. That is why I signed up to spend 6 months in Peru with Pastor Gardner, and I believe I learned as much in my time with him as I did throughout college.
3. How did those around you respond to your surrendering to be a missionary?
I didn’t really ask:) Maybe I should have been more sensitive. My mom sure wanted to make sure it was the Lord’s will, but overall they handled it pretty well.
4. How long have you been on deputation and when is your departure date?
We have been on deputation right at 2 years and will be flying out in just a few more months on April 10th. We have our tickets bought and are both looking forward to it very much.
5. What city will you be living in?
Bangkok. The language school we will be attending is right in the downtown.
6. What cultural differences stood out to you during your survey trip?
The people are very meek and kind, but they are also very superstitious. Obviously the idolatry is very prevalent along with a lot of other very blatant sins. There is a lot to learn.
7. What would you like for us at home to know about the people you are working with and their main religions?
The main religion is Buddhism (95%) which is very humanistic and moralistic, but there is also a lot of spiritism mixed in which has a lot of influence in their worship. Buddha had some good advice, but there is a big difference between good advice and good news. A long list of rules is very burdensome and trying to please all the spirits is very fearful. Jesus frees people from that life through faith in him.
8. How did you meet your wife?
Jeremy Hall married Lori’s college roommate and they teamed up (with Mark Coffey) to convince me to finally write her. That took a while, but 6 months after we finally met we were married — and life has been infinitely more awesome ever since.
9. What is the scariest moment you have had while on the road and how did God work in it?
I think I quit my job a few weeks too early when starting deputation, and we were especially broke. We went out to AR for a meeting, didn’t get a love offering, and were flat broke. On the way back home from AR I was doing the math for how much we were going to give for our tithes and missions giving and realized that if we did that, it was going to literally empty our bank account and we were going to arrive home with $0 and an empty tank of gas with 2/3 of the month still to go. Well, I turned to Lori, explained the situation, and said, “Well, this should be fun to watch how the Lord provides this time!” and I sent the payments (on my phone). The next 20 days were the most amazing provisions I have ever seen. I never said a thing, but people bought us gas, showed up at our house multiple times with food (which had never happened before), and a dozen other things. We consciously took a step of faith, that we knew was based on His word, and He kept His promises. It was amazing.
10. What are some of the most rewarding moments you have had so far while on deputation?
Deputation is like education, and we have learned a lot by seeing the Lord provide, meeting so many churches, and learning from such a variety of places. It really is amazing to see needs arise and the Lord using His own to meet every one of those needs. It really strengthens your faith when you know you are about to be the only Christian around.
11. How many miles and states do you think you’ve traveled?
I used to keep up with it better, but probably around 120,000.
12. What would you tell someone who wants to be a missionary and is considering your field?
Grow in your understanding of the Gospel. Buddhism is not that bad if the goal is just to make people behave and act nicely. But moral people who think their good will cancel out their bad (Karma) must understand that we can’t earn points with God to make him happy. And that is hard for us to learn sometimes.
I would tell them to get a mentor and some specific missionary, cross-cultural, church planting training like at the Training Center. I think it probably saved me 20 years of mistakes, and that makes it a very good investment.
13. What are your future plans/projects for the ministry?
We only need about 15 more churches to partner with us before we have our full support, so that is very exciting, and then we will start the difficult process of language learning!