Tag Archives: Series

The Theory of The First Year (1 of 5) Language

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The following is my theory of the first year of being on the mission field. This is in the context of a missionary learning Chinese in China (though it can be applied elsewhere).

The general idea is the first year is going to be one of the most difficult years on the field, but also the most foundational. This is not a new concept, and many come to the field prepared for it, but it seems many forget everything they were taught the second day on the field.

Everything seems adventurous and fun when you land with tons of money to set up your house in a new place. But it is scary. The setup process seems to catch people off guard: spending large amounts of money, being pressured to find things they like in a short period and having no idea where to find them. But this isn’t really about “how to setup with the least amount of stress“. There is something else I am aiming towards.

Instantly upon arriving on your new field you will experience “culture shock“. Many deny culture shock, but it starts the first day that you’re on the field. It is the source of many of the crazy things people will do in their first year. It is the source of many tears. It is the source of what just caused a person who seemed to be doing well in America to be a wreck on the mission field. (Honestly, getting to the field and realizing that a restaurant does not serve cold drinks and does not have ice for your drinks is enough to make most Americans crazy.) But this isn’t really about, “how to deal with culture shock on the mission field.” There is something else I want to discuss…

…the goal of the first year.

What is the goal of the first year? It is to learn the language and the culture. Correct! But more importantly, the language. What I mean is: if in one year you can carry on a basic conversation in Chinese, but you still don’t know how to use chopsticks, you have succeeded. On the contrary, if in one year you know how to use chopsticks, but you can’t carry on a basic conversation in Chinese, you have not succeeded. Therefore, the theory of the first year that I want to write about is not as much about culture adaptation as language acquisition.

So let’s talk language.

The theory of the first year is simple: if you do well in the language during your first year, you will be working towards fluency, but if you don’t do well during your first year, then you most likely won’t become fluent. The first year will set the pattern for the rest of your language learning time and is foundational for future ministry impact. Language is the most necessary part of the equation, but also the hardest to do and easiest to neglect.

Now, of course, I don’t know everything about it. I don’t even claim to be an expert, but I have lived in China for five years and I have been learning the language ever since. I’ve have “studied” for about 2 1/2 years full-time, then started a Chinese ministry.

I have learned Chinese “okay,” but even that is questionable.

So why am I writing this? Because I have learned a few things, and I want to help. I have watched other people. I have drawn some conclusions. So in these posts I want to help you focus on learning the language in your first year. (Yes, this sounds like a given, but if it were so easy, then I wouldn’t have to be writing a post about it, so stick with me.)

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Firm Foundations One (1 of 55) Christian Basics

Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 |Book 6 | Book 7 | Book 8 |

One the things that I have learned through my short time in China, is that you can’t take the basics for granted. I think that truth flows over into many areas of life, but more specifically what I am referring to is the basic truths of Christianity are not prevalent among the Chinese.

Growing up in the States and preparing for ministry in the Bible belt, you can often take the basics for granted. We could go knock on doors and witness to people on the doorstep hoping that they would get saved in that one encounter. How is that possible? Because many already had a basic understanding and acceptance of Christianity. In China, this is not so.

Therefore, I wanted a more organized way to teach the story of Christianity. I looked at other lessons and material, but nothing fit exactly what I was wanting, so I made my own set of lessons. Besides wanting the core things, I also wanted something that…

  • …included lessons on the most basic truths.
  • …can be used with unbelievers as a starting place.
  • …shares the gospel in each lesson.
  • …is comprehensive, yet easy to understand and teach.
  • …organized and structured with purpose.
  • …is more than a basic or fragmented outline.
  • …is reproducible for others to teach.

This series is the result of this desire to have the following type of lessons. It is my feeble attempt to write a Bible course to be used to teach unbelievers the story of Christianity and to strengthen believers.

In this series, I am not trying to say anything new or creative. I am just trying to put down the basics in the best way that I know how and organize it in such a way that leads a person to faith in Jesus.

We now use this as the discipleship material for our church in China.

I used my Bible, other courses or lessons, books, suggestion from others, websites and whatever else as references and guides to write these. I did not try to plagiarise anyones material, but I am sure the language of those I was influenced by was carried over, especially my mentors. Each lesson has a similar style and length, although the specific outline style is lost with post it online in a blog format as opposed to a PDF.

I tried to write things down in the easiest possible way to understand it, as well as, answer many of the questions that the Chinese have asked me through my witnessing encounters. I know I have probably failed at this, but hope that it can be of use to others in spite of me.

I want to thank those who helped me with this project. Many who are unnamed have read these lessons, given advice and/or proofread them for me, correcting many of the mistakes. Thank you! I am sure we still missed something, nothing a little crowdsourcing won’t fix!

We hope to produce more lessons in the future. We are almost done with the third book at the time of this post.

With this being said, here is the introduction to Firm Foundations One, Christian Basics:

Understanding The Faith

Christianity is more than just one of the world’s religions; it is more than a collection of mystical and moral principles that help guide society to a more peaceful existence. Christianity rightly understood is based on the Bible; the Bible is truth. This truth reveals to us who God is and how we can have a right relationship with Him. The claims of Christianity are absolute. Therefore, a person must humbly examine these claims if they are wanting to discover the truth. In these lessons, we want to help you understand what our faith is really about.

Book 1, Lessons 1-10

This is the first book in our Firm Foundations series. This book covers the first set of ten lessons to help you understand the faith. These lessons are considered the basics of Christianity. The goal is to answer the many questions you have about Christianity and lead you to a proper faith in God through Jesus. These lessons include:

  1. What Is The Bible?
  2. What Is God Like?
  3. What Is The Trinity?
  4. What Is Man?
  5. What Is Sin?
  6. Who Is Jesus?
  7. What Is Man’s Final Destination?
  8. How To Be Saved?
  9. What Is A Disciple Like?
  10. I Recently Believed, What Is My Next Step?

About The Lessons

Each lesson has a main truth, a simple outline that supports it, Bible references under many of the points, and review questions at the end. These lessons are best used when a mature believer is able to guide you through them, studying one lesson per session.

Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 |Book 6 | Book 7 | Book 8 |

Church Organization (1 of 4) What?

On Sunday, November 9th, 2014 we officially organized our first church here in China. It was a great day of celebration, especially in the face of all the adversity that the church had faced in the previous months. (They had a run in with the police in July and October.)

What exactly is Church Organization? Church organization is when a new church (that has been recently started, like ours) decides to officially become recognized as a Local New Testament Church, uniting around a common Biblical purpose, affirmation of faith, members covenant, etc.

The Bibles say, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). This isn’t just limited to the church services, but also to the church as a whole in all it’s dealings. Paul tells Titus “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee” (Titus 1:5). We desire to “set in order” all the things that are wanting so that we can fulfill our role as a church.

Also, through church organization, a new church tries to reflect the character and nature of God by giving order and clarity to its foundation, object and priorities which should result in harmony, not confusion or strife.

This led us to have a special day where those who were going to be joining the church would stand up and join together for the common purpose of forming a local church for the glory of God!

Deputation-ology (1 of 6) Intro

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Aahhh… Deputation. It is one of those words that gets many reactions from those who have gone through it. Within the small circle of people who actually do deputation, there are varying opinions on it’s effectiveness. Those who do it well say it works great. Those who don’t do so well say that it is broken and we should be looking for something new to replace it. Some people have great stories of blessings and others have stories that… aren’t… so… great.

I have written about deputation before on this blog. I have written about why I think deputation is good: “Blessings of Deputation” and have written a few blogs giving practical advice: “Deputation Tips: Die“, “Deputation Tips: Presentation“, “Deputation Tips: Random Advice“.

So why write about deputation again? This time I want to write about deputation from the point of view of seeing deputation for what it really is and to set what I think is a good standard to follow that will help prospective missionaries count the cost before jumping into deputation full-time.

What is deputation? Deputation, as we are using it in this blog, is a system of money-raising. More specifically, it is the process of a missionary to raise money from local churches.

There are no “set rules” for deputation but there are “unsaid rules” that a missionary must do to succeed at raising the funds needed. You have to learn the “deputation culture” so you know the do’s and don’ts. For most of this information, you can read: The Deputation Manual for Missionaries.

Who is raising money? A missionary. A missionary, as I would define it, is someone who is going to live in a foreign country, learn the local language, actively disciple believers, plant multiple local churches and train men. Therefore, this blog is written to help them (and to help pastors better understand, so stick around).

Why is a missionary raising money? A missionary needs to raise money so he can accomplish the goals he has set out to do (mentioned above). He desires to live of the gospel and since he is starting churches, there is no full-time salary from the church because it has yet to be started. Once he starts the church he will be training men to take over the church and will be working to start more churches and train men to start more churches. Therefore, a missionary raises his personal salary plus a ministry fund that will accelerate his work on the field since he doesn’t have to find other employment but will be free to work 60-80 hours a week for the Lord.

Note: Most of this is based on my opinion, research and experience… so if this series doesn’t help you, leave it and find something else that does.

Now that we have stated the basics of what deputation is, we are going to tackle the hard question…

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Survey Trip Basics (1 of 4) Objective & Goals

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I write about taking a survey trip in 2012 when we my co-laborer and I took a survey trip to the city I now live in. It gave a quick “how to” and what the application of the steps looked like for us.

You can read that series also, [ 1 | 2 | 3 ], as I think it will complement this set of post on the subject.

We were looking at a city and not a country, since I was looking for a considering the city to start my ministry. Therefore, because of a recent trip to Japan to help some friends with a survey trip, I thought I would write a more extensive outline covering all the “Survey Trip Basics.”



A survey trip is to learn what you will be facing when you go to your mission field and to form a strategy that will help you adjust and set the course for your future ministry.

Therefore, you will need to gather information, firsthand knowledge and personal experience that will help you:

  • learn about being a missionary there
  • learn as much of the practical side as you can
  • learn what it is going to take to get started.


  • Cost of living – How much support do you need to survive and thrive? Can you raise the support?
  • Language – How hard is the language and where can you learn it? Can you learn the language?
  • Missionary Mentor – Is there someone you can work with? Can you work on your own?
  • Right Location – Is the city a large strategic city that you can send people out from to reach the entire country? Where do the middle class live? Can you start a ministry there?


  • Gather Resources – Take video, pictures and buy items that will help give voice to your burden.
  • Greater Burden – Let your eye affect your heart. You have studied about this people and now you are going to be among them.

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Steps to Becoming a Missionary (1 of 6) Intro

There aren’t any “official steps” to becoming a missionary. Everyone you ask will probably have their own opinion, the worst being: “Just go!”

One of the best things that you can do when considering missions is to talk to missionaries and find out the steps they took to get from here to there. When talking to them you will usually find out two things:

  • Everyone’s story is different. Not everyone went down the same road or the same path. Meaning, talking to several different missionaries will help give you ideas about what to do and what not to do.
  • There are usually a lot of small steps and very few big leaps. Meaning, becoming a missionary isn’t an overnight process. It is slowly taking steps toward that goal and then waking up one day and realizing you are living your dream.

With that being said, I want to give my thoughts on different steps that you should consider taking if you are wanting to be a missionary.

Over the next several post we will look at the following areas:

Step #1 Surrendered to missions and ministry.
Step #2 Spent an adequate amount of time in training and preparation.
Step #3 Mobilize a Team of Financial and Prayer Supporters.
Step #4 Field Learning: Language, Culture & Missionary Experience
Step #5 Field Work: Evangelize, Establish, Equip.

Raising A Bilingual Child (1 of 4) On the Mission Field

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For a missionary, learning the language is extremely important. Knowing the language of the people is the key to communicating the gospel, being accepted into the culture and being able to feel “at home” where ever it is you live. Therefore, it is not only important for “the missionary” to learn the language but it is also important for his family (including his wife and children) to learn the language, so they also can carry out the above goals.

Living in a new environment demands that the language of that environment is learned to be successful and without limitations. For our children, learning the language is of the utmost importance.

One article says it this way:

A bilingual environment is most often a necessity, not a choice.

Many discussions of the advantages or disadvantages of early bilingualism seem to be based on the idea that a bilingual environment is something that parents choose for their children. This, however, is usually not the case; young children growing up bilingually are for the most part doing so because there is no way that they can grow up monolingually. For example, it may be the case that the child interacts regularly with monolingual individuals, some of whom speak one language (e.g., teachers and classmates who speak only Italian), others of whom speak another (e.g., parents who speak only French). Other children may grow up in a community where most people speak the same two languages on a day-to-day basis. The usage rules for these languages determine when a particular language is spoken. Imposing changes in these conventions so that all bilingual speakers in the child’s social world would limit themselves to one and the same language in all circumstances is not only impossible but also ethically dubious, because it would infringe on individuals’ linguistic rights.” [1]

Our children are still young, and so I don’t have much experience in this area, though I have observed how our children have adjusted so far and have done some research to help make sure we are moving in the right direction.

I think there are different approaches to how you implement the languages based on how hard a language is and the age of the child learning the “new” language. But it is clear, as stated from above that missionary kids should learn both languages if the language of the people among whom they live is different from the native language of the parents.

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Shenyang, China (1 of 3) A New Survey

In August I had the chance to visit the city of Shenyang for the second time. The first time I visited the city was in May of 2011. I wasn’t very impressed with the city and wrote my thoughts here. This time, I fell in love with the city. Why such the drastic difference? I am not sure, but probably because of time and experience.

Time: The first time we spent less than 24 hours in the city. This time I spent time over a period of three days and two nights in the city.

Experience: Being in China longer (knowing more culture and language) has helped me to know how to properly survey a Chinese city.

Basically, my time in the city and experience to know what and where to look were limited.

Another thing that I realized is that it he takes more than one visited to really get to know or get a feel for a city. Everyone is used to the way “their city” is and judges everything through that lens. I have found that time spent in a new city helps you learn that what seems to be apparent weaknesses at first can actually be strengths and vice-versa.

Despite what initial reactions where, I want to give a second review for the city and am praying to mobilize someone to work with our team, Project China, to move to this city and start a church.

In these few post, I want to give you a new look at Shenyang from our recent trip and then compare it to the other two cities where we already have team members stationed.

Will you join us in praying for a laborer to be sent to Shenyang, China?

WITNESS (1 of 6) Introduction

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The theme of our church and team of missionaries we work with for this past year has been “WITNESS.” It has been the theme of our events and a constant reminder throughout the year.

I wanted to take some post and consider this word “Witness.” As I have studied this idea of witness and personally I have been challenged and encouraged.

Our responsibility to BE a witness and is more important than one may think. We are not talking about a personal soul winning plan. We are talking about something that is life altering…if you understand it.

I hope a better understanding of WITNESS will cause our generation to open clenched fist and allow God to have our lives to fulfill his purpose of being a WITNESS to the nations. I hope it causes us to walk out to the garden and carve out six feet of space and say God “I’m ready to be a WITNESS, I am ready to DIE!”

The whole idea is summed up so beautifully in the phrase “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1)… a WITNESS to the nations.

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About Blogging (1 of 4) Blog History

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I get a lot of questions about my blog and blogging. This short series “About Blogging” is result of those questions. When I started the blog, I didn’t know what I was doing so my scope was broad and “Ramblings!” seemed like a suitable title as I posted about whatever I wanted. My first few post were quotes by missionaries to China and what the blog was about. But my first real update was on August 22nd, 2008 entitled “Our First Month!

My goal at first was to post at least once a week. Then I tried to post several times a week. When we were raising funds, I even had a goal to write about every church that we visited (and I did). When we moved to China, I had a goal to post about five times a week, Monday-Friday. This is when I started to really write about things that I was experiencing and thinking through on the mission field.

As time passed, I narrowed my scope and focus down to several main categories that I liked to wrote about. But I needed to revamp and I needed a break. Thus, on May 21, 2012 I pressed the pause button.

I started to make changes to the blog to better fit my new focus. I went through all my old post deleting over 600 post that didn’t meet my new criteria. I changed the name to “China Ramblings!” and simplified it’s look and use. I also prepared new post and pages for the relaunch.

On September 3rd, I relaunched the blog and started posting 2-3 times a week Monday, Wednesday, and/or Friday.

Through my time blogging, I have been constantly reminded of the power and influence in writing and communicating through this means. In the future, I hope to continue to do so, Lord willing, and make a difference in the lives of those who read this blog.

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