Monthly Archives: June 2017

My Book on Missio Nexus

On June 27th, the large missions network Missio Nexus put my book Becoming Native to Win the Natives on their website: https://missionexus.org/category/books/leaders-edge/

I was thankful Missio Nexus could choose my book for their monthly author interview on their Leaders Edge resources page. I did the interview with the VP Marv a few weeks ago. It was a great opportunity for me.

If you are a member of Missio Nexus, I suggest you to read what has been posted on that website about my book, and you can listen to the interview with me about my book.

working on book #2

I’m in the process of writing my 2nd book. I’m now looking for a publisher for it.

It’ll be about suffering and God’s sovereignty in our sufferings. Much of the book will be about a biblical understanding of suffering. Then the 2nd half of the book will be about some of my particular sufferings & how the Lord has carried me through them.

I started writing the book about two years ago. And I am nearing completion of the book.

I could use prayers for guidance & strength from the Lord in all this.

I think about Paul’s words: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17)

Review of my book in EMQ

Last weekend I came across another review of my book Becoming Native to Win the Natives. It was written in the January 2017 edition of the missions journal Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ).

You can read the review below, written by Dr. Ed Scheuerman, professor at Lancaster Bible College:

 

—Reviewed by Ed Scheuerman, professor of intercultural studies, Lancaster Bible College

Living among nationals is not enough to accomplish the goal of gaining acceptance in order to share the gospel. The missionary needs to seek to ‘become native.’ Drawing upon his ten years of living in China, Tabor Laughlin’s primer highlights the challenge of crossing the line from being among to living with those God calls the missionary to serve. He additionally calls the reader to “build deep relationships with them and to be intentional to share with them the gospel” (p. 8).

This short book (just 71 pages) is in three sections: (1) principles, (2) practices, and (3) take away. Each of the seven chapters ends with a few practical questions. The primary benefit of this book is its practical suggestions in such areas as language learning, food, dress, and identity among the local community. Laughlin wisely stresses the need for integrity in areas such as one’s visa.

The author seeks a level of acceptance where, “They will no longer see us as an outsider” (p. 37). But I don’t know that this will be entirely possible. Personally, one of the best days of my life in China was when I was told that I was “just like a Chinese.” I knew that this was a statement of acceptance but that I would never truly be Chinese.

Another slight concern is when Laughlin writes, “In such instances, when we realize that it’s actually our home culture that does things weird, not the new culture, maybe we should consider adopting the local custom” (p. 42). Neither needs to be “weird,” just different. We need to guard against making value statements (in either cultural direction) when customs are simply different. But the main point of adopting local customs is advisable.

Referencing Romans 14, the author wisely exhorts the reader to consult local believers when seeking to decide what would be a potential stumbling block for both believers and unbelievers in the local culture. “May the Lord grant you his wisdom in such cases,” he writes (p. 43). Laughlin similarly makes strong value judgements about children’s education and a wife’s language learning. “For her, studying the language should never be a higher priority than taking care of her family” (p. 58). I understand his intent here, but I would caution against imposing a Western value—in this case, of how one prioritizes family life. While I would not advocate imitating the family life of William Carey, I also don’t want to impose my Western understanding of family uniformly on everyone. The concern here, as with attempting to follow presumed “biblical standards,” is the need to recognize that how we interpret the Bible is also done with a cultural lens.

This book will serve well as an introduction for those about to get on the airplane to go overseas. But it can also serve as a challenge for all Christians to increasingly and appropriately seek to be in the culture in which God has placed them, regardless of their here and now.

Western vs. Chinese Theology

In my “Teaching across Cultures” class this week with Dr. Craig Ott, he had us read a book by Richard Nisbett from 2003. The crux of the book is that Westerners and Asians think differently because of their different ancient roots. Westerners were most highly influenced by the ancient Greek mindset, which is to make laws and formations for everything around them. Whereas, the Asians were most influenced by the ideas of Confucius, which do not put so much emphasis on making laws or explaining everything with air-tight rules.

Within the realm of theology, Western theologians always need to have air-tight explanations and arguments to explain everything from the Bible. Whereas, most non-Westerners (Asians, Africans, Middle Easterners, Hispanics) are not as concerned to make air-tight theological laws, but are able to accept the mysterious and paradoxical parts of the Bible (i.e. Calvinism vs. Free Will).

Thinking about these factors interested me greatly. I think about my best Chinese pastor friend, who leads a small house church in NW China. He knows all parts of the Bible incredibly well, as well as any Chinese person I know. However, he has never been one who is interested to discuss more debated theological topics that may be normal for Westerners to discuss. These debates just are not important for him.