In his book entitled “Anthropological Insights for Missionaries,” Paul G. Hiebert writes:
There is a gulf between ourselves and the people to whom we go in service.
There is an even greater gulf between the Bible’s historical and cultural setting and contemporary life. How do we bridge these gulfs and make possible the effective cross-cultural and cross-historical communication of the gospel? Clearly we need to understand the gospel in its historical and cultural setting. Without this, we have no message. We also need a clear understanding of ourselves and the people we serve in diverse historical and cultural contexts. Without this, we are in danger of proclaiming a meaningless and irrelevant message.
Our mission, Asians For Christ, emphasizes the importance of solid and sound doctrine based on biblical truth as well as being sensitive with cultural setting of people we serve so that the message would not be misunderstood or be foreign to the people, and ultimately many lost souls would be reached with the Good News of Jesus’ redemption.
The Context of Lisu ethnicity
Lisu people live throughout several countries; China, Myanmar, India, Laos and Thailand. Now a day, you will find some Lisu people in Malaysia, Australia and even in the United State of America. They came to the USA first as political refugees and then holding the USA citizenship after living some years. Out of approximately 2,000,000, 1/3 of the Lisu people are Christians. The majority of Lisu are spiritists. Most of the Lisu in Myanmar and India are Christians, most of the Lisu in China and Thailand are nonbelievers, and not even one person of Lisu in Laos is nonbeliever. Mission history confirms that Lisu Christians were the ethnic people who converted Chinese, Rawang, and Nu people in Myanmar and converted Lahu and Wa people in China. Traditionally, the Lisu people had no written language. The Lisu script was invented by J. O. Fraser, the first missionary of Lisu in the early 19th century. It is common that the nonbelievers would not know how to read and write this script. Indeed, most of them are illiterate. In other words, they have not even known how to read the Bible.
The Incarnated Mission:
In order to incarnate the Word of God to the Lisu people in their cultural setting, we held the Lisu cultural conference and exhibition during Feb 28-March 4, 2014 in Chiangmai and Mae Hong Son provinces, Thailand. Since many of Lisu people are animists and illiterate, our mission endeavors to promote the Lisu people who live in China, Myanmar, India, Laos and Thailand, to learn how to read and write Lisu so that they, whether they are believers or not, will be able to read God’s Word in their own language.
In February, we spent most of our time and effort to prepare this conference. The conference turned out to be the real blessing from our living God and Lord. It was well accepted, attended and supported by Christians and non-Christians, native people and missionaries. We had over 60 Lisu key governmental leaders, both Christians and non-Christians, from several places in China, for instance; Nujiang, Baoshan, Dehong, Wexei and Lijiang. We also had two Lisu senators and a minister from Myanmar and several thousands of Lisu people in Thailand participating at this conference. The conference agreed to conclude that every Lisu whether being believers or non-believers should study the Lisu script. Praise the Lord!
Why is teaching the Lisu script very important for mission works? Because after learning the Lisu alphabets, the Bible is the only available tool for practicing the Lisu language. In addition, we believe that the Bible is God’s Living Word, and after they read the Bible, God will work in their hearts and lead them to repentance, be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and to receive God’s salvation by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). We have seen that this is the only avenue for reaching out many lost souls among the Lisu people in China, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. Our ultimate goal has been reached and our efforts have been paid off because many Lisu people in China have requested us to teach them how to read and write in Lisu after the conference. Praise the Lord!
Indeed, God is even moving ahead of us among the pagan government on this issue. For instance, the government of Myanmar enacts the law that every Lisu needs to know the Lisu script. The Chinese government also promotes this ideology. Actually, this is the best chance for a mission work because only Christian workers are able to teach the Lisu script. Now it is the time to harvest what we had sown at the conference. Please keep this ministry in your prayers!
Meeting with Lisu leaders in Chiangmai for
preparing the conference
Conference call to Lisu from different countries
Meeting with Lisu leaders at Pai, Maehongson
Preparing the location for the cultural exhibition
Finding hotels for guests
Picking up Chinese Lisu at the airport
Stephen giving a welcoming speech
The opening event
The most popular Christian singer from Myanmar
Introducing Lisu from different countries
The Morse, missionary family, participate this event
The winner of the Chinese Idol in 2010
The chairman of Lisu culture in China
The Thailand-Lisu attended at this event
The Lisu cultural exhibition
The First Mission trip to Myanmar
Bagan, the ancient city of Myanmar
Chinese Lisu visit church at Yagon
Chinese Lisu visit a Bible training center for Lisu in Myanmar
Introducing Chinese Lisu to Lisu Christians in Myanmar
A group picture with church leaders at Pying Oo Lwin
The girl all the way on the left is the one
who asks Stephen to pray for her
Though it was a very tiresome month, every one of the Wongratanamajchas played significant roles at the conference. Mary took care of those female leaders from China. Nick and John are serving as staffs. Isaac entertained our guests with his innocent and attractive character. Becky is a living demonstrator of God’s saving power during the conference.
At the moment, every one of the Wongratanamajchas, except John, is in a great health. John has a stomach infection with bacteria. He was hospitalized for a few days and now he is at home. Much appreciation for your continual prayers for John! Nick is busy in preparing lessons for teaching Christian youth at their camp in Myitkyina, the Northern part of Myanmar, this upcoming April. Isaac and Becky are on their break. Stephen is preparing himself for the upcoming several mission trips. All evangelistic trips must be done before the raining season in June. Due to traveling to remote areas, please accept our apology in advance for the blog will not be updated on the regular basis for the next few months.
Isaac in Lisu attire
John performing a Lisu song
Nick with a women leader from Dehong, China
Mary with Lisu leaders from Boashan, China
Mary, Isaac and John with the Thailand Lisu
- Stephen will take off on his second mission trip to Myanmar at the last week of March. He will spend most of his time during this upcoming trip to evangelize to the people in remote villages and restricted areas in the Shan State of Myanmar.
- At the second week of April, Nick will fly to Myanmar and conduct the Christian Youth camp at Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State. Stephen will join Nick at this camp.
- In May, Stephen is planning to make his mission trip to Laos. During the conference, we have learned that there are several thousands of Lisu live in Laos. These Lisu have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ yet. What a challenging opportunity!
- Our mission has been requested to offer a week or two week long English camp to children in China. If any churches or individual feels this call, please contact us for we are looking for some short-term missionaries to enroll in this ministry.
- John’s school, Grace international School, has several positions that needs to be filled for the next school year--Elementary Music Teacher, Elementary Art Teacher, Secondary Teacher (Religious Studies), Secondary Teacher (Math), Extension Services Department (Homeschool) Director, Home Education Consultant, Deputy Superintendent of Operations, Spiritual Life Director, Facilities Engineer, Alumni Relations Coordinator, and Webmaster. If you might be interested in some of these staff openings or you might know someone with the skills that their need, please click on www.gisthailand.org/serve-at-GIS/
Much appreciation for your partnering in carrying out the Great Commission to the Lost people and making His disciples in all the ethnic groups of people in Southeast Asia and China.
In Christ’s Love,
Stephen and Mary