Dr. Tan Kok Beng

On To Mission Field Without Training

One section of Airport Departure Lounge was filled with noisy church young people and a sprinkling of adults and a mother in tears. They were saying farewell and bidding Godspeed to a young, excited and committed girl. She, barely 20, was being ushered into the mission field. She had joined a Mission agency to begin her missionary career in Central Asia. Upon further enquire, I learned that she had completed her “A” level and worked as an insurance agent for a while. Then she felt the “call” to missions. She had no Bible School or any Missionary Training – just a few months of Orientation.

How Long Will She Last on the Mission Field, I wondered!

On To Global Business With Training!

At another corner of the Departure Lounge, some of us were saying farewell to another person – a 35 year-old bachelor. He was on a foreign assignment of five years to China, being sent by his multi-national firm. He has a post-graduate degree relevant to his job, been in the company for 8 years rising up the promotion ladder.

Now he is being sent by his firm to be the Regional Manager in Shanghai. He had also done his national service (compulsory military service in Singapore) and had the rank of a Lieutenant!

There was no doubt in our minds – those who came to send him off – that he would likely do well. His qualifications, experience, track record and confidence of his superiors were a testimony to his ability.

The Contrast Was Agonizing!

I couldn’t help but think of these two people leaving Singapore to begin their new lives and careers in a foreign land. Then I asked myself,

“Why is that the commercial world would only send out well-trained, matured and experienced personnel overseas while the Church and Mission Agencies are in such a hurry to send out those who are young and immature and have no relevant training to the mission field? Are we sending them to their ‘deaths’? Are we being fair to them? Would the army send out soldiers without training to the war zone or battlefield?”

The answer is obviously “No.” Then why are we sending our Christian soldiers to t he spiritual battlefield without proper and relevant training?

Simple Training With Good Knowledge — Not Enough!

Here is yet another story that tells us that simple training with good knowledge is not adequate.

Fresh from Bible College (after 4 years’ study of Bible and Theology), the young missionary arrived at t eh tribal village for his missionary service. Full of ‘faith’ and excitement, yet with much apprehension he approached his new field philosophically. After all, he didn’t know what to expect. Nor did he know exactly what to do. Nor did he know exactly what to do. This was a whole new ball game altogether.

He and his partner were the only Christians and missionaries in this pagan village. Getting to know the people and culture was fun, but learning the language was quite a task.

But he wasn’t quite prepared for the shock that awaited him a few weeks later. No, that’s quite an under-statement!

A Terrible Encounter!

While walking towards the center of the village, where all the ‘official’ activities were held, he came across a commotion. There seemed to be a religious ceremony taking place, where almost the whole village was gathered. Many were in their ‘funny’ religious costumes, with painted faces and all the usual paraphernalia.

Then he saw the ghastly sight! In the middle of the circle with all the chanting and the drums rolling was a weird looking guy jumping like a monkey and uttering screeches and mumbo-jumbos – to the chorus of screaming women. “What’s going on here?” he thought, as he drew near.

Then it happened. The witchdoctor had heard about him and his partner, coming to ‘evangelize’ their village. Observing his approach, the witchdoctor suddenly stopped his mumbo-jumbo stuff and pointing at him, said: “You! Come here. If you Jesus is so great, come and challenge me!” Immediately he went into a trance and began to exhibit black magic and witchcraft power,’ to the roar and approval of the villagers.

The young missionary was stunned. No – paralyzed! He didn’t expect such a rude confrontation – not so soon anyway. As if in a dream, he heard the witchdoctor say, ‘Show me your power! Let us all see what you can do!’

What can I do? Lord, I don’t know what to do? My Bible School didn’t teach me such things. I only learned Bible and theology.

What, if you were that young missionary? What would you do?

I was that young missionary over 40 years ago. I did not know what to do. What an embarrassment! I do not want this happen to any of our young missionaries that we train and exhort them to go on to the mission field. So, now I encourage that all students learn about spiritual warfare and practice it boldly!


Tan Kok Beng
Bethany International University

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