Post a Comment » Written on February 3rd, 2017     
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by Paul H. de Neui

There are plenty of places in the world that we would like to revisit.  Some of them have lovely weather or beautiful scenery. In some parts of the world there are activities like jungle trekking or safari riding that appeal. Great food, friendly people, good services – who wouldn’t want more of all that? Actually all of these things are true in Thailand but none are the reason I go back each year. The reason I go back to Thailand each year is called SEANET.

Almost twenty years ago a handful of people got together recognizing that there was no network focused on connecting with God’s mission in the Buddhist world. There were plenty of other groups focused on unreached peoples in general or the Muslim world, the Hindu world, even the post-modern western world. But nothing focused on the many peoples and places of the Buddhist world. That was the reason SEANET was established.

Initially the name was an acronym for South East Asia Network but that has changed over the years. Now each year brings people from all parts of Asia and even farther – Europe and South America were represented in recent years. Gathering together for a week to hear the stories of what God is doing in these diverse place encourages, motivates and corrects the idea that “mission in the Buddhist world is difficult.”

Hearing of movements of whole villages coming to Christ in Myanmar and still retaining Buddhist cultural forms and identity challenges my missiology. The stories from a sister in Japan about remote areas that continues to make the sign of the cross and call upon “Dioso” (Deus) several generations after the presence of any missionaries makes the recent showing of the movie “Silence” come alive in our day. Seeing firsthand the cooperation among Christians in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and other places inspires me to seek unity at home.

SEANET has provided me with a chance to meet people I would never meet otherwise, to hear their stories and to learn from them. Each year there is a forum in which presenters share what God is doing in their region of the Buddhist world, highlighting lessons from their experiences for all of us. It has been my privilege to work with these reflective practitioners and to see the best of their work edited and published in annual volumes. In January 2017 SEANET published its thirteenth volume (the tenth that I have personally edited) entitled, Restored to Freedom from Fear, Guilt and Shame: Lessons from Buddhist Contexts. Working with a printer in Chiang Mai we produced the volumes that were sold at the SEANET conference. An American printing will be coming out soon.

Going back to Thailand revives my faith. Interacting with my sisters and brothers at SEANET, I see God working in ways that restore my hope in the gospel even during very discouraging cultural movements at home. Check out the SEANET volumes at  the website of William Carey Library. Celebrate how the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world just as it has been doing in us since the day we heard it and truly understood God’s grace (Colossians 1:6). Where is the place you need to go to hear the good news again? Go back there. It will help you move forward.

In Christ and for His Kingdom,
Paul H. de Neui
Director, Center for World Christian Studies
A Ministry of Serve Globally, Evangelical Covenant Church

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