They all came from the four cardinal directions with a single-minded focus – to equip themselves to be better trainers. And the 18 participants of the Asia Gateway Training (AGT) programme went home enriched, and hopeful that they would be able to put into practice what they learnt.
The seven-week AGT, held at Seminari Theologi Malaysia in Seremban from June 21 to Aug 8, was a unique a cross-cultural training programme designed to give participants the best of both worlds — solid academic training and practical field lessons.
Apart from attending lectures and sharing and learning sessions commonly found in similar training programmes, the participants were also afforded the benefit of going on field exposure trips to the Kenosis Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Mantin, Seremban, and the Buddhist Maha Vihara temple in Brickfields and the national mosque, both in Kuala Lumpur.
The participants from eight countries were also engaged in dialogues with practitioners and authorities from the Buddhist and Islamic faiths.
Nine of the trainees also went on a week-long mission trip to Cambodia as part of the training.
AGT Dean Lee Loun Ling said the training went well although it was a challenge having 18 participants from North, South, East and West (South Asian countries – Northeast India, Southwest India, Pakistan, Nepal; East Asian countries – Malaysia and Cambodia; Western Europe – UK; South America – Brazil; and down-under Australia) in one programme and under one roof.
“But this enhanced the cultural richness of the learning. The majority of these participants were indigenous church and mission leaders from diverse backgrounds, agencies and denominations,” she said.
Loun said the participants intended to adapt and apply what they had gained to the training programmes in their respective contexts.
“This makes Asia Gateway unique. It is not just a mission training for new workers. It is a Training of Trainers in Asian contexts,” she said
She thanked all who had contributed to its successful completion – prayer supporters, donors, lecturers, and churches or agencies who sent the trainees.
The following is the feedback from several participants:
“Cross-cultural contextualization is altogether a new field of immense importance. I have learned that being more sensitive to the cultures (a good practice to learn this in a class with trainees from different countries and cultures) around me, my work can be more effective. Servanthood is another module that has been a source of blessing for me, to reflect back and seek God’s guidance to do his will.
My main emphasis will be to share about Theology of work in small group studies along with introduction to cross-cultural contextualization paired with importance of Mission.
I would recommend this training to all those who want to be effective instruments to spread His Word. This training equips one with more practical skills (like cross-cultural contextualization, inter-faith dialogue) rather than theory, and also it does not limit Mission Work for full-time missionaries but it encourages all those who are not called to be full-time missionaries.” – Sarah Cyril Das, Pakistan
“I came seeking one goal (cultural and religious orientation to intercultural mission among Thai migrants) but I would say have gained a much more well-rounded education than what I sought.
Personal development sessions have also been helpful to me in giving structure and direction for growth in discipleship relationships, both in general godliness, ministry and service as a lay person at my local church.
In terms of my personal goals – I came in the hope of being better equipped for a discipleship ministry among Thai people in Sydney. I feel satisfied that this has been well addressed through modules on interfaith dialogue, gospel and culture, poverty & justice and spiritual formation. I would be happy to replicate parts of the training that would be useful in the Australian context as opportunities arise.
I would recommend the training to the ministry apprentices (usually aged 21-30) involved in University ministries among international students. I would also consider the training useful for new missionaries (intending to work in Asia, or diaspora ministry among Asian populations in Australia), directors of international student ministries and other church leaders in Australia in suburbs attracting significant Asian populations. It would be an invaluable part of a ‘MentAC’ programme (Mentoring Across Cultures) which CMS Australia runs.” – Amanda Mason, Australia
“I have learned much from the AGT training programme. It opened my mind and heart for mission and gave me a much deeper biblical understanding of mission for believers. In the past I didn’t feel the need to work among the migrants, refugees and the poor in Malaysia. Pastor Pax Tan’s teaching has helped me to overcome the barrier.
I would recommend this training to prepare those who have a calling for cross- cultural mission work. Most often those who went for mission work overseas did not go for cross-cultural training, and when they faced problems in the field they may not understand and this caused them to fail in their mission.” – Kong Yee Wong, Malaysia