I’m what you might call a “third-career” missionary. My wife and I currently serve in rural Thailand, but in former versions of myself, I’ve been an engineer and a patent attorney. I’ve perched on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder, and soared into the rarified atmosphere of the big law firm. So I’m pretty accustomed to conferences and seminars of the secular world. And frankly, from all the meetings and “networking” opportunities I’ve had the occasion to attend, none of them left any lasting impression on me. I can’t remember very many of the people I met. I’ve kept in touch with none of them—probably because the only thing we shared in common was a desire to get ahead and one-up the others.
Not long after I became a Christian, my church’s associate pastor took me and some other men to a Promise Keeper’s event in North Carolina. Picture thousands of men packed into a basketball arena, singing and shouting praise to God, punctuated by fervent talks from heavy-hitting Christian speakers. I remember at the time being inspired to some degree, but also wondering why I didn’t feel very “connected” with anyone there.
Why am I telling you all this? Because if you’re like me, you’ve had your share of disappointing conferences, seminars, etc. And maybe you’re wondering if the upcoming 2018 SEANG 5th Annual Conference will be just like one of those. Maybe you’re on the fence about registering. Well fear not, oh indecisive one! As an attendee of the 2017 Conference, I believe the 2018 Conference can benefit you in at least three ways.
Benefit #1: You’ll connect deeply with people. For my wife and me, probably the best thing about participating in the SEANG Conference last year was the opportunity to be with people who share our passion to make Jesus Christ known and worshiped in southeast Asia. We met an “older” (in other words, our age) couple serving in Cambodia, and a young family ministering in southeast Thailand, and instantly clicked with them; we have kept in touch, and I hope and expect that will continue. We shared meals with fellow attendees as well as conference speakers. I particularly enjoyed hearing the stories and testimonies shared by our brothers and sisters in Christ around the dining tables. This is a wonderful opportunity to encourage and be encouraged by the body of Christ. Don’t pass it up!
Benefit #2: You’ll gain insight and resources. The SEANG conference is an opportunity to share ideas with other ministers of the gospel who may have different points of view and different experiences from yours. In addition, even if we have served in the field for years, we may be unaware of useful resources that are available. In 2017, I learned from other conference attendees about several ministry resources I had not known about. Don’t miss the chance to enlighten and be enlightened by your brothers and sisters in Christ who, like you, are laboring for the gospel in southeast Asia.
Benefit #3: You’ll have opportunities to serve the Lord and the body of Christ. When my wife and I decided to attend the 2017 Conference, my intention was to go and learn something, and maybe make some connections. Those goals were accomplished, and after the conference concluded and we were back home, I didn’t give it too much more thought. Then one day I received an email from the main conference organizer, inquiring whether I would be interested in helping plan the 2018 Conference. I accepted. Working with the other members of the planning committee has been a rewarding experience. It’s a small way of “paying forward” the blessing I received by attending the 2017 Conference.
I hope to see many of you at the 2018 Conference in Bangkok!
This post was written by a guest writer, Don Hill.