Context-Sensitive Resource Development :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

Context-Sensitive Resource Development

Chris Seawright
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One of the final charges the Apostle Paul gave to Pastor Timothy is that he “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). Certainly, this charge includes the call to boldly and humbly proclaim the message of the Gospel to others, but is that all that is included in this work?

An important part of this “work” should be learning ways to create understanding with the people to whom God has called us to minister.1 While this is something that all believers in Jesus must do, it is especially true for those who minister cross-culturally. Cross-cultural workers ministering in a context where gospel penetration is low have the extra task of empowering and facilitating local believers in effectively communicating God’s message to their people.

Common Cultural Objections

After a few years of ministering in Buddhist Southeast Asia in the country of Cambodia, my ministry partner and I realized while evangelizing that the type of questions the Cambodians were asking us were not the same as ones we would get in a Western cultural context. This was due to vastly different worldviews. We realized that a vital part of our being able to plant the Gospel and thus plant churches in this context would be the development of resources that would be both biblically sound and culturally appropriate, i.e., context-sensitive.

One typical question from both Cambodian unbelievers as well as Cambodian Christians was, “Are Christians supposed to honor their parents?” Cambodian culture highly values the honoring of those older than you, especially one’s parents. The typical Cambodian unbeliever, steeped in the Folk Buddhist worldview, noticed that Cambodian Christians did not perform merit-making ceremonies for their parents either before they died or after they died as is customary with Buddhists in that culture. Because of this, the unbelievers often concluded that Christians do not honor their parents, or at least not appropriately. This was a serious and legitimate objection that demanded an answer.

We decided to develop a tract that addressed this question. We addressed the issue of honoring parents at the beginning of the tract, but then explained that there is someone deserving even greater honor than our parents—the One who created our parents! This led to a summary of the Gospel. This tract served a dual function: it helped explain the Biblical teaching on honoring parents to unbelieving Cambodians, and it also helped Cambodian Christians know how to address this common objection to Christianity when their families asked them.

The Creation of SWOJ

Several years later in 2013, two other missionary partners in Cambodia and I decided to unite our efforts in developing resources and created the Seeking the Wisdom of Jesus (SWOJ) Association. Over the past decades, we have seen our group of missionaries expand to six on the Khmer side, and in 2022, a SWOJ chapter in Thailand was started with two missionaries.

There are two key planks in our philosophy of resource development. The first is our practice of writing our own resources instead of taking existing English resources and simply translating them into Khmer. While many folks do work with translated resources from other languages and contexts (which can be helpful to a limited degree), we seek to directly address questions and objections raised in our ministry context. Our desire is to develop resources that “scratch where it itches.”

A second plank is our desire to get the resources into three formats: written, audio, and visual. Though we certainly want to encourage reading, many Cambodians are either illiterate or functionally illiterate (they can read but are not skilled with reading comprehension) and thus prefer to listen or watch. The SWOJ now has a YouTube channel in both Khmer and Thai, and a Facebook and Sermon Audio page in Khmer where we put our resources.

Other Resource Projects

Most of our current resources would be classified as “pre-evangelism” tracts that focus on answering common objections. Besides the Honoring Parent tract mentioned above, we have written The Ancient Path tract which addresses the question, “If Christianity is better than Buddhism, why is Buddhism over 500 years older?” This tract explains that in the very beginning everyone’s ancestors knew the one, true and living God of the Bible—the Ancient Path. The tract also explains that even though Jesus was born as a human over 500 years after Buddha, Jesus not only existed before Buddha but existed from all eternity! By God’s grace, these tracts have had widespread distribution throughout Cambodia and Thailand!

We have also developed an initial discipleship booklet with five lessons that teach a professing believer about baptism and church membership. Each lesson addresses common misunderstandings and temptations faced by young Cambodian Christians.

In addition, one of our men developed a thorough answer to the question of whether Christians should drink alcoholic beverages.” This is a huge issue in Cambodia that is not only hurting the country but also the church.2

We praise the Lord for the opportunity we have had to “do the work of an evangelist” in our context with the development of Christian resources. Before we have printed a particular resource, we usually have taught through the materials with Cambodian Christians and gleaned their feedback. This has improved the resource in many ways. Though we as missionaries strive to become bicultural, we long for the day when we will have mature Cambodian and Thai believers not only helping with editing but also writing resources for their own people. There is still much work to be done!

I hope these thoughts will encourage you to do the work of an evangelist and fulfill the Great Commission where God has strategically placed you.


1 The author has written a 49-page booklet entitled Do the Work of an Evangelist: Context-Sensitive Gospel Communication with those from a Folk Buddhist Worldview. It is available in paperback or on Kindle at the following link:

2 For a brief description and downloads of all of our resources, see (for Khmer) and (for Thai).