Missionary Minds is a series of ten-question exchanges with missionaries around the world.
Forrest McPhail and his family have been involved in church planting and evangelism in Cambodia for most of 15 years. He has worked with missionaries from several different missions in several locations, including the capital city of Phnom Penh, the rural provincial capitals of Pursat and Samraong, and most recently, the city of Siem Reap. Presently, he is seeking ways to assist other missionaries, particularly those laboring in Cambodia.
- Finish the sentence: Do not become a missionary if ____. You think it is the height of spirituality; you think it the greatest way for Christians to prove their devotion to Christ; you are not primarily concerned with evangelism and being a cross-cultural disciple maker; you are not willing to make long-term sacrifices
- What is the most misunderstood thing about you and/or your ministry? People fail to understand the spiritual pressures and oppression faced on the mission field. They only think of missions in practical categories. People tend to think that missionaries do not need spiritual accountability, and rarely offer any. I have literally asked maybe five pastors over the years to provide some kind of regular spiritual accountability for me, and none have done so.
- What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first arrived? Almost everything I know now I did not know when I first arrived! That is one reason why I wrote my book!
- Who or what played the greatest role in your call to missions? Pastors that took my burden for Gospel ministry seriously when I was in junior high and high school made a huge impact on me. When it came to missions, God used missionaries serving in Thailand (Jim Hayes) and Cambodia (J.D. Crowley) to direct us to where to serve in cross-cultural missions.
- What role does the foreign language play in your ministry? Absolute necessity for witness and discipleship. Cambodians are increasingly studying English, but very few speak English well enough to understand the Gospel and its truths without the use of their own language, Khmer. English teaching, or allowing Cambodians to practice their English on you, can be an effective means of building relationships in the community—just don’t do it in your church meeting place!
- How has missions changed the most over the past 50 years? The movement of peoples, diasporas, and the ease of travel and access to many places has added whole new dimensions. There is a need to cooperate more and realize that we are sowing and watering in conjunction with others like never before. Lone missionaries tackling large areas are no longer the need many places today.
- What kind of dangers do missionaries face that other ministers do not? Greater pressure to perform; the burden of beginning ministry in darker places of the world; genuine spiritual fellowship and accountability options are limited; it is easier to get caught in narrow-mindedness if missionaries are not actively fellowshipping with others; sin problems and ministry deficiencies and problems can go undetected much more easily; temptation to be in a state of continual doubt over what you are to do because you are solely in charge of your daily life and ministry.
- What are the most common errors that missionaries make? Trusting in the power of money over the power of the Gospel; trusting the methods and giftedness over the power of the Holy Spirit; lacking faith in what the Gospel can do, and what it is doing, through them; counting success according to visible and measureable attainments; frustration at God when He does not work according to our ambitions or timetable; failing to take prayer supporters seriously.
- What is the best book you’ve read on missions? Let the Nations Be Glad (Piper); The Planting and Development of Missionary Churches (Nevius); Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours (Plummer and Terry); Building on Firm Foundations (McIlwain); Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? (Allen); The Indigenous Church (Hodges); We are Not the Hero (Johnson)
- If we visited you, what is the place we would have to see? Angkor Wat and its many temples are among the World Heritage sites and are one of the few remaining wonders of the ancient world still standing. In the last twenty years, Angkor Wat and its temples, located in Siem Reap, have become one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world. They are monuments to the world system apart from God in every way, and will get you stirred up to preach the Gospel!
Were the whole force of missionaries made up of men who could answer like this, the church would more fully honor the gospel of our Lord.