I am on my way home from East Asia with my head full of impressions and ideas. My host told me an old story. Visit East Asia for a week; go home and write a book. Visit East Asia for 9 months; go home and write an article. Stay in East Asia for 5 years, and you will not write anyting. East Asia is large and tremendously varied and all generalizations fail, eventually. But I do want to reflect.
The church in East Asia is considerablly different from the many missionary stories I have heard, and things are rapidly changing. What was not allowed 20 years ago is commonplace now, as long as the numbers don't appear to threaten the powers that be.
What I experienced is the closest thing to the first century church I can imagine. Small groups of believers who do not have to be told that the Christian life is to be different and that it will engender conflict. If I had shared those teachings, they would have agreed and wondered why I felt the need to even discuss it.
What I found were extremely bright believers, well-educated (I stayed in the large cities), brothers and sisters (which is what they consistently call each other) eager to learn and grow. They wanted to know about church structure, the relationship between character and leadership, and how to grow spiritually. They were especially intested in issues of marriage, how husbands and wives relate to each other especially in the furnace of ministry. Robin (my wife) had as significant a teaching ministry as I did through her sharing.
As far as BiblicalTraining is concerned, I did discover that it can play a significant role. They have plenty of conference-type teaching, leaders coming in here and there, teaching and encouraging them. But what they lacked is a consistent model of instruction that moves them through the basic areas of instruction in a holistic way, emphasizing their union with God, relationships, character, and community. What BiblicalTraining can also provide is the means by which someone wanting to go deeper is able to do so. It is one thing to hear a discussion on the eternal communion of the Trinity; it is something else to immerse yourself in the topic for 4 to 5 hours of seminary-level instruction.
So the path forward for us is pretty clear, and I ask for your prayers of wisdom as we move forward. Lots of good stuff ahead for all cultures.