TRAINING & CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT
Four modules have been designed to assist in training Christians for work among Tibetan, Theravada, Mahayana, and Neo-Buddhists. Our training has included missionaries, former Buddhists, missionary candidates, tentmakers, Church leaders and educational professionals.
From the field…One missionary Doctor in Central Asia pointed out, “The knowledge and insight my wife and I gained in Sonrise Center’s course on Christian Mission to Buddhists has been of great value to us in our work among Buddhist peoples in Central Asia. We were inspired by the interaction with key people in the field, and guided by the resources and staff at SCBS. We were able to immerse ourselves in studies and fill every minute with valuable learning.”
Since our course at Wycliffe in the UK, the UK/InterServe has responded to our challenge and started a sister work, the UK Christian Centre for Buddhist Studies. They recently held their first summer course at All Nations Bible College outside of London. Additionally, our courses have inspired other independently run courses in Bhutan, Denmark, Nepal, Mongolia and the C.I.S.
We have assisted a number of professors from Christian seminaries that teach courses on World Religions. We have been called upon by The Jesus Film Project to advise them in developing a contextual introduction to the version used among Tibetan Buddhists. With the spawning of sister organizations such as the UK Christian Centre for Buddhist Studies, we have been called upon in helping in systems development. We have also consulted various churches that are working with ethnically diverse neighborhoods in developing outreach programs for training their congregations.
From a Christian Seminary…Professor John-Jefferson Davis commented, “As one who teaches in the area of world religions at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, I have profited from the database that James has compiled on Buddhist organizations in the United States and resources for the study of Buddhism in Christian Colleges and seminaries. Such information is not easily available from other sources, if at all..”
Some of our writing has been published over the Internet. We are presently writing a proposal for the establishment of a SonriseCenter.org homepage which will be dedicated to the dissemination of training and information over the Internet. The exponential increase in our e-mail has demanded more and more of our time in providing strategic information with a rapid turnaround.
From the Internet…One Christian Japanese lawyer whose mother is a Buddhist, searching the Internet wrote, “I read, with interest, the information on Internet, Set Free parts I and II, about your conversion from NSA to Christ. Thank you for the witness you provided on the Internet.” She had come to Christ after the devastating loss of her fiancee and her little sister who were killed in an automobile accident.
We have developed written materials, including curriculum, charts, maps, graphs, bibliographies, a special issue of the International Journal of Frontier Missions, on Buddhism in July 1993; tracts for reaching Buddhists; a number of articles; a chapter in a book and a newsletter. Many of our materials have already been translated into various languages, including Korean, Chinese, Russian, and Spanish. Because of the diversity of our constituency we are in the development stage of more extensive electronic publishing on our website which will serve as a resource 24 hours a day.
AUDIO-CASSETTES & RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
We developed a resource list that is available for those who inquire about more information which includes approximately 95 audio cassettes for teaching, among other items such as maps, charts and graphs. We are presently developing materials that will serve in a church based resource distribution program. During the spring of 1998, I was privileged to be able to interview the staff at Word of Grace Ministries, who provided a very appropriate model of running a ministry that produces materials to help the church through books, cassettes, and now CD-ROM’s.
From a tentmaker…An executive with Boeing Corporation working in Japan, commented on the fact that we were the only organization that he found that could direct him to cross cultural materials that gave valuable preparation to share his faith while on a work assignment there for one year.
“Who Do Men Say That I Am?” which points to the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in a pluralistic environment, which is based upon 27 hours of video tape interviews at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1993. We showed a preliminary cut of this film this summer at “Surprised by Joy: An Evening of Testimony” at Fuller Theological Seminary’s Travis Auditorium.
Hong Kong 1997 which is a record of interviews with Hong Kong leaders in 1995; and interviews of Christian leaders from the Buddhist world which were taped at the 1995 Global Consultation on World Evangelization in Seoul, Korea. That was based upon grant from Dr. & Mrs. B. who financed the production team’s trip and gathering of material, organizational operating expenses and computer hardware and software purchases.
In the summer of 1996, we also video interviewed Tibetan Buddhists and filmed the Dalai Lama receiving the Key to the City of Pasadena, and his acceptance of the Simon Weisenthal Peace Prize at the Museum of Tolerance.
The highlight though, was our eighth anniversary celebration held at Travis Auditorium at Fuller School of World Mission where eight former Buddhists shared their personal testimonies. We received seed money recently to develop a proposal for eight twenty minute vignettes of these testimonies prepared for video and television.
Our July 2000 training in Washington, D.C. and attendance at the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival allowed us to capture two days of film on the “Tibetan Land Beyond the Snows” exhibit. We plan on producing a short report on this event for helping the Church become aware of Tibetan Buddhism’s inroads in America.
From the Christian Broadcast Network…Senior Producer, Stan Jeter, commented, “Thanks so much for providing video and information about the Dalai Lama’s visit to Pasadena. We were able to put together a brief report using some of the best video, for the August 4th edition of Christian World News.”
J. Isamu Yamamoto, former book editor for Christianity Today, advised us early on to build a library of resources for a successful work He began by giving us the publishing rights for re-printing of 1,000 copies of his helpful book, Beyond Buddhism. Since then the Lord has enabled us to build a library over 3,500 items through the gracious donation of $7,000 from Ms. Beth Brunemier and many other devout missionaries and Christian friends.
Among these have been Dr. Arthur Glasser, professor and Dean Emeritus of Fuller School of World Mission, his collection on Asia and from the Heimbach Family, a collection from the library of the late Dr. Ernie Heimbach, Director of Ethnic Ministries of OMF America. We have also collected a wide variety of slides, cassettes, videos, magazines, journals, Buddhist dictionaries, files, and bibliographies. Our major concern now is the production of digital media such as CD-ROM’s and DVD’s, through which we can provide greater access to the valuable storehouse of materials at SCBS.