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The Missions Podcast

The Missions Podcast

The Missions Podcast exists to answer hard questions about theology, missions, and practice to help goers think and thinkers go. We are conservative, evangelical, and gospel-centered. We think missions should be about the glory of God, the salvation of people, and the establishing of Christ's church to be salt and light in every culture. Every Monday, Scott Dunford and Alex Kocman dive into questions of contextualization, the local church, strategy, the implications of our theology, and best practices for senders, and goers alike. The Missions Podcast is powered by ABWE International, a conservative, evangelical missions agency with a force of about 1,000 workers serving across 70 countries with a focus on evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. The views expressed by the hosts are solely theirs and do not represent the views of ABWE and its partner churches and missionaries.


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Rachel Jankovic on Identity, Christian Women, and the Mission Field of Motherhood

How are Christian women to respond to the onslaught of lies barraging them from the surrounding culture about who they are and the basis of their identity? And how is motherhood a ?mission field? for the Christian woman? This week Rachel Jankovic, pastor?s daughter and author based in Moscow, Idaho, tackles these questions with whit, […]
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Faithfulness or Pragmatism? Andy Johnson on Methodologies

What are the non-negotiables of how we do missions? Is it possible to reverse-engineer what?s ?working? on the field to build our methodology, or are we locked in to a finite set of prescriptions from Scripture about how to do ministry?thinks like preaching the word training elders? Andy Johnson (Ph.D., Texas A&M), Associate Pastor at […]
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Fouad Masri on What Christians Get Wrong About Reaching Muslims

What is it like for a Christian living in the Middle East? What do believers usually get wrong about Islam and how to share Christ with Muslims? These questions are especially pressing during the month of Ramadan. This week Fouad Masri shares his personal conversion account and weighs in on these issues. Author and lecturer […]
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Should Missions Be ?Radical? or Ordinary? Michael Horton Answers

Radical. Transformative. Impact. Crazy, even. These words fill the atmosphere when Christians discuss the sacrifice and risk involved in missions. But has all this talk of ?radical? living left us unable to cope with regular life, ordinariness, boredom, and God?s normal means of grace? This week we talked with Dr. Michael Horton, professor, author, and […]
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Why Aren?t We Talking About ?Gospel Privilege?? Chad Vegas Answers

The social justice controversy echoing across conservative evangelicalism has brought terms like ?privilege? into the Christian vernacular, but in all the discussion of rights, equity, and cultural engagement, we?ve missed a critical category: gospel privilege. Chad Vegas, founding board member of Radius International and lead pastor of Sovereign Grace Church, joins the show this week […]
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Dean Inserra on How to Reach America?s Most-Underrated Mission Field

Christmas-and-Easter Christians. Mainline Protestants. Nominal Catholics. Bible-Belt believers. Let?s face it?cultural Christians are everywhere. And the problem is that we see cultural Christianity as a discipleship issue rather than an evangelistic field. In this enriching conversation, Dean Inserra expounds on his book The Unsaved Christian and the eight types of cultural Christians he identifies as […]
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Culture: When to Bend, When to Break?Kenneth Nehrbass Explains

Everybody talks about ?engaging culture.? Culture is a slippery concept. When should missionaries break from their host culture, and when should they bend with it? Is missions mainly about creating countless contextualized Christianities across various cultures, or is it also about assimilating believers into one overarching Christian culture? We discussed these issues with Dr. Kenneth […]
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Do We Need to Redefine Unreached? Matthew Bennett Answers

For decades, missiologists have assumed the priority of the ?unreached??and for good reason?building entire organizational strategies around it. But do we need to redefine this term? Matthew Bennett, Ph.D., former IMB missionary and current Assistant Professor of Missions and Theology at Cedarville University, weighs in. In a recent article, Matthew argues that we?ve taken the […]
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What Every Missionary Needs to Know About Lament: Mark Vroegop Explains

Lament?though it litters the psalter?is a lost art form in modern evangelicalism. In a culture as torn-apart as ours, it makes sense that engaging grief biblically can open spiritual doors previously shut. Not only that, but embracing the grace of lament can also prepare missionaries and pastors for the pains and losses that often mark […]
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Muslim Refugees Meeting Christ: Darren Carlson on ?Jesus in Athens? Documentary

Are all the accounts of miraculous conversions among Muslim refugees true? What is unique about Athens, Greece amidst the ongoing people displacements in the Middle East? And what can U.S. churches learn from the hospitality and evangelistic zeal of Greek Christians? In this episode, Scott and Alex invited Darren Carlson to weigh in and take […]
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The Life of the Missionary Mind

Reading well in Scripture, theology, culture, and literature in general is key to preaching and teaching that connects?especially for the cross-cultural worker. What should we be reading? Why does it matter? And how can we who are busy working and doing ministry have time to cultivate the life of the mind as we constantly prepare […]
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Tom Ascol and Jared Longshore on the Priority of Preaching, God?s Sovereignty, and Discernment

Is preaching essential to missions, or is it a Western tradition that can be sacrificed for the sake of contextualization? Some advocates of disciple-making movements (DMM?s) claim the latter. In this interview, Tom Ascol and Jared Longshore of Founders Ministries explain why authoritative proclamation is indispensable to ministry in any culture. Later in the episode, […]
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Should We Stop Sending Indebted Missionaries? Luke Womack on Student Loans

The average college student in the U.S. leaves with about $30,000 in educational debt. At what point do we stop sending missionaries to the field with students loans? Is it immoral to send expensive Western missionaries to serve where national partners could do the work of ministry much more affordably? Luke Womack, executive director of […]
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Why You Should ?Adult? Before Pursuing Missions: A Chat With Lori McDaniel

What?s the danger in missions conferences and serial short-term missions trips? This week, we welcome back our friend Lori McDaniel, Church Initiatives Manager for IMB and also a pastor?s wife, to give her take on trends we?re seeing among Christian college students and why it?s so critical to learn to ?adult??in finances, education, career, marriage, […]
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The Number One Reason Missionaries Go Home

Globally, 71% of missionaries who return home each year leave the field for preventable reasons. What might be the biggest factor? We believe it all comes down to team dynamics. What is it about cross-cultural ministry that is so uniquely stressful for teams? How can missionaries better handle conflict? And what does the Bible say about resolving […]
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A Biblical Theology of Spiritual Warfare and Missions

Among the practical topics on which missionaries receive hands-on training, spiritual warfare can sometimes fall by the wayside?but spiritual warfare is crucial for missionaries to grasp and engage effectively. How should we understand spiritual warfare in relation to pagan nations? Is exorcism normal and to be expected on the field? Do missionaries need to name […]
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Micah Fries: What Christians Should Know About Islam in North America

The presence of Islam in North America is still a lightning-rod issue, even 17 years after 9/11. This week we return to the topic of how Christians can engage their Muslim immigrant and refugee neighbors?and wade through the complicated waters of related political issues?in a way that is biblical and missional. We consulted a new […]
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Paul Maxwell on What Missionaries Should Know About Trauma

Everybody is talking about trauma. Our culture is highly concerned with mental health, but a lot of half-baked opinions from pop psychology dominate the conversation. Simultaneously, those within the church are usually the last to show any willingness to address the legitimacy of biblically-informed psychology. For missionaries, the pressures are even greater as they face […]
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Fighting Abortion in Ukraine With the Gospel: Holly Friesen on Medical Missions

According to some stats, Ukraine?in many ways a nominally Christian country?leads the world in per-capita abortions. One in three Ukrainian women has had an abortion, and many women have had upwards of seven abortions each. What is the role of the local church of addressing this genocide of the unborn, both overseas and at home, and […]
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Missions and the Need for Deeper Women: Karen Swallow Prior and Anne Kennedy

Across the Internet?the place where many missionaries away from home get much of their theology and encouragement?there is a critical drought of deep-thinking resources for women. Many of the women?s resources simply play to one?s emotions or repackage common tropes like ?you are loved? or ?you are beautiful.? How can we make sure that we […]
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Breaking Down Cultural Walls to Reach Muslims: Mariya Dostzadah?s Story

Mariya Dostzadah Goodbrake comes from a Sunni Afghan background, dabbled into New Age mysticism, and found herself surrounded by Roman Catholics in Mexico?and it?s there that God brought her face-to-face with an evangelical Christian and the biblical gospel. Now, she draws on her rich cultural experiences to help Muslim refugees and expats realize that they […]
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Porn: the Killer of Missions?With Benjamin Vrbicek

In our culture, sexual temptation is hitting the church like a tidal wave, and those serving overseas as missionaries are far from immune. Porn is a fatal undercurrent that Satan uses to eliminate gospel workers sniper-style and cripple missions efforts, and overseas workers separated from accountability and friends are particularly vulnerable. What factors drive a […]
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Danny Akin on Mobilizing Millennials ? and Young Men

Where are all the qualified, seminary-educated young men in the missions world? How can a Bible college or seminary maximize its potential to mobilize students for the work of the Great Commission? Where is the modern missions movement going? This week we?re joined by Dr. Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, author, scholar, […]
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How to Think Like a Missionary: David Doran Jr. on Missional Living

What does it mean to be ?missional?? We asked David Doran Jr., church planter in Lincoln Park, Michigan, an urban center in the Detroit metroplex, how thinking like a missionary has helped him reach with the gospel different communities just a stone?s throw from where he himself grew up. The result was a powerful chat […]
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What Are Worldviews and How Do They Change? John Mark Yeats on Paul Hiebert

We use the word ?worldview? a lot, but what does it actually mean? Does anthropology have anything to teach missionaries?and can it give us a model for how worldviews actually change as people are converted to Christ? To help us make sense of these questions addressed in the late Dr. Paul Hiebert?s classic missiological text Transforming […]
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How Many Unreached Are There Really? A Chat on Statistics With Justin Long

How do we really know how many unreached people groups there are?and is that the thing we should be counting, anyway? What can statistics tell us, and what can?t they? We ask these and other tough questions to expert missions researcher Justin Long, Director of Global Research for Beyond, adept cataloguer of missions statistics and enthusiastic documenter […]
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Special Episode: Scott?s Transition and Church Planting in Silicon Valley

In this special episode, we take a break from the normal flow as Scott Dunford shares an important update on his life and ministry. We?re also joined by Bob Bixby, lead pastor of Redeemer Church in Fremont, California, to talk about why the San Francisco Bay Area is truly a mission field?and how listeners can […]
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What Is Gospel-Centered Missions?

What is the gospel? It?s a question missionaries can?t afford to take for granted. Specifically, what would a distinctly gospel-centered approach to missions look like, and how would it differ?or not differ?from forms of mission that focus heavily on meeting physical, tangible needs? What is the relationship between gospel proclamation and cultural engagement? Scott and Alex […]
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John Chau: Missions, Methodology, and Martyrdom

Today we?re taking a break from our regular interview lineup to address the recent death of missionary John Allen Chau. In his final letter before being arrowed to death by the hostile North Sentinelese islanders, Chau penned, ?It’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people.? As we mourn Chau?s loss, how should discerning Christians […]
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Mere Hope: Jason Duesing on Missionary Hope in a Cynical Age

We live in an age of perpetual outrage and cynicism, and lost hope takes its greatest toll upon the missionary endeavor. This week we spoke with Dr. Jason Duesing, passionate missions sender and academic Provost and Associate Professor of Historical Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, author of the new book Mere Hope: Life in An Age […]
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Mentorship: the Missing Ingredient in Missions? With Marvin Brubacher

Is mentorship the missing ingredient in missions? This week, Marvin Brubacher, Executive Director of MentorLink Canada and ABWE board member emeritus, joins to share from his decades of experience in promoting deep, one-on-one relationships of discipleship and personal development in international settings. Previously, he served as the first President of Heritage College and Seminary in […]
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Andrew Fuller: The Man Behind the Man Behind Modern Missions ? With Travis Myers

Behind every great missionary, there?s a great sending pastor. That was certainly true in the case of Andrew Fuller, the pastor of William Carey and a fellow advocate of the modern missionary movement among the English Particular Baptists of his day. What can modern ministers learn from this influential local church leader who helped launch […]
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Church Planting in the Middle East Through Business as Mission

The early 2000?s wasn?t a prime time for Americans visiting the Middle East. But that?s when our guest, the son of a Kansas farmer, found himself called to the mission field in an undeniable way. On today?s episode, he shares stories of death-defying ministry to mullahs and how God used his ministry to plant the […]
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Trauma, Sex Trafficking, and Gospel Ministry in India With Smita Singh

It?s the final week to enter our giveaway! As a way of thanking our loyal listeners, we?re giving away some great, free books and spiffy, new ABWE swag. Click here for details and to enter our drawing. According to UNICEF, nearly 2 million girls are exploited/sold into the global sex trade each year?and 1 million of them […]
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How Missionaries Should Think About Economics With Matthew Arbo

Announcement: It?s the show?s first birthday! As a way of thanking our loyal listeners, we?re giving away some great, free books and spiffy, new ABWE swag. Click here for details and to enter our drawing. ?It?s the economy, stupid.? Economics is complicated enough already, but injecting a Christian perspective adds a new layer. How do […]
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What Is a Missionary ?Calling?? Caleb Suko Answers

Announcement: It?s the show?s first birthday! As a way of thanking our loyal listeners, we?re giving away some great, free books and spiffy, new ABWE swag. Click here for details and to enter our drawing. What is God?s will for my life? Is God calling me to missions? Is there such a thing as a […]
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How Iran?s Underground Church Is Miraculously Growing

Announcement: It?s the show?s first birthday! As a way of thanking our loyal listeners, we?re giving away some great, free books and spiffy, new ABWE swag. Click here for details and to enter our drawing. The Islamic revolution of the 1970?s plunged Iran into a state of political and spiritual darkness, but God?s kingdom hasn?t […]
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What Is Life Really Like in a 99.9% Muslim Country?

What does it look like to meet physical needs, share Christ, and risk persecution to serve in a 99.9% Islamic country? Two anonymous, female ABWE missionaries in North Africa join us over the phone to share from their experiences in tilling the soil, building trust, avoiding security risks, and praying that God gradually opens hearts […]
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Tom Schreiner: What Is the Role of the Holy Spirit and Miracles in Missions?

Dreams and visions in the Islamic world. Miraculous healings. ?Power-encounters.? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in missions? Are miracles still normative in front-lines missions?and specifically, what about the apostolic sign gifts seen throughout the Book of Acts? There?s perhaps no one better to ask than Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner, one of the […]
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John Taylor: 5 Problems With Money, Nationals, and Helping That Hurts

Announcement: We?re giving away 2x free VIP tickets (a $220 value!) to For the Church in Kansas City, Sept. 24-25! Enter by Sept. 19 to be eligible for the prize. Go to to enter now. More money, more problems. Wealth, generosity, pay scales, financial practices, and differing standards of living can all be hair-trigger […]
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Conrad Mbewe: Combatting Prosperity Teaching in Africa

Christianity isn?t spreading into Africa; it?s already there. But as our guest this week shares, it is afflicted by the problem of syncretism, hyper-charismatic influence, so-called prosperity ?gospel? teaching, and weak theology. How can pastors and missionaries confront these threats and help the African church develop theologies that are rich, sound, and historically rooted? Conrad […]
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Does Business as Mission Work?

Tentmaking. Platform. Business as mission. BAM. All terms that are used sometimes interchangeably throughout the missions community?but what do they mean? Is it really practical to use a for-profit business venture as a ministry platform in another culture, and how can we make sure we?re doing it the right way? How can there be any […]
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Serving Christ in Suffering: Jenn DeKryger on Togo and the Loss of Todd DeKryger

In 2016, Todd DeKryger, surgeon and medical missionary to Togo in West Africa, died in Cologne, Germany, where he had been evacuated to receive treatment for illness contracted in Africa. His wife, Jennifer, was by his side?and he left behind four young boys. In the time since, God has used grief, brokenness, and suffering to […]
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John Morgan: Animism, Syncretism, and Witchcraft in West Africa

When the gospel enters a new place?like Togo in West Africa?those who hear the message have a tendency to interpret it through their worldview lens. This week, John Morgan shares the sobering results of his studies relating to how professing believers in this African nation are still wrestling with their traditional views of animism, witchcraft, […]
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Lucy Peabody: The Groundbreaking Pioneer Missionary You?ve Never Heard of

There are lots of names of women who could vie for the title of being a ?mother? of the modern missions movement?and Lucy Peabody is certainly one such candidate. This pioneer missionary to India endured the loss of her first husband, mobilized marginalized women across the country to give millions of dollars towards missions, befriended […]
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Josh Daggett on Personal Evangelism and Prayer

We?ve all struggled to share our faith in one-on-one conversations. We also struggle with personal spiritual disciplines intimately connected to our effectiveness in evangelism?i.e., prayer. On this episode, Josh Daggett, lead pastor at Living Waters Fellowship in Des Moines, Iowa, shares his own encouragements, failures, and victories in these critical areas of ministry. We dig […]
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Racial Reconciliation and Multiethnic Church Planting in South Africa

In this episode, Scott and Alex discuss the uniquenesses of racial reconciliation and multiethnic church planting in South Africa. With Apartheid a mere 20 years in South Africa?s rearview, ethnic tensions still threaten to divide the church. In this insightful interview, our guest, an 18-year veteran of church planting missions to South Africa, shares simple strategies their team […]
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Chris Bruno: Biblical Theology Versus Systematic Theology in Missions

Protestants in the West have a rich heritage of systematic theology?but it doesn?t always translate easily into new cultural contexts. Is a return to narrative-focused, biblical theology the answer? Chris Bruno, Assistant Professor of Greek and New Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary, joins us to answer and weigh in on his own cross-cultural experiences […]
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Paul Davis: Why Missionaries Must Be Theologians

On this episode, ABWE President Paul Davis joins us to share why it?s crucial that missionaries be theologians. We dive into why a ?big God? theology that acknowledges the absolute supremacy of Christ is the only theology weighty enough to compel an unbeliever to convert and commit ?treason? against their old gods. It?s also the only […]
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What is God doing in China? Steve Schirmer Answers

The President of China was just appointed to lifelong office. Church buildings are being demolished. Cults are on the rise due to a lack of trained church leaders. What is God up to in China? Steve Schirmer, president and founder of Silk Road Catalyst, joins us to answer. Steve is a missionary who has poured out […]
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