Our very own Amanda is Evangelist and Community Chaplain with the Sydney Anglican Department of Evangelism and New Churches, seeking to equip the local church to respond to the evangelism and discipleship needs of Buddhists in Australia. Amanda was born in Sydney to a Thai mother and Australian father. Her upbringing and education has given her a dual-belonger status: she is part of the Christian community shaped by majority Western values, but she also has lived access to the experience of first and second generation migrants of Buddhist cultural background.
Amanda first encountered Jesus and came to faith through the community witness of her Christian high school friends. She completed a ministry apprenticeship with the Evangelical Union at the University of Sydney, served with an independent Thai Christian fellowship and was the first Australian participant in an inter-agency training program aimed at equipping Asian Christians for missional leadership. Amanda is studying part-time at SMBC for her Masters of Divinity (MDiv). Holding a Masters of Psychology (Clinical), and with professional experience working among culturally-diverse clients of the public mental health system, she has a passion for effective intercultural engagement in mental health and church life.
Amanda wants to address the variability in the effectiveness of local church evangelism and discipleship among people of South East Asian backgrounds living in Australia and how it can be remedied by engaging Australian Christians with an existing, under-accessed knowledge base to support the meaningful engagement of people of Thai, Cambodian, Myanmarese, Lao and Vietnamese cultural backgrounds with the gospel within existing local church communities. People from South East Asian cultural backgrounds are distinct from Chinese or East Asian communities. They differ in the influential form of Buddhism (Theravadan rather than Mahayanan) and character values which shape national and cultural life. Where communities from China and East Asia are well-resourced by Australian Chinese and Korean church networks, South East Asian communities fall beyond the reach of these networks and may rely upon poorly-resourced and homogeneous ethnic fellowships at best. Better targeted evangelism, discipleship and mobilisation of people of South East Asian backgrounds will assist churches to respond with effective contextualised approaches. Amanda's aim is to disseminate existing expertise about missiology in the Buddhist context, engaging the Christian public, and creating new information local to the Australian context. She also wants to promote greater connection and exchange of information between the Australian church community and Asian missiological networks. Within a globalised age, this action redresses an obvious 'missing link' in Australian church engagement with the global Christian community.
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