The Culture & Language Program for New YWAM Missionaries
The YWAM Thailand C&L Phase is a 12-18 month program designed to help the new staff individual to get a firm grasp on the Thai language and culture, as well as effective ways of ministering to the Thais. It’s primary purpose is to equip those who will be joining YWAM Thailand as long-term staff.
The C&L Phase goals are:
- To gain cultural orientation and understanding which will enable one to minister effectively in the Thai context.
- To gain enough fluency in the Thai language to minister and communicate effectively with Thais.
- To integrate into our YWAM Chiang Mai and larger YWAM Thailand family.
C&L Phase Requirements & Guidelines
Phase One: Orientation – The First Month
Housing is found for C&L staff, any major purchases are made and financial issues are dealt with. Visa situations are assessed and plans for visa renewals are made. C&L Phase orientation is given which includes initial cultural orientation, orientation to YWAM Thailand, and language program orientation.
Phase Two: Foundation – One to Twelve Months
Required C&L Activities:
- Foundational language study as defined in P&P document decided by the Local C&L Leader (i.e. OMF language program Modules 1-6).
- Attend the C&L study/support group
- Attend monthly location meetings.
- Complete the Required Reading List
- Attend a one-on-one meeting with the Local C&L Leader every three months.
- Participate in a local small group OR meet once per month for the first year with an accountability partner.
- All staff are expected to complete a full work week of 40 hours. However, this would include work duties, language learning, ministry involvement and travel to/from these activities.
Guidelines (but may be required for some ministries)
- Visit at least two other YWAM Thailand ministries. Meet and speak with the leaders.
- Attend any staff meetings which the Local C&L Leader deems necessary.
- Visit several different Thai churches in the area and choose a place of worship (Thai or bi-lingual) within the first three months.
Phase Three: The Final 12 – 18 Months
At this point, your ministry leader will become your primary leader. For those who don’t yet have a specific ministry, your Local C&L Leader will continue to be your primary leader.
We recommend that you:
- Complete the level 6 Thai language exam. And/or* ability to read, write (6th grade level), pray, give testimony, and share gospel message in Thai as well as study Social, Cultural and Bible modules.
- Continue to attend applicable meetings.
- Recognize the role of a missionary as being a learner of the culture.
- Due to the requirements of language study, we ask that you refrain from extended travel outside of Thailand for the first year if possible.
- We also ask that you process major decisions (such as home-leave plans, housing changes, adoptions, etc.) with your C&L leader, just as any staff would process this with their primary ministry leader, as these issues often have a major effect on your overall adjustment.
- Because YWAM has an abundance of single staff and students from many nations, it is natural that romantic relationships may develop. YWAM Thailand is supportive of, and does not forbid, cross-cultural relationships. However, due to the special circumstances of Thai and other SE Asian cultures, we do have the following guidelines:
- We strongly encourage new missionaries to refrain from any cross-cultural, romantic relationships during the first year in Thailand.
- Potential couples within YWAM are encouraged to seek counsel early in their relationship from their C&L leader, base/team leader, and others who have experience in the country BEFORE major commitments or decisions have been made.
- Be aware that Westerners and Thais have very different courtship practices. For example, just visiting a Thai’s family or saying “I love you” can be considered an intent to marry. (See document “Relationships with Thai Nationals“) Even among two Western cultures and among two Asian cultures, you will find a lot of unexpected differences.
- While no leader has the authority to decide whether a relationship can continue or not, leadership does have the right to address problems coming from inappropriate conduct of a courting couple. YWAM staff should be examples of godly and culturally appropriate relationships.