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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Conversation with Arnold Hooker

John Bradshaw - Conversation with Arnold Hooker


John Bradshaw - Conversation with Arnold Hooker
TOPICS: Conversations

Thanks so much for joining me. Arnold Hooker has been a missionary for more than a quarter of a century and has compiled more experiences than we have time to talk about. As a missionary and as an advocate for missions, Arnold's life of mission service has resulted in great things being done by God. This is our conversation.

John Bradshaw: Arnold, thanks so much for joining me.

Arnold Hooker: Thank you for having me.

John Bradshaw: Okay, let's go back to the beginning. You're a missionary. Now you're a coordinator of missionaries, but more about that later. How did you get involved in mission work?

Arnold Hooker: Well, you know, when you're a young person, you think, "I'd like to be a missionary". And, in fact, I tried to get into ADRA, but I was a furniture maker. My father was a furniture maker, and, my brothers are furniture makers And so, what happened was, I, they said, "We don't need your skills. "We need, you know, someone with, pastorial skills, "or we need someone who, you know, can do agriculture, something like that". So, I kept filling the, at least in those days, you put quarters into envelopes; it'd hold $40 of the quarters, and send them to the ADRA. I thought that's all you need to do; send in your money to ADRA and you're doing your part for mission. And, I found a magazine one day called "Frontier Mission Magazine," Adventist Frontier Missions, and I read it, and, um, I thought "I wonder if I could do that"? And someone prompted me to, to maybe start online and, uh, it wasn't online then, actually to, to call them up and see if that would be something I could do. And that's kind of how it started.

John Bradshaw: Okay. Let, let's rush through this, but we'll come back. So you have spent how much time where? Where have you served?

Arnold Hooker: Well, I spent six years in Cambodia and then, actually coming back to the U.S., for, several years, finding funds for sending missionaries and stuff. But for the last six years now being field director, in Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.

John Bradshaw: All right.

Arnold Hooker: And also Nepal in the, earlier we were in Nepal, yeah.

John Bradshaw: All right. So, Cambodia, and where do we begin? Tell me about your time in Cambodia. What were you there to do? And what did you do?

Arnold Hooker: In Cambodia, we were there to church plant. And church plant simply means to, learn the language. All, all Adventist Frontier missionaries have to learn language. And so I learned a language, and then, we, we just made friends with people, just like you would next door to your home here in the United States. You make, make friends with people and, kept learning language. I used to go to the people and say, "Am I saying this right"? They would laugh at me, and finally they stopped laughing, and I was saying the words right, and then just invite them. We, we had an English school and different things to invite people to, to get them interested in our book rack; we had, you know, different things to share with them, already written, some of the things written in that time, Bible studies and so on. And so, yeah, just...

John Bradshaw: So, you, you went to Cambodia in what year?

Arnold Hooker: Uh, the, I believe it was January or March of 1995.

John Bradshaw: Okay, so we're going back a few years now. What was the landscape like religiously?

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: Talk to me what it was like to be a Christian...

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: ...in Cambodia then. I want you to tell me, too, about the political situation, that is, as it relates to daily life and as it may or may not impact Christianity at that time.

Arnold Hooker: Well, many of your, viewers are gonna know about Pol Pot. And Pol Pot was still alive during that time when we were there. The Khmer Rouge was just kind of phasing out, and new, new government was coming in. In those days when we went, they would, we would go through road blocks, and they would check through your, your luggage and everything. They, they did; they opened our luggage many times.

John Bradshaw: Was there hostility towards Christians?

Arnold Hooker: Um, I don't think there was hostility towards Christians.I think there was a, there was an opening there that had never been before. They were coming out of diversity, trouble like they had never had in their country, and they were looking for answers. And I think Christians at that time and different organizations were there taking care of, uh, the people like they'd never been taken care of by their own government; it was so poor. When we went there, they really wanted us to be there. We provided, gifts and different things, simply by helping with English classes, medicine, and, and I can remember taking people to the hospital. I took pregnant ladies and rushed them to the hospital. I nearly had a baby inside my old Jeep. I had an old, at the time, a Vietnam veteran old Jeep that was left over from the Vietnam War, that I had found, and I was using that for an ambulance. And, yeah, it was, it was a different time. Now it seems like the government has grown wealthy in some ways and, they don't need the Christian or the NGOs there anymore.

John Bradshaw: Mmm. There's so much to talk about.I want to try not to miss too much of it. But, let's walk through some of the practical sides of mission work, 'cause one of the things I hope, in fact, one of the things I know, as we talk, there are going to be numerous people who say, "Yeah, I felt like God is calling me to, to either be "a full-time missionary or to become more active in supporting mission work". You went from the United States to Cambodia, which, when you went, it was a whole lot more primitive...

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: ...if I can use that word, than it is now.

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: Walk me through that process. You, you went there with, with children. You went to a, a country that was very different from what you were like now, what, what the United States is like now, or what it, what it is like now. Um, what's that culture shock transition like when you go from a first-world Western nation to a country presumably you'd never been to before?

Arnold Hooker: You know, when you get off the plane, immediately you realize that you don't speak the language, I mean, they're speaking Cambodian, um... It's, they're coming at you really fast with their language, you don't understand it anyway, and it sounds like they're angry with you. And I can remember the smells, because there were no public bathrooms.

John Bradshaw: Oh.

Arnold Hooker: You know, stuff like this. The smells were, and the heat magnified that smell, and, just the flies and the, and the different things that, it was just totally different. And finding a place to live, we were, we were blessed because, Scott and Julie Griswold were there, ahead of us, and, and they had found us a temporary place to live while we learned language and stuff.

John Bradshaw: Not all missionaries have it that good, right?

Arnold Hooker: No. In fact, them getting there, they were in the Khao-I-Dang camps and the camps of, of Thailand, after the war. They were helping there, and then they came into Cambodia to help the Cambodians later. So they had already been there and, and understood the language and so on and so forth.

John Bradshaw: So you get to a place like that, did you ever say, "We've just gotta get on the plane and fly straight home"?

Arnold Hooker: I can tell you, many times you, you have, with tears in your eyes, you wonder why you even came here, and, you know, I don't mean it bad, but people can be misunderstanding of you and misunderstand you, and misunderstandings happen. AndI've been spit at, I've been, you know, I can tell you story after story. Uh, but anyway, it was, it's just a different place, and you have to learn how to use their rules, not your own.

John Bradshaw: Right.

Arnold Hooker: And I remember being very American and thinking, I'm going to do it the way, you know, I grew up understanding how things are done. And you just can't do things...

John Bradshaw: You've got to adapt. You've got to be very adaptable, I suppose, when you go to a foreign place, like, a very foreign place.

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: You've been based, relatively recently, in Australia.

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: Going from the United States to Australia, it's... no big deal, other than the distance. But going to Cambodia? So what are some of the, I don't want to major in the challenges, but I sure do want you to tell me about them. What are some of the real challenges? You get there, and you, you bed down, you find a place, and now life has got to crank up. What are some of the things that you faced or that missionaries face that people like me, you know, we just don't understand or don't know about?

Arnold Hooker: Well, one of the things that you can think about is, like, medical help. My little girl and I got in a motorcycle crash along with, we had four of us on a motorcycle, but anyway, we, we crashed, and there was no, nowhere to go. We had to treat our own wounds and...

John Bradshaw: Just no, just nowhere to go?

Arnold Hooker: No, there were, at that time, there was no medical facilities. Now there's...

John Bradshaw: Oh, sure.

Arnold Hooker: ...plenty of them now.

Arnold Hooker: But, but in those days there was no, no doctors, no nurses available. and so you had to be your own doctor and nurse, and that's a little scary, especially, I can remember, uh, one of my family members was sick, and, I had to give them medicine that I didn't know exactly what it was, but I knew they had malaria, so, I had to prescribe it, give it to them, and, and it cured the sickness, and no one died. But, you know, it's a little scary being in, you know, having to do those kind of things for yourself. And that's the way it was when we first went there.

John Bradshaw: Now, you mentioned children. So tell me what's it like taking children to the mission field? Again, you didn't go to Australia.

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: You went to Cambodia at a time when, as we've already talked, things were a whole lot more primitive than they are now. So what, what's it like for the mission family to take kids, little kids, into an environment like that?

Arnold Hooker: For, for the most part, it's 100 percent positive. Uh, we, I took a two-and-a-half-year-old. Uh, my youngest daughter was 2 and 1/2, Hannah. And, the people just loved her. This little, little girl that they didn't see very often, she, her first words were, "Don't touch me" and "Don't lift up my dress," you know, because they would come and look underneath her dress and wanted to see what she looked like and stuff. It was just, you know, it was just totally all, you know, different for, for them. And I can remember getting on a, a ferryboat, and she had been learning how to sing Cambodian songs, she was about 4 and 1/2 by this time, and she took the mike off of the captain had always invited us into the, into the, cabin of the, of the ferryboat that took us from one side of the river to the other. She pulls the mike off the, off the wall, and she sings, "Jesus loves me, this I know". And, and the captain just looks at her and smiles. And 450 people on this boat are listening to "Jesus Loves Me" in Khmer from a little girl. And why I say they're an asset is because children learn the language much faster than I do. I can remember getting a phone call, and the person would be chatting so quickly I couldn't understand what they were saying. I'd hand it to one of the kids, and they'd say, "Oh, Dad, this person crashed, you know, over here, and you got to go help them. They're on such-and-such street, you know, such-and-such an avenue, and they're, they need help". And so I'd go, butI couldn't understand because the person was speaking high-speed Cambodian. And, you know, so you have to, you have to force yourself to learn language, so we learned language, but the children were an asset because they learned the language so much faster. In fact, my Hannah, who lives right here in Tennessee and within a mile or, or five miles of here, um, she speaks without intonation. If you talk to her from a, on a phone and she's speaking Khmer, you won't know she's not, a Cambodian.

John Bradshaw: Even after all these years?

Arnold Hooker: Even after all these years.

John Bradshaw: Wow. So what was your living situation like? Did you live in the country? Did you live in the city? Were you on a busy street in an apartment building?

Arnold Hooker: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: What was that like?

Arnold Hooker: Well, we found a little house to rent, and within that first year it flooded all the way to the second story; what it had was two stories. And I can remember, in those days there was a medical clinic, that had opened up for, for women, and, this lady was burning her needles in a ditch, burning, and burning the garbage from her clinic there. And the water came up, and I remember walking out and thinking, "I know that those needles are around here," and we were walking out in bare feet, you know. And, I mean, it was, I don't know if I'm answering your question, but it was, it, it's just so different, you know, things that, that you don't expect to happen, expect to happen.

John Bradshaw: Yeah. Like a flood...

Arnold Hooker: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: ...flooding your house out.

Arnold Hooker: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I had rats come in. I had literally a rubber bat. The rats would come up the stairs, and I'd bop them on the head and knock them into the water, and another would come up, because it was high ground. The Mekong supposedly only once in 10 years would do this, and it actually did it twice while we were in that house. And the river came up, and that was really, disheartening for, for some, but, you know, the people that lived, lived near us, they came over to our house, because it was two stories, their houses were, lots of them one story, stayed with us, and they said, "You know, you remained with us through the flood. You really must love us". And it made, inroads that we couldn't have made.

John Bradshaw: Yeah. So that, those challenges were really allowed by God 'cause He saw the end from the beginning, saw how that would be an asset to you.

Arnold Hooker: That's right.

John Bradshaw: Yeah. Practical things, you know, it didn't take me long to start thinking about food when you talk about an Asian country.

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: What was the food like and was there an adaptation process, and was that difficult?

Arnold Hooker: They have a lot of fruits and vegetables that we have here, so that really wasn't that, that hard. And I fell in love with Cambodian curry. It's kind of sweet and savory and very nice. Um, I found out later, they use the anchovies in a few things that I wasn't used to eating. But, they, we found that they could leave it out, too, so, so, yeah.

John Bradshaw: But the food was okay?

Arnold Hooker: Food is very good in Cambodia. Um, well, they eat a lot of different things that we don't eat, but, I mean, to find food, it was fairly, fairly easy.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, but you had to live without lasagna and peanut butter and a bunch of stuff, so, that, that's another practical, practical change you had to wrestle with.

Arnold Hooker: You know, you could get those things, but it was like 10 times what it would cost in the United States, so if you, if you wanted lasagna, like you mentioned, it was, it was fairly expensive. And lots of time the bugs had already gotten into the package. So, you know, they say you've been a missionary, too long when you, when you, throw the cereal out and eat the bugs, you know. So, our food often got buggy and, but, you know, now it's changed. Uh, after 20, you know, 5 years, you can go to a, they have big grocery stores there now and everything. So it's not like it was, but we would find things past pull date, sometimes two years. We, I remember getting peanut butter that was just like almost solid in the thing. We stirred it and stirred it and stirred it. It was peanut butter, though. And when you miss something, you want, you want peanut butter, you know.

John Bradshaw: So you move to a foreign country. It's hot as anything; the weather's lousy, unless you like that kind of thing. You, you crash your motorcycle with two of your kids onboard. There's no doctor. Your house floods. Not just that, you're worried about stepping on hypodermic needles that the lady doctor dumps in the ditch outside your house. You, you, you're eating food you're not accustomed to, and so on. Long way from home, the kids aren't seeing their grandparents hardly ever. But you hung in there because you do. You hung in there because there was a purpose. There was something driving you. You were there to church plant.

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: So let's flip this now. Let's start talking about the, the work, the mission work, the outreach that you were doing. So, you, we've spoken about this a little bit. You're in a foreign country, initially didn't speak the language. Sounds like everybody's angry when they talk, and that's how Cambodian sounds if you're not familiar with it. But you got about the business of sharing Jesus. So, so, you talked about making friends with people. Let, let's drill down this, 'cause you were there for a reason, and the hazards are the hazards, and the troubles are the troubles, and that's what missionaries deal with, God bless them. How'd you go about church planting? Let's talk about what happened. People won to Jesus, walk me through this.

Arnold Hooker: You know, our, our ministry was primarily to, to younger people because we had, we did start an English school. And, we didn't think it was going to be all that great, um, so we put up some posters and banners around the city.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, why did you start an English school?

Arnold Hooker: Because we found out that if you were a Cambodian who spoke English, you could get jobs at the new airports that were coming into the country, and in the tourist trade you could find work and stuff. And so the kids were keen to learn, Chinese or English. And there was a Chinese school right up the road, so we weren't any competition with that, and I don't speak Chinese anyway, so, we, started an English school. And, we put, we put a advertisement out just on little posters all over, and we were overwhelmed. Two hundred and fifty kids came out of this little village and wanted to be in our English school. It dwindled off after a while, because, I'll tell you, we weren't prepared for 250. We had to do it in...rotation at first. We had, we had, even student missionary help and, my, my older children, Shiloh, she was able to do English teaching, even though she was like, you know, I think, maybe 13 or 14 at the time. And, Josh, my other son, he helped, and even Hannah, the youngest, she, she got involved in helping. People just loved to hear a little girl speaking English and go through a lesson or whatever.

John Bradshaw: So this was a way for you to get into the community...

Arnold Hooker: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: ...learn to meet people and take it from there.

Arnold Hooker: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Arnold Hooker: And then we started a Pathfinder group. Uh, we started doing things that the kids had never done. I found canals in different places to take them out in the truck and go swimming and to just floating on inner tubes. And a lot of them didn't swim. They were too far away from where we were at. In Kampong Cham, there's, there was the river there, but a lot of them didn't go in the river. It was a danger, you know, kind of a dangerous place. It went up and down. A lot of kids went into the river, but a lot of the kids didn't swim. So we would go to find places where they could stand on the bottom and splash and whatever, just enjoy, enjoy being kids.

John Bradshaw: Let me ask you a question I should have asked you already. Where's Cambodia?

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: And where in Cambodia were you?

Arnold Hooker: Okay. So, Cambodia is, is pasted between, Thailand and Vietnam and, Laos just above in China, just above the whole thing.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Arnold Hooker: And so, um...

John Bradshaw: And going there, it, it's a settled, when you were there it was a settled place. You mentioned Pol Pot, and a new government coming in. Was it explosive? Was it dangerous? How would you describe it?

Arnold Hooker: When we went, there was more landmines in the ground than people above the ground. And, one of the things we had to teach our kids is to notice the landmine signs. Because kids will play and stuff and, even after a bank built a bank on a, on a piece of property, and they, they had minesweepers come in after it had already been dubbed okay, and they found three more landmines. And so, they would, they would take the landmines out during the day, and then, and then Pol Pot would put them in during the night. And so, you know, it was...

John Bradshaw: As a missionary, you went to a place that was literally a minefield. And where within the country were you?

Arnold Hooker: Uh, we were in a place called Kampong Cham, and, Kampong Cham was a, was a village, "camp of the Cham," Kampong Cham; this is where the Muslims were. Although we weren't targeted at the Muslims at the time that the idea was is that we would reach the, the Cambodian people at large, so, we worked with the Buddhist people at, at that time.

John Bradshaw: Okay. Were you near a big city? Were you near a small town? How far was it to civilization?

Arnold Hooker: Um, Phnom Penh was the largest big city, and that was, of course, the capital city. When you, when you got supply, you went into Phnom Penh. Um, you know, of course, it's not that way today. Now Kampong Cham has supermarkets and so on.

John Bradshaw: Okay. You established an English language school, and the purpose for you being there was to share Jesus with people.

Arnold Hooker: That's right.

John Bradshaw: How, how did you do that, practically speaking? There was a time at some stage you've got to open up the Bible, and you've got to get to that. So when you're gone, when you've gone to a very foreign culture, not a Christian culture like we live in here in the United States, how do you start building those bridges? Because, one, one reason I ask you this is that principle that is employed in the mission field, it's important for us to employ in the home mission field. So, how did that happen?

Arnold Hooker: You know, friendship evangelism's tried and true, making friends with someone, loving people, um, eating with them. I can remember the kids would come, and they'd be hungry. So we'd put some kind of crackers or something out and make sure that they had a little something in their tummy or whatever. And, I introduced popcorn to them. I'd brought bags of popcorn from the United States, and they hadn't had that before. We would pop it and put it out on the porch, and the kids would just try a little. They were very polite. They wanted more, but, they'd take a handful and eat it. And, now it's pretty popular thing over in Cambodia. I'm not saying I did that, but I'm just saying it's popular now, but it wasn't when we first got there. You had to bring your own popcorn from, from the United States.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, that's a way to make friends, isn't it?

Arnold Hooker: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Arnold Hooker: Yeah. I mean, just loving, loving people, uh, whatever it would, whatever we did, we, we took kids with us wherever we went. When we went on vacation, there would be a couple of kids go, go along with us from the village.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Arnold Hooker: And the kids always had the kids over for eating with us. And whatever we did, we had, we just enjoyed the people and started being, a part of, of them instead of, you know, the opposite.

John Bradshaw: What sort of spiritual receptivity did you find?

Arnold Hooker: You know, I think that at the time there was, a good spiritual receptivity. But, one of the things that I found was lots of times people just want to be, with the foreigners sometimes. Being, doing cross-cultural ministry is very good because people want to know the foreigner, and it was, it was a way to get into the people's hearts. They wanted, they wanted to know the foreigner and learn from the foreigner. But, some of them were what we call "rice Christians". They just wanted to be there for whatever, whatever they could get, and, you know... But many of them stuck, and we still have a church there in Kampong Cham and one in Sung, another place that we lived; uh, after about three years we moved to a place called Sung. There's, there's a church there, too. Um, the Kampong Cham church is a big church there, and they use it for a training, training center as well. That was after we left; we bought the property there. Now it's worth millions of dollars. I paid, I think I paid 30,000 U.S. dollars for this big piece of property. Now it's worth lots and lots of money because it's right in the heart of the city.

John Bradshaw: I want you to talk to me about how you go about, how you went about initiating those conversations with people...

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: ...to introduce them to Jesus.

Arnold Hooker: Mm-hmm. You know, I became very bold because I figured I had nothing to lose if people, didn't want to get into Christianity, so, I would just tell them, "I'm a Christian," and, "Would you like to know anything about Jesus"? And I hate to say it, but if they said, "No," I'd just move to the next person. You're, you know, I think that sometimes we get stuck on just trying to find one person and get them in, just because they're friendly or nice or because they live next door. But go to the next neighbor. If he really wants to know about Jesus, just keep getting, go further out, and so that's what we did. We just found new people to, to evangelize, and sooner or later, you know, people want to get to know Jesus, and they want to know what makes, and, again, some people won't, embrace Jesus, but some will, and that's what happened.

John Bradshaw: Somebody says, "Yeah, I wanna know more about Jesus".

Arnold Hooker: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Where did you begin as a missionary? Speaking a foreign language, far from home, where did you start?

Arnold Hooker: Well, you know, it's interesting. After a while I started a English class called, "English According to Mark". So I would start right in the book of Mark. And I would just copy the, the first page, Mark, second page, third page and just start working them right through the life of Christ. And what's interesting about that is they start asking me questions about the lesson and, "What is, what is this talking about"? And, you know, and, um, and then some people just come straight to you like Nicodemus did and say, "What do I need to do to be saved"? You know, people would actually do that. I, not to say it's easier, it was easier then, but it does seem easier than it, it is now. The religion there has really taken ahold again, and when we went there, there was no Adventist presence. There's somewhere around, I guess somewhere around 90 Seventh-day Adventists congregations in Cambodia in these days. But, in those days there wasn't, very many, Adventist congregations, so...

John Bradshaw: Let me ask you this. How does the church do today? Is it, is it, is it difficult? Is it easy? Or assuming it's somewhere in between those two poles, just how challenging is it to, to share Christ and win people to Christianity in Cambodia today?

Arnold Hooker: Well, it, you know, we have work all over Cambodia. We have a couple different projects, one, one amongst the Pnong, which is a school, and, the girls weren't going to school until, I mean, they were quitting school around fourth grade. So we said, "Let's, let's fix that if we can". So we created a school where they can go, hopefully into college, if, if we can get them through their senior year in high school; then we want to move them to college. We want them to have a choice. And, and then we have a, a, a work amongst the Muslims in, in, one of our, one of the areas there. And, they do a lot of medical work. And these people have had eye surgeries and different things, and so, one of the ways we reach the people there is to simply just do what Jesus would do, do whatever we can for them. Uh, the missionaries there help with people's shacks to, they help them make them better so they have a place to live. You know, you have to be able to do whatever you can. And when someone becomes a Christian from, from, in that area, their families disown them. They don't, they won't help with them with their harvest or anything like that. One, one such person actually was just, his wife left him and everything. She's come back now and actually become an Adventist. But, I'll tell you, he took, he took a hit, and the missionaries just kept loving him and helping him and buying a generator or whatever he needed for his business, and just kept working him forward. And, finally he's now someone who is employed by the church and does church planting himself.

John Bradshaw: I want to pick up more, on that with you in just a moment. Arnold Hooker is my guest. He is a missionary with Adventist Frontier Missions, has been involved in mission work for more than a quarter of a century. This is our conversation, and we'll be back with more in just a moment.

John Bradshaw: This is Conversations. I'm John Bradshaw, joined by Arnold Hooker, who for more than a quarter of a century has been a missionary and is still on the front lines of mission service. Arnold, I appreciate you being here. A moment ago we were talking about some of the challenges faced by people in the countries where, where missionaries work; that is, if they come to faith in Jesus, things can really change. We're still talking about Cambodia. We're going to move forward in a moment, but when you were in Cambodia, you're inviting people to come to Jesus, but there could be some difficult consequences. What might they be?

Arnold Hooker: Well, you know,I firsthand knew that some kids got beat by their parents for, for thinking about being Christians. Um, and, some kids just wouldn't show up anymore. We heard later that their parents didn't want them to know any more about Jesus. Um, you know, it would be maybe like if your own son came to you and said, "Dad,I think I'd like to be Hare Krishna" or something like that, you know. It would be, it would be difficult for you, you know? You'd probably do everything you could to keep him from, maybe wouldn't beat him, but you understand what I'm trying to say.

John Bradshaw: Oh, sure.

Arnold Hooker: And so, yeah, it's difficult. When you, to be Cambodian, they say, is to be Buddhist, 90-some percent Buddhism there. And so, you know, you have to think about, there, there's other minorities, too. There are some Muslim groups there, and Christians actually are pulling it, pulling ahead in, in some ways in, in the country. But...

John Bradshaw: So how do missionaries respond, react? You're working with a, a family or some kids; they're being rejected or beaten, or they've lost their jobs. It's where missionaries have to step in and be really creative.

Arnold Hooker: Well, I can tell you, Joshua List tells the story of this little boy coming to him, and his ears are bleeding. And it wasn't because, that he was, wanting to become a Christian. It was because his dad was an alcoholic. But the missionaries just took some water and bathed him and held him and cried with him and sent him back home, you know. It's all you can really do, just keep a place where love is open. And, so that's, that's what you do. You, you keep helping people until they get all the way through and say that, "Whatever, whatever God wants to happen to me, that's okay".

John Bradshaw: We hear missionaries tell stories of the absolutely miraculous things they saw. What did you see? What did you experience that you, that you said, "That was God working supernaturally"?

Arnold Hooker: Well, you know, for myself personally, there's a lot of things, but I'll just say that one of the things that, the most remarkable, recently Diane and I were in Papua New Guinea. Um, I guess it was more like, three years ago. Time goes by quickly.

John Bradshaw: Sure.

Arnold Hooker: But, turns out that in Papua New Guinea, we met two of the head wardens. And we were, with the missionaries on an island. We were having lunch in this place, and these fellows were there, and they were having a meeting. And I said, "What's going on"? I just struck up a conversation with one of the men. He said, "We're, we're all wardens of the prisons here," in Papua New Guinea. And he said to me, he said, "We're, we're Christians". And I said, "Oh, we're Seventh-day Adventist". He says, "I'm a Seventh-day Adventist, too". And he said, "My boss is a Seventh-day Adventist". He said, "You'll be hard pressed to get any other religion in our prisons because we don't allow anyone else to give Bible studies". And you start thinking about that. You know, God is working in the end days now to do things that we could never do before. And, of course, the prime minister of Papua New Guinea is, is a Seventh-day Adventist, James Marape, and, just a, a neat fellow. We, we don't know him personally, but he wiggled out to one of our projects, that's a whole other story. But...God is so good; He, He's putting people in our, in our way so that we can move the work forward quickly.

John Bradshaw: Okay. So speaking of Papua New Guinea, these days, you are with Adventist Frontier Missions, which is based in Berrien Springs, Michigan; missionaries all over the world; you oversee projects in Papua New Guinea, well, oversee projects and missionaries, which is probably a better way of putting it, and in Southeast Asia. So tell me a little bit about your role and what's going on in your corner of the world.

Arnold Hooker: Well, in a creative access country that we're not going to say the name of, we were, working in a center there of influence, and, were, uh, they do much the same kind of thing that I talked about. They teach English, and then they just do, do Bible studies and so on and so forth. You find out kind of quietly, and not really secretively, but people say, "Well, what, what about God? What about your God"? And so we're there doing some Bible studies right now in there. Um, in Cambodia we have work among, the Muslims there, and, it's a beautiful work. God is, God is doing things that we could never do before. People are coming forward and saying, "I want to know more about Jesus". And again, it's just friendship evangelism, loving people to, to Jesus and, taking leads. You know, you want to work with someone who has an idea that they want to be a Christian, or they want to know something about Jesus, so you keep working with people. You don't want to work with someone who doesn't want to. It's just a waste of time. It, it's better to work with someone who comes forward and says, "I'd like to know a little bit more about it". And then in Papua New Guinea, we've had just amazing things happen. We have two training centers.

John Bradshaw: Tell me where you have these training centers.

Arnold Hooker: Uh, well, they're, they're just on little islands. The rivers in Papua New Guinea, as you know, you've been there, they're just like snakes. And it creates, well, basically islands, you know, because they switch back, and so the people live on these "islands," for sake of illustration, and, and so we go there and just, teach them how to do, we had a sawmill donated, from New Zealand. It was, it's just a miracle, the, the New Zealand High Commission came, and if they're listening right now, praise the Lord for, New Zealand High Commission.

John Bradshaw: Amen.

Arnold Hooker: Um, they, they, they bought us a $40,000 sawmill, and now it teaches men how to run a sawmill and make planks to make houses and different things. So, our, training center has a lot of that wood in it, and, they have wood that's so dense there you have to, you have to tie it to another tree or it'll sink out of, out of sight. Uh, they've, they've lost logs, valuable logs because they weren't tied properly to a floating tree. These trees, they don't float; they sink because they're so dense.

John Bradshaw: Wow.

Arnold Hooker: And the, the wood is just incredible when they make, make furniture and house, house wood out of it. Anyway, God is just doing amazing, amazing things in Papua New Guinea.

John Bradshaw: Can we talk about mission, mission work a little more broadly? So, you mentioned a sawmill was donated. Um, as a missionary you've been supported by others. So you're at the front end of the work.

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: But mission work takes a team; it takes supporters; it takes people willing to put their hand in their pocket and say, "I believe in what's going on. I want to support you".

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: So, maybe I'll come to that next, but I want to ask you now about people who are interested in getting involved in mission work.

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: Is mission work for everyone? I'm, I'm tempted to ask you who is it not for, so I will. Is it for everyone? The answer's got to be no. Or...being a missionary on site probably isn't for everyone. Who is it not for?

Arnold Hooker: Well, I think it's not for the fainthearted, you know. I think that when you go to a country where it's 98 degrees and 90 percent humidity, you, you have to be ready to go there. Um, but you also have to really like camping because lots of times when you, Adventist Frontier Missions is like the Marines of mission service. They're going to go, and they're going to be breaking new ground. So they may have to build their own house. They may have to find a place to stay, and they're, it's going to be difficult, for, for the most part, for most of our projects.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, most of the projects. But...

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: ...but you know that, AFM, and other organizations as well, send missions to, missionaries to first-world nations. You might go somewhere in Europe, or other places. So, so perhaps if someone suggests, you know, "I don't want to tangle with snakes and rats and water-logged houses; maybe there's somewhere a little more sedate for me," uh, is, is that fair, to be able to say it like that?

Arnold Hooker: Yeah. I think that, there are some calls that, need less of, of the, you know, training that's available at Adventist Frontier Missions. Um, we, we've had, we've had, even in Ireland, we've had projects there. We don't have them there anymore. Um, but, certain places are just easier. Albania is, you would think it would be easier, but it's really not. So when you start thinking about some of the countries that you would think are, they're not, you know. It's still difficult.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Arnold Hooker: I think you have to go with the, a spirit of, "What, what do You want me to do, Lord? What, what is it that Jesus wants me to do"? And that's the kind of person that we want to have in the mission field.

John Bradshaw: I don't want to walk too far back. I think your principle is, is, is absolutely right, and the point is well taken. That, that spirit of, "I may have to put up with some things," that's, that's important to, to remember. So, someone who's interested in mission work, clearly they're going to pray. They're going to talk to other people. But now at, somewhere along the line they're going to sit down, maybe it's Mom and Dad, maybe there are children, maybe there are not, it might even be a single person, but they have to say to themselves, "Am I a candidate for this, really, or am I just going on a romantic notion from a mission book I read"?

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: How do you advise that person to, to go through that sort of self-assessment process and say, "Maybe you are; maybe you're not"? Where do they begin?

Arnold Hooker: Well, I think you begin by, calling 1-800-YES-4AFM and starting through the process. I remember going through the process and thinking, "Oh, I'm not going to be able to do this. They're going to, you know, shut me out somehow". But, yeah, go through the process of just, just going to AFM online or whatever and, AFMonline.org is what I think it is, and just start through the process of signing up. You know, we have, what we call Platinums; this is a group. There's about four groups that go out as missionaries; one is our Platinums. These are retired people who have their pension already coming in. And they can go to a country and help with other seasoned missionaries. Maybe they'll help teach their kids, do some home-schooling. Maybe they'll be grandpa and grandma to some kids at a school, I don't know, whatever. But Platinums can go out.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, that's an interesting concept. So you're saying age is not necessarily a bad thing.

Arnold Hooker: Uh, no. As long as you're, you know, under 105 and still, you know, can handle getting your suitcase onto a...

John Bradshaw: You know, there's a 106-year-old right now watching, saying, "Hey, hey, what about me? I can..".

Arnold Hooker: All right.

John Bradshaw: "...sling a suitcase around". But I think...

Arnold Hooker: No problem.

John Bradshaw: ...we get what you mean.

Arnold Hooker: Yeah. Okay. And so, then we have, a short-term volunteer. We have a short-term volunteer, I think, who's been out 20 years.I could be wrong, but I think she's been out for, 20 years. That's a year-to-year process, and you don't need a lot of fundraising. You just go out, and people will, will usually find you and help, start helping you financially. Then you have the, the regular career missionary who raises funds and goes out, and the people support them as long as they're out. And then you have the student missionary who goes out, and, I think, AFM still finds about 50 percent of those funds for that student missionary, so it's a good deal for student missionaries. They can go out for one year, two years. I've even had one go out for three years, Chris Sorensen, maybe you've heard of that fellow.

John Bradshaw: Oh yeah.

Arnold Hooker: Beautiful musician. I think he's from this area. Um, he was out for three years. Finally I had to say, "Chris, go home and find a, find a wife".

John Bradshaw: Which he did, and then they turned around and went back.

Arnold Hooker: Went back. He's in Thailand now at a music school doing a wonderful job for the Lord.

John Bradshaw: Speaking of, of students who go back, there are now second-generation missionaries. Your own son is one of them.

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: Talk about that phenomenon. Kids grow up in the mission field, come home, turn around, and go back.

Arnold Hooker: Yeah. We have, I think, two or three, young people who their parents grew them up out there. I think of John Holbrook, he, he's working in Palawan, real close to there where his, where his folks, where he grew up, and he actually married a Palawan girl; very nice family they have there. And, then my son, son Joshua, he's working in a village about an hour and a half from where he grew, grew up as a young person. And they just feel more comfortable, um, in the countries where they grew up. Um, it's kind of like they don't really fit into either, either society. They're not really from their homeland, and they're not really from there, but they feel, feel like God has brought their families there, and then, and they need a lot less. I mean, I needed a generator and all these things, refrigerator and all these things, but they go and they're, they don't, they don't need as much. They, they, the second- generation missionary, they go with understanding the language already. I struggled with it for the whole time I was there. They go and they understand the, the little, tiny, you know, the little gestures and stuff that, that I may have missed as a, as a missionary, a first, a first-time missionary. And so they're, they're more, way more suited, the second-generation missionaries.

John Bradshaw: Let me ask you this question. What's the state of mission work around the world? How's missions doing? How would you answer that question?

Arnold Hooker: Um, I think we need about 10,000 where we have one. Um, to tell you the truth, we have countries, whole countries that, for instance, you have, like, 600 languages in China alone, about 300 in Cambodia, I think there's somewhere around, uh, 400 or 500 in Thailand, different language groups that are getting completely squashed out, and, why is it important? Well, I think it's important because, um, my, my background is German, for instance. My, my grandfathers came from Germany. And, I don't speak German. I can say a few words, but I'm just trying to say that we, we need missionaries for every, all the groups around, uh, you know. And to speak the heart language, to go and learn the language is, is the first lesson we learned. If you speak the language of the people, they'll respond better. They, they love to hear you. Try it next time you go into a Mexican restaurant, you know, say, "Muchas gracias," you know, when they bring their food. They'll say something to you. They may even bring you more chips, you know.

John Bradshaw: I was disappointed, man; I studied German in high school, I was at an airport in Germany, and I asked for the thing in the, in the, in German, and actually the person responded in English. Young Germans speak such good English. I think she must have heard my accent and said, "Oh, why bother, man? I'll, I'll help you with this". But, no, of course it makes a, makes a big difference, doesn't it? Um, so we need more missionaries. We need them around the world. Someone's going to say, you mentioned Papua New Guinea, but there's tons of Christians in Papua New Guinea. Why aren't we sending Papua New Guineans to another part of Papua New Guinea to reach Papua New Guineans? There's, clearly there's a very good answer for that, but what is it?

Arnold Hooker: Yeah. Cross-cultural ministry is something that really works. And, you know, it worked for me, and it, and it works for the Ericksons and, and the different missionaries that are in Papua New Guinea. Uh, people want to learn. Uh, sometimes your, your own tribesmen don't have the answers, or they don't think they do. They may and they could. But, it is happening, though. Uh, we have, workers now that have went to school and been trained.

John Bradshaw: Sure.

Arnold Hooker: And, we're, we've been around Papua New Guinea somewhere around 30 years or more. Um, and now, there are people starting to work the, the river, and, I can think of some men that are up there that are doing a wonderful job. They, they're, they're, working for God. But in, in, in a lot of cases, though, the foreign missionary still holds a lot of weight to, "Well, I want to know what they believe in, and I want to hear it from them". And so, I think, cross-cultural ministry is, is a, is still something that we need to keep doing.

John Bradshaw: Yeah. Another thing to keep in mind, too: There are tons of countries where there just aren't locals with the expertise.

Arnold Hooker: That's right.

John Bradshaw: And there aren't locals with the means, and the local mission just doesn't have the money. So, so there's that aspect as well. We don't have a whole lot of time left, I'm sorry, but I'm going to ask a couple of things before, in the time that we do. Tell me about some exciting things that you're seeing around the world, maybe from, from the organizational point of view from AFM, something that you've observed. You don't have to name countries, if it's better not to name the countries, because that's a consideration.

Arnold Hooker: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Sometimes it's just best not to name them.

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: What are some things that are happening, and we'll say, "Wow! God is really working"?

Arnold Hooker: Mmm. Well, the prime minister made it out to one of our projects, which was something very exciting for us. Um, the Ericksons met him at a tribal show, but, to make a long story short, he said, "I'd really like to see your project". So he brings a boatload of soldiers, a boatload of police, secret police, his own boatload of parliament members and governors. And then the Ericksons led them in their little dinghy an hour and a half downriver, they show up at their project, and the, the group can't believe what they're doing for the people of Papua New Guinea. So, Adventist couple, who's been there 12-13 years, maybe, maybe longer, maybe 14 years, starting a training center, had to go and build their own house, the struggles with that for a couple of years until they got their house built. And everything has to be shipped in. It's, one of our projects there is 24 hours from civilization by about three means of travel. You travel all day long and overnight sometimes. But the Ericksons had this group out there. The prime minister, to make a long story short, met them at this tribal thing. He said, "I have to see your project right now". And imagine the prime minister of your country or your, or the president of your country coming.

John Bradshaw: Oh yeah.

Arnold Hooker: And it's just so exciting. His, his name is James Marape, and James came, and he was so excited. They gave him about 1,200 U.S. dollars. That's, that's a lot of money for this country, and...

John Bradshaw: Sure.

Arnold Hooker: ...I can just imagine, you know, their excitement and seeing this. They said, "Spend this on what, do something with this money to help people". And then, the man took out his business card, the prime minister, wrote his personal phone number on the back and said, "If you ever need something, let me know". Imagine prime minister saying, "John, here's my personal card. If you, if you need help..".

John Bradshaw: Yeah, that's God really working.

Arnold Hooker: Yep. And so I praise God. Things are shaping up in the world to where, God is putting people in high positions so that His work can be finished. And I believe that we're living right in the end of time.

John Bradshaw: Yeah. But I imagine there are places that missionaries just have a hard time. And I want to ask you how they deal with that. Um, I asked a church member of mine once, "What was it like when you were a little boy"? And this is going back a thousand years, you know, being raised in what was a, a hard-core mission country. He said, "If we baptized one, it was time for great celebration". How do missionaries hang in there? When they're there to church plant, they're there to win souls, but some places are just difficult.

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: How do they get through that?

Arnold Hooker: Um, you know, I think that a lot of the countries we work in, if we baptize just one, you are excited. Um, if one person comes forward and says, "I'm starting to get it. I'm starting to love Jesus. I understand why you're, why you came and why you're excited about being a Christian yourself". Um, in some of our closed-access countries, people, start saying, "Wow! They love me. These missionaries love me". And they want to know deeper: why, why, why? Then they create their own... not create, they get their own relationship with Jesus, and it, that starts making them, love, love Jesus even more because they start knowing Him for themselves.

John Bradshaw: There are some churches that are very much onboard with missions. They support missions; they support missionaries. Many churches do not.

Arnold Hooker: Mmm.

John Bradshaw: What could somebody do at a local church level to say, "Hey, we wanna, we wanna just kind of, kind of bend the church in the direction of supporting mission work"?

Arnold Hooker: Can I tell you honestly?

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Arnold Hooker: Okay. I would find a, a couple that's going out, and the church would put their picture on the wall and say, "That's our missionary". They would, every, every week have a mission update, sometimes Skype them in. It'll be in the middle of the night for the missionary, doesn't matter, they can go to a lit marketplace and have, have it come over the screen, we've got churches with all this video equipment and stuff that, that could be used for something like this, and now we have, you know, things that they could do. What I'm trying to say is make your missionary a, a priority. Ellen White tells us some 150 times, she says, it's not what is done here that makes the church temperature go up, as far as the people coming in, it's what's done over there. And, so if we have a church that is excited about missions over here, they're going to grow.

John Bradshaw: That's right. A lot of people worry, pastors will worry about that: "Oh, I don't want to see any money going out to support missions overseas because it will..". But what we've been told is support for mission there will result in greater support for missions here. So it's good for congregations to get onboard, isn't it?

Arnold Hooker: You know, here in Tennessee, some of you may know Wolf Jedamski, he told me one time, he said, "Arnold," he said to me, "my church has grown because I put missions in our mission statement". And I said, "Is that all you did"? And he said, "Yeah". I challenge churches, Seventh-day Adventist churches, to put missionaries in their mission statement. Support them. It may change some little budget from, you know, $1,000-$6,000 or whatever the missionary takes to be out there, but that church will grow, and they won't have to worry about money anymore. And it'll just keep growing, and they'll wonder why they didn't, and then they'll put another missionary up and another missionary up, then another missionary up, and then we get to go home.

John Bradshaw: Amen. We've got about 2 and 1/2 minutes. So...what fires you up? You've been doing this for a while, you've seen just about everything, and not many missionaries are going to call you and say, "I need help with X," and you're going to say, "What in the world? This is new". You've seen it all. But you're, you're driven by the Lord to go forth. What is it that, that gets you up in the morning, uh, puts wind in your sails, excites you about what you're doing?

Arnold Hooker: I think... as a young man, I thought I was going to go to Cambodia, and everyone was going to become a Seventh-day Adventist. I had this, this dream like that. And I think it gets crushed, butI think what, what gets me is when I hear there's another 80 or there's another 40 ready for baptism. There's another one person... ready for baptism.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Arnold Hooker: That gets me. When someone gives their life to Jesus Christ, that gets me.

John Bradshaw: You've seen it happen an awful lot. We know Jesus is coming back soon. So what we know is you're going to see it an awful lot more. Thank God for that.

Arnold Hooker: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: I appreciate you taking your time. Let me pray with you before I liberate you. Can we pray?

Arnold Hooker: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Let's pray. Father in heaven, we're thankful today that You've given us an opportunity to know You and then share You with others. I'm grateful for what Arnold and Diane are doing at the sharp end of mission work. We're thankful for AFM and the many Adventist Frontier Missions missionaries around the world. I pray You bless them and other missionaries besides. Remind us again, Lord, we are a people of missions. We're committed to seeing the everlasting gospel go to earth's remotest bounds. Bless my brother and his family. Keep them close to You, energize them, anoint them, fill him with Your Spirit, we pray. And thank You, in Jesus' name, amen.

Arnold Hooker: Amen.

John Bradshaw: Arnold, thanks for joining me. It's been fun.

Arnold Hooker: Thanks for having me. Sorry about the tears of joy here.

John Bradshaw: No, tears of joy are always welcome. And thank you for joining us. We both appreciate it very much. I'm gonna remind you again: God has called us to take the everlasting gospel where? "To every nation, kindred, tongue, and people". Jesus said, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached "in all the world for a witness to all nations, and then the end will come". If God is calling you, even if you think He might be, contact AFM; speak to the pastor of your church; call somebody, say, "What do I need to do to find out more about this"? And if you or your church isn't supporting missions, then go to the Lord right now, tell Him that you purpose for that to change, and you want to do more to see earth, to see this earth lightened with the glory of God as the gospel is taken to places where now missionaries are doing everything they can to lift up Jesus. Arnold Hooker has been my guest. Thanks for joining us. This has been our conversation.
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