Rev. Barry Dawson and Shelly Dawson
Mission co-workers in Thailand since 2013
Serving together as World Mission's regional liaison for Southeast Asia
Barry and Shelly are periodically in the USA. Email them to learn about their schedule and extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.
About Barry and Shelly Dawson's ministry
Based in Bangkok, Thailand, Barry and Shelly Dawson will serve together as the regional liaison (RL) for Southeast Asia. The RL serves as a facilitator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in support of partner programs, relationships and activities and as an implementer of the Presbyterian World Mission strategy. The RL supports PC(USA) mission personnel in communications, information sharing, mentoring/guiding, encouraging, and missiological reflection. In addition, the RL facilitates and seeks to strengthen healthy, effective and missiologically appropriate relationships among entities of the PC(USA) and those of partner denominations or organizations in the region.
Southeast Asia includes Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The region is incredibly diverse ecologically, culturally, ethnically, linguistically and religiously, yet with surprising similarity and unity. Christianity constitutes a small percentage of the population except in the Philippines, which is predominately Roman Catholic. Much of the region’s population is Buddhist, but Indonesia has more Muslims than any other country in the world. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) maintains partnerships with churches in every country in the region.
About Barry and Shelly Dawson
As a pastor of congregations in five different countries, Barry came to appreciate diverse cultures and people. Yet he also learned that every person shares a common yearning for the hope God offers humankind. “Every day throughout the world." he says, "from the moment the first rays of sunlight peek above the horizon until the darkness of night descends, more than 7 billion people on earth hunger for hope.”
Hope, he notes, is an emphasis of the gospel. He and Shelly draw strength from the Apostle Paul’s words of hope in Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
For the Dawsons the personification of hope is Jesus Christ. “As we prepare for mission service in Southeast Asia," Barry says, "our hope for what God will do with us, through us, and others is rooted in our firm belief in this God of Hope revealed in Jesus Christ.”
Barry and Shelly see opportunities for the gospel to make a difference in Southeast Asia, and they emphasize that God is already at work in the region. “As we embrace our call to serve in Southeast Asia, our hearts have been touched by the fact that it is a region that is teeming with opportunities for the church to bring the love and justice of Jesus Christ through mission projects that focus on the critical global issues of addressing the root causes of poverty, joyfully sharing our faith, and offering reconciliation in cultures of violence,” Barry says.
Expanding on her husband’s observation, Shelly adds, “As we have traveled and participated in mission activities in Southeast Asia, we have been fascinated with the engaging people, their distinctive cultures, the growth of the Christian church, and the multiple ways that the Living Christ is at work transforming individuals and communities.”
The Dawsons have lived in Oman, Japan, France, and the Netherlands, where Barry has been a pastor of international congregations. Shelly has served alongside him in volunteer capacities. Prior to serving internationally, Barry was pastor of Presbyterian congregations in Delaware, Montana, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. Shelly was employed as a registered nurse before moving overseas.
Barry earned an undergraduate degree from Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, master’s degrees from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and a doctorate from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Shelly studied at Queens College in Flushing, New York, and completed nursing training at Queensborough Community College in Bayside, New York.
“We have been passionate about local and global mission for many years,” Barry says. “Our calling to mission service is rooted in our belief that Christ’s mission is a global mission that respects yet transcends culture and announces good news to people of all nations, races, and life contexts.
During his international pastoral service, people from dozens of countries filled his congregations every Sunday. The couple also led their diverse congregations in cross-cultural service opportunities.
“Through the joyful experiences of leading numerous youth and intergenerational mission trips in the U.S.A., Poland, Northern Ireland, Cambodia, and the Philippines," Shelly says, "we have deepened our faith in Christ and grown in our understanding of how the gospel brings hope and healing to a wounded world.”
Barry – February 13
Shelly – March 14