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Saturday, March 28, 2020

March: the month we felt like we were Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

WOW!!! We arrived home in Kentucky on March 18 and we are thankful for your prayers, because it was only through your prayers that we made it back home.  There were so many pits and traps that would have left us stranded that we felt like Indiana Jones escaping from the cursed cave.

For two weeks before our flight, we self-isolated in our home in Thailand so we would have the best chance of being healthy for the flight.  We knew that if we were sick with COVID-19 we would not be able to fly (nor would we want to because it would endanger others).  Our original itinerary to fly back home included a layover in Milan, Italy.  When COVID-19 hit there, we decided to change our flights to avoid Milan.  That involved 4 hours of waiting on hold until an agent could help us, and we had to pay quite a bit to make the change.  No problem, we did what we had to.

Then there was talk of airports and airlines closing down.  We were flying on Emirates Airlines, and the government of United Arab Emirates was beginning to ban people flying in from one country after another.  Thailand was not on the list, but we were holding our breath because we could not be stranded in Thailand.  Our visas were near expiring, and we would not qualify to extend the visa in country.  We had to get back to the States to get a new visa.  If we stayed illegally, we could be arrested, put in jail, fined, deported, and worse of all, blacklisted from coming back to Thailand this year.  This would have been disastrous for us.  We did all that we could do: we prayed and asked others to pray for us too.

 Then we read on the news the next day that Emirates and other airlines were cancelling a large percentage of their flights.  The next day, we received an email from Emirates that our flight was cancelled and that they booked us on a new flight but would not let us choose seats (even thought we paid for that service already, TWICE).  We just had to wait until the day of the flight and check-in online as soon as possible to secure a boarding pass, because the flight would be massively overbooked.  Many people would show up for this flight, having purchased a ticket, yet would not be able to board.  We still did not know if we would be able to leave Thailand.

The day came when we were to fly and we receive an email from Emirates that we could check-in online, which made us happy.  We could finally get our boarding passes and know we can get home.  But when we attempted to check-in online, the app said that we could not check-in because we had not yet paid for the tickets (and we had actually paid for them TWICE).  So we before calling Emirates, I tried to use our bank's website to get proof that we paid for our tickets, but our bank's website was down for the day.  So we had to call Emirates, with no way to prove that we actually paid for the tickets.  After over 4 hours of waiting, an Emirates agent helped us.  He could not assign us seats and give a boarding pass.  He said they would take care of that when we arrived at the airport.  We were not really convinced we actually had tickets.  He could not send us a ticket confirmation by email.  It all just felt wrong, and a bit scary.

So we arrived at the airport almost 4 hours early wearing surgical masks and using alcohol gel every time we touched anything (we went through several small bottles in just two days).  When we went to check-in, the agent looked at her screen and a look of concern came upon her and she said she needed to contact her supervisor.  The supervisor came, and after a long time was able to give us a boarding pass to fly to Dubai but could not give us the boarding pass to fly from Dubai to JFK airport in New York City.  She also informed us that our luggage would not go directly to JFK airport since our layover in Dubai was longer than 24 hours.  We would have to pick up our luggage in Dubai.  But, in order to pick up our luggage in Dubai, we would have to enter the country through Immigration Control, and we did not have the medical clearances to allow us to enter Dubai.  So we checked in our luggage, thinking that we might not see it again.

The flight was a bit nerve-wracking.  Almost everyone had a masks on, and most of the other passengers were like us, using sanitizing gel like it was going out of style.  When we arrived in Dubai, we went to the Emirates Airlines help counter to try to get a boarding pass for our next flight and to see what could be done about our luggage.  The agent was very helpful with our luggage, typing information into the computer so our luggage would be found and then sent to America.  But he said we had to wait another 12 hours before we could get a boarding pass for the next flight.

We were blessed to be able to book a room at the airport hotel, so we slept comfortably.  The next morning we went to get a boarding pass, but were told that there was something wrong with our reservation and that only the supervisor had the authority to help us and that he was in a meeting.  We were instructed to come back in 2 hours.  We are very grateful for the help of the hotel worker who went to the desk 4 times to work out whatever the problem was with out ticket.  Just 2 hours before the flight, we had our boarding passes.  We were relieved because it would have been awful being stranded in Dubai.  We would have to live at the airport because we could not enter the country.  (We thought we might be like Tom Hanks in the movie "The Terminal").  Every day, more and more flights were being cancelled and the chances of getting back to the States would get slimmer.  Your prayers paved the way home.

So we boarded the flight, and there was never a better flight.  We always feel great joy at flying home to the States, but this time was different.  We were felt incredibly blessed and happy to come home.  When we arrived at JFK airport, everything went smoothly.  We went through Passport Control quickly and we waited at the luggage carousel, wondering if our luggage would actually arrive.  God answered our prayers and both of our bags arrived!

We booked a one-way car rental and drove that night to a hotel in Queens.  We were thoroughly exhausted and fell asleep on the way down to the pillow.  The next morning we drove all the way home to Campbellsville, Kentucky.  Good friends had come and prepared our house for us, cleaning the place and stocking our kitchen with food, knowing we would need to self-isolate for at least 14 days (looks like it will be considerably longer).

The whole month of March was a series of pits and traps, any one of which would have left us stranded, either in Thailand, where we would have expired visas, or Dubai, where we would have been stuck in the airport.  God is Good!  We are home!

Our prayers extend to all of you, as we all hunker down to fight COVID-19.  We pray that this time of isolation is a time that you can use in some positive way.  Do things you enjoy that you usually don't have time to do.  Get tasks done that you have not been able to get to (Last night Sherri mentioned the first "Honey-Do" chore for me, painting shelves in the bathroom.)

Although we and our Thai team are isolated in our homes, in Thailand and Kentucky, we now have time to focus exclusively on creating curriculum, both books and videos.  We use Zoom to have meetings now, and it has actually made us quite productive.

Thailand Now missionaries, Allie and David Houle are taking care of the Blessing Home kids at all three centers, making sure they are fed and well nourished while they are isolating at home.  Here is the link to read their latest blog >

Thailand Now missionaries, Carol Fare and Vicki Brown are hunkering down, making specialized furnishings for special needs children.

We know this is a tough time for all, emotionally and financially.  Please remember to pray for the missionaries and ministries of Thailand Now.  We will continue to feed and help Blessing Home kids and pay salaries to our Thai team members.

If the Lord leads you to give, you can give online at our website >
OR send a check to:

Thailand NOW
P.O. Box 56
Mannsville, KY 42758

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Hello Friends,

First, we have a new email address >
Please begin using this new email.  Our old email addresses will keep working for a year or so, but this email will be permanent.

Second,we need for you to pray for this mission, so we hope you will add these requests and praises to your daily prayer list.

Shelby Gillespie and Blessing Home Isan 

Shelby is completing her missionary service and will be heading back early in March. Shelby has been a great blessing to this mission.  Blessing Home Isan has been a fruitful ministry under her leadership and she has developed Christian education materials which are used in churches throughout Thailand.  The impact of her ministry goes way beyond this one location.  We are going to miss Shelby and we wish her the best as she goes back to the States as she prepares for married life with her fiance Jeremy.  On the left is a picture of Blessing Home Isan kids honoring Shelby at her final Sunday on location.

For the past 2 months, Shelby has been training the new director of Blessing Home Isan, KaoPoat (which means Corn).  KaoPoat is a Blessing Home Isan scholarship kid who received a full scholarship to study Business English at St. Theresa International College.  After earning her B.A. degree, she worked in Bangkok as a Office Manager and also in the H.R. department of a second firm.  KaoPoat has often expressed her call to ministry, and was eager to serve the Lord at Blessing Home Isan.  Please pray for KaoPoat as she takes on this new challenge.  KaoPoat will also begin Master of Divinity studies at Global Theological Institute, so her plate is very full.  On the left is a picture of KaoPoat with her new scooter that she can use to visit the families of Blessing Home Isan kids.

New Field Directors of all the Blessing Home Centers

Thailand Now missionaries, David and Allie Houle, are taking on the responsibility as Field Directors to lead all three Blessing Home locations.  They will still serve as Directors of Blessing Home Pattaya, but will also supervise Blessing Home TaPhraya and Blessing Home Isan.  They will be travelling frequently like we do, so please keep them in prayer.

David and Allie have also been helping us create English language videos for the Abundant Life Savings Program.  On the left is a picture of them at our home office doing a recording.

The 40th Pioneer Pastor Church launched on February 9

Pastor Somchai and Teacher Aun, leaders of Promise Church, have a vision to plant churches in every county in their district of Phanat Nikhom as well as a neighboring district of Phan Thong.  They have several cell groups started and leaders being trained for these new locations.  We are blessed to have worked together with Somchai and Aun for many years now and we are excited because several of these cell groups have thrived and one launched as a new church a few weeks ago.

Huathanon Church is the first Christian church in this rural county with a population of 4,900 people.  Pastor Pranee, who used to serve as the youth and children's ministry pastor at Promise Church, has been leading this ministry for over a year and is now the Pioneer Pastor for this new church.   Please place Pranee on your list of daily prayers.  This is a God-sized task and we must empower her. 

We give praise to God for all of the prayer and financial support we have received that has made it possible to have planted 40 Pioneer Pastor churches in 40 counties that used to be unreached.    These counties never had a Christian church throughout history and with your help the name of Jesus is being proclaimed in these previously unreached territories and thousands of Thais have come to believe and serve Jesus.  For Sherri and I, it is a great time of joy and blessing to go baptize believers in these Pioneer Pastor churches.  Because there are now 40 churches, we cannot go to most of the baptism services, but we rejoice when we have the opportunity to go. 

This past month, we baptized 15 new believers at Fire of Glory Church.  They dug a large pit for the baptism service and covered it in plastic and tried to fill it with water, but the water pressure at the church dropped very low, so we only had about four inches of water.  Baptism by immersion is the typical method used in Thailand, but there was not enough water for immersion so this time I scooped water with my hands and poured water on their heads to baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The majority of the new believers being baptized were young adult men, and when the men would come down to be baptized, most would burst into tears of joy.  I don't know about you, but when adult men cry, I start to tear up as well.  We had a chain reaction and all of us were moved by the joy of the Holy Spirit.  There were no dry eyes at this service.

2 New Church Buildings being constructed for Pioneer Pastor churches.

Sherri and I will be coming back to the States for itineration in a couple of weeks from now.  So we are going to miss the Grand Opening services for two new church buildings at Pioneer Pastor Churches.

God is Good Church is constructing a new church campus right next to the expressway about 10 miles away from their present location.  It is modular construction, so construction quickly.  The Grand Opening Service is on April 6, so we will miss this one.

God is Good Church will still keep the old campus open, so there will now be two churches located in different counties.  The Pastors at the old location are Pastors John and Apple, who we have served together with since we first came to Thailand 14 years ago.  They were at our home office last week for a series of consultations as they take on leadership of the church at the old location.

Another Grand Opening Service of a new church building we will miss is Nakhon Pathom Church, which was planted 11 years ago through the generosity of St. John's UMC of Aiken, SC.  This church was planted because of the burden on the heart of a Thai Christian teacher named Lake.  Miss Lake taught English at an elementary school in Nakhon Pathom in a region of several counties that did not have a single Christian church.  She would share Christ with the students and their familes and many became believers in Jesus Christ.  Miss Lake would give the students Gideon New Testaments, and they would read the Bible to their whole family at dinner time.  She told us how the students would be beaten by the other teachers at school for carrying the Gideon New Testaments in their backpacks.  She said we must have a church for these students and their families.  Every week she would plead with us, and when we had the funds and the right leaders in Pastors Ekerat and Da, this Pioneer Pastor Church was started.

On the left is a picture of Sherri and I standing together with Pastors Da and Ekerat at the new 2 story church building on the new campus. 

Construction is expected to be completed by end of May and we expect that the Grand Opening Service will be sometime in the beginning of June when we are in the States attending the Kentucky Annual Conference.

When both of the church building are complete for God is Good Church and Nakhon Pathom Church, this will make 14 churches that own buildings and do not need to pay rent anymore.  Our Lord provides and takes care of His people.  Praise be to the Lord!

Update on Phase One of the Abundant Life Training Center

We now have received $56,600 of the $80,000 needed for Phase One of the Abundant Life Training Center.  Phase One is purchasing land, raising the land by 4-6 feet to bring it above flood level, and to build a retainer wall.  When we are in the States, our goal is to complete fundraising for Phase 1 and begin fundraising for Phase 2, which is building an Office/Seminar Room building and a house for staff.

Please pray that we can quickly raise the funds needed.  If the Lord leads you to give to construct the Abundant Life Training Center, please designate your donation for the BUILDING FUND.

You can give online at

Or send a check to this address:

Thailand NOW
P.O. Box 56
Mannsville, KY 42758

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Announcement: Join the Thailand NOW 2020 Volunteers in Mission Team

You are invited to serve the Lord in Thailand on the Thailand NOW 2020 VIM Team.

Thailand NOW 2020 VIM Team

When: August 6-17, 2020

Total Cost of Trip: $2800 includes flights, ground transportation in Thailand, lodging, meals, project supplies, and insurance.

Please click on this link for more information and for your application to participate in this wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord and grow in faith >>