United Methodist Missionaries serving in Thailand

United Methodist Missionaries serving in Thailand

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We serve with the Thailand Methodist Mission

We serve with the Thailand Methodist Mission
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Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Big Picture

We have had many people ask exactly what we are doing here in Thailand as missionaries. They wonder what our roles and goals are, and we realize that many of you may have a fuzzy understanding of what we are doing too. The short answer is that we are church planters who have been sent to plant churches all across Thailand (a God-sized task!). But to understand what we are doing here, you need to get the Big Picture. And here it is.

We have been sent as the first UM missionaries to Thailand to commission the first UM church in this nation. God Purpose Church of Chon Buri, Thailand, is a congregation that has requested to join our church and we have been sent to help them spread the gospel across Thailand by planting churches. We have two main roles in helping to make this happen. We serve as equippers and as bridges.

OUR ROLE AS EQUIPPERS

At the present moment, we have one church in Chon Buri and one large rural cell group that may soon become the second UM church in Thailand. There is also a cell group in the city of Pattaya that may eventually become the third UM congregation here by the summer of 2007. We have all three places of worship but we have no UM clergy here other than us. There are many people at God Purpose Church who serve in pastoral roles but they are not trained nor are they credentialed. We will be working to develop a Local Pastor School to license local pastors to preach and serve the sacraments. Eventually, we will form training methods and credentialing for ordination, but that will probably not be any time soon. The Local Pastor School will allow for the training of pastors to be sent out to plant churches.

OUR ROLE AS BRIDGES

We serve as bridges between the UM church in Thailand and the global UM church, especially with congregations in the United States. Church planting will require the help of congregations in the global UM church. We serve as bridges to help inform you of how the gospel is spreading in Thailand and how you can become a part of the wonderful things God is doing here.

In order to plant churches, we need programming funds. When a Thai local pastor is sent to serve a poor rural area, there will be no way for that pastor to financially support her/his family. We will need programming funds for pastoral support as well as help to build church-parsonages. A church-parsonage is a house that has a large covered porch. The porch serves as the meeting place for the local congregation, and the house serves as the parsonage. This will require financial support and the help of Volunteer in Mission teams (VIM). Funds will also be needed for curriculum and facilities for training pastors and lay leadership. If you or your church would like to help with programming funds for the mission in Thailand, please send the gift through your church treasurer. The church treasurer can send the funds to your annual conference treasurer. The Advance number for Thailand is 00403A.

There is also a great need for missionaries here in Thailand. Less than 1% of the population (65 million) are Christians. The need for the gospel of Jesus Christ is great indeed! UMC Missionaries are supported through three avenues: apportionments (about 15% of your apportionments goes to support Global Ministries), United Methodist Women (who have always been mission supporters), and finally, giving through the Advance (special giving is actually the largest source of funding for UM missionaries). Without giving through the Advance, we could not serve as UM missionaries here in Thailand.

One way to give through the Advance for missionary support is through becoming Covenant Partners with us. When a church becomes a Covenant Partner with a missionary, the church vows to support their missionary through prayer and through giving a five dollars per member per year or $1500 per year (although larger gifts are greatly appreciated!) As Covenant Partners with your church, we will stay connected with your church through prayer and newsletters, and will seek to visit your church when we are back in the U.S. on furlough. A church of any size can afford to be a Covenant Partner. Many churches add Covenant Partner support into their operating budgets while others choose to do a special fundraiser each year to generate the financial support. If your church is interested in becoming a Covenant Partner with us, please visit the GBGM website at www.gbgm-umc.org and download the form and information on becoming a Covenant Partner. And if you decide to become a covenant partner, please let us know as well be e-mailing us at thailandumc@gmail.com so we can connect with you. Sherri’s Advance number is 15123Z and Mike’s Advance number is 15122Z. Any financial support for missionary personnel helps not only us, but helps to send other missionaries out as well. It is our prayer that God’s people will have a wave of generosity that allows many more UM missionaries to Thailand and all over the world.

I hope this article answers some of your questions. Feel free to e-mail us at thailandumc@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you. May God be with you.