It is wonderful to hear from our brothers and sisters back home. E-mail is our only source of connection at the moment, and we appreciate the kindness of keeping connected with us. We are still waiting for an internet connection at home (everything happens at its own pace here) so we can better keep in touch with everyone in the States. We are still relying on an internet café that is a walk of almost 2 kilometers from our house. We praise the Lord that we have that internet café near our home!
Please pray that we will receive our home internet connection soon. Not only will we be able to communicate through e-mail better, but we will be able to use our internet phone to talk with family and friends back home. This is especially needed for Anthony, who misses his cousin Lacey, his friends back in Kentucky. We will also be able to use a computer video camera to see our grandbaby Madeline, and for her to see us. We really miss our kids Michael, Jude, and Jim and also our grandbaby and we long to speak with them on the internet phone.
We are still waiting for our belongings. If we understand correctly, all of our stuff is in Thailand at a warehouse waiting for customs to clear it. Our moving expert at GBGM in NY has asked us for a work permit number. Evidently, we will need a work permit in order for customs to clear our belongings. When we inquired about this, we found out that it is a very complicated process that we cannot do ourselves. We are dependant on the Singapore Methodist Foundation to help us with this matter.
Please pray that we will be able to obtain a work permit quickly and that we will be able to receive our belongings quickly.
We can survive without our stuff, but we are very limited. All of our books, church music, and training materials are in those crates, as well as clothes and household items. My (Mike) sandals were getting ragged before I ever came to Thailand, but now I wear them all the time and I really need my sandals in the crates. They do not sell 12EEE shoes in Thailand.
Yesterday at church, we celebrated 2 families that came to Christ. The families were from a cell group in the city of Pattaya, about 100 kilometers to the south of Chon Buri (our home city). When an individual or family becomes Christians, we must surround them with prayer as a church. Here, when a person becomes a Christian, they get rid of the Buddhist and Animistic idols from their homes. But getting rid of idols has a severe price. The first price is spiritual attack from Satan. These families many times face sickness and other forms of spiritual attack and oppression. As a church, we send elders to pray for the family and to bless the house to cast out evil spirits and claim the home for Jesus Christ. I know that sounds so foreign to American ears, but believe me, spiritual battle with the demonic powers happens just like in Jesus’ time.
The second price of conversion is the effect it has on relationships with family. Conversion is seen as a threat and family members can exert great pressure on these new Christians.
Please pray for spiritual protection and nurture of our new Christians here in Thailand.
God Purpose Church in Chon Buri has 9 Cell Groups (if I count correctly). Seven of the Cell Groups are here in Chon Buri (two at the church, one in a marketplace, one downtown, and three in members homes). The other two cell groups are in distant places. One is in a rural area, and will become a daughter congregation in the near future. The other is in Pattaya, a city filled with foreigners and the epicenter of the sex trade here in Thailand. It will not surprise me if the Pattaya cell groups grows to become the third UM congregation here in Thailand.
Please pray for the Cell Groups of God Purpose Church, that they will grow to become new congregations.
Every week at God Purpose Church, Evangelism teams are sent out to hand out tracts and witness in the marketplaces and in homes. We were told that at first people did not want to receive the tracts. So the people of Chon Buri church began praying each day that people would receive the word, and now many people gladly accept and read the tracts and even come back to ask questions.
Please pray that people’s hearts will soften towards Jesus Christ. The Thai people need the Lord, just like we do.
We will be receiving our first VIM team, a group of pastors and laypeople from the Rocky Mount district or North Carolina, under the leadership of their District Superintendent, Dr. William Simpson. They will be teaching on the distinctive beliefs of Methodists. We look forward to meeting them and pray that this will be the beginning of a partnership between the church in Thailand and North Carolina.
We have wonderful neighbors in our subdivision “village” in Chon Buri. They have surrounded us with acceptance and love. Anthony has been a real bridge builder. He is very outgoing and has quickly established relationships with each family on our street. Sherri and I receive the benefit of his bridge building. We are hoping to start a Cell Group in our home (once we receive our stuff) and are praying that our neighbors will attend and receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
Please pray that our neighbors will come to Jesus Christ.
We are learning to use the mini-buses here and discover which routes each takes. There are no maps of the mini-bus routes, so we have had to ride each and learn the routes. One of the problems is that the routes change and the schedules change, depending upon the time of day. We are getting used to it though. Hopefully in the next several months we will be able to save up some money to purchase 2 motor scooters, which will help tremendously in getting around. We do not have any problems traveling in the daytime, when all of the mini-bus routes are running, but evening can be a problem because whole routes get shut down or are re-routed away from our home. Evenings are when we travel to cell groups and prayer meetings. Right now, we do a lot of walking (thus the worn sandals), but I praise Lord for answering my prayers for losing weight. Between the moderate portions of healthy Thai food, all of the long distance walking, and the heat which drives away hunger, we are all losing weight.
We thank you for your prayers and your faithfulness. May the Lord bless you!
Mike, Sherri, and Anthony