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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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Eighteen people receive Jesus at Pradumri UMC's Christmas Outreach Program

Pradumri UMC always does their Christmas program on a large scale. This year, they printed invitations so that members could hand these reminders to everyone they invite to the Christmas program. The church was packed to overflowing with people, there were not nearly enough chairs, so many had to stand wherever they could find room.

The program began with a huge buffet outside at the front of the building. Pradumri UMC is located right on the busiest road in Chonburi, so there were many people who stopped to see what was happening and stayed for the free meal. The food was wonderful, plentious, and many different types.

Next, we all went inside for the Christmas program. There was great singing, but the highlight was a drama of the "Prodigal Son". Many members of Pradumri worked on this drama. We prayed with the group of drama team members and with many of them individually. Many of the drama team members had family and friends in attendance who do not know the Lord. We prayed that the Lord would open their eyes and hearts to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The drama team did a fantastic job. When we looked out at the people, we could see them really listening and responding to the drama. We could tell that God was working on their hearts. When the drama was done, we prayed with the drama team again and told them that God was opening the eyes of their family to Jesus Christ and His love.

We prayed with one young man for his mother and father who did not know the Lord but were there at the Christmas program. With another young man, we prayed for his wife who is not a believer.

After the drama, Dr. Somsak of Phayao Bible College gave a Spirit-filled sermon on who Jesus is and that Jesus forgives all sins when we repent before Him. We could see that the Holy Spirit was convicting hearts because of the people's response as he preached. Then at the end of the sermon, Dr. Somsak invited all who wanted to give their lives to Jesus to raise their hands and pray with him. Over twenty people raised their hands and said the prayer to receive Jesus as Saviour and Lord!

After this, Pastor Sarah invited everyone who had raised their hand to come to the counseling room. 18 people came to the counseling room, including the parents of the one young man we prayed with and the wife of the other young man we prayed with. We were praising God and crying tears of joy to know that these people have eternal life now. It was a wonderful time of celebration because God answered our prayers.

Pastor Sarah encouraged each person to come back in the morning to worship with us on Sunday. Most all of them did, and it was a privilege to be with them as they received communion for the first time as members helped them to understand the meaning of the symbols of bread and juice.

God has truly anointed the ministry of Pastors Wiset and Sarah.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Prayers for the coming Election in Thailand and the Special Christmas Program at Pradumri UMC

This Sunday, Dec. 23rd is Election Day all across Thailand. Please pray that a civil government will be formed that will heal the divisions that precipitated the military coup last year.

Pradumri UMC usually has their large Christmas Outreach Program on the Sunday evening before Christmas. They always do their programs BIG. Lots of singing, dramas, food, games, and the giving of gifts to members and visitors alike. But this year, we could not have the Big Christmas Event on the Sunday before Christmas because it is Election Day. On Election Day, public gatherings where free gifts are given is banned, to prevent any vote-buying or even the appearance of evil. So we will all be celebrating tonight (Saturday, Dec. 22).

We have been praying for this event because we know many people who are not Christians will be there and they will have a chance to hear the gospel in preaching, in song, in drama, and in acts of love and service.

Anthony, Jim, Sherri, and I wish you a blessed Christmas Day. We thank all who have remembered us by sending wonderful Christmas cards and e-mails. These acts of love sustain us and inspire us. May the Lord bless you greatly!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bowin UMC Christmas Outreach is a Great Time of Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ

Bowin UMC celebrated Christmas with an Outdoor Extravaganza last night (Friday, Dec. 14th). They have spent the last 6 weeks preparing for this event and sending invitations to as many people as possible. They had a very large stage set up in the parking lot outside the church (the church is located in a marketplace). There were many, many people who were not Christians there, and they heard the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed in many ways. The gospel was presented in song, in several dramas, in Thai liturgical dance, and in preaching. Every part of the program was well planned and we know that the Lord will use the planting of the seed of the gospel through this event to make many disciples of Christ.

The gospel was also demonstrated through acts of love. Delicious free food was provided and the members of Bowin UMC were very intentional to be sure everyone was welcomed. They also had some exciting entertainment that we have never seen at a church event. They had fire dancing, where several men and one boy danced while twirling batons with flames! It was truly amazing!

Today (Saturday, Dec. 15th), we will have special Christmas outreach events in Bangsaray and in Pattaya. Pattaya will be a large event with Christian music and lots of delicious Thai and Chinese food. We will be seeking to witness to all who come. The outreach in Pattaya will be very different from the rest, in that it is an international community and a community known world-wide for sex tourism. The outreach will take place in the heart of a very rough part of the city, filled with sex tourists and many of them are Muslim, with neither group being very welcoming of Christians. But the Gospel must be proclaimed everywhere, especially in places like Pattaya where the love of Christ is not known.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Our role as missionaries: We are connectors.

The mission of reaching the world for Jesus Christ is a task that is much larger than any one person, any single congregation, or even any single denomination. The mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ and bringing justice and peace to the worlk requires every Christian and every group of Christians. This is especially true for Thailand where Christians are a small minority but face a huge task. In Thailand, it is very crucial for all Christians to work cooperatively.

We try to set aside one or two days per week to connect with other ministries in Thailand so we can work cooperatively. As Christians, we need each other and we need to be connected. Yesterday we went to Bangkok Bible Seminary, an OMF (Overseas Mission Fellowship) ministry, which is the largest seminary in Thailand. We met with Dr. Manoch who leads this vital ministry and is also the president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand, a group of churches and denominations that we are seeking to connect with for cooperative ministry. Our purpose was to get information on the seminary because we know we will have people called into the ministry who already have college degrees and a seminary would provide the Master of Divinity degree which they will need for leadership in Methodism in Thailand. We were really pleased with all we saw there and look forward to the day when Thai United Methodists will begin studies there. We hope to build a cooperative relationship with Bangkok Bible College and to further connect with Phayao Bible College where United Methodists from Thailand and Laos are now studying.

We are fortunate to have met Dr. Manoch of Bangkok Bible Seminary for his wise counsel that he has developed from years of experience here in Thailand. We have found that Thai Christians are always willng to sacrifice their time and give assistance to us as we have much to learn. Our time with Dr. Manoch was very fruitful.

We also are privileged to serve as connectors across the globe, connecting churches and Christian leaders in the States with Thai Christian leaders and Thai churches. We need to connect and work together to have fruitful ministry in the task that the Lord has set before every Christian.

We have been blessed by many connections across the globe.

One connection that is a great blessing is Santa Clara Korean UMC. They have been very supporting of the Thailand Mission and now have promised to be a sister church with Bowin UMC here in Thailand, providing the financial support for Pastors Jerron and On at Bowin. Now Santa Clara KUMC has two more pastors on staff, and these two serve across the Pacific Ocean from California. The sisters and brothers at Santa Clara are also providing financial support for the new church plant that is starting in Pattaya. Santa Clara KUMC has entered the first sister church relationship and we hope many others will soon follow.

Another connection that is a blessing is with the Rocky Mount District of North Carolina. They are returning in February with a VIM team to help with the need for Christian art. In the States, we tended to take Christian art for granted because it was plentiful and easily available. Here Christian highly treasure any Christian art because it is very scarce and expensive. Most Thai Christians are very new believers, having become Christians in the past year or two. When they became Christians, they removed idols and Buddhist art from their homes, and in most homes there is no Christian symbols and art to replace it with. It is very important not to leave this void but to have these very important Christian symbols and art around their homes to remind them of who they are in Jesus Christ. We look forward to seeing our sisters and brothers from North Carolina as they connect once again with their Christian family here in Thailand.

We are very blessed to serve in this role of being connectors of God's people. God is good!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A New United Methodist Church is Initiated in Bangkok

We would like to introduce you to the pastors of the new United Methodist Church in Bangkok, the Prarachagit Church (God’s Work Church). Pastors Dang and Maow have been serving the Lord together for seven years in the Bangkok area as bi-vocational pastors. They started this congregation about one year ago and they meet for worship and cell ministries every week. We worshipped with the believers at Prarachagit Church and witnessed their passionate worship of the Lord.

Pastors Dang and Maow have three children, who were all adopted several years ago. Dang and Maow took these children in when their parents, who were members of their previous congregation, died suddenly, leaving them homeless. We were impressed by their willingness to adopt these children and give them a new home. Dang and Maow have a heart for providing mercy ministries to those in need in their area and have revealed their heart by sacrificing to help others at Prarachagit church.

Prarachagit church is the first United Methodist church in the capital city and is located west of the airport. We were praying to open a church in the capital and the Lord has answered our prayers. Praise the Lord!

Our Personnel supervisor, Rev. Jungrea Chung, met with Pastors Dang and Maow this Thursday at Prarachagit UMC in Bangkok, the first UMC in the capital city of Thailand.

(pictured left to right: Rev. Jungrea Chung, Sherri, Mike, Pastors Dang and Maow, and our assistant Nittaya)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sawadee Wan Kapkhoon Prajao - Happy Thanksgiving Day

We wish you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and may the Lord, who provides for our every need, receive all the honor, glory, and praise!

It is during the holiday season that we miss our spending these special celebrations with our loved ones back in North America. So our son Jim invited many of the teachers at Sammuk Christian Academy to come celebrate Thank God Day (that is how Thanksgiving Day translates into the Thai language). We had a house full of missionary teachers, some were American, some were Thai, and one was from Taiwan. We had a huge meal, Sherri always cooks enough to feed the Chinese Army, and the two American missionary teachers, Abby and Kathy, brought desserts too. We were especially honored to have our Thai language teacher, Nuc and her mother with us. Nuc's mother, who we call Khun Maa (Mrs. Mom) always prepares lunch for us when we go to Nuc's house to study. She is a wondeful cook and is very, very kind to us. It was a privilege to be able to have Khun Maa in our home and to serve her.

Since there are no American football games on TV, we did a substitute activity. After stuffing ourselves with delicious food, we all played DDR (Dance Dance Revolution), a video game that uses dance pads with up, down, left, and right arrows on the pad. As the music plays, you watch the screen for the arrows, and you step on the appropriate arrow(s) at the correct time. We all had a lot of fun.

Our time with our missionaries helps to feed our souls with the warmth of fellowship and unity of purpose, the purpose of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with all Thai people. We praise the Lord for bringing these fellow missionaries into our lives who inspire us to keep serving the Lord and remain focused on the mission set before us by God.

May the Lord Bless You!

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Welcome Respite

It has been a good few weeks here because life has slowed down a bit. We still have done some traveling to do an interview and accomplish other tasks, but we have been able stay in Chonburi and get back into Thai language studies to a greater degree. We have welcomed the lull in our schedule that will last another week.

Having life slow down a bit has allowed us time to start and finish projects that we had to put on the back burner - develop pastor/lay leader training materials, write letters and postcards to supporting churches and individuals back in the U.S., and all the other back-burner projects.

Pradumri and Bowin churches are planning their large Christmas events and we are excited because these are evangelistic events. Many people from the community come to the church for the first time at these events. Please pray that the Lord will use these Christmas events, the worship music, the Christmas plays, the evangelistic preaching, and the love of the saints to lead many people to Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Morrisseys Meet Marvelous Missionaries

Our trip to Chiang Mai last week was successful, in that we came back with 3 month visas, but is was also an inspirational time for us as we were able to connect with many veteran missionaries here in Thailand.

One veteran missionary we have been trying to connect with is Hella, a German Methodist who is "retired". Retired is in "quotation marks" because she is far from retired. She still does translation work with Wycliffe Translators for a tribal group in S.E. Asia. She has a delightful, gentle, and humble spirit and it was a pleasure to finally meet her. She helped introduce us to a ministry that we have been wanting to connect with for a long time, a large Christian orphanage in Chiang Mai that serves orphans with AIDS called Agape Home (Nikki's Place). Jan (on the right with one of the orphans) gave us a tour and answered our numerous questions as we seek to have a similar ministry started in the near future. Jan has worked with Agape Home since its inception.
At first, most of the AIDS orphans lived only a year or two, but now with the new anti-viral medications, these children are living longer and healthier lives. They have a wonderful ministry and God is blessing their work. Their website is http://www.nikkisplace.org/

We were also able to connect with other ministries, such as the Thailand Bible Society and the Missionary Language Training Center operated by OMF in Lopburi. Hopefully, future GBGM missionaries will be able to start their first 9 month of language training at this school.

Having a car to drive has made all the difference in the world to our ability to connect with other ministries and interview pastoral candidates. Up until now, we used buses and public transportation, which does fine if we go to only one location, but going to multiple sites becomes very time consuming and difficult. Now it is much more efficient.

Driving on the left hand side of the road no longer feels awkward to us, and we wonder if it will feel awkward when we get back to the US and have to drive on the right side of the road again.

We thank everyone who was praying for our visa situation. We are set for another 3 months, which is a good feeling.

Rats! Anthony did it again!

Anthony has a way of trying new experiences that cause us all to stretch. Our trip north to Chiang Mai was one of these.

While Sherri was driving, I noticed many street vendors barbecuing meat on their charcoal grills. When I read their signs, my mind read one thing, but they really said something different. My mind read “Mu yang” which means grilled pork, but the signs really said “Nu yang” which means grilled rat! Nittaya, our translator, mentioned that many of these vendors were from Northeast Thailand where it is common to eat grilled rat, but she said she would never eat it and most Thais do not eat it.

This is where Anthony’s urge for new experiences, especially experiences with bragging rights with his older brothers, kicks in. Anthony asked if we would stop and buy him a grilled rat for the bargain basement price of 20 baht (about 30 cents). The vendor woman was very friendly and proceeded to take a partially cooked rat from a platter piled with them and finish barbecuing the chosen rat on her grill. When all was said and done, Anthony was munching on a fresh piece of BBQ rat. He said it tasted like chicken (doesn’t everything!), so he convinced me to take a bite. To my regret, I took a small bite and found that this beast tasted nothing like chicken. Instead, it tasted like the meat from White Castle hamburgers, confirming a suspicion I had (just joking, I really like White Castles, but this stuff tasted nasty)

Immediately upon re-embarking on our journey north, I asked Sherri to stop at the nearest gas station so I could buy some bitter black coffee to wash the taste out of my mouth. I know this was all just “in my head” and it was fine for consumption, but this was one time it was hard to get past my home culture.

Now it is back to grilled chicken, pork, beef, shrimp….anything but rodents.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Camp Revival Meeting 2007

October 19-21 was a very special weekend for Thailand United Methodists, Pradumri Church sponsored a large camp revival meeting with inspirational worship and lots of games and good fellowship. Both Pradumri and Bowin churches participated in this large event with enthusiasm.
The leaders at Pradumri church had to seek special permission to allow us to come to the camp meeting because it was held at a retreat center at the Thai Royal Naval Base in Sattahip. We were very glad to be allowed to attend because we did not want to miss out on this blessing.
Thai United Methodists truly savor their fellowship with each other and they worship with passion! This camp meeting was truly a revival, because the altar was filled with people rededicating their lives to Christ. We are seeing the spiritual fruit already in the lives of these Thai Christians in their zeal for serving the Lord and telling others about the good news of Christ.
A highlight of the revival was that 17 people were baptized, 10 from Pradumri UMC and 7 from Bowin UMC. There have been a total of 33 people baptized this year and almost all of them adults. It is wonderful that the people coming to Christ and being baptized are of all ages from 8 to 88. The good news of salvation in Jesus Christ is reaching all generations here in Thailand and Christians here believe there is a new openness to Christ in a way that did not exist before in history. We want to see the Thai people worship the Lord Jesus Christ and experience His eternal and abundant life!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Long Live The King

Please pray for the King of Thailand, King Bhumipol, who is almost 80 years old and is the oldest living monarch in the world. The king had a stroke four days ago and is recovering in a hospital in Bangkok now. Please pray for his full recovery.

King Bhumipol is beloved in Thailand for the care and acts of mercy he gives to his people. Although there is a great amount of political division here, all people love the king, and he serves as a uniting force for the Thai people. King Bhumipol has also been a staunch advocate for religious freedom which is enjoyed here in Thailand.

Our prayer is the same as the Thai people, "Long live the king."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blessed by showers and showers of blessings

We are near the end of rain season in Thailand and it is going out with a vengeance. There has been torrential rains for the last several days. For us, this is a great blessing because it has made the weather much cooler.

We came to Thailand to assist Thai Christians in planting churches, training pastors and leaders, and starting mercy ministries. We came to be a blessing to the Thai people, but we are deeply blessed by Thai Christians who go the second mile in helping us. Last week, Pastor Wirot of Li, Thailand took 3 days out of his very busy schedule to navigate meetings with government officials in the process of trying to obtain visas so we can remain in Thailand to do our work here. When we seek to thank him for his hard work in our behalf, he says the classic Thai phrase "mai dtong krengjai", literally meaning,"no need for consideration". This however, is not a good translation, because "krengjai" really has no English word or phrase that sufficiently describes it. In Thailand, when a person has krengjai, they try to impose upon another person as little as possible. Krengjai is involved in everyday life, including asking for a drink of water. When asking for a drink of water, a very polite Thai person will say. "May I have a small amount of water can I" By asking for a small amount of water, they are trying not to impose on the other person. Another way that polite Thai people seek to express krengjai and not impose on others is by taking very small portions of food. Thai people never fill their plates with food when they are at a person's home. They take small portions and will go back for more after each small portion is eaten. It is their way of trying to not impose and be a burden on others. So when a Thai host or hostess says "no need for consideration", it is their way of saying "please make yourself at home, eat all the food you see for there is no need for small portions because we are all friends and family here." When Pastor Wirot sacrifices his precious time for us and then says "no need for krengjai", he is saying that there is no need to express a large amount of appreciation for his efforts because we are all friends and family here."

This week, we were blessed by Peter and Nuc. Peter is a first year student at Phayao Bible College, and is training to be a pastor. His wife Nuc is our Thai language teacher and they are close friends of ours. Recently we purchased a pickup truck because our duties require extensive travel here. Peter and Nuc spent all day with us sitting in government offices to get the vehicle inspected, registered, and insured and then helped us get the vehicle to a mechanic to have some work done on it. Every time I tried to express our deep appreciation for their sacrifice for us, Peter and Nuc tell us "This is God blessing you. God loves you very much and takes care of all your needs". God has blessed us through the love and devotion of our Thai sisters and brothers. It has been very humbling, that even after being here for almost a year, we are very dependent upon our Thai sisters and brothers for doing almost everything we do here. We have come to Thailand to be a blessing but we find we are being blessed more than we can ever give in return.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Burning chilli sparks terror fear

We read this article on BBC news online that tickled our funny bones. Everyone who experiences Thai food that is prepared in the Thai way know how spicy the food can be. But we never imagined something like this would happen. But then again, this saying is true: "Truth is stranger than fiction."

Here is the BBC news article:

"A pot of burning chilli sparked fears of a biological terror attack in central London. Firefighters wearing protective breathing apparatus were called to D'Arblay Street, Soho, after reports of noxious smoke filling the air. Police closed off three roads and evacuated homes following the alert. Specialist crews broke down the door to the Thai Cottage restaurant at 1900 BST on Monday where they discovered the source - a 9lb pot of chillies.

The restaurant had been preparing Nam Prik Pao, a red-hot Thai dip which uses extra-hot chillies which are deliberately burnt. But the smell prompted several members of the public to call the emergency services. Alpaslan Duven, a Turkish journalist based in the restaurant's building, said: "I was sitting in the office when me and my chief start coughing and I said this was something really dodgy.

"I looked out of the window and saw people rushing and then we heard the sirens." Supranee Yodmuang, the restaurant supervisor, was above the restaurant when she received a phone call from her boss. It was about 4pm when I saw the police who were closing off the roads but I didn't know why. My boss rang me and said I had to get out of the building because of a chemical attack." She added: "Because we're Thai, we're used to the smell of chillies."

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "The street was closed off for three hours while we were trying to discover the source of the odour."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Week We Received A Lesson on "The Connection"

We have had a great and fantastic two weeks!

Two weeks ago, we hired a new member of the Thailand Mission Team. Meet Nittaya, who is our assistant. She is an incredibly gifted young woman who comes from Victory Church in Sriracha. Nittaya is fluent in English (she spent 3 years in high school in Canada) and Thai is her native language. She will be doing translating training materials and curriculum for pastors and church leaders as well as helping in other translating needs such as VIM teams and meetings. We are very blessed to have her on board. Her translation services came in handy when Bishop Jung (Northern Illinois Conference), and Drs. Elaine and Philip Amerson (Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary) came to Thailand last week on an exploratory visit to find ways to work with each other to provide theological education to United Methodist pastors and church leaders in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.
Bishop Jung and the Amersons went to Bangsaray to have dinner and fellowship with our cell group members there. While there, Bishop Jung was able to pray for healing for a man who had cancer and was very near death and Sherri had the privilege of praying with that man to receive Christ! Bishop Jung's sincere love was experienced by all in the cell group. Next, we visited Pastors Jerron and On at the Bowin Church and Dr. Elaine was used by the Lord to be a source of encouragement for this young couple in ministry.
Bishop Jung and the Amersons also met with Dr. Somsak of Phayao Bible College, who is a tremendous source of wisdom on Christian education and church ministry in Thailand. On Sunday, Bishop Jung preached while Pastor Sarah translated, and they were a great duo for the Lord. Bishop Mawia of Burma was able to join us for worship at Pradumri, and it was a privilege to have him with us. Please pray for the people of Burma, especially our UM sisters and brothers there.
Over the course of 4 days, Bishop Jung and Drs. Philip and Elaine Amerson gave us a lesson on "The Connection". They are helping us to connect with people from all over United Methodism that have a connection to the people of Thailand. We have many pages of notes from our meetings, with many names of people we will be contacting that can help. Our UM connection is a beautiful relationship. Bishop Jung extended an invitation to us to participate in the Korean United Methodist Mission Conference in Chicago at the end of October. Sherri will be attending this event.
While Sherri is back in the states, she will also attend the Annual Meeting of the Kentucky Conference United Methodist Women. Last year we could not attend because we were leaving for Thailand, so it is a serendipitous opportunity for Sherri to be there this year. The United Methodist Women of Kentucky are our prayer warriors and supporters. They are a blessing to us and the people of Thailand!
Well, it is getting close to the one year mark, and that means we must apply for another one year work visa. Please pray that all goes well and smooth in this process. We must be able to remain in Thailand to do our work here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Welcoming a Team of Veterans

This week we went to the Awana Hotel in Bangkok to welcome Lorna Jost, Administrator of VIM for the North Central Jurisdiction and eleven Conference VIM Coordinators. They were on their way for a VIM project in Cambodia and they had a day to spend with us to hear about the needs for volunteers here in Thailand. We also had time to see the Royal Palace, take a boat ride on the Chayo Phraya River, and see the Jade Museum (which was really just a tourist trap to sell jewelry and coffee).
It was wonderful to connect with these veterans who have led VIM teams for many years and in numerous places around the world. Having them here was an education for us too. They gave us many ideas to use and helped to give us a better perspective on how to host VIM teams most effectively. One of my seminary professors used to say, "One hour with a scholar is worth 1000 hours in the card catalog of the library". Well one hour with these well experienced servants of God was a tremendous help to us, and we hope to see them again, bringing volunteer teams with them.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Seeing Better, Seeing Jesus Better

We are so grateful to the members of the Santa Clara KUMC Summer of 2007 Mission Team to Thailand, and the entire Santa Clara church family! The team arrived in Bangkok on Monday at 11:55 pm. After many hours of flying, there was still a ride to the hotel in ChonBuri; then, sorting through baggage to reconsolidate items needed for the Eyeglass Ministry they would carry out in Bowin, Pattaya, and in ChonBuri. Early Tuesday morning, the team drove to Bowin. "Plans" were that there'd be an hour for worship & final details to be worked out. Of course, "plans" sometimes change! By the time the team arrived at Bowin, rows of seats were filled with people waiting for an eye exam. A team huddle for prayer, and everyone 'jumped in!' After a full day of seeing people, fitting them for eye-glasses, taking family photos, twisting balloons for delighted children, and presenting the gospel, the team was finally able to breathe! One of the great blessings was seeing an elderly widow (who was thought by many to be blind) wearing her new glasses and reading aloud the Scripture passage painted on the wall at Bowin UMC: Phil. 1:21... "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain." We all give praise to God! Day 2 at Bowin went smoother; Day 3 at Pattaya was non-stop. There the team helped us build connections with Christian leaders within the area, which will be important as Pattaya is a UM church planting location for the near future. The team did their last service day at Pradumri UMC in ChonBuri. (These pictures were taken at Pradumri). Throughout the preparation time and while the team served in Thailand, our prayer was that many people would not only "see better," but that they would see Jesus better. Prayers were answered, as many seeds were planted, and numerous decisions were made for Christ. Each of the churches celebrated as people made professions of faith on Sunday. Please pray for these new believers - that they will grow strong in faith and in faith-sharing!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Election Day is Dec. 23rd

Now that the new constitution has been approved by the people of Thailand, the date for elections has been set for Dec. 23rd. Please pray that the election will provide a government that has a broad base of support so that there can be political and economic stability.

As missionaries, we do not get involved in politics at all, howeever Thai people often ask us our opinions on political matters, especially our views on former Prime Minister Thaksin. We simply tell them that we want the Thai people to have a government that they choose that is a just and good government.

This week we will be meeting with Rev. Jong Sung Kim, our programming supervisor and also with his supervisor, Rev. Sam Dixon. It will be good to meet with them to discuss future plans and challenges for the Thailand Mission. On Sunday, Rev. Dixon will be preaching at Pradumri UMC and Rev. Kim will be presenting awards of recognition to Pastors Wiset and Sarah as the pastors of the first UMC in Thailand. The leaders at Pradumri UMC have been looking forward to this celebration for a long time and we know it will be a joyous event.

Next week, the VIM team from Santa Clara KUMC will come to provide free eyeglasses at Bo Win, Pattaya, and Chonburi. They will also be sharing a video on the life of Jesus with everyone who comes and church members will evangelize with everyone who comes. We praise the Lord for the help they will provide in meeting physical needs and spreading the gospel in Thailand.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Praises for a Pickup, Prayers for Pattaya, and Polling for Politics

We want to thank all of our fellow Kentucky United Methodists who helped to purchase this pickup truck for Bowin UMC. Now they have a means of providing transportation to some of their congregation who would not be able to go to church unless someone picks them up. Pastors Jerron and On described this pickup to us as a "truck that seats 15 people" In our minds, we imagined a huge truck but forgot that 15 Thai people can easily fit into a regular size pickup. We joke about this vehicle as being a "15 Thai" or "8 American" sized vehicle.

Pastor Kyung Hwan Oh and Mrs. Soonok Oh of

Cerritos (CA) KUMC visited us for several days to see the Mission in Thailand and spend time with the Christians here. It was a blessing to fellowship with them. They first went to China to spend time with the Christians there and then they came here. Pastor Oh prayed for the city of Pattaya where we are in the midst of planting cell groups which will form a new congregation there.

Today (Sunday, August 19), the polling places are open all over Thailand as Thai citizens vote on a new constitution. Please pray that the results of this election will bring about peace and unity here and that it will lead to new elections soon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A New Radio Ministry

Noyna, the praise band leader at Pradumri UMC has had a vision of reaching out to the 300,000 people of Chonburi city through a Christian radio program. Noyna (the man with the headphones in the picture to the right) has started a new radio program called Music OneWay and it airs live on Saturday and Sunday nights from 7:30 - 9:00. Noyna invites guest Christian musicians to come and play live worship music and he also has a time of teaching the Bible during the program. The response from listeners has been outstanding, and many have become interested in learning more about Jesus Christ and the ministries of our church. This new radio program started just two weeks ago under the sponsorship of the United Methodist Church. Please pray for this ministry which reaches tens of thousands of listeners who will hear the gospel of Jesus for the first time. Pray that they will be receptive and seek to have Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wish List - Updated August 1, 2008

Every member of a United Methodist Church has made a vow to support each other with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, and our service. Usually we think of doing this at the local level, but we also do this at a global level.

1. Give your Prayers to the Thailand Mission Initiative
Be a Prayer Warrior, keeping the mission here in Thailand in your daily prayers. Check this blog regularly for updates on what is happening here so you can pray for the needs here and praise God for the fruit He is giving to the ministry here.

2. Give of your Presence to the Thailand Mission InitiativeWe cannot be physically present at your church, but you can be a Herald for the Thailand Mission by getting the good news of what God is doing in Thailand out to your fellow church members. In doing this, help to complete the connection of Presence in your church that we cannot do on our own. Print out articles from our blog and put them on your church bulletin board. Put the URL (internet address) of our blog in your church worship bulletin and have us be a link on your church website. Highlight the Thailand Mission in your UMW meeting, Sunday School class, UMM meeting or any other group.

3. Give of your Gifts to the Thailand Mission Initiative.
Your gifts give hope to orphans, makes disciples for Christ in Thailand, provides education and training for Thai pastors and church leaders.
Click on this link to give to the Thailand Mission Initiative: http://msmorrissey.blogspot.com/2008/07/how-to-support-thailand-mission.html

4. Give of your Service to the Thailand Mission Initiative.
Our greatest need is for teams to come to conduct English camps. This is a great outreach that is appreciated by the churches and by the community at large.
Contact us by e-mail at thailandumc@gmail.com if you are interested.

Friday, August 03, 2007

No other name....I will give you rest

"There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them." - Acts 4:12
Perhaps it seems odd to see a photo of a high-rise building posted on our blog... This is the Avana Bangkok Hotel. Even in Bangkok, a city of 11 million people, you can't miss this building if you're on a nearby highway. An incredibly large sign is posted vertically, down the side of the building: I Y JESUS. Yesterday we had the joy of meeting Mr. Trisiripisal (owner of the Avana) and two of his sons. We say 'joy' because Mr. Trisiripisal has a powerful testimony, and because the love of Christ is evident when you meet this man. For over 30 years this man suffered from chronic insomnia. He had 'tried everything' to alleviate his torment; the medical community could provide no relief, nor could spiritists or mediums. Then, one day a friend invited him to 'come along to church with me.' When the pastor gave the invitation, he added the line: "If you trust in Jesus Christ, He will help you." Mr. Trisiripisal decided, "This is a no-lose proposition" and decided to yield his life to Christ. That night was the first night he experienced full and peaceful sleep! The truth of Acts 4:12 was strongly confirmed upon waking - Jesus is not only our Salavation for eternity, but for here & now as well! Since then, Mr. Trisiripisal's wife, 7 children, and their families have all become followers of Christ as well; and this gentleman has become a faithful and mature Christian leader. He is involved with cell groups, (including a 'family cell') and leads Bible studies with his staff, and local Thai business leaders. As Christ's servant he also serves the church at large, by providing hotel discounts to Christian groups / mission teams. So.... if you're ever led by the Lord to do a mission trip to Thailand, and you're going to be in Bangkok, we encourage you to check out the website at www.avanahotel.com when making your rooming arrangements. And if while walking through the lobby,you cross paths with a tall, distinguished looking man with smiling eyes, know that this might be the hotel owner who received the blessings of the One who said, "Come unto Me... and I will give you rest..."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pattaya and HIV/AIDS

Later this year, we hope to send two missionary pastors to Pattaya to plant cell groups there. There is already one healthy, active cell there now, and when we have several cells, we will combine them to form a congregation.

Pattaya, is the second largest tourist destination in Thailand (Bangkok is first). Unfortunately, sex tourism is the greatest attraction in this city, which is notorious for its child prostitution. We found an article on BBC News Online that gives a vignette and so we copied and pasted it here.

Thailand's child trafficking industry By Thembi Mutch BBC News, Thailand

A report from the US state department has criticised Thailand for not doing enough to combat the illegal trafficking of women and children from Burma, Cambodia, Laos and China. Thembi Mutch meets women and children who have been caught up in Thailand's trafficking business.

"I came with my aunt from the countryside to work in the seaside resort of Pattaya," Keng says. She pauses. "I worked as a waiter in a bar near here. At first I didn't realise it was even possible for men to have sex with men, or boys, and at that time I still looked like a boy. I was only 16 and my family had various problems, so I was just working everything out." Keng is 22, very slim, and now an incredibly beautiful woman. The operation to change from a man to a woman took place last year. It cost her several thousand dollars, which she earned as a prostitute on the streets. There is nothing about her that suggests she was ever male - her voice is soft and she is dainty and feminine. I find myself really liking her quiet dignity and gentle manner.

"I do other work," she says. "I go to Bangkok, to the Grand Plaza or to the station, and collect boys between the ages of 11 and 13. I bring them back here to the bar. I usually try and get 10 boys or so, but if there have been police raids in Bangkok it can be harder to find boys. "When I approach them I have to be very careful. For
the first few days they obey me - some of them haven't eaten properly for weeks
- but we still lock them in the attic at the bar, partly so they won't escape, partly so that the police or rescue agencies can't find them."

Child trafficking

Keng is a trafficker - a trafficker of children, into prostitution, mostly for Western men. She tells me how she hires a van and goes to the countryside if she cannot find children in the city. Keng herself was trafficked, says my researcher, and she is just as much of a victim, he argues, as the children she traffics. She has no other job options open to her, and she is shunned publicly in shops, restaurants and bars outside the red light district where she works. Keng points to a child sitting on the road across from us: "That one," she says, "is from Cambodia. He was living on the
street in Bangkok." Later we interview this boy, Suni, who is jittery and incredibly nervous, and constantly smokes. He says he is 10. He describes having sex with various men in a detached and disturbing way. He is more animated talking about the money he earns to play computer games or buy speed to get him through the night. "You know," Keng says, "he has got a much better life with me than he ever had at home or on the street."

Groomed for sex

Prey Vang Province is one of the poorest regions in Cambodia. It is easy to cross from there into Thailand so each year thousands of children are trafficked across the border, often by parents. In Buddhist cultures the debt owed to parents by children is deeply imbued into families, especially in the countryside where the idea of destiny is wholeheartedly embraced. One mother there told me how, two years ago, she had travelled to Pnomh Penh with three of her children to beg on the streets. She is
illiterate, owns no land and this was a last, desperate bid to survive. On the second day in the city, her nine-year-old girl disappeared. She is convinced her daughter was kidnapped for sex work.

Three other mothers she knows in the village tell a similar story. In another village, a group of girls aged between seven and 13 tell me their experiences. They are articulate and open. Four of them had been kidnapped and groomed for sex work for a month. They had travelled to the city with their families to beg, but once there, had been coaxed by the offer of a meal into a house in a suburb. Then they were locked away and made to watch pornography. Two girls escaped, and the other two were rescued.

But poverty and a desire not to confront difficult issues - especially those around sexuality, rape and prostitution - means that many issues just get swept under the carpet. Sometimes it is just greed that makes parents turn a blind eye to what they are letting their own children in for. But mostly, say the experts, it is ignorance and a lack of opportunities. Those who have already been trafficked know the dangers. I asked the girls in the village what their advice to other children might be to avoid being preyed on by traffickers.

The youngest replies: "It's really difficult if your mum asks you to get money to feed the family, you want to help. But it's best to go to school, and not to beg."

Please pray as we seek to plant cells groups in Pattaya and have a United Methodist Church that is a beacon of hope in this city where hope is difficult to find.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

"The Missionary Life" can be an adventure!

One thing that we have learned here in Thailand is that the best made plans can fall apart and one has to learn to be easy going about it all.  Getting upset and uptight doesn't make the solution to the problem happen any faster here.  This ability to keep not get upset and anxious is called "Cool Heart" .  We have had many opportunities to practice our Jai Yen this week and the Lord replaced our plans with something better each time.

When I (Mike) went to pick up our son Jim, who is a teacher at Sammuk Christian Academy, I hit a speed bump on campus too fast (didn't see it in the dark) and blew out the rear tire.  The school is very isolated, so we had to walk a long way to where public transportation could take us home.  At first I was a bit frustrated (although Jim was full of Jai Yen!) .  However, God turned the time into a great time to walk with Jim and talk for a long time (90 minutes) without interruption.  I realized afterwards that God allowed the tire to blowout so I could have a great blessing.  Thank you Lord.

The next day, I went to bring the motorcycle to a repair shop and I had to walk it quite a distance to the nearest shop.  I was really, really hot when I arrived there with the motorcycle and was thinking about how I could have used this time more productively.  But as I watched the mechanic replace the tire, I saw great human kindness in action.  A very thin man dressed in rags walked his bicycle up to the shop and asked if he could fill his tires with air.  The mechanic gave a big smile to him and invited him to fill his tires with air.  The man with the bike moved in very slow motion and was having difficulty using the air hose, but he refused any help that I offered.  I could not figure out why he thought the tires needed air because they were already OK.  But soon, instead of filling the tires with air, he managed to let all the air out of his tires.  He then asked the mechanic for help and the mechanic gave a knowing grin and helped the man out.  Then he asked the man to wait a moment while he helped another customer.  When he finished helping the other customer, he gave the money he received from that job plus all the change he had in his pocket to the man on the bike.  After the man on the bike rode away, I figured out that this is a daily routine.  The same man on the bike comes every day to get air in his tires and each time lets all the air out and has to ask for help.  And each time the mechanic, with great patience and Jai Yen, fills his tires and gives him money to buy some food.  I thanked the Lord for the opportunity to witness the kindness of this mechanic who gives each day to a man in deep poverty.  I needed to see that act of kindness more than I needed to type a sermon that afternoon.

God is good.  And our Heavenly Father wants to use everything in our life to shape us to be better servants.  What seems like inconveniences and annoyances to me are many times God trying to slow me down to give a greater blessing and to mold my character to be more like Christ.  Thank you Lord, for blown out tires, long walks with my son Jim, and the opportunity to see mercy in action.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Starting our 9th month now

I’m posting the blog from an internet café today because our internet is down once again. We are blessed to have many alternatives to use when that happens.

Life is back to a regular schedule now and Anthony has started his homeschooling in full swing now. He was immersed in language studies his first six months here, but now he has a regular schedule of classes: Geometry, Biology, Literature, Grammar, History, Bible, and Computer Classes (Microsoft Excel). Anthony is very devoted to his studies and we are proud of his progress and his good attitude.

Our middle son Jim is now serving as a missionary with Sammuk Christian Academy here in Chonburi. Jim serves 2 days per week at Sammuk and then he teaches 4 days per week at Anuban Chonburi School, the largest school in the province. Jim serves as a bridge from the Christian community to this public school at the request of the director of Anuban Chonburi, who desires to have teachers of the same caliber and commitment as the missionary teachers who serve at Sammuk. It is also a wonderful blessing that Jim is able to serve as a missionary at a location that is only a 4 miles away from us.

We are entering our 9th month here in Thailand and I think we have found our groove with language studies. Our Thai studies are progressing very well thanks to Nuc, our good friend and wise teacher. She knows when to push us and when to ease up. Nuc is constantly encouraging us and telling us not to be too serious (we do tend to get too serious because we want to be fluent right now, hehehe). We praise God for our sister Nuc.

Santa Clara KUMC helped us tremendously by creating a video for promoting the Thailand Mission. The video is brief enough that it can be used in Sunday morning worship services. We will be posting the video soon on another website and provide a link to it from this blog. We also hope to make a 10 minute PowerPoint presentation that will have excerpts of this video along with much information about the Thailand Mission that can be used in gatherings where more time is available. Thank you very much, Santa Clara KUMC, for helping us in this way.

Pastor Gary and Mrs. Diane Wedgewood of the Riverside UMC in Tennessee took two days of their vacation in Thailand to visit us and see what United Methodists are doing in Thailand. We enjoyed the pleasure of their company and hope to see them again. Gary and Diane told us how wonderful Riverside UMC is and how blessed they are to serve there. Someday we would love to visit there.

Our lives should have some semblance of an orderly schedule starting next week. Because we have had to travel quite a bit in the last six weeks, we have not been able to meet with Pastor Sarah of Pradumri Church often enough. We look forward to resuming our Tuesday afternoon meetings with her. Pastor Sarah is at the heart of the Thailand Mission and our partner in ministry. We lean upon her in much of what we do. There is the saying which is very true: “If you want to get something done right, ask someone who is very busy.” This is especially true of Pastor Sarah, who is busy from early in the morning until the late hours of night. Yet whenever we call upon Sarah to help us (which is very often), she always helps us with a big smile that matches her big heart. Thank you very much, Pastor Sarah, and we will see you on Tuesday!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Saint of Saints

Thank you for your prayers as we traveled to Phayao Bible College. As we prepared to leave Chon Buri to travel north, we learned that Dr. Somsak's father had died, and that funeral arrangements were in process. We were a bit uncertain as to whether we should continue with plans, but plans were confirmed when Pradumri UMC took up a special offering to be delivered with their love to Dr. Somsak's family. At Phayao we saw the Body of Christ in action. Students were doing preparations to assist with funeral arrangements, special music, a power point presentation which shares the gospel, and assigning people to seat people or serve food. Funeral observations last for several days in Thailand. Christian funerals are no exception. The difference is that each night there is an evangelistic presentation of the Gospel -- sharing the message of salvation through Jesus. At Monday night's service Hebrews 9:27 was mentioned: "Everyone must die once, and after that be judged by God." This truth of God, like the Gospel, is new to many Thai people.
While at Phayao we met with 6 Laotian UM's who are training for pastoral work in Laos. One of the students came with his wife and two of their children. A third child, their youngest, had recently died. In the midst of their grief, they were being obedient to God by coming to study God's Word. Our hearts went out to this family. Please remember this family and the other students in your prayers. They have many challenges with their visas, and their funds are less than minimal.
One of the most humbling aspects of our trip was meeting Dr. Ursuala, the Dean of Education. Dr. Ursula can only be described as "a saint of saints!" At the age of 84, Dr. Ursula, a British physician - turned - educational missionary, continues to teach a full class load, serves as the school's treasurer, and basically "knows everything & everyone's situation" on campus. Dr. Ursula made it a point of making fried egg & PBJ sandwiches for us when she knew we were on the way to an evening funeral service, saying "You need to have sustainance!" Dr. Ursula was able to explain the class system at Phayao, guide us to check out their library (which is meager), and give us a lot of insight into the lives of students who are preparing for various ministries. Each of us left thinking, "That's the kind of Christian I want to be when I'm 84 (if I reach that age)!"
Well, enough for now. Be encouraged! God is at work in mighty ways -- and in small ways....

Sunday, June 17, 2007

There's No Place Like Home!

Well, Sherri is back home from Kentucky and Anthony and I came home from vacation with the Ahn family from Santa Clara KUMC. We are very ready to get back to our ministry here in Thailand and are excited about what the Lord has ahead for the Christians of Thailand. We love vacation and it was good to have a time of refreshing, but it is always good to come home!

Sherri and I will be going up to Phayao Bible College next week to meet the faculty and students there. Dr. Somsak, president of Phayao Bible College will be our host. He is a godly man who is a source of wisdom and knowledge as we seek to plant new churches and initiate mercy ministries here in Thailand. We praise God for Dr. Somsak's friendship. We will be visiting with Peter, our good Thai friend who is a student at Phayao as well as visiting with the six United Methodist pastors from Laos who are training there.

Our son Jim graduated from Berea College and he is now in Thailand serving as a missionary at Sammuk Christian Academy, which is only 4 miles from our house. We are very proud of him and know he will make an eternal difference in people's lives as he serves the Lord here as a teacher.

Sherri begins training church leaders and pastors on Cell Group Ministry starting on Sunday. All new UM churches in Thailand will be based upon the Cell Model, which can create self-sustaining churches here.

Over the course of the next four months, we have several goals:
1. Plant a new church and orphan ministry at Bangsaray;
2. Plant a new church at Pattaya;
3. Establish a Thailand United Methodist Foundation with the Thai government, so the United Methodist Church can own land;
4. Register the Thailand United Methodist Foundation with the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand so we can have legal standing with the government;
5. Plan with church leaders on locations to plant 5 more regional churches across Thailand;
6. Search for land (or a building with land) to purchase for a Thailand Mission Center and Pastor's Training School in Bangkok, near the airport;
7. Search for land (or a building with land) to purchase for a new church building for Pradumri UMC in Chon Buri;
8. Begin discussions with Pastors Jerron and On at Bo Win UMC to initiate new economic development ministries at their church;
9. Continue making connections with Christian leaders in Thailand so we can work together cooperatively; and
10. Continue training UMC pastors and leaders here in Thailand.

Obviously, our plate is very full, and we love it. Please keep us in your prayers that we and the church leaders here can discern the Lord's Will so that our plans are His plans.

When the Ahn Family from Santa Clara was here, they visited Bo Win UMC. After the service, the members met with us to discuss their needs. Some of the needs they mentioned were for economic development programs and for a pickup truck to provide transportation to people who have no way to get to church. I knew these would be mentioned because Sherri and I have talked with them before about this. But then they mentioned other needs that they have because they are a minority. Christians are less than 1% of the population in a Buddhist nation. Being a minority creates many problems. The Christians at Bo Win UMC asked for help to purchase a cemetary for Christians. At this time there is no Christian cemetary near Bo Win. So when a Christian dies, their families are forced to bring their loved one to the Buddhist cemetary and they must have a funeral service where idols are worshipped. My heart ached for them as I heard this and I told them we will definitely need to solve this problem.
Another request was for a Christian elementary school. Religion classes are required in Thailand, which almost always means Buddhist religious classes. Young children from Christian families are forced to learn and recite Buddhist teachings and prayers. This is totally unacceptable and we must do something. We will be seeking to discover the best solution to this problem which we will find all over Thailand.

Sherri is overflowing with joy at the positive response of our sisters and brothers of the Kentucky Annual Conference. She had a great two days there and came back renewed, knowing how many people are praying for us and supporting the Thailand United Methodist Mission.

We are truly blessed!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Good News about our son Jim

We have very good news. Our son Jim will be graduating from Berea College with a degree in Psychology this weekend. We are very proud of him. A few weeks after graduation, Jim will be coming to Thailand to serve as a missionary at Sammuk Christian Academy, a Christian school about 5 miles away from us. He will be teaching at Sammuk for 2 days each week and will teach at a local public school called Anuban Chon Buri School for the other 3 days. He will be a Christian witness at both schools. About 75% of Sammuk Christian Academy's students are not Christiand and about 99% of the students at Anuban are not Christian, so Jim will serve as a Christian witness to his students. Please keep him in prayer as he enters the front lines of ministry.

Sherri heads back to Kentucky tomorrow to attend Jim's graduation and to see our children, and Madeline (our granddaughter), and to go to the Kentucky Annual Conference. Be sure to stop by the booth Sherri will have set up and say hello. Anthony and I will go to Phuket for several days to vacation while Sherri is in the States. We really need this time of refreshing, because it has been a very fast-paced 7 months here.

Since we will be away, we will not be back onto the blog for another 3 weeks.

May the Lord Bless You!

Friday, May 18, 2007

WISH LIST - Updated May 18, 2007

Wish List - Updated May 18, 2007

Help Start New Churches in Thailand
Help with the equipment expenses of starting a new church
Remodel building, Furniture, Books, Church Supplies $5,000.00
Musical Instruments and Sound System $2,500.00
Used Pickup Truck $5,000.00
Total Launch expenses for one church $12,500.00

Help with pastoral support for a church planting pastor for one year
Pastor Salary $5,400.00
Rent $8,000.00
Total Pastoral and Church Support for One Year $13,400.00
(1st floor of the building is used as the church sanctuary and the 2nd floor is the children’s Sunday School room and pastor’s apartment)

Become a Sister Church!Churches that help start a new church in Thailand will have a sister church relationship with the new congregation. Sister churches connect with each other through e-mail and letters, and VIM missions trips

Help Start New Homes for
Orphans and Indigent Seniors

Help with start-up expenses for a home
Staff Salary $5,400.00
Rent $8,000.00
Used Pickup Truck $5,000.00
Operating Expenses (Food, Clothes, School Fees) $12,000.00
Total expenses for launching the Home $30.400.00

If you, your mission committee, church, or district would like to contribute to covering the costs of these items and strengthen the work of the Thailand Mission, please follow these easy steps: Your church (or district) treasurer can forward funds to your Conference Office, with the Project Advance Number written in the memo section of the check. (Thailand Advance # 00403A).Please contact us by email and let us know which project you are supporting, with information on how we can contact you / your church, so we can thank you.
Email Address: thailandumc@gmail.com

VIM teams needed:

  • Music teams for evangelism and outreach
  • Construction teams for re-building homes
  • Connectional teams to bring needed supplies and discover what the Lord is doing through the UMC in Thailand.

Short-term missioners are needed to teach English classes at Bangsaray at a school which has a very high population of AIDS orphans (30%+). You will need to provide your own support. Please contact us if you feel that you may be called to serve in this way.

God's People are good people, and you have been generous and thoughtful in your support of your mission in Thailand. We give you are heartfelt thanks for all that you do to make a difference for the Kingdom of God!
Mike and Sherri Morrissey

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Whirlwind Week (Introduction)

Brace yourself, because this is going to be a very long blog because so much has happened. We will take it one entry at a time and spread it out over four blogs, so please make sure you read all of the previous three blogs that have these titles à Whirlwind Week Part 1: A New Conference and Bishop for Thailand; Whirlwind Week Part 2: A Day of Surveying for locations of new church plants and new ministries to orphans and poor elder citizens; Whirlwind Week Part 3: The First Sunday Morning Worship Service at Bo Win; and Pictures of the First Morning Worship Service at Bo Win

Whirlwind Week Part 1: A New Conference and Bishop for Thailand

We have been in much prayer over training and credentialing new pastors in Thailand. There are many limitations here, namely a different language, and a very limited amount of Christian literature and resources and only a few good Bible colleges. There was also complications due to our lack of conference status. Without any conference status, the United Methodist Churches of Thailand would need to be connected with an Annual Conference in the United States or a Central Conference outside of the U.S. The complication with this is that we would be under the same Discipline requirements as the U.S. church, and that can be a problem here. For example, for someone to be qualified to be recommended as a Local Pastor, they have to be a member of the United Methodist Church for 2 years. If we used that qualification here, we would not be able to have Local Pastors for another 18 months. There are many other similar complications that occur when using standards and procedures that make sense for UM churches in the U.S. but do not make sense for this context. Well our prayers have been answered in a way bigger than what we imagined.

The United Methodist Churches of Thailand have joined together with the churches in Laos and Vietnam to form the Southeast Asia Mission Conference. Each nation will be its own district within the Conference. Thailand will be the headquarters for this new Mission Conference. We were very pleased to hear that Bishop Larry Goodpaster of the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference has been assigned as our new bishop. Bishop Goodpaster (in the picture to the right) is well known for his passion for evangelism, and we look forward to working under his leadership.

Now that we are a Mission Conference, we can set standards and procedures which make sense for our status as a pioneering initiative of United Methodists. It makes our life simpler in many ways, but will also make things happen at a much faster pace. One thing that will happen faster is the development of a Course of Study School for Local Pastors, as well as a United Methodist extension seminary here in Thailand. These schools will benefit United Methodists in all three nations.

Also this week we received great news. Peter, who tutors us in the Thai language with his wife, Nuc (Ruth), has felt called to be a pastor for a while now. We have talked together quite a bit about the options available to him for pastoral training. Last week at the opening service for the new UM church at Bo Win, Peter spoke with Dr. Somsak, president of Phayao Bible College in Northern Thailand. After speaking with Dr. Somsak, Peter knew that now was the time to begin studies, so he will go to Phayao Bible College starting in 3 weeks. He will work and study there during the weekdays and come home each weekend to his wife who will continue to tutor us. Peter will be in school for 4 years to receive his degree in Biblical Studies. Peter and Nuc will also work with the Cell Groups in Pattaya and Bangsaray, where we expect the next new churches will be planted. Peter and Nuc are a remarkable couple and have become very close friends to us. We know the Lord will accomplish mighty things in them and through them. (They are in the picture on the right)

Kapkoon Prajao! (Thank You Lord!)

Whirlwind Week Part 2: A Day of Surveying for locations of new church plants and new ministries to orphans and families in crisis.

Saturday, May 12th – our Thai language tutors, Peter and Nuc, took us for a tour areas that are an hour (or more) drive to the south of Chon Buri, where we live. The first city we visited was Sattahip, which is an hour and a half drive south of us. Pradumri UMC has an inactive cell group here. It was active at one time, but was too great of a distance to sustain. We saw no church there in this city which contains several large naval bases. Sailors in the Thai navy have no place to go to church here and the members of the inactive cell group have no where to go to church. Our hearts ached for the lost souls in this city that needs Jesus Christ.

Next, we participated in our church’s Cell group in Bangsaray. We enjoyed worshipping with these people who are very poor and yet are very generous with the little that they have. It is very humbling to sit in a house with no furniture,no walls, and no bathroom (you get the picture) and have them feed us a bowl of soup filled with meat. They sacrifice what little they have to lavish hospitality on us.

Bangsaray is located south of Pattaya and is a community that has been overwhelmed by AIDS, which was spread through the sex tourism of Pattaya. Here in Bangsaray we see the trail of devastation that AIDS has caused here. We witnessed the devastation after the cell group meeting. One of the families of the cell group is an orphan named Googeek, who lives with her 85 year old grandparents (are very common arrangement). Googeek could not register for school because she did not have money for school uniforms, books, supplies, and other fees. We took Googeek and her grandfather to the school so we could purchase these items. While there we met with school officials who asked for the help of the United Methodist Church. There are a little over 1000 students there and about 30% of them are orphans. 300 orphans in just one public school in this area! Of the other 70%, almost all live in terrible poverty. The school receives government funds to help the orphans, but it is such a small amount (about $120 U.S. Dollars per year) that they can only meet the needs of a portion. They pull funds from other sources, such as their funds to hire English teachers, so they can afford to feed the orphans and other poor children. All children receive free meals, regardless of their ability to pay.

The school officials did not ask for money. Instead they asked for a volunteer English teacher, because learning English helps to secure better paying jobs for these children who need hope. We are praying that the Lord raises up someone who has a steady source of income already, such as a pension, who would volunteer 3 months to a year in this ministry.

We are praying for a partnership with this school in which the church can use the facilities for worship and provide the assistance needed to help the families in crisis here. We will talk more about this in the future as plans unfold.

Next, we went to South Pattaya to the a cell group which meets in this large city (over 500,000 residents). This is a strong cell group of several young families who are passionate in their faith in Jesus. They expressed the great need for a church in their area and were encouraged by our commitment to form a new church there. We will seek to form 2 more cell groups and then have the cell groups unite to form a new church. We hope to form a new cell group in North Pattaya, where a member of Pradumri UMC lives. Unlike South and Central Pattaya, which has a very large foreign population, North Pattaya is primarily Thai and has no church in that area. This would be an ideal location for our next new church plant.

After partcipating in the South Pattaya cell group, we visited a school for blind children in Pattaya operated by the Catholic church (they are very faithful in helping those in need). It was encouraging to see the workers there who truly love the children there and nurture them. The children were very friendly and loved to interact with us.

After that, we returned home with a great burden on our hearts for the people of Pattaya, Bangsaray, and Sattahip. May the Lord raise up workers for the harvest!

Whirlwind Week Part 3: The First Sunday Morning Worship Service at Bo Win.

Sunday, May 13, 2007
Today is the first Sunday morning worship service at Bo Win UMC. We were excited about this historic day, because we know this is the first church in this city of over 150,000 people and that ministry here had been limited by the fact that Bo Win is very far from our church in Chon Buri. Pradumri UMC sent a bus out here every Sunday to bring people to worship, but we could only fit 35 people on the bus. We could not transport all who wanted to come for worship. Now that we have a church here, that is no longer a problem. Today, we saw the results as 70 people attended worship (worship attendance doubled in size on the first week!) It was a very joyous and emotional service as people were overcome with joy at having a church here for the first time. It was the answer to everyone’s prayers.

Worship here was in the same contemporary style as Pradumri UMC, and with the same enthusiasm. When the time came in the service to greet each other, they formed a circle and went around the room welcoming each other, just as they do at Pradumri church. However, there was so much joy that walking around to greet each other was not enough. Some of the members started to dance across the room in traditional Thai style, with their hands making beautiful forms and motions. One of the ones dancing was an elder woman who grabbed my hand (Mike) and took me around with her as she danced and greeted people. There were not many dry eyes in church today!

We were impressed by how many leaders that this church has. People worked well together to make everything happen, including a fellowship dinner. Everyone saw what needed to be done and did it!

We believe Bo Win UMC will have a very good problem. It was very full in the sanctuary and a little more growth and we will have to do some problem solving on how to accommodate more people. Those are the type of problems we like. The pictures on the blog below this are of this worship service. Pastor Awn was the Worship leader and her husband, Pastor Jerron, played guitar in the Praise Band and preached a wonderful sermon on reaching out to the lost in Bo Win.

I (Mike) need to finish typing this blog and head downstairs now. Sherri has several people from the church here for English lessons for this hour, which will be followed by our cell group which is for church leaders. Sherri leads this group every Sunday night, and it is growing and growing. We thank the Lord that He gave us a house to rent which has a large living room, because we use every bit of this space in hosting cell groups and other functions. God provides for every need!

Pictures of the First Sunday Morning Service at Bo Win

Monday, May 07, 2007

A Historic Day for United Methodists

On Sunday, May 6th, we were privileged to participate in the opening of the first United Methodist church plant in Thailand. (Pradumri UMC was a church that was already formed when they joined the United Methodist Church. Bo Win UMC is the first of many church plants!) Everyone was filled with joy and awe at the blessing of being a part of this historic event.

When we arrived at 2:30, 2 hours before the event began, we were able to view all the work that had been done to make the building ready for worship. Pastors Jerron and Awn did a great job of mobilizing people to set up the church and decorate the inside and the outside with beautiful flowers and draperies. The sanctuary was bright and cheerful and cool (praise God for air conditioning and fans!). The second floor has a large room for the Children's Sunday School class plus a Pastor's Study, and 2 rooms for the pastors to live in.

Churches from all over the province participated in the service through singing and dancing (the children did several worship dances, including one with tamborines and another with traditional Thai dance. The children probably wondered why we were crying with tears of joy as they worshipped the Lord.

Mike preached the message for the service and Sherri led the congregation in a prayer of dedication for Pastors Jerron and Awn. Sherri also presented Pastors Jerron and Awn this painting which is a gift from you. This painting of Jesus and his sheep standing at the door knocking symbolizes their ministry as pastors here at Bo Win as they and their parishioners reach out to their community.
Anthony also helped by playing "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus" and "As the Deer" on his violin as he was accompanied by the Pradumri UMC Praise Band. We were very proud of him!

When the service ended at 7:00 p.m., we all went outside for a huge buffet that the members of Pradumri UMC prepared for this event. People had been working all day to prepare and clean up the meal at Pradumri UMC in Chon Buri, and then come out to Bo Win to prepare an even larger meal and clean up afterwards. The fact is that the Thai believers are work hard in the church and do so with an attitude of joy and thankfulness. We are inspired by their servant hearts!

The Bo Win UMC is the first church in this city of 150,000 people, so this small church of around 60 people have much work to do as they reach out to their community in the name of Jesus. There are many other communities like Bo Win with large populations and no churches (or very few). Your prayers and support make a difference in reaching the Thai people for Jesus Christ.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Our Friends from the Philippines

Meet Reya Miravalles, Richard Salvo and Faith Etabag, who are members of the Li Happy Methodist Church and they serve faithfully there. They are from the Philippines and they came to Li to work as English teachers at a local school. But God had a larger plan for them, and now they serve the orphans and other children and adults at their church. They serve journeymen missionaries by working a secular job in Thailand and also serving as ambassadors for Christ in a land that needs as many Christian workers as possible. Schools all over Thailand are seeking English teachers, so if you have a B.A. degree in any major, you are very much desired by the schools here. There are many opportunities for Christians to serve as journeyman missionaries in this way, by accepting a teaching job. Serving as a teacher gives a person a mission field to serve in at their school as well as a Methodist congregation here. If you are interested in serving in this way, please contact us and we will be glad to help you get connected with a Methodist congregation and also find a job teaching English at one of the local schools.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Celebrating Thai New Year in Li, Thailand

Thailand has three New Year celebrations: the Solar Calenday New Year's Day (Jan. 1st), Chinese New Year, and Songkran (Thailand's New Year). Songkran is by far the funnest of them all. Songkran is supposed to be a few days of celebration during the second week of April, but different communities celebrate on different days, so it is really stretched out to two weeks. During Songkran, all the children and some adults (women more than men, from what we observed) go out to the streets and throw water on each other. To the right is one of the "water crews" in Li, Thailand, which is up in the Northwest region of Thailand. Li was where we celebrated Songkran because we were helping with an English camp at the Li Happy Methodist Church. While there we were soaked everyday. We were told that Songkran started on the 13th, so we did not think anything of it when we placed our luggage in the back of Pastor Wirot's pickup. Little did we know that all of our luggage would be waterlogged by the time we reached the church (All except Sherri's clothes, she was smart and wrapped all her articles in plastic.) As you travel, you see children and youth stationed by 55 gallon barrels filled with water by the roadside, and they use their buckets with great skill to aim their water at moving targets. They usual hit their mark too. There are also many, many pickup trucks with 55 gallon barrels of water in the back and a crew to throw water. They form mobile watering units that get anyone wet who was able to avoid the roadside crews. Anthony was a favorite target, being a rarity in Li with his light colored skin and blonde hair. Anthony enjoyed Songkran and became quite skillful with dousing people with water too.
While in Li, we were able to help with an English camp. Li Happy Methodist Church has three Philipinos Christians who are members there and teach English at the local school. Faith, Reya, and Richard provided the teaching the first day and the children had a lot of fun. We also had help from a team of young adults from Youth With A Mission (YWAM) that helped on both days of camp and did most of the instruction on the second day. It was a great blessing to work side-by-side with them and it was an inspiration to see these young men and women serve the Lord here in Thailand. The camp was a great success.
Li Happy Methodist Church is also the site of an orphanage which the UMC supports through GBGM and through the tremendous financial and prayer support of the Korean United Methodist Church of Detroit, Michigan. Most of the orphans come from hill tribes that have settled in the mountains of this region. This orphanage not only houses and supports orphans but also provides transportation to school and back for hill tribe children as well as paying their school fees and provided lunch. Because of their ministry, many children have access to education and a better future as well as being brought up in the faith of Jesus Christ. KUMC of Detroit has provided funding for dormitories for the orphans and this will help them to expand the ministry.
We help to support a young teen girl called Mandeegok (with Sherri in this picture -- they are greeting each other with a wai), who is a Christian girl who lives at the orphanage. She is a cheerful, loving, and very helpful teen, always finding ways to help by serving meals and cleaning up. We invited Mandeegok and her friend to come to our place to visit and we hope they will come. Mandeegok has never seen the ocean, nor has she traveled away from her region of Thailand, so coming to Chon Buri would be an expansion of her world.
We spent 7 days in Li and we are now enjoying being back home where they are just starting to celebrate Songkran. I guess we will be soaking wet for another week. We will need to be careful when driving the motorcycles, because it can become dangerous when the water bucket squads target us. So we will just have to drive very slow and become very, very soaked.
Songkran provides a great time to witness about Jesus. The idea behind all the water is that the water makes you pure as you begin a new year. Of course we know that mere phyical water does nothing to cleanse sin-stained souls. We tell them about Jesus Christ who is the Living Water, who cleanses us from all unrighteousness and gives us new life in Him, so we will never thirst again.