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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Sunday, May 13, 2007

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!)