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!