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Saturday, December 20, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
It is always a joy to receive cards and letters from our friends and supporting churches in the States. Especially at Christmastime, when we miss family life and church life during this special season. We thank all of the many people who sent kind notes and cards to us. You make our day. We use a private post box service and whenever a letter comes in, they give us a call to come pick it up. We have received calls almost every day and it is all good stuff (no envelopes with windows... they are always bills or business).
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
First, the good news is that our family is safe even though there are mass protests happening all across Bangkok province. We are located in Chonburi province which is about an hour drive away from it all. We thank all who contacted us out of concern.
However, the bad news is that Thai society is grossly polarized and there seems to be no good solution to the problem. Please pray for the unity of the Thai people, that this nation will not fall into civil war.
The second piece of good news is that a fifth UMC opened up in Thailand in Minburi, which is in Bangkok province. We had an opening service two weeks ago, and the building was packed. Pastor Sarah of the First UMC in Thailand (pictured with her daughter, Dr. Kate and Kate's fiance) preached at this historic event and consecrated Pastor Sila and his wife in this new church called Pradumri Bangkok UMC.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
This last Friday Anthony, Sherri, and I went out to the car to go to Bangkok and Sherri stopped and told me to look at the rear passenger side tire. There was a bulge in the sidewall of the tire, and normally it would not be noticeable because it is well shaded under the carport. But that day, the way the car was parked, it was not all the way under the carport as usual. So the tire was in the sunlight and God also provided some extra help so we would spot this. Our bedroom airconditioner was dripping water, which flowed sideways down the roof (not the usual place), and it was dripping exactly on the bulge of the tire sidewall. Sherri said it was the dripping water which called her attention to it.
We praised God for showing this to us, because the tire would have probably blown out on us while we were driving at a fast pace on the tollway. The tollway is about 6 stories high, making tire blowouts even more dangerous than a regular expressway.
God is good and He protects us and looks after us. Praise be to Jesus Christ.
Monday, October 20, 2008
This past weekend, we took Kaek "Peter", one of three Thai United Methodist students at Phayao Bible College, back to school. He hauled his luggage plus a huge parcel of used clothes that the students will sell at market for scholarship money for students who are in need. Kaek is a leader among student and a great recruiter for United Methodists as well. Kaek and his wife Nuc, our very close friends as well. We rely on their help and mercy on a regular basis, and they are very patient with us and always kind and gentle.
At Phayao, we stayed with Jamie and Holle Wollin, who will be teaching at Phayao Bible College as missionary professors. They extended their warm hospitality to us and Anthony and to our granddaughter Madeline, who came with us to visit the Wollin's son, Thomas, who is the same age as her. They are good buddies and play wonderfully together. We wish they could live close together, but unfortunately, Phayao is about a 12-14 hour drive from us.
Today, Pastor Nampon went back to Sern Saeng in Northeast Thailand to plant a new United Methodist Church. She will be doing visitation and planting cell groups over the next several months. She will then combine several cell groups to form a church. I (Mike) will be going up to Sern Saeng to visit with Pastor Nampon in two weeks. We will meet with the community leaders to introduce ourselves and our intentions of ministering to the people of Sern Saeng. We must have good relations with the community leaders and this is the first step. We also must have good relations with the other churches in the region, so we will meet with the pastor and church leaders of the closest church to the area Pastor Nampon is serving. The closest church is 13 kilometers away, in a different sub-district. We hope to have a spirit of unity and cooperation with the believers at this church. Please pray for Pastor Nampon as she serves the Lord as a pioneer church planter. Pray that she will enjoy the good graces of the community, the community leaders, and other churches in the district.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Pradumri UMC hosted the annual camp meeting this year, and all three United Methodist Congregations celebrated in unity together. It is a great blessing to see Christians worship and minister together in one accord. This was the first time that members of Life Center UMC of Pattaya participated in the annual camp meeting.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Many people here in Thailand have had questions about all the storms hitting the gulf coast of America and have been praying for all who have been affected by these storms. We are inspired by the faithfulness in prayer of Christians on both sides of the world. When we pray for each other, the hand of God does mighty deeds. We see the mighty deeds of God on a daily basis here because of your prayers. Every week we see people being saved, lives being changed, orphans and abandoned children being clothed, fed, sheltered and loved. Every week we see the fruits of your prayers.
We love to hear from you and so we and the Thai believers can pray for you. We want to be a part of your life in this way and the Thai believers do to. They are truly prayer warriors!
Rainy season can be fascinating in Thailand, especially in Bangkok. There are many sections of Bangkok that are below sea level or just a few feet above sea level. During rainy season, it is common for many parts of the city to be flooded during the rains, which means that travel comes to a halt in those sections of the city until the floods subside. I (Mike) was waiting in a coffee shop last week with about a whole crowd of people who were waiting for the flood waters to dissipate so they could go home. Fortunately, our road cleared up quickly, but others had to wait several hours.
But when a storm hits Bangkok, they have to check the level of the tide. If the storm comes at high tide, they know that whole sections of the city will be flooded for several hours. Everyone in those sections has to adjust their lives around the tides. They know they must do all of their work and chores during low tide, because they will be unable to travel at high tide.
We do not have major problems with floods where we live. We have a 2-5 inches of standing water in the streets near our home and we try to avoid downtown Chonburi during flood times. The only negative effect we have with rainy season is a very minor one. We don't have a clothes dryer (very, very few people do here). We hang out our clothes to dry under an awning in our back yard. But it is so damp during rainy season, that our clothes could be hanging for three days and still be damp. So we go out there, we feel the clothes, and if they are damp but not soaking wet, we fold them and put them away. We figure the clothes will have to dry the rest of the way in the closet or on our bodies. But this is a small thing.
One person's inconvenience with the flooding rains in Bangkok, is another person's irrigation water for their rice paddies in the rural areas. Rice farming requires large quantities of water, so the farmers rejoice when they receive rains whereas the Bangkok residents groan.
In the Bible, rain symbolizes the blessing of God who provides for our needs. During the rainy season, we often think of how much God has blessed us. One thing we miss from back in Kentucky are tin roofs. If you have ever been in a house with a tin roof when it is raining, you will know the sound of the rain hitting the roof is very loud. We always enjoyed hearing that sound, because it reminded us of how good our Lord is. The farmers in Kentucky relied on God to provide rain just as much as the farmers do in Thailand. This is why rain also symbolizes our dependence upon God. It reminds us of how much we need the Lord in all things.
Our prayers are with all of you in the States who have been affected by the storms. We know that too much of a good thing is harmful and many of you have had too much rain, too much wind, and too much turmoil. We want you to know that we and your Thai family in Christ love you and are praying for you.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
And God took the faithfulness of this VIM team and combined it with the fervent faith of Thai Christians to be a part of a miracle here.
The miracle was God opening many doors.
The first two days, the team served at Life Center UMC in Pattaya, where we have a new building. This new building houses the church and also Blessing Home, the ministry for orphans and street children in Pattaya. Just before the team arrived, Blessing Home increased its capacity to 20 children. So this ministry is growing quickly, because the need is so great.
At Pattaya, over 160 people were served and we had about 40 people who received Jesus as Savior and Lord! Pastor Banya of Life Center UMC will be overseeing followup on these new believers.
Bangsaray was a place where God miraculously opened doors.
Khun Nuc of Pradumri UMC helped to connect us with Khun Songop, who is the community leader of Bangsaray. She is in the bottom picture in the green shirt sitting next to Sherri. Pastor Sarah of Pradumri UMC is in the back row to the far right. The rest are friends of Khun Songop who helped with registering people for the outreach event.
Khun Songop is a kind-hearted leader who takes care of her people and loves them. There were no buildings large enough to do the outreach other than the Buddhist temple, so she opened the door for us to do the outreach inside the Buddhist temple at Bangsaray. We were pleasantly surprised at this open door.
Over 350 people were served in the two days we were at Bangsaray! Most of them were seniors, and that is because there are relatively few adults aged 20-60 here. AIDS has killed off most of the middle generation leaving just children and older adults. We were glad the VIM team could provide help to these seniors. But here is the best part! 150 people received Jesus Christ as Savior! The response was overwhelming! Everyone that came received personal teaching about Jesus Christ and also received a Gideon Bible (thank you Gideons!) and Christian literature.
The abbot and monks of the temple also came. They received eyeglasses, portraits, and also were taught about Jesus Christ. Our God is God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth!
We are now going to have a meeting with the United Methodist Pastors to determine the best way to do followup on these 150 new believers. Bowin UMC has a cell group here, but we need to have someone serve here full time.
On the final day, the VIM team hosted 30 orphans and street children from Blessing Home Children's Ministry in Pattaya to go to the zoo and have lunch also. Most of these children have never been more than a mile or two away from the slums of Pattaya, so this was a trip they will remember for years to come. The children were very excited and had a lot of fun. We thank the VIM team for bringing joy into the lives of these children.
Our God opens doors. Our God opens hearts. Our God changes lives! Blessed be the name of our Lord!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
As you may know, I have
a Thai foster son named Ta. I have cared for him for the past nine
years. I would like to tell you his story and also a need that we are
facing at this time. Ta was born to alcoholic parents in 1987, the 5th of
five sons. He was born with multiple heart defects. At the age of
two, he along with a brother were put in an orphanage. Before his 8th
birthday he had already had two heart surgeries in Thailand, but showed no signs
of improvement afterwards. By the age of 10, he was suffering from
congestive heart failure due to a defective valve and a large hole in his
heart. The orphanage cared for him the best they could, but didn’t expect
him to live for more than a year.
By the providence
of God, Ta’s brother (age 12), decided to leave the orphanage and would take Ta
with him. In June of 1998 they both ran away and went to their mother’s
village. Once there, Ta’s brother began working, but Ta was too weak to
work. He was sent to Bangkok, where he lived in a slum with
grandparents. They treated him more like a servant than a grandson.
It was there that I met him. He began calling me “mom.” The
grandparents felt burdened to care for him and asked if I could take him. Within
a few weeks Ta was living at a Youth With A Mission campus ministry house for
guys. He lived there for nine months, during which time he was in and out of the
hospital as his health deteriorated. Simply walking across a room would
tire him. Each time he was hospitalized, the doctor would say “this could
be the end,” holding out little hope for him. But during that time, others
began hearing about his story and hearts of compassion were
Through God’s providence once again, a lady
in California heard about Ta’s need for surgery and immediately got
involved. Her name was Donna McCornack. She sent Ta’s medical
records to over 20 doctors in the U.S. Most replied that the surgery was
too risky. However, in March of 1999, Dr. John Lamberti of Children’s
Hospital in San Diego called to say he would donate the surgery, but we still
had to raise 35,000 U.S. dollars to pay other hospital expenses such as ICU and
other after surgery care. With three weeks to raise the funds, Donna got
busy in California, contacting newspapers and TV stations and I did the same in
Thailand. It was a leap of faith for both of us, but God likes it when we
leap. By the time Ta was at Children’s hospital being prepped for surgery
in April, we had all the money on hand. Several hundred people had
responded to Ta’s need with generous donations and lots of prayer. The
surgery was a total success and life was given back to Ta. For the very
first time in his life he could run and play like a normal kid. I knew he
also needed to be part of a “family,” to get the love and nurture that he had
never had, so upon our return to Thailand I made him a part of “my
That was nine years ago and today Ta
is no longer a skinny 11 year old, but rather a towering 6’1” young man, who
loves to play soccer and aspires to be a teacher. However, in recent
months he has begun to tire more easily, making us suspect that the porcine
valve put in in 1999 is now too small and needs replacing. A check-up with
Dr. Lamberti this past April confirmed this. Ta needs a new valve.
His heart has begun to swell again because the valve is leaking. Surgery
is scheduled for this October, in San Diego at Children’s Hospital once
again. This time we must raise 50,000 U.S. dollars for hospital
expenses. We (Donna, Ta and I) saw the faithfulness of God through all the
ups and downs of the surgery nine years ago and believe that God will continue
to do immeasurably beyond all that we ask or think. (Eph. 3:20) God
does this through the generosity of many people. At this time (Aug. 20th)
we have raised a little over 15,000 U.S.. So, we have a ways to go yet and
October is coming up. Would you pray for us and consider giving a donation if
God leads you? The donor information is below. Thank you in advance for
standing with us in prayer and
In Him, Lee Ann Sidebottom Thailand
Electronic Transfers send to: Bank: Kasikornbank Branch: Pattaya Klang Acct. Name: Lee Ann Sidebottom Acct. Number:291-2-24831-8 SWIFT Address: KASITHBK
For tax-deductible donations: Send Checks in U.S. currency , made out to “Open Door Christian Church” with a note attached saying it is for Ta Tanlem’s Heart Surgery Fund. Mail to: Open Door Christian Church, P.O. Box 1552, Novato, CA. 94948 U.S.A.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Pastor On of Bowin UMC grew up as an orphan in Northeast Thailand, raised by her paternal grandfather. She was told that her parents had both died, and this is very common in Thailand, where AIDS/HIV is epidemic.
Last year, Pastor On was contacted by a Thai woman who lives in Sweden. This woman was Pastor On's mother. Pastor On discovered that she had a younger brother and that her mother owned a house in Northeast Thailand (a region called "Esarn") that she would stay at whenever she came back to Thailand. Pastor On has developed a new relationship with her mother and they talk on the phone every day.
When Pastor On went to Esarn to visit her mother at her house, she met relatives she could not remember. It turns out she had lived with her aunt there for 3 years before going to live with her father's kin. Pastor On also discovered a group of Christians who met together for Bible Study every week. The leader of this group is Pastor Ahmpon (shown in this picture). Pastor Ahmpon is a Bible College graduate who has served in mercy ministries with the poor of Esarn. She and this core group of Christian leaders will be planting a new United Methodist Church in Esarn in October. God is good!
Pastor Ahmpon is in training with us for the next 2 months. We have training which we give to teach planting and multiplying cell groups, sermon and Christian education planning, and other practical topics. She will also be learning as an intern at Bowin UMC under the leadership of Pastors Jerron and On.
Please pray for Pastor Ahmpon and the Christian pioneering leaders in Esarn. They are one the front lines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. With prayer, all things are possible, because our Lord is faithful. Amen.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
We have developed a bond of friendship with missionaries John and Sarah Kim, who serve as houseparents for international students attending prep schools in Bangkok. God has given them the huge task of starting a new Christian international school in Northeast Thailand. It is their vision that they will be able to reach the future leaders of Thailand for Jesus Christ through this ministry. This is a God-sized task and they are filled with faith. We pray for them constantly and know that God will do great things through them. We are blessed to have them and their two children as friends.
John Kim has helped to connect us with other Korean missionaries serving in Thailand as well as connecting us with this team of mission candidates from the Korean Methodist Church. These candidates came to see Pradumri UMC and to hear about what God is doing through the United Methodist Church in Thailand. We were inspired to see candidates of all ages, some right out of college and some retiring from a lifelong career. Many of the missionary candidates know where God is calling them to serve and others await God's direction with open and obedient hearts. It filled our hearts with joy to get acquainted with them and we know some of them will end up serving here in Thailand.
Friday, August 08, 2008
We have gigantic spiders here. The size of my (Mike) hand. And these spiders are not timid. Most spiders in the States will try to run away if you get near them. These will raise up onto its hind legs and is poised to leap. We have had spiders that looked like this, but recently we had one that was just as large but was also thick and furry.
Our son Michael was in his bedroom upstairs when he heard our granddaughter Madeline screaming with fear in the hallway on the second floor. When Michael opened the door and went into the hallway, he saw something large and black crawl under the door into our grandson Isaiah's bedroom. It moved so quickly that Michael could not tell what the creature was. Michael asked Madeline what she saw, and she said, "Spider! Daddy! Spider!"
Michael ran into Isaiah's bedroom and picked him up out of the crib. After taking the children to his room, he had to go back to Isaiah's room to find the spider. He had to tear the whole room apart before finding the spider and getting rid of it. I think Michael and Jude (our daughter in law) will start keeping Isaiah in their room again because of this incident. It really shook them up. They are not in Kentucky anymore.
We will be trying to spray for bugs, but it is difficult to do so with babies in the house. Isaiah is crawling around and into everything, so doing the usual thing, spraying every room edge, will not be wise. We will do what we can with the exterior and with places Isaiah and Madeline cannot reach.
Today we have a pastor from Northeast Thailand (Isaan) that is coming to Bowin to train under us and Pastors Jerron and On for two months. She will then go October to plant the first United Methodist Church in the Isaan region. We will introduce her to you in the next blog.
We pray for you constantly, just as you pray for us. If you have any prayer requests, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can lift your requests before the Lord.
Thursday, July 31, 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 Initiative
We 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, establishes
The vast majority of funds for church planting and mercy ministries comes through special giving to Advance #00403A. Your churches apportionments help to send us here and pay for administrative expenses and language school, but do not cover starting any new ministries or sustaining established ones. If a church planting pastor's salary is to be given, it will come from special giving to the Advance. If an orphan is to be given shelter, clothing, food, and education, it will be because you have given the funds to the Advance to make it possible. If a pastor is to be sent to Bible college or to Course of Study School, it is because your generosity made it possible.
Special giving to Advance #00403A (Thailand Mission Initiative) is our greatest need at this time. Please note that gifts to our Advance Personnel funds (the ones with our names on them), are placed in a pool used to support all missionaries and is NOT used for programming needs. If you wish to give towards the ministries in Thailand, please give to the Thailand Mission Initiative and not to the Advance numbers which have our names on them. We mention this because it can be a bit confusing.
There are four ways to give.
2. Through Your Local United Methodist Church;
3. By Phone, and
4. by Mail.
1. Online: Click on this link: www.givetomission.org to give online. The project number is 00403A.
2. Your Local UMC: Give funds to your local United Methodist Church and designate it for Advance #00403A (write this in the memo section of your check). The church treasurer will then send these funds with the monthly apportionments.
3. Phone: Call (888) 252-6174 to give by credit card over the phone
4. Mail: Make your check payable to ADVANCE GCFA.
Write Thailand Mission Initiative #00403A on the check.
Send your check to:
Advance GCFA; P.O. Box 9068; GPO;
New York, NY 10087-9068
Every cent given through the Advance will come directly to the Thailand Mission Initiative. Nothing is kept by the Advance office for their administrative costs.
Thank you for your support
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Another move is happening now too. The Life Center UMC of Pattaya and the United Methodist Children's Mercy Center in Pattaya are expanding into a new building. We are now moving to a new building that will make it possible to care for up to 30 orphans and street children at this Center. The building will also be used a church facility for Life Center UMC which has been busting out of their old building, which could not contain everyone who comes for worship on Sunday morning.
Right now, we are giving care to 10 children at the UM Children's Mercy Center. There are many, many more children on a waiting list. At the present time, these children, ages 2-10, do not go to school because they do not have a birth certificate, which is required to attend school. Many of these children have been abandoned, and have no family members to care for them. We would love to help more children, but we need funds to be given. Gifts can be given to Advance #00403A Thailand Mission Initiative. It is easy to give online at http://new.gbgm-umc.org/advance/
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
The need is very great here and we are praying that God will provide the resources to meet the needs of these orphans.