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We serve with the Thailand Methodist Mission

We serve with the Thailand Methodist Mission
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A special young man in need of heart surgery

Did we say before we are all connected?

God created a special connection through Anthony. Almost a year ago, Anthony went to our friend Noyna's coffee shop for his violin lesson (the second floor is a music studio where Noyna teaches guitar, drums, keyboard, and violin.)

While at his lesson, Anthony met a young Christian man named Ta who was his age. They hit it off well, and Anthony really wanted to get to know Ta better.

Later we heard about Ta through our daughter in law Abby, who is a missionary teacher at Sammuk Christian Academy where Ta is a student and resident. Abby spoke very highly of Ta as a Christian leader among the students.

It was only a year later that we met Ta's mother, Lee Ann Sidebottom, who is a missionary for YWAM who holds Bible Clubs in the slums of Pattaya. We met her because Life Center UMC of Pattaya does similar ministry and we love to have cooperative ministries among Christian groups.

Well as it turns out, we found out Lee Ann was Ta's mother, and we also found out she is a United Methodist from First UMC in Lyons, Kansas.

We had heard that Ta was needing heart surgery in the US, and asked Lee Ann if it would help to post Ta's story on our blog, so she sent this letter to us.

Ta and Lee Ann our in our prayers and we know that God has wonderful plans for Ta's future.

Here is the letter:

Dear Friends,

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

God Opens The First Door in Northeast Thailand (Esarn)

We have talked before about everyone being connected and this is one of the doors God opened up through miraculous connections.

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

Meeting Missionary Candidates of the Korean Methodist Church

One of the pleasures of being missionaries is that we get to connect with many wonderful people from around the world. And one connection leads to another leads to another.

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

Spiders and babies do not mix

Once in a while, we have an experience that makes us chuckle because it reminds us we are not in Kentucky anymore. It also reminds us that we have another story typical of missionaries. Every missionary seems to have lots of spider stories, so here goes our latest one.

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 so we can lift your requests before the Lord.