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Tuesday, December 08, 2009
This week has truly been the most affirming week of ministry we have ever had.
It began with traveling to the far north to Chiang Dao to teach at Global Theological Institute, a ministry of the Lamppost United Methodist Church of Chiang Dao. We were invited by Thai United Methodist Pastors, Drs. Tanapong and Muanrerdee, to teach a week-long block course on World Missions. We were very excited about the opportunity to help in any way we could in this newly founded Bible training center where 24 students train, most of whom are from hilltribes in the northern region of Thailand.
It was a pleasure to get to know the students, who make a great sacrifice to study at this school, which only has very primitive facilities. The students must grow their own food and also operate a store and copy shop to help keep the Seminary in operation. These students are passionate in their desire to serve the Lord Jesus and many of them have a desire to pioneer new churches.
85% of the sub-districts in Thailand have no church, so there is a great need for students like these to pioneer new churches in these unreached regions. This is the best way to reach Thai people for Jesus Christ.
After our week of teaching, we drove diagonally across Thailand to the Northeast, to Almighty God (Prajao Jaum Yota) United Methodist Church in Nonsomboon. This new church was planted by Pastor Nampon, who has had a very fruitful ministry here. This was the first baptism service at her church, and 24 people were baptized. Sherri preached that Sunday morning and Mike assisted Pastor Nampon in the baptisms. The very first baptism service at a newly planted church is always interesting because there are more candidates being baptized then there are people in the congregation to witness the baptism and sing worship songs. All 24 baptism candidates were called to the front of the church for prayer and there were only 9 or 10 people left in the seats.
When new converts are baptized, there is not a dry eye in the crowd. They have such a deep love for the Lord Jesus, that they come out of the water rejoicing and singing, many with tears of joy. And that joy is contagious, and so are the tears. Just last year, there was no church in the Nonsomboon sub-district, and now the town has been changed forever.
Pastor Nampon has become famous in the area for the power of her prayers to our Lord. People come frequently seeking her out for prayer because many have experienced healing that have entered the church for prayer. This Sunday was no exception, as an elderly woman came for healing prayer. Her daughters had taken her to the Buddhist temple in town, and offered the monk 1,000 Thai baht for payment (This would be about the amount of money this woman would spend on three weeks of food.) The Buddhist monk insisted that they would need to give 10,000 baht to receive his services. This was too much. So the elderly woman, named Pontip, convinced her two daughter to take her to Almighty God United Methodist Church because she knew Pastor Nampon would pray for her.
We prayed for Pontip, who received healing as well as she received Jesus and she allowed Pastor Nampon to remove the strings around her wrists and neck. Many Thais wear these strings when they are sick, believing that they hold their life spirit in their bodies, keeping death at bay. Cutting the strings was a symbol of full trust in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It frequently happens that people experience miracles as a result of prayer, and then they become devoted followers of Jesus. God’s power and love are what lead people to Him.
- 1. Please pray for Drs. Tanapong and Muanrerdee, who sold their home to have funds to start the Lamppost Bible Seminary on faith, not knowing where funds will come to continue the ministry. If you desire to help train students at Lamppost Bible Seminary, please give to Advance #00403A Thailand Mission Initiative online at givetomission.org
- 2. Please pray for the students at Lamppost Bible Seminary, as they study the Bible in the Thai language, which is the second language for the hilltribe students.
- 3. Please pray for Pastor Nampon and the members of Almighty God United Methodist Church. Pray for continued fruitful ministry as well as help in establishing a new economic development project.
- Pastor Nampon wants to start a copy shop to help financially support the church. We need $3000 in seed money for this project. If you can help with this project which will lead this church to be self-sufficient, please give to Advance #00403A at givetomission.org
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
We had a wonderful, much needed vacation in Chiang Mai with our sons Anthony and Michael, our daughter-in-law Jude, and our two grandchildren, Madeline and Isaiah. We rode the overnight train there and back, and we enjoyed the beautiful mountain scenery from our sleeper car. Our family will all be moving back to the States in the Spring, so we were soaking in the pleasure of their company during our time there.
We had to cut our vacation short and come back home on Saturday morning so we could re-pack our bags and head out to Northeast Thailand to the Pradumri UMC Camp Meeting at the national park at Rarerng. To be frank, we really did not have the best of attitudes because we really wanted to have a few more days of vacation with our family, since we probably will not have another opportunity to do so. So we went with divided hearts to Rarerng, which is absolutely on the edge of the earth, just before you fall off of the edge. The roads were really bad getting there, and we were praying that we would not break an axle on the way to the place. When we arrived, we came to a camp that was breathtakingly majestic. And when we were with our Thai sisters and brothers, we immediately were received with joy and grace which dispelled any negative feelings that we had from cutting short our vacation.
On Saturday, 23 people were baptized, Praise the Lord! Dr. Somsak led the camp with powerful preaching. In fact, that day, 4 local people who had come to the camp received Jesus as their Savior and Lord. They were baptized on Sunday morning during the worship service. Dr. Somsak baptized them by the method of pouring. We appreciated this, because this helped to affirm our Methodist theology, which employs all three methods of baptism.
It is always a holy moment to partake of holy communion with new believers who are participating in the Eucharist for the first time. For new Christians, it is a moment that they will always remember. And for “veteran” Christians, it reminds us of the awesome privilege of sharing together in remembering what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us. Seeing this through the eyes of newborn Christians provides a contagious excitement about the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus.
We thank you for making it possible for us to work together with Thai Christians to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a nation where most people have not had the chance to hear about the Lord. We are very blessed. And we are grateful to all who support us in our ministry here. Thank you. You are a blessing to us and to the people of Thailand.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
When that silent prayer went up to God, the car all of a sudden straighted out and safely came to a stop in the middle of the street. I praise God that even the silent prayers in our minds are heard by our Lord. When I got out of the car, the left front wheel was facing forward and the right front wheel was turned to the right. The steering arm was broken, not in the usual place at a pivot joint, but had stripped threads. It was only afterwards that I realized how awful this could have been if it had broken a minute later when I would be traveling on the main road at 50 MPH. Thank you Lord, for saving me from disaster.
Today is the first day of the Southeast Asia Consulation in North Carolina. Pastor Sarah of Pradumri First UMC is representing the Thailand Mission. Please pray for her as she serves at this consultation.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Pastor Tharadon is a true pioneering pastor. In fact, when we first met him, he called himself an Evangelist, because he said God has called him to the ministry of planting new churches where there are none at the present time. That caught our attention, because that is our vision too. Tharadon has planted several churches for OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship)which he turned over to new pastors as they were able to stand on their own.
Pastor Thardone will now be planting churches for the United Methodist Church in Thailand. A few months ago, he planted a church in Suphanburi, a rural province in Western Thailand. This church is now the Suphanburi UMC. This is the He also has started a cell groups in nearby Songpinaung district, which has no church at the present time. A new church will now be planted there as well. This will be our first United Methodist circuit in Thailand. So Tharadone will be the first UM Circuit Rider here in Thailand.
God has blessed. There are now 8 United Methodist churches in Thailand.
Pradumri UMC - Chonburi
Bowin UMC - Bowin
Life Center UMC - Pattaya
Bangkok UMC - Bangkok
Almighty God UMC - Nonsomboon
Lamppost UMC - Chiang Dao
Suphanburi UMC - Suphanburi
Songpinaung UMC - Songpinaung
Sunday, September 13, 2009
On Tuesday afternoon and evening, the team went to Minburi in Bangkok, nearby to where Pradumri Bangkok UMC is located. We knew that many people would show up, so we chose to do the outreach at a government building rather than the church. Over 550 people received glasses that day. Every person who came and the family members who came with them were witnessed to by Thai Christians. These events would be impossible without the hard work of Thai Christians working side-by-side with the Santa Clara VIM team. Every person who came had a clear presentation of the gospel and received Christian literature. There were 52 Thai people who received Jesus Christ there in Bangkok that day. Praise the Lord! There will be follow-up with these people as well as the hope that we can water the seeds planted in everyone’s hearts on that day.
On Wednesday morning and afternoon, we went to Pluakdaeng in Rayong Province. This town is near the Bowin church. The Christians at Bowin UMC had been going out for evangelistic outreach to Pluakdaeng for several months and had a strong cell group started in the newer section of town near the large main road leading to the industrial parks nearby. But recently they discovered that a very small church (about 20 people) existed on the old part of the town. As United Methodists, we believe in working together with other Christians, so we offered to do this outreach at this church and help them to build their ministry. So we went to Pluakdaeng Unity Christian Church, which is a daughter church of a church in Rayong. There we had over 200 people receive eyeglasses and 24 people gave their lives to Jesus Christ! We hope to work cooperatively with Pluakdaeng church in the future.
On Wednesday evening, the team stayed at Rodem House in Jomtien Beach (south of Pattaya) which is a ministry to provide a place for Christian retreats and a place of rest and renewal for pastors and missionaries.
On Thursday morning, the team visited the children of Blessing Home in Pattaya. The children sang for the team. The children are very cute when they sing, because they like to sing very loud and with lots of enthusiasm. After visiting the children, we went to Bowin UMC where the team and a crew of volunteers from Pradumri First UMC of Chonburi and Bowin UMC boarded a bus to go to Almighty God UMC in the town of Nonsomboon in Northeast Thailand. We stayed overnight at a campground there with nice cabins, and then on Friday morning and afternoon, the team and the Thai Christians served at Almighty God UMC which is Pastor Nampon’s church.
Pastor Nampon and the Christians at Almighty God UMC had received strong persecution over the past several months. The hope for this mission was that it would present an opportunity to share the gospel with all who came as well as to strengthen community relations, so people see that Christians want to help their neighbors and improve conditions for all.
There were over 460 people who received glasses at Nonsomboon. But here is the great news. 130 people received Jesus as Savior and Lord! Praise the Lord!
Because of the ministry of the Santa Clara VIM team and the faithful hard work of the Thai Christians, 206 people became Christians and at least 1,800 heard the gospel of Jesus Christ in a personal and clear way (not only did those who receive glasses receive witness, but also those who came with them.) Many seeds were planted, and we know that there will even be a greater harvest in the future.
On Saturday, the team traveled back to Bowin to drop off the Thai Christians, and then went to Bangkok to see the city before going to the airport.
The Santa Clara team must be very tired, because they worked very hard all week. We are grateful to them and all of our sisters and brothers at Santa Clara KUMC for their sacrifice for the Thai people and for helping us.
There are four posts below this with pictures from the outreach. Feel free to view and download them.
Friday, September 04, 2009
Last week, Sherri and I went up to Chiang Dao, a small city in the mountains of the far northern region of Thailand. Chiang Dao is a region that contains many hill tribes (Lisu, Karen, Hmong, Akha, Muser, and others). Drs. Tanapong and Mualrerdee (picture at the top left), Bible College professors from a Bible College in Eastern Thailand, wanted to start a United Methodist church in Chiang Dao and a Bible College to serve the needs of the many hill tribe people in the region.
Drs. Tanapong and Mualrerdee participated in the Advanced Course of Study courses on United Methodist Doctrine and History before we left to go back to the States on itineration. They did not want to wait until we came back to Thailand to start the church, so they started it about 3 months ago. We knew they had planted a new United Methodist church, Lampstand UMC but did not know they had also started a Bible college (we thought this would be sometime in the future). So when we arrived there, we were very surprised to meet 21 students of the new Global Theological Institute. We had arrived early, so Drs. Tanapong and Mualrerdee were not there yet. This gave us an opportunity to get to know these students, many of whom were Lisu, Karen, and one was Hmong. They came to study because they knew they were called to be God's servants to plant new churches. They live in very primitive and crowded conditions, because more students wanted to study than what there were facilities to accomodate. But their hearts were filled with the joy of the Lord, and they were very welcoming to us. We were very impressed by the joyful sacrifice these students make on a daily basis for the Lord.
When Drs. Tanapong and Mualrerdee arrived, they were exhausted. They have worked non-stop, morning, noon, and night, for 3 months without rest. When they started the church and Bible college, they did not have any funds, so they sold their only home and used the funds to start these ministries. The funds from the sale of the house is not nearly enough to meet all of the needs. But they have given of their fishes and loaves, so that God can multiply it to feed the multitude. In the lives of Drs. Tanapong and Mualrerdee we saw New Testament faith in action. We were reminded of Acts 4:32-35
All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had. And the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great favor was upon them all. There was no poverty among them, because people who owned land or houses sold them and brought the money to the apostles to give to others in need.
What great faith! They teach the students Monday through Friday in the mornings and afternoon. On Saturday, they take the students out to evangelize (we saw the fruits of this, there were many new believers at this church as a result of this). And on Sunday, they have Sunday School and Worship, and do a Pickup ministry (transportation to the church and back home). We are praying that others will come to help them in this ministry, because it is too much for just two people. We know God will provide.