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Friday, September 04, 2009
UMC opens new church in Northern Thailand
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.