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Saturday, July 31, 2010
Last Sunday, we worshipped at Bowin UMC. We have a special relationship with Pastors Jerron and On and the members of Bowin UMC because it was the first church we helped to plant in Thailand. It is always a homecoming whenever we visit.
After worship and the noon meal, Pastor Jerron invited us to go to the "Garden of Eden", which is the name they have given the Cooperative Chicken Farm Project that the New York VIM team helped to build last January. Everytime we come to the "Garden of Eden", we find that the members have developed the farm even further than before.
The first thing we saw were over a hundred chickens and some ducks running around the enclosed coop. What a huge increase from just two months ago. Every part of the farm is now growing some form of fruit or vegetable, and irrigation pipes and a sprinkler system make this land to be highly productive.
Pastor Jerron then took us to the "house" , which is really more like a picnic shelter with a raised floor, all made of bamboo. He then told us how the "House in the Garden of Eden" has become a holy place for him and the members of Bowin UMC.
Pastor Jerron heads out to the Garden of Eden most mornings with his baby daughter named "Manna", where he studies for sermons and Bible lessons. The Garden of Eden has become his spiritual sanctuary and a place of prayer.
Pastor Jerron then told about how many of his members work the night shift at the factories nearby. They work from 6pm to 6am. Most of them do not go directly home from work, instead they come to the Garden of Eden to work. The food that is grown here provides extra help and income for Pastors Jerron and On and the families of Bowin UMC as well as extra food for relief ministries in the area surrounding the church. After working in the Garden of Eden, the members will sleep at the house in the Garden or fellowship together. The Garden of Eden has been a place of fellowship and unity for this church. After witnessing what a spiritual blessing the Chicken Farm Cooperative has been, we think the name "Garden of Eden" is very appropriate.
We hope to do many more projects like this in other UMC churches. For only $3000,you and your church can sponsor a cooperative project that helps lift families out of poverty and also helps to make churches become self-sufficient. Please pray about this. We need people and churches to help with this.
I (Mike) also need your prayers. I have been very ill with the flu for the last 4 days and I can't seem to shake it. Thank you for your prayers.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
We are back home from the Rodem House Retreat Center, where we have finished the first half of the class on Pastoral Care and Counseling, one of the required classes for Course of Study,the United Methodist study program for lay people who seek to be pastors but have not received training in a seminary.
There were over 30 lay people training, plus pastors and youth who accompanied them. There were also several people who came for the training from other denominations. This is very typical in Thailand. Because the Christian population is so small and the opportunities for training so few, when we or others provide training, pastors and lay leadership from many organizations come to the trainings.
The second half of this training will be at Life Center UMC in Pattaya next month. Also next month, Sherri will be teaching a block course on "Biblical Roles of Women in Church" at our Bible college in Chiang Dao.
This week, we were thrilled to be able to purchase a new car, a Kia Picanto.
As some of you know, we were originally going to purchase a 4 door Tata CNG Pickup, but unfortunately they are no longer sold in Thailand. After much prayerful consideration and comparing different vehicles, we decided the Kia Picanto best met our needs for a way to transport 2-3 people comfortably while using as little fuel as possible. It was very helpful to have the car available for this last training. It made life much more efficient and easier too.
Thank you to all who gave generously to make it possible to purchase this car.
God is good!
Monday, July 12, 2010
We thank all who have been praying for us. Since coming back to Thailand, we both have had to do some sprinting to keep up with the pastor training schedule. When training pastors in a second language, there are many time consuming details for translating, and everything has to be translated because there just isn’t much to choose from for Biblical curriculum here. Also, the credentialing training, such as Course of Study and Advance Course of Study, there are tons of logistics as pastors and lay Christian leaders come from all over Thailand to the Rodem House Retreat Center. There is transportation, food, lodging, communications, and many, many details that we must manage. Please pray for us as we are now doing the credentialing training at Rodem House, which is an hour drive from our house. This is a new location, and we must put together a whole new set of helpers, vendors, and routines to make it work. Your prayers are greatly needed.
Last week, Mike taught at the Global Theological Institute, a ministry of the Lamppost UMC in Chiang Dao, Thailand. He taught a one-week intensive block course on the Life of Christ to 29 students. Each student had to submit a paper and also do a presentation on a selected passage from one of the gospels. It was a great joy to hear them teach about the life of Jesus because they have a refreshing perspective on the life of Christ. Most of the students belong to the minority hill tribe groups in the far north of Thailand. They are the poorest of the poor and must work very hard just to subsist. In most ways, their lifestyle is much closer to the lifestyle Jesus Christ lived than our lifestyle in the affluent West. Most of them live own nothing more than the small bag of clothes that they came to Bible college with. So when they teach from Matthew 6:25-34 and proclaim that God will take care of our needs, I couldn’t help but be touched deeply. It is one thing when a middle class preacher proclaims this. It is quite another when a penniless Bible college student teaches this Biblical truth.
It is always a time of joy to be with these students. They are very grateful that we come to train them, and yet we are privileged to be able to train them to be at the front lines of the Kingdom of God, for planting churches and ministries in unreached areas of Thailand. And we are ever grateful for the prayers and support of Christians in the States, who make it all possible. We are very blessed, and we wish to be a blessing to others for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Drs. Tanapong and Muanreedee are the pastors of Lamppost UMC and the directors of this Bible College. They sold their house so they could start this Bible college, and God has blessed. We are hoping to send some mission teams to work at the Global Theological Institute to improve the student housing and other facilities. If you are interested in forming a mission team, please contact us.
Dr. Tanapong does much of the teaching and Dr. Muanreedee creates new curriculum while running the copy shop that helps provide much needed funds for the school. Both Sherri and I teach block courses each semester as part-time professors. Sherri will be teaching a block class in August on the Biblical Role of Women in the Church. Please keep Drs. Tanapong and Muanreedee in your prayers, that God will sustain them with strength, and provide the funds needed to keep this training center going and expanding.