Wonderful news! A new UMC church has opened in Pattaya for Akha tribal people who work in this city. The Akha people are from the hills and mountains of Northern Thailand, but many must live in Pattaya to sell their handcrafts to tourists here. Last year, we had plans on starting this church and had some wonderful organizational meetings with Akha Christians in Pattaya.
Here are links to those articles from last year.
The organizational meetings were well attended and there was much enthusiasm and excitement. We thought we would have this church started by January 2010, but God has His timing and it was different from ours. The one who was going to be the Akha pastor for this new congregation was disqualified from service, and we could not find a replacement that would be the right person to serve in Pattaya, a very difficult place to serve. Also, the place where we were going to rent became unavailable, and we could not find an affordable place (Pattaya is very expensive for Thailand). So, this was put on hold until both the right pastor and the right location could be found. Church planting is always a process, sometimes it is short and sometimes not. But God’s timing is always the best.
We praise God, that the work that we started has now come to completion, because of the efforts of Rev. Cherlue Vang and Pastor Sarah of Pradumri First UMC. Pastor Sarah has graciously provided for the funds for renting a building in a good location in Pattaya. She has been key to the whole process and we thank Pastor Sarah for her faithfulness to the Lord.
|Mike and Pastor Ahloong|
The new Akha pastor is Pastor Ahloong, who we trained during the last two years. In the first year, Pastor Ahloong as he served as an intern and received training from us twice each month, including credentialing training essential for all United Methodist pastors, Local Pastor School. This year, he completed his final year of studies at Phayao Bible College, and completed the three United Methodist Advanced Course of Study classes essential for ordination: UM History, UM Polity, UM Doctrine, which Sherri and I taught last Spring. Pastor Ahloong also received training from us in the Cell-based church planting method, which is effective all over the world (and very Wesleyan as well).
The Grand Opening for the Pradumri Akha UMC of Pattaya was last Sunday, but we could not attend because we had a previous commitment to be in Western Thailand, in Nakhon Pithom, for the dedication service for their new Youth Center. So we visited this Sunday afternoon with the Akha church, for they were having their Christmas celebration (very early in the month, it seems). There were over 120 Akha in attendance, which was not surprising because of the strong support we saw at last year’s organizational meetings. They are a friendly, outgoing, lovable people and we rejoiced in the welcoming spirit of the members of this new church. We rejoice that this church has a very strong start. God is blessing the efforts of Pastor Ahloong and all who have had a part in this new church. There are now 12 UMC churches in Thailand, glory be to God.
|Sherri and the Devil from their drama|
|Most people sat outside in the street|
Later this week, we want to introduce you to Teacher Mali, a Chinese Thai Christian who was the key person for planting this church.
On a side note, Mike did his first bi-lingual (English-Thai) wedding at Life Center UMC in Pattaya. Ken, an Englishman, and Duan, a Thai woman, had their wedding as part of the worship service this past Sunday. Attached are some pictures of the wedding. Mike was more nervous than the bride and groom because he had to do the ceremony in Thai as well as English. All went well.
It was one of those truly blessed Sundays that are a gift from God. God is good!
|Duan and Ken Grainger, with Duan's mother|
|Consecration Prayer at the wedding|