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We serve with the Thailand Methodist Mission

We serve with the Thailand Methodist Mission
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our community has a ghost dress shrine

Most Thai people are Buddhist, and most Buddhists in Thailand have some form of "Spirit House" and shrine in their yard or in their house.  Even businesses, shopping malls, and the entrance to sub-divisions have spirit houses shrines.  A spirit house is looks like a dollhouse, except for it is meant to be a home for the ghosts of persons who used to live in the house or area.  The shrines are for providing food, drink, and incense offerings to take care of the ghosts and appease them.  

Thai Buddhists are generally very afraid of ghosts and will go to great lengths to protect themselves from them.  We have just moved to a new office for TMM, which is a small house in an old subdivision.  We had expected to see the usual spirit house and shrine near the entrance to the sub-division, and our sub-division does have these.  But we were very surprised to see glass cases with a few dozen beautiful traditional Thai gowns next to the community spirit house and shrine.  When we inquired about these bright colored dresses and gowns in the elaborate glass cases, we were told that these dresses were placed here to appease a female ghost.  This is the first time we have seen something like this, but Thai friends tell us this is much more common than we think.  

When Thai people receive Christ and become followers of the Lord, many wonderful transformations take place in their lives.  One of these transformations is that they no longer live in fear of evil spirits and ghosts.  Christians know that we serve the Lord Almighty, and our Lord is greater than any evil spirit.  Thai Christian homes don't have the shrines and spirit houses, instead they know that they are God's children and they have the Lord's protection.  They no longer need to wear amulets (these are portable idols and shrines meant to protect them from evil spirits) or have idols of any sort.  Because our Lord is the Almighty God.  Amen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Polar Plunges and Persecution

Pastor Dave Martin of Hope UMC of Troy, NY.  This brave man took the polar plunge to promote missions in his church.  Pastor Dave and Hope UMC have been long-time supporters of the Blessing Home ministry.
A few weeks ago, TMM received a donation for Blessing Home from Hope UMC of Troy, NY with a note attached.  The note said that their pastor, Dave Martin, challenged the congregation to raise $2,000 in 4 weeks for home and foreign missions, and if they succeeded, he would participate in this year's polar plunge on New Year's Day.  Just in case you are not familiar with polar plunges, this is jumping to the freezing cold water in the middle of winter.  This note tickled us because Sherri often says that she would like to take a polar plunge, and I tell her she must be nuts.  But now, I see that you don't need to be crazy to do this, just highly committed to the Lord's work.  So we extend our appreciation to Brave Pastor Dave for going beyond the call of duty to promote missions in his church.

Now, we have a very serious matter that requires all of you to be on your knees in prayer.  Pastors Jerron and On of the newly formed Mai Ya church in Chiang Rai province are the targets of religious persecution at the local government level, and they need your prayers.  The local sub-district government office in Mai Ya has a life-insurance program, like most sub-districts do.  In this program, every adult in the sub-district pays a monthly premium, and then if someone in the family dies, the program will give money to cover cremation and funeral expenses.  Most sub-districts have a program like this to make sure that everyone in the community is covered in case of death.  Well, the sub-district government leaders passed a law, stating that if anyone in the community became a Christian, they would be thrown out of this program and would lose all the funds they have invested in the program.  This law directly targeted the Mai Ya church, which is the first and only church in this sub-district.

Although this law is against the Thai constitution, it still is in effect at the present time, and many of the members of Mai Ya church have been stricken from this program and have had the funds they have invested confiscated by the local government.  Now, everyone is afraid of hearing the message of Jesus because they do not want their money confiscated as well.

Pastor Jerron has begun the lengthy legal process to appeal this law.  But first, he is setting up meetings in all 8 precincts, to have dinner and build relationship with all 8 precinct leaders.  He wants to try settling this in a friendly way, if possible, rather than take this to court.  Please be praying for Pastors Jerron and On, that they will find favor in the eyes of these local government leaders.

We will keep you posted on the progress, but it may be awhile before we have any news.

Christians worshipping together at Mai Ya church

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Getting closer to the goal, Praise the Lord!

We are getting closer and closer to the goal, having received over $110,000.  Praise the Lord!
We just wanted to give you an update on the Blessing Home Building Fund.  We have received over $110,000 so far and getting closer to the goal each week.  In two weeks, Pastor Banya will be forming a committee to search for a new building.  Please pray that the Lord will lead the committee to the right place for Blessing Home. May the Lord's will be done.  We know the Lord has a place prepared for this ministry.

If you want to make a donation to the Blessing Home Building Fund, please write "Building Fund" on the memo section of your check or in the memo section of the online donation form.

Donations may be sent by mail or by internet.
Please make your checks out to TMM and send them to:
P.O. Box 56
Mannsville, KY 42758

Or donate through the TMM website at

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The newly planted Mai Ya church is thriving

Sherri and I and Christine Villa, the new missionary at Blessing Home, had the privilege of spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Pastors Jerron and On of Mai Ya church, a church that was planted just a few months ago (August 2011).  Pastors Jerron and On are veteran church pioneers, having planted a church with us at Bowin which is now thriving and self-supporting.  Now they have planted a second church in Mai Ya, Pastor Jerron's hometown.  Previously, Mai Ya sub-district had no church of any type, until now.
This is the goal of the Pioneering Pastors Program (PPP) of the Thailand Methodist Mission.  We plant churches in unreached sub-districts (counties), ones which have no church of any type.  78% of sub-districts in Thailand are unreached, so if the Thai people are to be reached for Christ, we expand the Kingdom of God by planting churches where there never has been one before in history.

It is very important that these new churches become self-sufficient, because a self-sufficient church is a permanent ministry.  A church that is self-sufficient will be thriving generations after Sherri and I have passed on.  The way we help to make churches self-sufficient is by helping the pastors and members to start businesses that can support them.  At Mai Ya, the Thailand Methodist Mission gave funds to Pastor Jerron to open a barber shop to help him support his family  (this was his trade before he went to Bible college).  He used the funds to build a room for the barber shop at the front of the house he is using, and to buy equipment.  The apostle Paul made tents to support his ministry, and the pioneering pastors follow his example.  Below are some pictures of Pastor Jerron's barber shop.

While we were in Mai Ya, Pastor Jerron drove us around to visit some of his new members at their homes and farms.  Since Pastors Jerron and On planted the Mai Ya church in August 2011, the church has grown from 8 people to 24 people.  They are doing a great job of visiting people and building relationships.  One of  the new families are farmers, and we enjoyed watching Pastor Jerron visit with them.  The men were working on the water pump, which was broken.  Pastor Jerron rolled up his sleeves and jumped in there with them.  Pioneering a new church is hard work and it takes building relationships with all in the village.

It is the same all over the world with us guys.  When there is a broken piece of machinery, we all gather around it.  One man does the work, while the rest of us grunt and give advice.

Sherri with the two church matriarchs, Pen and Ben.  Pen lets Pastors Jerron and On use her big pink house as the church building.  Ben is a joyous person to be around.
Pastors Jerron and On are wonderful relationship bridge builders, with other churches and with the community as well.  Pastor Jerron has quickly become of the leaders in the community of Mai Ya, and is now president of the board for the local community pre-school and Kindergarten.  He has been helping the school to get resources needed for teaching the children and his efforts have been appreciated.  Because they have nurtured the relationships with those in the community, Pastors Jerron and On and the members of Mai Ya church were invited to put on a Christmas program for the school.  In a Buddhist county, this is highly unusual, but we have seen the Lord do miracles over and over again.

The newly formed church needed help putting on the program, so they asked for help from the Pha Ngam Presbyterian church.  This is the same church that came and prayed with us in July, as we had meetings for preparing to start Mai Ya church.  The members of Pha Ngam Presbyterian church have been fully supportive of the new church plant, because they had been praying for many years for a church to start there, and now God has answered their prayers.  Pha Ngam Presbyterian church sent a full team of teens and adults to put the Christmas program on at the Community School.  They worked together with Pastor Jerron and the school officials, to put on music, gift giving, and dances by the students of the Community School and also the church.  It is wonderful seeing the community open their hearts to the new church, and we hope soon many more will open their hearts to Jesus Christ.

Celebrating Christmas at the Community School

On Christmas morning, we celebrated the birth of Christ at the Mai Ya church.  We had games and gift giving following the morning service.  One of the games which is popular is "Hot Potato".  The "hot potato" is a bottle of powder, that gets passed around while the guitar plays. When the music stops, whoever has the bottle of powder must put powder on their faces and on their heads.  Well, this was one of the games we played on Christmas morning, and there are two things I know will happen.  First, the pastor will never stop the music while Sherri has the powder.  Second, the pastor will ALWAYS stop the music while Mike has the powder!  ALWAYS!  It doesn't matter who the pastor is and where it is, Mike always has to dump powder on himself.  Below are pictures of the Christmas party.  Why does Mike always get it and Sherri never does?

We wish you a Blessed New Year!