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Thursday, May 07, 2020

Good News To Lift Up Your Spirits!

We have so many blessings to lift before the Lord.  And many of these blessings are serendipitous, not having been planned at all.   Here are some of them:

  • The ministry of Global Theological Institute is as strong as ever because it is a Distance Leaning institution.  In fact, because students cannot work, they have more time than ever for their studies, and we have seen a great increase in the amount of courses being completed, especially by our Pioneer Pastor students.  The increase is so great that we expect next years graduation to be a "bumper crop"
  • We and our Thai Team have been writing and formatting books, producing and editing training videos, and creating other curriculum resources for the Abundant Life Financial Training Program and for the Pioneer Pastor Program.  Usually we all travel to do seminars all over Thailand as well as create resources. And to be honest, we all usually have too many "irons in the fire" and get behind on our production of resources.  But now that all of us cannot travel, we have been able to catch up on our book and video projects.  We praise the Lord for the ability to carve our larger amounts of time to make much needed educational resources.
  • Sherri and I are at our home near Campbellsville, Kentucky now.  Usually when we are in the States, our home in Thailand is vacant.  But we praise God that May and Teddy, who serve full-time with us, were able to move their family into our home during the Coronavirus crisis.  They live in a tightly packed city lane where COVID-19 has hit hard because most of their neighbors work in the tourist industry.  In the overcrowded city neighborhoods, it is almost impossible to isolate to stay safe.  We praise God that they can live at our house where it is much safer.
These are just a few of the many serendipitous blessings from our Lord.  Thank you for praying for us!  Your prayers are the engine room of the mission that keeps this ship sailing.

Monday, April 13, 2020

For such a time as this

Esther 4:14  
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

God had placed Esther in a special position to be able to help her people during a crisis that she probably never could have predicted would happen.  When Esther was chosen to be the queen, she had no idea that she would be in a unique position to help her people when they needed her.  Looking back, we see God's hand at work.  Our Almighty God who knows the future had a plan for Esther.  It was our Lord who chose Esther to be the queen, for such a time as this.

We believe that the Thai Pastors and Christians, and the missionaries of Thailand NOW have been put into our positions of ministry during this COVID-19 crisis for such a time as this.  The urban churches have been hit with a sledge hammer of poverty.  Almost everyone is out of work and many have been out of work for 2 months now.  These are families that live on less than $250 per month.  They have no food and no way of earning money.  The pastors and church leaders have had so many people come to them for help that they have used up all of their savings buying food for hungry parishioners and family.  

Pastor Somsri of Fire of Glory Church already had a food relief program that gave milk and eggs to children who were terribly undernourished.  The children not only were too thin, they had suffered for many years and had not grown like they should.  There was one child that I thought was either 7 or 8 years old, but she was 14 years old!  And there were many others like her.  Pastor Somsri continued to help them and now cannot feed her own family.  So we are giving extra help to make sure that Pastor Somsri's family and her parishioners have food to eat during the next several months, until the crisis resolves.  In Thailand, all of the churches are closed, like they are in the States.  So the urban pastors have no means of income.  We praise the Lord that He has placed us in the position to help.  God appointed us as missionaries for such a time as this.

Pastors Sila and Wassana of Prasiri UMC in Bangkok, have been shopping for food and bringing relief packages to their neighbors and parishioners who had no food in their homes.  The members of Prasiri UMC also made face masks to give to their neighbors in their time of need.  They are the hands and feet of God for such a time as this.

Pastor Sila wearing his face mask.

Shopping for groceries to give to those in need

Bags of groceries ready to deliver

Pastors Det and Dao who serve at Blessing Home TaPhraya have been delivering food to the homes of the Blessing Home kids and seniors who have no food.  There are no many more people needing assistance than ever before, and they are giving all that they have to help. 

At Blessing Home Pattaya, Thailand NOW missionaries David and Allie Houle have been making sure every child and their families receive food.  Allie and David have not been able to isolate themselves at home, because they need to make sure these children are cared for.  Allie and David have also been helping the members of Life Center UMC who are out of work and have no food.  The need is huge and they know they have been called by God to serve at Blessing Home Pattaya for such a time as this.   Please pray for them as they serve the Lord faithfully, that they will be safe from the coronavirus as they do their ministry as the compassionate hands and feet of God.

Allie gives an activity book to a Blessing Home kid so she
can learn while staying safe at home.

David delivers food to one of the Blessing Home
kids and his father.
So we would just like to say, Thank You!!!  Your prayers and faithful support during this time is making a world of difference in the lives of these people in desperate need.
Ploy packs emergency bags of food.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

March: the month we felt like we were Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

WOW!!! We arrived home in Kentucky on March 18 and we are thankful for your prayers, because it was only through your prayers that we made it back home.  There were so many pits and traps that would have left us stranded that we felt like Indiana Jones escaping from the cursed cave.

For two weeks before our flight, we self-isolated in our home in Thailand so we would have the best chance of being healthy for the flight.  We knew that if we were sick with COVID-19 we would not be able to fly (nor would we want to because it would endanger others).  Our original itinerary to fly back home included a layover in Milan, Italy.  When COVID-19 hit there, we decided to change our flights to avoid Milan.  That involved 4 hours of waiting on hold until an agent could help us, and we had to pay quite a bit to make the change.  No problem, we did what we had to.

Then there was talk of airports and airlines closing down.  We were flying on Emirates Airlines, and the government of United Arab Emirates was beginning to ban people flying in from one country after another.  Thailand was not on the list, but we were holding our breath because we could not be stranded in Thailand.  Our visas were near expiring, and we would not qualify to extend the visa in country.  We had to get back to the States to get a new visa.  If we stayed illegally, we could be arrested, put in jail, fined, deported, and worse of all, blacklisted from coming back to Thailand this year.  This would have been disastrous for us.  We did all that we could do: we prayed and asked others to pray for us too.

 Then we read on the news the next day that Emirates and other airlines were cancelling a large percentage of their flights.  The next day, we received an email from Emirates that our flight was cancelled and that they booked us on a new flight but would not let us choose seats (even thought we paid for that service already, TWICE).  We just had to wait until the day of the flight and check-in online as soon as possible to secure a boarding pass, because the flight would be massively overbooked.  Many people would show up for this flight, having purchased a ticket, yet would not be able to board.  We still did not know if we would be able to leave Thailand.

The day came when we were to fly and we receive an email from Emirates that we could check-in online, which made us happy.  We could finally get our boarding passes and know we can get home.  But when we attempted to check-in online, the app said that we could not check-in because we had not yet paid for the tickets (and we had actually paid for them TWICE).  So we before calling Emirates, I tried to use our bank's website to get proof that we paid for our tickets, but our bank's website was down for the day.  So we had to call Emirates, with no way to prove that we actually paid for the tickets.  After over 4 hours of waiting, an Emirates agent helped us.  He could not assign us seats and give a boarding pass.  He said they would take care of that when we arrived at the airport.  We were not really convinced we actually had tickets.  He could not send us a ticket confirmation by email.  It all just felt wrong, and a bit scary.

So we arrived at the airport almost 4 hours early wearing surgical masks and using alcohol gel every time we touched anything (we went through several small bottles in just two days).  When we went to check-in, the agent looked at her screen and a look of concern came upon her and she said she needed to contact her supervisor.  The supervisor came, and after a long time was able to give us a boarding pass to fly to Dubai but could not give us the boarding pass to fly from Dubai to JFK airport in New York City.  She also informed us that our luggage would not go directly to JFK airport since our layover in Dubai was longer than 24 hours.  We would have to pick up our luggage in Dubai.  But, in order to pick up our luggage in Dubai, we would have to enter the country through Immigration Control, and we did not have the medical clearances to allow us to enter Dubai.  So we checked in our luggage, thinking that we might not see it again.

The flight was a bit nerve-wracking.  Almost everyone had a masks on, and most of the other passengers were like us, using sanitizing gel like it was going out of style.  When we arrived in Dubai, we went to the Emirates Airlines help counter to try to get a boarding pass for our next flight and to see what could be done about our luggage.  The agent was very helpful with our luggage, typing information into the computer so our luggage would be found and then sent to America.  But he said we had to wait another 12 hours before we could get a boarding pass for the next flight.

We were blessed to be able to book a room at the airport hotel, so we slept comfortably.  The next morning we went to get a boarding pass, but were told that there was something wrong with our reservation and that only the supervisor had the authority to help us and that he was in a meeting.  We were instructed to come back in 2 hours.  We are very grateful for the help of the hotel worker who went to the desk 4 times to work out whatever the problem was with out ticket.  Just 2 hours before the flight, we had our boarding passes.  We were relieved because it would have been awful being stranded in Dubai.  We would have to live at the airport because we could not enter the country.  (We thought we might be like Tom Hanks in the movie "The Terminal").  Every day, more and more flights were being cancelled and the chances of getting back to the States would get slimmer.  Your prayers paved the way home.

So we boarded the flight, and there was never a better flight.  We always feel great joy at flying home to the States, but this time was different.  We were felt incredibly blessed and happy to come home.  When we arrived at JFK airport, everything went smoothly.  We went through Passport Control quickly and we waited at the luggage carousel, wondering if our luggage would actually arrive.  God answered our prayers and both of our bags arrived!

We booked a one-way car rental and drove that night to a hotel in Queens.  We were thoroughly exhausted and fell asleep on the way down to the pillow.  The next morning we drove all the way home to Campbellsville, Kentucky.  Good friends had come and prepared our house for us, cleaning the place and stocking our kitchen with food, knowing we would need to self-isolate for at least 14 days (looks like it will be considerably longer).

The whole month of March was a series of pits and traps, any one of which would have left us stranded, either in Thailand, where we would have expired visas, or Dubai, where we would have been stuck in the airport.  God is Good!  We are home!

Our prayers extend to all of you, as we all hunker down to fight COVID-19.  We pray that this time of isolation is a time that you can use in some positive way.  Do things you enjoy that you usually don't have time to do.  Get tasks done that you have not been able to get to (Last night Sherri mentioned the first "Honey-Do" chore for me, painting shelves in the bathroom.)

Although we and our Thai team are isolated in our homes, in Thailand and Kentucky, we now have time to focus exclusively on creating curriculum, both books and videos.  We use Zoom to have meetings now, and it has actually made us quite productive.

Thailand Now missionaries, Allie and David Houle are taking care of the Blessing Home kids at all three centers, making sure they are fed and well nourished while they are isolating at home.  Here is the link to read their latest blog >

Thailand Now missionaries, Carol Fare and Vicki Brown are hunkering down, making specialized furnishings for special needs children.

We know this is a tough time for all, emotionally and financially.  Please remember to pray for the missionaries and ministries of Thailand Now.  We will continue to feed and help Blessing Home kids and pay salaries to our Thai team members.

If the Lord leads you to give, you can give online at our website >
OR send a check to:

Thailand NOW
P.O. Box 56
Mannsville, KY 42758