Ten Month Update: The Most Valuable Resource
Ministries require resources. Some people like to debate if local churches should be like a business, with marketing campaigns and music records and publishing arms, or should be like a family with a strong emphasis on community (sometimes called fellowship) and an aversion to anything that reeks of charts, programs, or management language. I like to say that local churches are family businesses, where we combine the best of both biblical fellowship and best ministry practices to achieve our goal to “sell” our "product," life-change through Jesus Christ, to reach success together as one big team of brothers and sisters. I believe the greatest resource any organization has, whether it’s a business or a church, is the people in that organization. And it is no different here in Thailand. The most valuable resource we have is not a building or a vehicle or a sound system, it’s the people that live, study, and work here in Chiang Rai. Because we hold that conviction, we invest in people as often as we can. Here are some of the people we are investing in, and some specific ways you can pray for them:
Sprite is Northern Thai in culture, language, and ethnicity. He is from Lampang province. He speaks Northern Thai, Central Thai, Chinese, and English. He got baptized a few months back, and he has been studying the Bible—for the first time in his life—with me since August/September. He will be a fourth-year student at MFU soon with a major in Chinese Business. Pray for him as he gets ready to graduate and decides where to live and what career to pursue.
Non is a first-year student at MFU and is studying Accounting. He grew up in a Christian children’s home called House of Hope in Chiang Mai (the capital of the North; about a 3-hour drive from here). He is ethnically Lawa, but he has lost much of his connection to that culture, including the language (this is a common occurrence for some groups). He has been a Christian since he was a kid. Please pray that he will continue to grow and reach his peers at school.
Love is a second-year student at MFU, and he has also been a follower of Jesus
for many years. He was blessed to be born into a Christian family in a people group, the Lisu, that are largely reached with the gospel. He is currently studying Law at MFU. Pray for him as he continues to grow in his language skills, his studies, his faith, and as he continues to be a witness to his peers.
Ball (pronounced “Bon” by most of us) is also Northern Thai, and is a recent graduate from Rajabhat University. He majored in English/Linguistics. He is passionate about the English language, and loves western culture. God has gifted him as a “bridge-builder” between peoples. More than that, he has also become one of my closest friends this year, and has translated for me several times when I have had the opportunity to teach the Bible at youth group and during service at Baan Athitaan Church. Pray for him as we start going through some heavier books together this summer. Also, please pray for him as he looks for full-time work, and as he travels to visit America this summer.
Rot Mae is also a first-year student at MFU and she is studying Business. She came to Chiang Rai from Nonthaburi (Central Thailand; just outside of Bangkok) and has been a believer for just a few years. Liz is currently meeting with her to study the Bible, and going through “The Purpose-Driven Life” with her. Pray for her as she continues to adjust to being so far away from home, and grows in her language skills and her faith.
Teaching Bible at Chiang Rai International School
I haven’t been able to sign an official contract yet, but I have met with the principal at CRIS (the school where Liz teaches), and they are in need of a Bible teacher who will also administrate the chapel services (the current teacher is moving to Canada). They want me to take the position as part-time faculty. I’m really excited about this, because I have been told there are a large percentage of students, and teachers, at CRIS that are not yet followers of Jesus, and it is an all-English school. So, I will get to invest in many not-yet-believers there (as well as some that already are). Pray with us that we will see many people from that school move closer to a relationship with God through Jesus because of our witness.
This month through July, we will have teams coming from America to assist us with some English outreaches. We call this “tilling the soil” type of work, or you might call it “pre-evangelism.” These English fun day events get us into local schools and let teachers and students know about our presence, which often leads to evangelistic opportunities down the road. It also gives us the opportunity to share about Christian holidays and share the story of Jesus during that time.
This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to preach at our church from Psalm 27. Here is that message:
Something to Think About:
There are multiple ethnic groups that live in our province of Chiang Rai. If you would like to pray for them individually, here is a list of a few of the main people groups here:
Northern Thai – The primary “Northern Thailand” people group; there is still much work to be done with this group, they are still among some of the least reached in the world
Akha – A group originally from southern China; there is much gospel movement happening in this group in Thailand, but the Akha in Myanmar and China are still largely unreached
Hmong – Another group originally from southern China and from Laos; gospel movement is happening, pray for it to continue and grow
Karen – One of the most reached (if not the most reached) people group in Thailand; pray for leaders and missionaries to come from this group, and continued faithfulness throughout the generations
Mien (Yao) – Another people group that migrated from China (with a bit of a longer history here than the Akha or Hmong); my Thai teacher and our primary translator here at the church is from this group, and her village currently has no church and only one Christian family, please pray for her village specifically
Central Thai – The historic “Thai people” from what used to be the kingdom of Siam (before the North, Northeast, and South were incorporated); gospel movement happening, especially in Bangkok, but still much to be done (if my understanding is correct, there has been Christian witness in this group for a generation or two longer than in the others)
Isaan – The people from the Northeast of Thailand; historically Laotian; this is currently the least reached group in Thailand