A Christmas Update
First, Merry Christmas!
Despite having to come back under some sad circumstances, we are very grateful that we get to spend Christmas and New Year's Day in Tennessee this year. To be honest, I have missed having a real winter, and it can be fun to experience every once in awhile...
We have a LOT to be grateful for during this season. My health is almost 100% back to pre-cancer status, our little family is still thriving and doing well (Mary Ella even started speaking Thai this month), and we got to celebrate my dad's life and legacy this week as we said our final goodbyes to him. On the missions front, we have heard more reports of conversions this year than any other year that we have been in Thailand, which is incredibly encouraging. Just a few weeks ago, another student at our church made a profession of faith in Christ, as well as a dad and a son, who were baptized together soon after. These kinds of testimonies are coming more and more frequently, and it makes me stop and praise God every time.
“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” — Luke 15:7
Over the last few months, we have also been privileged to be a part of many special events and outreaches in Chiang Rai. I won't go into full detail about everything because it would make this update much longer than it needs to be, but here are some highlights.
Right around the time of Halloween, we had a special Halloween themed “Coffee House” for the students at Grace Language School. I was able to give a presentation about the true Christian history behind Halloween— a meaning that I believe has been lost over the decades to sensational interpretations of the holiday, as well as whitewashing of church history. (If you'd like to dive into this topic more, I recommend starting with this short article here, and this more detailed history here.) I shared about the Christian doctrine of the victory of Christ over Satan and the demonic realm to a group of students, the majority of whom are not yet believers, and was able to share in a non-threatening educational setting. I said in my last update that if we as Christians could reclaim the true meaning behind Halloween, that it has the potential to become one of the most powerful evangelism opportunities we have during the year, and that night illustrated that reality well.
This month, we were also able to go to a local school and host an English camp for the students there. Since it was Christmas themed, we had a very natural time to share the meaning of Christmas, and hence the gospel, with the entire student body.
Thanksgiving Worship Night
We worked with some friends here in Chiang Rai to put on a special community worship night this month. This was a night of singing in order to express our gratitude and prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving. I have posted the full worship set here so you can listen and enjoy as well. We also translated the song, “We Give Thanks (Psalm 107)” from Sovereign Grace Music into the Thai language. I am praying that these translations we are doing now will be a blessing to the entire Thai-speaking church throughout the country and world.
A Christmas Acapella
We were also able to play a role in the Christmas productions for both Chiang Rai International School and Baan Athitaan Church. For Baan Athitaan, our group did the Pentatonix a capella version of "Away in a Manger." Forgive us if it's not the BEST version you've ever heard. We're all new to a capella.
A Word to Our Donors
In closing, I want to say a word to our donors. As I said at the beginning of this letter, I am so grateful to God for many things, and one of the top items on that list is your financial and prayer support for our family over the last year. I have not been the best at communicating with our donors one-on-one, but going into 2023, I am completely rethinking how I connect with those of you who faithfully give financially so that we can continue to devote the majority of our time to ministerial and evangelistic service. I want you to feel more connected than ever before, and not just through these newsletters, so look forward to more personal messages and calls from me as we go into 2023, and please do not hesitate to offer constructive feedback if you think there is a way that I can do better in this area-- or in others for that matter. That is the only way we can grow. And God knows I still have plenty of room to grow.
Bonus: Mary Ella's Birthday
As a bonus, I wanted to throw in our "home video" from Mary Ella's 3rd birthday party. It was Frozen themed, and we even had a real Elsa come and visit her.
Merry Christmas from the Vaughns
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