March 2023 Newsletter
Living and serving in a country like Thailand means always wrestling with a complex array of emotions. One day, you can feel incredibly encouraged about what God is doing in the world, and the next, you can start to get sucked into the darkness and depression that is often so prevalent in the lives of people all around you. In some sense, I think it is difficult to truly love people and not hurt when you see their pain and brokenness–even while trying to maintain healthy boundaries. And there is plenty of pain and brokenness in this part of the world, but there are also so many things to be grateful for every single day.
A New House
These last 2 months have been eventful for our family in many ways. We got back to Chiang Rai at the end of January, very encouraged from our trip to America. Then, not long after returning, we finally moved into our own rental house. We’ve been staying with Liz’s parents for the last year or so, and while it has been nice for Mary Ella to be so close to her grandparents, it was also draining to not have a space we could call our own. God provided the perfect house for us, in the same neighborhood we’ve been living in. This was an answer to prayer, because I didn’t want to lose the relationships that we’ve built with other kids and families here. Mary Ella really has it made in this neighborhood, with a handful of friends close to her age– both American and Thai.
A New Friend
God has also blessed our family in two other significant ways. First, he sent us a nanny for Mary Ella that she really loves. Her name is Nasan, and she is from the Lahu people group, which is a large minority ethnic group here in Northern Thailand. I was grateful to find someone that Mary Ella likes, and who is a Christian. But even more than that, I was actually grateful that she doesn’t speak English very much, because it’s forcing Mary Ella to learn Thai, which she is doing little by little every passing day.
A New Faith
Speaking of Mary Ella, the other major way God has blessed our family is through Mary Ella’s childlike faith in Jesus. We have seen “seeds of faith” in her for about a year now (I’ll never forget the night during Bible story time when she said “LOVE JEDUS!” and tried to give him a hug), but in the last few months, she has really started to be more outspoken about her love for him and desire to identify as a Christian.
Because we live here in Thailand where there are a lot of “bad statues” and “bad temples,” she is very aware of the reality that not all people love and worship Jesus. A few weeks ago, I explained to her what “Christian” means, and she said, “Oh! Mommy’s a Christian, Daddy’s a Christian, and I’M a Christian too!” She has also been very interested in the concept of baptism for awhile now, and she loves learning about new Bible stories during church every week. I cannot begin to explain how much joy my heart experiences as a dad watching my daughter learn and embrace a God-centered life with joy.
Teaching for Life Change
We are continuing to serve through Grace Language School & Chiang Rai International School, even as we look into other ministries that we can get involved with. It has been awhile since I talked about these two schools in our newsletters, so it would be good to mention them again here, and ask for your continued prayer for the students at each of them. Grace Language School is the English school where we have students that come from all over the city of Chiang Rai in order to get extra practice with their English skills. Chiang Rai International School is the international K-12 school that uses American curriculum and also has a full Bible curriculum and chapels for all students every week. Both of these schools provide us with the opportunities to invest deeply in students on a weekly basis. Please pray for all of the teachers, as well as the students, and that we would “not grow weary in doing good” even when the fruit seems so slow at times. We do regular “Coffee House” special events through the English school, and these are a great way to teach about Christianity in a natural way that is connected to our mission as a language school. Usually, we will teach about holidays, and since almost all major western holidays have a Christian history behind them, we are able to share about that history with the students. This past month was our Valentine’s Day event.
In addition to serving through these schools, we also serve through Baan Athitaan Church, especially on Sundays. I have started teaching Sunday School for university students, and Liz is very invested in the worship team. I have also started to help translate for our Thai brothers when they preach from time to time, and will be doing that this upcoming Sunday for my brother and friend, Ball.
A Health Update
I know this update has been a bit more personal but I wanted to share one last “praise” before I move on to some ways you can join us in praying for individuals we know with needs. And that praise is that the doctor here in Chiang Rai has confirmed that I am no longer infertile. This is another huge answer to prayer for our family, and I wanted to say “thank you” to everyone who has continued to pray for my health over the last two years. Now that we have this knowledge, we can start praying that Mary Ella will get her wish of having a baby sister sometime soon (she has made it clear that she wants a sister and not a brother 😂).
Praying for Others:
We met with a girl who we have known since she became a Christian about 3 years ago. She was just in a car accident and she said it was a wake up call for her and that God is showing her several areas of her life that she needs to make changes in. Praise God for the gift of clear-headed repentance, and pray she is able to follow through with what she told us about.
I also met with a brother here that I know from Bangkok. He’s living in Chiang Mai now and serving as a full-time campus missionary at one of the large universities in Chiang Mai. Pray for him and his ministry on campus.
The lady that takes care of one of Mary Ella’s friends in the neighborhood, who was also taking care of Mary Ella for a short time, broke her leg in a motorcycle accident this last month.
One of the pastors in my home church has been in a battle with cancer for months, if not a year by now, and needs prayer.
One of my students at GLS lost her grandfather last month. I didn’t realize how big of a deal that was until she explained to me yesterday that her dad died when she was 8.
THANKS FOR BEING PART OF THE TEAM!
Transformation Ministries exists to push back spiritual darkness and the effects of spiritual darkness in our world today with the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Consider becoming a financial support team member so you can be a part of helping to create resources, empower leaders, and do "great commission work" in both English and Thai.