November 2022 Newsletter
There is no shortage of difficulties that come from living in another country, especially one like Thailand. There is a stereotype of Westerners that move here to teach and stay for a decade or longer, only to become really jaded and bitter. Some people might assume that we are immune to this temptation because of our love for Thai people, but that is not true at all. There have been times, even over the past year, when I honestly felt like I hated everything about this country, from the continued asinine masking in most public places (ironically the two places that aren't are churches and bars), to the growing liberalism in the culture. But while it’s always easy to see the negatives, what is amazing to me is that despite the problems, the gospel continues to go forward faster than ever and the church continues to grow.
Over the last few months I have heard this sentiment shared by several people, so it’s not just confirmation bias on my part. A friend of mine in Bangkok told me that he felt like something was changing here. It's very possible that the amount of change to normal life that everyone has experienced over the last few years has started to break them of their defenses. This friend told me that when Thangmo– a celebrity model here in Thailand who also happened to be a Christian that was very open about her faith– died in a tragic accident (which some people suspect was not an accident at all), thousands of Thai people tuned in to watch the live-stream of her funeral, where the gospel was preached by her pastor. As of now, I just checked and the video of the funeral service is still up and currently has 229,000 views.
I have also seen reports of evangelistic events this year, where several hundred people have either publicly stated that they placed their faith in Christ for the first time, or were being baptized. And, I have a friend who has been doing a 9-month training in Chiang Mai, who has reported to me that there have been at least two students that he has personally shared the gospel with who have become Christians.
Additionally, I had a conversation with another missionary who has been here in Thailand for several decades. He told me about a conversation he had with a high ranking government official and this official assured him that Christianity would continue to grow here in Thailand, because Buddhism and Islam are not giving people the answers they are looking for. From my perspective, it seems that as hyper-feminized liberalism continues to thrive in the culture here, it might become the greatest obstacle to the gospel, very much like it is in our Western context.
Continuing in this theme, just this past Sunday, there were two Thai university students in our Sunday School class who were not yet believers. One of them is the girlfriend of a guy that just became a Christian a few months ago. This guy had been invited to church by a friend of his, came to a Sunday School lesson about “the narrow door” and had a dream not long after that that Jesus was standing at the door inviting him to come through. After talking with his Christian friend about the meaning of the dream, he placed his faith in Jesus and the gospel. I don’t know this for sure, but it’s very likely that he is the first Christian in his family, as that is a common theme among converts here in Thailand. This gives me much hope for the trajectory of Thailand. It energizes us to get out and engage with our neighbors with real hope that whether we see fruit today or tomorrow, our efforts are not a waste.
Speaking of neighbors, we just put on a Halloween party in our neighborhood this week and were able to invite over a bunch of kids.
We even organized with several houses to allow us to come and trick-or-treat. It was an awesome night, and I am looking forward to seeing good fruit coming from these Halloween parties going into the future, as it is just now catching on here in Thailand. If Christians would use it as an opportunity to love our neighbors rather than inadvertently giving undue honor to Satan by attributing power to him that he doesn’t have over us, I believe we could see Halloween become the most important holiday for building community and sharing the gospel, outside of Christmas.
Before I move on to some important prayer requests, I want to share two things with you. The first is a song that some friends of ours here in Chiang Rai wrote years ago and decide to record again and make a music video for. They dedicated it to all the missionaries who have ever served in Thailand, whether short term or long term. Gahn is married to a missionary and is one of those Thai people that really love and appreciate foreigners who come here to serve in Thailand, so this song was not only great musically, but was really touching.
The first very sobering prayer request I want to put before you is for the families and community of the children that were killed in a mass shooting this past month. This was one of the most horrific events I’ve heard happen in Thailand, and it really is heartbreaking. I challenge anyone who believes that good and evil are only illusions or social constructs, to listen to this story and tell me with a straight face that objective evil does not exist.
Another prayer request I have is for a friend who reached out to me recently and expressed how lonely she was. She is not a Christian, and we have spent time with her and invited her to church in the past, but she has yet to be converted. In fact, she has only become more entrenched in superstition since we first met her. I have had a burden to see her and her family become Christians for several years, so please join me in praying for them.
Third, I would like to ask you to pray for the country of Laos, which neighbors Thailand to the northeast and shares a common history and language. Laotian is technically a different language, but it is so similar to Thai that it is tempting to consider it a different dialect rather than a different language entirely. However, Laos, unlike Thailand, is still under a communist regime and does not have freedom of religion. I saw a missionary post this week that one of their ministry partners was martyred just days ago.
We have many friends who are second generation Laotians that grew up in America, and even some who immigrated to Thailand from Laos, so it is another country that is close to our hearts.
THANKS FOR BEING PART OF THE TEAM!
Transformation Ministries is dependent on generous financial partners who want to see positive gospel impact made in our world today. If you would like to join the partnership team, you can do so by clicking the button below and filling out the form on the next page.