September 2023 Newsletter
I’m excited. Every day that goes by, I am more and more optimistic about what God is doing in the world, especially here in Thailand and Southeast Asia. I understand that there are a lot of Christians that do not share my optimism. Many Christians are way too busy griping and complaining rather than practicing gratefulness and preparing for a future that is filled with more good things from God. I want to challenge you today to not be that person. Be the type of person who believes that the best is still yet to come, EVEN if it means retraining your mind after a lifetime of growing up in a church environment where negativity was the standard.
Last month, we celebrated Liz’s birthday on August 26th. Liz wanted something more intimate this year, so we had a date night, followed by a brunch at a nice cafe here in Chiang Rai with me and Mary Ella, and then dinner together with her parents at their house, complete with her mom’s lasagna that she reserves for special occasions.
My friend Nate and I have started our Sunday School class back. We haven’t had many in attendance, but it’s still always a good time. I also help Ball by filling in for him in the Thai university class when he’s overstretched and can’t teach (that guy doesn’t know the meaning of ‘take a break’). This month he practically pranked me by asking me to teach on a chapter in Genesis that starts with the raping of a woman, the whole of which would make a grandmother blush. I wrote a blog about my thoughts on teaching hard passages here.
We’ve also been meeting with a few university students on Wednesday evenings for the past month or two for an informal Bible study and hangout time. This time has also been fruitful and enjoyable, and it’s been great to get to invest in the lives of these students a little more intentionally.
Northern Thailand Baptist Convention Camp
As I write this update, we are currently on day 2 of the camp that our church is hosting for pastors and church leaders from all over Northern Thailand. I was so impressed that many of these pastors and leaders came and are sleeping on mats on the floor in the church in order to attend this “camp.” Liz had been helping lead worship for all of the sessions, and to be honest, she is exhausted, but very fulfilled. We have already had several great worship sessions.
I reconnected with a friend and brother of mine in Memphis this month, and somewhere in our long conversation, he mentioned that he and some other dads were working on a devotional for dads. He asked if I would like to write a short daily devotional for this book, and of course, I was happy to. I posted the article here as a blog post, if you’d like to read it.
Going to America
This next month, in October, I will be going back to America by myself to fundraise for a few weeks. This summer, I contacted 420 personal contacts, met with dozens of people, and we are still at only ¼ of projected budget. I'll be honest with you-- I don't know why this is. I need more data before I can make a judgment about where the limiter is (is it our work, our vision, our context, our ability to communicate?) However, my hunch right now is that doing fundraising in person is going to be 5-10 times more effective than trying to do it over the internet, even if it's with people I already know.
But, since I am literally out of leads, I am going to have to go back to Tennessee and do cold outreach door to door to both churches and homes (maybe I'll put on a white shirt, black tie and name tag, and ride a bicycle around too-- it is almost Halloween). I'll send out more information at the beginning of October, but for now, please be praying, and if you have leads for me, please do share. Also, I won’t be able to make visits on this trip because it’s so short. If all works out as planned, we will come back as a family for a visitation trip in the summer. But if you would really like to visit, I can make some exceptions.
The pastors and leaders at the camp
The students whose lives we are investing in during normal weeks
We had a new teacher come and join us at Grace Language School. Her name is Becky and she is a retired teacher from Fort Worth, TX. Please pray for her transition.
I have a friend who is a stay-at-home homeschooling dad, because his wife is making too much money in the medical field to justify him going to work. He's feeling like his life is missing something, and he’s trying to figure out where this feeling is coming from. Pray that God will show him what changes he needs to make and give him a clear vision for his life moving forward.
Last night (as of the time of this writing) Mary Ella had a cap on her tooth fall off. We have to go see the dentist tomorrow morning. Pray all goes well.
Bonus: As per usual, here is our new “Daddy-Daughter Podcast” episode. Mary Ella loves making these, and I’m thinking we might have an actress on our hands.
Also, our kids at church sang a song one Sunday, and I shared this on Facebook, but I'll also share it here. Mary Ella is on the bottom left in the red dress. (She's one of the only kids actually doing the motions 😂).
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By God's grace, we have witnessed many lives transformed, and some family legacies changed forever. But the story is not over yet, and we are anticipating and believing for even greater things moving forward. Consider becoming a financial supporter so you can play a significant role in sharing the gospel, creating Christian resources, and raising up young leaders in Asia.