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March 2016 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends & Family,

Thanks for continuing to pray for us.  I want to update you briefly on Grace City Bangkok church and Kanok Bannasan, and then share a bit of what is ahead for us.

Growth for New Believers and Church Re-Planting

In the past 6 months or so, we have had 3-4 people profess faith in Christ at Grace City but it seems that 2 or 3 of them are rather shaky in their faith, wavering between Christ and the world.  Please pray for them to become firmly grounded in Christ, and for wisdom for church leadership and members in following up with them, encouraging them in the right way.

Our church plant has also undertaken a bit of an experiment in church planting.  Another church in the city, Covenant Church, has been struggling for quite some time, unsure of how to go forward as it has been dealing with multiple issues and challenges.  After consultation between our 2 churches, Covenant Church has come to worship with Grace City church for year as a “sabbatical year” when they can rest, and learn how to grow into a Gospel-centered congregation, with better structures in place for membership and leadership.  In a year’s time, we hope to spin this group from Covenant Church out again into a church re-plant. Pray that the group from Covenant Church will be firmed up in their faith and learn more about what it means to be a church during this year.

 

 

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December 2015 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends & Family,

As another year wraps up, we are thankful for what God is doing in our midst - in the life of our church, in the lives of seminary students, and the life of our family.

Grace City Bangkok church camp

At the end of October, our church plant had an evangelistic camp that was well attended, including a few families of non-believers.  Dr. Natee, our pastor, gave 3 talks during the weekend and good fun was had by all as games were played and relationships built.  Within a few weeks after the camp, two young adults professed faith in Christ!   We are praising God for their new life in Christ and hope to see them baptized and become church members in the new year.  Sometimes Christians put a big emphasis on big events, and big events like camps and conferences can be important in birthing and developing people’s faith.  But the Holy Spirit, in His sovereign and mysterious power, is pleased to give people new life at many different times and circumstances, big and small, public and private, loud and quiet.  Please continue to pray for the growth of these new believers and for our whole church.

Grace City Bangkok church camp, October 2015

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October 2015 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends & Family,

Some missionaries feel the pressure to perform, but one of the things that I appreciate most about all of you who pray for and support us is this: You value the regular faithfulness of a long-term ministry over exciting reports of short-term successes. In the book “Ordinary”, Michael Horton asserts that the essence of the Christian life does not consist of high-energy extreme or radical experiences that promise a higher plane of Christian life.  Rather, it is in the regular, ordinary, everyday seeking after God in ordinary ways, and the daily obedience in small, normal things that results in sustained growth in the Christian life over the long run.  As applied to the missionary context, that means that the most productive thing I can do is to be faithful in the regular tasks and responsibilities that I have, rather than continually running after some new method or teaching that will result in amazing breakthrough or some kind of rapid, unprecedented church planting or people movement (as if the "secret key" or "silver bullet" that other generations missed is somewhere just around the corner).  In reality, some things take time, and genuine spiritual growth depends upon the moving of the Spirit, not upon human striving to get things done by a deadline.  In this vein, I want to give 3 brief updates on the ministries that we are involved in here in Bangkok.

Grace City Church, Bangkok

This new church plant in downtown Bangkok has been holding weekly worship since April 2014, and currently has about 20 members, of which 2 are adult converts who received baptism at Grace City Church.  Attendance varies from 20-50 each week, with a healthy stream of visitors.  We are steadily plugging along with preaching, visitation, evangelism, etc. but are in need of more Thai men, especially those who can become elders eventually.  Our church session consists of 3 missionaries (including myself) and 1 Thai.

adult Sunday school at Grace City Church, Bangkok

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August 2015 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends & Family,

I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying your summer.  Our family has done some traveling recently, both for vacation and for a big conference celebrating OMF’s 150th anniversary.  We enjoyed some refreshing times but are now back in Bangkok, looking ahead to the start of the new school year.

Teaching Seminary: A Work-in-Progress

Moving Books into the New Library Building at Bangkok Bible Seminary

The new school term at Bangkok Bible Seminary starts Aug 17th, and I will be teaching 3 classes I have taught before.  Each time I teach them, though, I try to improve the courses so the students get more benefit, and my teaching is more efficient. Last term, I replaced the short answer & essay section of my exams with oral interviews.  It was fantastic because I could get a better sense of students’ understanding, and I was able to eliminate much of the endless tedium of correcting exams and deciphering Thai handwriting.  As I prepare this month for the new semester, I am considering further how to best help students learn, especially how to adjust the teaching and assignments to the reality that many students are probably preferred oral learners, not bookworms like myself.

Homosexuality and Thai Christianity

The gay marriage juggernaut has not yet come to Thailand, but that does not mean everything is fine. Thailand has a relatively modest public culture and very immoral private culture, and sexuality is generally not addressed in Thai churches, except to tell young unmarried people, “Don’t.”  Whether it is extra-marital heterosexual or homosexual practice, the fear of offending people or pushing them away often times results in non-action by churches. This is not true in all churches, of course, but it happens often.  Conflict avoidance is a common trait among many Thai, which means that sin is often not addressed in the lives of believers.  Of course, we are all “works-in-progress” and we must be patient as people grow in grace and understanding, yet some issues need to be talked about, not swept under the rug with the excuse, “I’ll pray for that person, and the Holy Spirit can speak to them Himself.” Pray that Thai Christian leaders will have the moral conviction, courage, and trust in God to speak the truth in love at the right time with the members and inquirers in their churches.