CGM Center October 9, 2000
Volunteer Missionary Newsletter I
v Greetings in the name of our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! At the writing of this newsletter, I have officially been in country for nearly two months. This is hard for me to believe sometimes, as my work and ministry here have kept me so busy. As many of you know, Concordia Gospel Ministry or CGM offers opportunity for older students and adults to study English while also receiving basic instruction in the foundations of Christianity.
v My transition to life here has been amazingly smooth and hassle-free. I thank God so very much for this pervasive peace and serenity. This is due, in large part, to the wonderful missionary team in place here. They serve as mentors, friends, and spiritual supports. The team consists of three career missionary families and five volunteers. It is such a blessing to get together for Bible studies, prayer, and that always-available shoulder to lean on.
v As of last Saturday, October 7, 2000, I completed my first term of teaching (each term is seven weeks long). The English portion of my classes has gone wonderfully. More importantly, however, my Bible lessons (which are covered during the last 20 minutes of class) have gone very smoothly. Students ask good questions and engage one another as well as myself in discussing Christian topics.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 (NIV)
STUDENTSthe students here are the reality of my mission. They are the faces and souls of the lost, never having heard or believed. They are also my friends
Some students to remember in your prayers:
· Puk: She is in my TOEFL class and did not ask any questions or show any interest in the Bible lessons for the first four weeks of the term. By the fifth week, however, she was not only asking, but also helping to answer some of the questions related to basic concepts we cover every week. While it is unclear where she is in her journey of faith, please pray for her as the Spirit works in her heart.
· Jeab: She identifies herself as Christian and is very familiar with many of the theological foundations of Christianity. Jeab is also very excited and willing to share her faith with other students. She asks good, probing questions, and is very eager to learn and understand more about her faith. Pray for her as she continues to both seek and find.
· Wat: She is not a Christian, but was in the same conversation class with Jeab. She is eager and very willing to learn. And during the last week of class, she reported that she was sharing her Bible studies and stories with friends and family. Thank God for her as she learns and grows, and also as she shares this saving love with those closest to her.
· Taw: His is an amazing story. At the beginning of the term, he was expressing a strong interest in Christianity. After examining the basics, he indicated he wanted to become a Christian. I gave him his first Bible and he has been reading the Gospel of Mark throughout the term. Another big breakthrough happened after a discussion we had about prayerwhat it is, how to do it, when to do it, how often, etc. The next day he stopped by just to tell us that he had prayed to God last night for the very first time. And that same week he came to church, another first. He has now come for two consecutive Sundays. Praise God! Many journeys of faith take a considerably longer time. It is such a blessing to see the Holy Spirit in action.
· Jerd: He is another good question-asker. Jerd, along with his classmate Shine, would engage in marathon Bible lessons, often lasting until 10:00pm (class is scheduled to end at 9:00pm). And it was not until just last week that he shared how three months ago he had been a Buddhist monk. Please pray for him that he may continue to learn and seek and ask.
v In addition to my teaching, there are also additional opportunities for service which come up on occasion. This past week, the entire staff here (both Thai and American) were involved in an enormous relief effort to assist victims of severe flooding in northeastern Thailand. Gunya Nathalang, coordinator for the Lutheran Hour ministries here in Thailand and Southeast Asia, received a $10,000 grant from Lutheran world relief. With these funds, she was able to purchase materials to assemble over 2,000 packages for victims. The packages contained water, food, medicine, and Christian tracts. The turnaround for this project was quite quickwe began putting together the packages on Sunday afternoon and the truck came to pick them up the next day. It was such an amazing experience to be a small part of such a big and productive effort. At the beginning of the project, an entire building was filled from floor to ceiling with boxes of materials and bottles of water. By 10:00pm Sunday evening, all 2,000 packages had been assembled. The following day, everything was hauled out to the road to be loaded onto the truck. Unfortunately, the truck was not big enough, so several people sat outside with the packages to prevent any theft until 9:30pm in the evening when the bigger truck arrived. At this point, people had come from churches throughout Bangkok, students had stayed after class, and staff members from CGM had all assembled to help with the loading. This process took over two hours and the truck was finally filled and ready to go by midnight. It was such an amazing witness to do this on a major Bangkok street at such a late hour. Members of the Thai army stopped to help. Many people passing by and working in area businesses also watched and inquired about this unusual event. Again, praise God for his goodness and love!
I thank God every day for this wonderful opportunity and life experience. Please continue to pray for all of the staff and students here in Thailand, that His saving grace may continue to be shared and embraced in this special place. I also thank each and every one of you for your support, prayers, friendship, and love.
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 (NIV)
WAYS TO HELP
v First and foremost, I simply ask for your prayers. Please pray that I may continue to feel comfortable and that the Spirit will continue to work through me. Also, please pray for my students as they learn and grow in their own faith and understanding of Christianity.
v Financially, the mission here can always use support. In addition, my own expenses will be slightly higher than initially expected. I need to cover 50% of my visa renewal trip (I need to leave the country to renew my visa and then return). I was also hoping to continue with language training while I am here, which is about $100 per month.
v Please send any monetary support to my home congregation for a tax deduction. Be sure to indicate whether it is for the mission here or for my personal expenses.