New Hope Lutheran Church
May 13, 2001

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Concordia Gospel Ministry                                                    May 13, 2001

Bangkok, Thailand

 

Volunteer Missionary Newsletter IV 

 

Again, the time has passed so quickly since my last newsletter; and now we are well into May already.  My time here in Thailand is also quickly coming to a close.  This coming week marks the beginning of a new term here at Concordia Gospel Ministry (CGM).  This will also be my last term of service.  And while I look forward to my return to America, there are so many people here, both students and friends, that I will miss very dearly.

 

The past few months have been very busy months.   The teaching term went wonderfully.  Praise God for his goodness and guidance!  The entire time I was filled with a peace and confidence in my teaching that I had never experienced up until this last term.  I always enjoyed my work here and felt I was being of service to God and the people who are touched by this ministry.  But there was something different about this past term  The power and grace of God never cease to amaze me and I look forward to more of the same this coming term.

 

The Lord is near  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.                             Philippians 4:5b, 7

 

 

 

Songkran FestivalThe Thai New Year

 

This past April the Thais celebrated their New Year.  The name of the holiday is Songkran and it is unofficially referred to as the Water Festival.  It is a religious holiday for Thai Buddhists, and a time for them to perform a ritual wherein they wash the hands of a Buddha image or a monk.  This is done as a means of cleansing their souls or rectifying any bad kharma.  During this time, there was a Buddha image set up at the large department store directly across the street from my apartment here.  And many patrons to the store also took time to cleanse themselves.  As I passed, I prayed for each of them, and I ask for your prayers as well on their behalf, and for all Thai people.  That they may someday come to know of the only true cleansing to found by the grace of God and through the death and resurrection of his beloved Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

The Water Festival has been modified over the years to a fun and exciting time for both young and old.  They arm themselves with water guns and buckets of water.  Anyone out in public is a potential target, and foreigners are especially popular victims.  You will be doused, and if you are really lucky they will follow this with a handful of powder.  The final result finds one very wet and white.  Thankfully, I was well informed prior to the actual holiday and did manage to stay fairly dry.  But the couple times that I did let my guard down, I found myself refreshingly cooled, as it was well over 100 degrees for most of April.

 

Also, during this holiday, which is the biggest holiday of the year here in Thailand, I had opportunity to spend about 2 days on a small island about three hours west on Bangkok.  Some fellow missionary friends whom I met at language school invited me to join them, and we had a wonderful time.  Unfortunately, I was exposed to a lot of sun in that short time. And shortly after my return, I suffered from a horrific case of sun poisoning which eventually manifested itself in my lips.  They were blistered and quite unsightly for nearly a week.  In addition, I experienced many flu-like symptoms and was quite ill for nearly two weeks.  But, the power of prayer is a beautiful thing, and I have completely recovered.

 

 

 

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.                                                           Deuteronomy 31:8

 


 

Church Camp 2001

 

During the first weekend in May, I had opportunity to attend a church camp sponsored by the Journey Into Light Church.  This is the church that works very closely with CGM, and operates out of the same building.  The camp was held in Pattaya, a beach town just outside of Bangkok.  This beach excursion found me completely prepared with ultra-strength sunblock and a very effective hata lesson hard-learned given my recent sun poisoning incident. 

 

The camp itself was a great experience, spiritually as well as with regard to language (as it was held exclusively in Thai).   I had opportunity to build relationships with many of the church members and other attendees.  The entire attendance numbered 28, so it was a fairly intimate group and we all know each other quite well now after three days of Bible study, games, singing, and fellowship.  The theme for the weekend was centered around Philippians 3:14

 

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

 

All of the campers are pressing on toward that goal.  And doing so is no easy feat here in the Thai Buddhist culture.  For most, to be Thai is to be Buddhist.  But these faithful brothers and sisters in Christ continue to press on toward the goal.  Pray for their journey of faith and that they may grow in faith and continue to evangelize and share this lifesaving prize with all who have not yet heard.

 

Finally, I would like to share some additional prayer requests regarding specific students and friends I have come to know and love very much through my work here.

 

Taw & Chompoo: Many of you know much of Taws story already.  And this month I also wanted to introduce you to his daughter Chompoo.  They have both been studying here at CGM since my initial arrival in Thailand nearly nine months ago.  Taw is well into his baptism preparation classes now.  He also continues to attend church services and be a leader in the classroom as we discuss Bible topics such as forgiveness and faith.  Chompoo, while only 17, is a very bright girl and brings an enthusiasm to the classroom with her as well.  Pray for her, that her heart may also be opened.  And pray for Taw as he grows in his faith and learns to rely more on the Holy Spirit within him, that he may more easily share this faith with his family. 

 

Aod & Teng: These are two young men have studied with me for three terms now.  Unfortunately, due to a very busy work schedule, they will no longer be able to come.  However, we have continued to stay in touch via email and they express much thanks and gratitude for all that I have done for them, regarding both English and the Bible.  And they close each email with God Bless You.  Friends such as these really warm my heart, along with providing an excellent lesson in humilityI know that I have merely served as a messenger while the Spirit works in their hearts.  Pray for Aod and Teng that, through our friendship, I may continue to have opportunity to share the saving message of Jesus with them. 

 

Aue:  Aue is another regular here at CGM, having studied since before I arrived on the scene.  Aues father is a monk and she is very much a practicing Buddhist.  After studying so diligently for so long, she now knows much about the Bible from a knowledge perspective.  But it often seems that she has very limited faith or understanding, if any.  However, she recently confided in me that she prays to God sometimes.  The context and manner in which this was said brought a smile to my face as I could see that she had some sense of what it was to really believe and have faith.  At this point, she is far from any sort of conversion.  But this is most definitely a step in the right direction.  And it is precisely moments like these for which I am here in this place.  I may never know what becomes of Aue or her faith in God and Christ.  But I have done what I can, with the help of God, in planting the seed.  I just pray that it may someday, through the power and grace of God, come to bear bounteous fruit.

 

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.      Hebrews 11:1

 

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