Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Finally all caught up

I promised one last "Catching Up" post. Sorry it took so long it is hard to get a good picture. The last part of catching up is possibly to biggest, atleast physically. About 6 months ago we had a few friends visiting from both America and the Philippines to assist in the Bible Training Center, both were guest teachers. As many of you know we were blessed with an old truck a while back, during this time, when we had visitors it decided to die. Quite literally. The repairs on the truck were almost $800, an amount we could not afford and also an amount that was becoming rather frequent. The truck although a huge blessing from the Lord, was quickly becoming impossible to keep on the road. We had a very large problem on our hands, guests, no transportation and no money. It is funny when we find ourselves in this position, that is when we are most driven to prayer. The Lord has always been good to us in His perfect provision for all things, and we continued to trust Him in this. Since our arrival in Thailand we have been praying for reliable transportation and we have been mobile almost upon arrival. Not always reliable but in HIS perfect timing all things worked out. As we prayed, especially in times like this, the kids sometimes almost mocked us, by saying things like do you really think God will just give us a "new" car. All the while we just encouraged them to have faith and see just what God had for us. Mind you they were really the ones that suffered the most. In the back of a truck with minimal air flow at best, uncomfortable and like most kids a little embarrassed by the state of the truck. God is SOO amazing! As we really cried out to the Lord in regards to transportation I received a call from a fellow Christian, working and leading a church North of here about 4 hours. He had found a new job, in China, and wanted to know if I wanted his car. If I could make the payments, which I could not, the car was ours. Car check. One step down many to go.  Naturally we began to crunch numbers and really pray that God would make a way, because honestly there was none. We also asked our friends to join us in prayer regarding this opportunity, never did we imagine what God was doing. I dropped our visitors off at the Bible school for the week with a commitment to continue to pray for this. When I went to pick them up they informed us that the Lord had placed it on their hearts, they would commit to make the payments until enough others had partnered with them or we were able to make the payments ourselves. Car Check, monthly payments...CHECK! As we began to find out what else this entailed  we discovered there was considerably more to transfer the loan name change remove old co-signer etc. Next step find a co-signer (Thai national). I wont go into all the details but lets just say God showed up in a huge way. We were able to sell the old truck for just enough to cover the repairs that were made and the transfer fees to  Toyota. As of November 6 we have made 5 payments on THIS....

It is a 1 year old Toyota Avenza. 7 seater. When we received it, it had 8+++ kilometes on the odometer. Do we think the Lord is just going to give us a "new" car.... well no not exactly. But we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt He had something great in store for us. Never could we imagine it would literally be a BRAND NEW CAR!  Now to Him who is able  to do above and beyond all that we ask or think  according to the power  that works in us to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

We thank you for your prayers and continued support.

Coming soon.... World race and New Bible Studies!! Check back often to stay "in the loop"

Monday, October 27, 2014

Flash Forward

There is yet one post in the "Catching up" fashion, however we would hate to be catching up forever! We just wanted to share quickly about two Fridays ago. As we continue to partner in growing Patong International Fellowship, a mostly English speaking congregation, we began to think about the other Ethnicities that live in the area. Here in Patong we are surrounded with many different people groups from South East Asia. We have Vietnamese, Filipino, Cambodian, Laos, Myanmar (Burmese), and of course Thai. Our ministry has really been strictly to English speakers as that is all we can effectively share with, and definitely the only group we would be able to teach and tend to on a more regular basis. So in the course of thinking and praying about how to reach these other groups, we rested on going with what we know, Burmese it is. We have, as most of you know, been ministering both with and to the different tribes from Burma for several years now, and thus have many contacts within the Burmese Christian community. Even some that are free to translate! As a team we (PIF) prayed about doing an outreach to the local Burmese community. We spoke with Pastor Ehkhaw from Calvary Chapel Ban Nam Khem, where we used to live, and he came with a small team to assist. Due to the strict work schedules these dear people hold we decided on holding two, one at 7pm and one at 11pm. This allows those that work regular jobs to come and be reached without having to stay out all night. The rest mostly shop workers could join when they were off work around 11. We prepared for 100 people between the two services and ended up with about 70, Praise the Lord. The outreach consisted of several "Gospel" songs, songs that preach the Gospel, the Gospel, and then a nice meal. As we prepared for the event we were so blessed to have a local business owner donate 20 kilos of fish for the feeding. What a blessing that was to be able to give tuna and sea bass, both of which are beyond most peoples budget, along with chicken, vegetables, and fish sauce. The fish sauce is a cultural dish that cannot really be explained, but if you have ever been here you know what I am talking about. Joe was blessed by the opportunity to share the message both services. The first we ended up with only 1 non-believer while the second was split about 50/50. The whole evening was a huge blessing and actually ended about 2 hours after scheduled, nearly 4am. We have a young Burmese man, Zarni, that will be joining us for the month of November to assist in tending to the group of both believers and non-believers that showed interest in going further. There were about 6 Burmese Christians that have no fellowship to attend and roughly 4 non-believers that heard the Gospel and want to learn more about Jesus and Christianity. Please pray for this all month as you remember, if we can get a group started, Dec we will begin formal services at Patong International Fellowship. We are also hosting a World Race team of 6 girls this November, more info to come on that later.
Nelson Kids Clownin around

Stuff for the Kids

Joe and Pastor Ehkaw sharing the Gospel
Food and good Fellowship

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Catching up

Well as promised here is some more of the events over the last few months. Oh, where to begin? We will hit some of highlights, of course still working backwards. In the beginning of September I (Joe) received a phone call from the head chaplain at the local Loma Linda (Mission Hospital Phuket). He asked if I was available to come and meet with him, he had an opportunity he wanted to present to me. It turns out we have a mutual friend that suggested he call me. Praise the Lord, He truly knows how to make connections. Upon meeting with Pastor Somchai, he informed me that his wife is the assistant Dean at the University here on the island and she was looking for a "Christian" to come and volunteer at the Uni teaching English as a means to bridge the gap between Buddhism and Christianity as she is the only Christian she is aware of there. This is a huge open door as there are approx. 30,000 students, plus faculty, plus two schools for children. The idea is that we could build relationships with the students and faculty and prayerfully in the near future begin some sort of Bible study there. We are currently planning on a Christmas Party outreach, where we could present the Gospel to the students that we have been teaching English to. We have already taught 4 classes equaling about 200 students. They are currently taking their mid-term exams and then a semester break. Classes resume in November. In total there will be 6 classes to begin with, reaching up to 700 students. The University is also working at organizing a faculty English class. Our Heavenly Father sure knows how to open doors. Please pray for this as we learn and grow in this area of ministry, I would never thought I would be teaching English at a University. I never even went to one! God is amazing.

As many of you that have been following for the last few years know, immigration is an ongoing issue. Over the last 6 or so months we have made huge ground at attaining some sort of legal "long term" status here in Thailand. We are still without a long term visa, but it is in the works, the paper and footwork on this step has proven to be quite difficult. Everything has to be absolutely perfect in the eyes of whoever happens to be inspecting that particular day (NEVER the same things). We have however applied and received our work permits, we are officially volunteer missionaries for a Thai organization. This organization has enabled us to open the church legally as we as teach and stay, granted visas, and so many other things. We are so grateful to have made it this far and anxiously await the final step of this process. When all is said and done we will no longer have to leave the country.

And lastly, for this update, I would like to share something we (Calvary Chapel Thailand) were so blessed to take part in. Pastor Eric who lives in Northern Thailand and has been leading a Calvary Chapel Training Center there, Pastor Ehkhaw, the Pastor of Calvary Chapel Ban Naam Khem, and myself, acting on Eric's success, and Ehkhaw's vision prayed through and held Southern Thailand's first Calvary Chapel Bible Training session. The design of this fist semester was for the Burmese Christians here in Southern Thailand, with a desire to see it spread to the Thai and who knows what else the Lord will do. We were all so blessed that the Lord once again answered in a huge way. 13 students from all over Southern Thailand came for 16 weeks of intense Bible/ministry training. None of the three above mentioned Pastors could take 16 weeks off of their ministries so the call went out for assistance in teaching. Again we were so blessed to see the interest in this ministry as teachers came from the Philippines, Thailand, and even America. The students studied the Bible every morning for 4 hours and then practical ministry for the same amount of time in the afternoon. They learned many things from Inductive Bible study, Biblical Leadership, Systematic Theology, Hermaneutics, to Matthew Genesis, Acts, Roman, Pastoral Epistles, to guitar and drama ministry. As a family we were so blessed and humbled at the opportunity to partner in this work and to see these young men and women commit to following the Bible. We have been invited to begin yet another campus, and even possibly something more serious and established for the Thai Christians, but we are only in the very beginning stages of praying on this matter so please join us as we seek the Lord and His direction in this. Here is a link to a short video one of the teachers put together regarding the school and its need, Calvary Chapel Training Center Southern Thailand

Graduation Ceremony, CCBTC Southern Thailand staff and students

Joe and Sarah's Volunteer Missionary work permits

Sunday morning Worship service Patong International Fellowship

Beautiful, exceedingly Happy children

Recent wedding that Joe officiated

Small Birthday Party Bible Study

Thank you for your time and Please do not forget to Keep us in your prayers.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Long Time No Update

Hello everybody, it has come to our attention that it has been a LONG time since there has been an update? How the time flies. There has been so much that has happened over the last few months that even a very long update could not contain it, so there will be several short updates over the next few weeks to catch up. We want to say we are all doing well and the Lord is definitely doing a great work in our lives at this point in our lives. Of course when He does a work it is rarely comfortable as we are stretched and pulled, but we take great comfort in knowing we are in His hands and it is His hands that are doing the work.

For this series of catching up we will be starting from most recent to furthest away hitting the highlights.

The month of August brought about a great new change for us, both as a family and a ministry. August marked yet another move but this one we truly believe will be a more permanent one. We are currently not in any type of lease agreement, and that is nice. Probably the largest blessing was as we were doing some maintenance in order to move in, the kids expressed their excitement to finally have a home. We have moved around quite a bit over the last few years and the kids never felt "at home". It really blesses us as parents that our kids are finally comfortable and have a "home" not just a house. We as usual experienced difficulty getting established but after almost two months without internet and attempts to get it we have been blessed with internet service!! Our new house is within walking distance from the church which is really nice, we don't walk but in the even we had to we could. It sure is nice to not have to drive for up to an hour, depending on traffic, to and from the church. We also can receive mail, I think, at this house. Atleast the postman comes through delivering every few days. If you would like to send cards, letters, pictures or any thing else you can mail to 18/11 Prabaramee 2 Patong, Khatu, Phuket, 83150.

We will have some better updates coming soon really just wanted to touch base and re-establish communication with everyone. God bless

Sunday, May 11, 2014


As many of you probably last November the largest Typhoon to ever make landfall hit the Philippines just south of where we used to live, I have shared before about traveling there in the days after the storm, but what was not shared is that during the time there the Lord had placed a desire to build a team from Thailand to go back and assist  in the rebuilding of the effected area. The plan was to get local Thai churches involved in a construction trip to rebuild houses. Simple houses, four walls, a roof, few windows, and a room for sleeping. Although the plan was to take Thai people with the team the Lord had other plans. On March 17 myself along with 4 others made the trip from Thailand to the Philippines for a 10 day trip. The other members of the team where Joey, a young man from America, Christian, a Thai pastor, Tuu, and a fellow missionary from Namibia, Romie. The trip was great, turns out Tuu was the first known Thai missionary ever to go to Eastern Samar, possibly even first Thai person. It was very trying to complete the task at hand but praise be to God as a team we were able to assist the completion of an existing project, get a huge jump on the rebuilding of a local church that was damaged in the storm, and build to completion one house. As a team we were also able to finance 75% of another house as well as give pointers to the team that would be left to complete that same house. In the week after our departure this second house was also completed. The basis of the trip had a duel purpose, one to assist storm victims and the other was to spread the vision of missions within the Thai church. Our one Thai team member did exactly that, his life was changed by seeing how other believers struggle to survive yet still praise the Lord. Even in the aftermath of that huge storm the Joy of the Lord in the hearts and faces of our brothers and sisters throughout Eastern Samar not only touched him but all of the team. We praise the Lord for this opportunity to serve Him.

As per the last update we were waiting the opening of Patong International Fellowship. I am so blessed to announce we have now been worshiping in our own place for four weeks. We began with a large day of fellowship on Songkran (Thai New Years), have celebrated Good Friday, Easter and today we celebrated Mothers day. Out of the four weeks we have been there three have been holidays. It is so awesome to see how the Lord has transformed this broken down abandoned building into a beautiful place where His praises can be heard. Weekly we have between twenty and thirty people attend, including visitors so far every week. That is really our desire as a fellowship, to reach the World from this one place. We have the opportunity to reach so many from all around the world right here in Phuket. When we opened for worship we had to bring our fans from home to help keep the air moving, as well as strain to hear over all the traffic going by. In the last few weeks the Lord has provided ceiling fans, glass store front as well as a new concrete dividing wall between us and our new neighbors. Every week the Lord continues to provide for this place in ways we just cannot imagine. It is amazing to be a part of the work He is doing.

On May 19th the Bible training center Southern Thailand will begin classes, we are really excited to see what the Lord is going to do here. As of the last update from pastor Ehkhaw we have about ten students, with more expected. Currently we have teachers coming in from America, Philippines, and Thailand. Pastor Eric and I will each teach a couple of classes, I will have both opening and closing classes, teaching Inductive Bible Study and Apologetics. The goal here is to train up leaders that know how to study the Bible, teach, and lead in a manner worthy of the scriptures. We are looking at 12-16 weeks of intense training with Bible 3-4 hours every morning and practical application for the same amount of time in the evening. Things like Evangelism, music, outreach etc. Please pray not only for this time but also for all the teachers that will be traveling.

We have recently applied for our "work permits" that will allow us to stay in the country on a more permanent basis, currently we have to leave every 90 days this work permit is step 2 of attaining 1 year stays in Thailand. Please continue to pray for this as it has been a very difficult and long process.

Photos from top to bottom: Mothers day recognition, worship service, Front of Patong International Fellowship, the second house and the team from Calvary Chapel Hateras Island that completed the project.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

No News is Good News

It has been forever since I have had the time to inform anyone what has been taking place. We have been so busy you could not believe, the Lord is so good. I will try to keep it short but so much has happened since Christmas.

NEW CHURCH: Just about 10 weeks ago Patong International Fellowship signed a lease on our very own house of Worship. We have been praying about this opportunity since beginning our partnership in this work. We now have a three story building that should open the first week of April. We are so blessed to have the Lord provide this place, buildings this size in our area usually cost about $3000, the Lord really showed Himself faithful as our building is $500. It was in great disrepair and in desperate need of being made new. I know it is only a building but that is what the Lord is in the business of doing, restoring and making brand new. We started at the ground floor and have worked through all three, a complete new plumbing system, from incoming water to outgoing waste had to be installed, new electrical, all three floors, paint, block, doors, windows, tile, basically everything that goes into a building has had to be redone. Thankfully the Lord also was faithful in providing for all this work both financially and physically. All in all the total cost of repairs has run close to $3000 all provided through prayer and from the people here in Thailand. The sanctuary is 99% finished with some touch up paint and the like remaining. Thailand also has many legalities to opening a church and again He is faithful, we have found somebody that is willing to cover us in every aspect of ministry and we are now free to do anything the Lord opens up, both inside the church and personally. Please pray for this endeavor.

Bible Training Courses: I have spent 5 of the last 6 Tuesdays and Wednesdays away from the family as I travel back to the area we ministered before moving to Phuket. The area of Takuapa. I have been leaving after lunch and returning Thursday at lunch. Teaching two classes Tuesday and Wednesday night from 7:30pm to 2:30 am. I have been instructing the Burmese church members in the Inductive Bible Study method of study that enables us as readers and students of the Bible to correctly interpret the scriptures so that we are not led astray by false teachers. What a stretch this time has been but last night I wrapped up with the final lesson.

Bible College: Over the last few years as we combat false doctrine the need for a Bible training Center in Southern Thailand has become very apparent. For the last few months Pastor Eric Johansen, who has been doing this sort of ministry in the North, Pastor Ehkhaw, and myself have been organizing a 12 week Bible semester. We begin classes May 19th

Burmese Community Center: Last month, February, we began construction on a Community Center for Burmese factory and Migrant workers. The Lord has opened the door in an area not too far North of us to be able to repair/remodel 5 three story units that will serve as an outreach to the Burmese in the area. A friend of ours operates a factory with many Burmese workers and the Lord placed in on his heart to do more than just employ, he asked if we could assist him, organize and teach this project. Once open we will teach English, parenting, life skills, and of course the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the same location we assisted in setting up a Burmese day care. We are hoping to house 150-200 men, woman, and children on the upper two floors and have the actual center on the ground floor. There is much prayer needed as we go forward in this area of ministry, as we have just begun.

English lessons: Both Sarah and I have been teaching English lessons at our home, we each had one student but the Lord saw fit to excuse my student so that I could have more time for the other tasks at hand. The village we live in is upwards of 80% Muslim and everybody wants to speak English, this will prayerfully become one of our bigger areas of ministry as the Lord brings those students in. Please pray for Sarah and her student as she teaches English and evangelizes her student.

Family: As a family we are doing ok all things considered. The schedule and the move, and school, and and and. Joey and Jacob are both in online schooling, and Tyler and Marissa are back in homeschooling, with the move we saw fit to not place them back in public school until we got more familiar with the area and the people of the area. Not knowing what to expect due to the current ratio of residents. There are very few Christians in Thailand and in our village aside from our family I am sure I could count on one hand the others. We have been here now about 6 months and are really starting to make friends and be accepted into the community. Joey has friends at several of the local motorcycle mechanics and it is neat to watch him learn how to fix the different things wrong with them. As mentioned earlier the Lord provided somebody to cover us in ministry and upon my return from the Philippines March 28th we will begin the process of attaining our volunteer permits and visas that will allow for us to stay in the country and operate legally. I promised to keep it short so with that I will close, thank you for all your prayers and support, please prayerfully consider partnering in what the Lord is doing here in Thailand. There are many areas, not just financial. God bless