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.