Wednesday, August 19, 2015

June & July

The last two months have gone by like a flash, before we even recognized they were over. Getting everything sorted out after the trip to America and the never ending Visa struggle will surely do that! On the Visa note we are so blessed to announce The Lord has allowed for us to finally secure 1 year visas!! Not the one we were hoping for, but that is ok, we are secure in the will of the Lord. So I am sure many of you are anxiously awaiting the latest update.... wait no longer.

In the last update I had expressed the need to focus on a few things and letting others fall away, The Lord has given us a few things to do and many of the other busy work has fallen. That is not to say we are not BUSY, cause we are but more of a focused busy, pouring into a few things deeply instead of many things a little.

School: After much prayer and many requests we, mostly Sarah, have opened the church up for a "Homeschool". Currently we have our four children and five more that attend. Since we already have most grade levels it was not much to make that material available for other students to use while they are here in Thailand. Our other students are currently all church members that have no other way to attain an education during their time here. We hold classes Mon-Fri 9am to 12ish. The main idea is to teach them how to learn...not how to be taught by others. We have curriculum for English, Math, Bible, History, and Science, all of which are "independent" study type courses. Our students range from 5-19. Obviously the 5 year old gets alot more teaching time.

Discipleship: Discipleship has begun! We have been blessed with the opportunity to have several people hungry for the Word of God, more on this later. There are 5 men and several women. Currently we are going through the foundations workbook from Calvary Chapel Valle Vista, building a strong foundation. The men meet twice a week, and have fellowship individually most days, the women will begin meeting soon.

English ministry: English classes are still in effect. We meet Tues-Thurs. an hour a day. There are currently 6 (two are ours) advanced English students, and 4 beginner students. The advanced students have just finished and exam on sentence structure, parts of speech, and grammar. Classes will break for one week and we will begin a new lesson plan on the return. We are awaiting word from the University as to what our involvement will be in this term.

Church: The church is doing good. Over the last 8 weeks we have had atleast one visitor each week. There is a group of Indonesian Christians doing hotel internships here in Patong and each week we have had a new one able to join for worship. Unfortunately, their schedule does not permit them to join together or every week, but when they are free they join. In the last few weeks we had an older man come in to visit us. He is originally from Iran but has citizenship in the US, retired here and recently converted and baptized. He is so hungry for the Word and that is such a blessing. He had been attending another local Thai church with translation but was having a hard time with the dual language services so he sought out another fellowship. Praise the Lord, he landed on ours. Upon meeting this man he explained the situation and asked if I would teach him the word, would I? Oh man! Its been a long time since I had somebody so interested in the Word and so willing to be taught. Two of his friends have now made confessions of faith and are requesting baptism as well! Some really exciting stuff is going on right now, we are still a small fellowship, growing both spiritually and in number. We have started a "youth" group and meet every Wednesday, and our youth lead worship. Hopefully we will be putting on a small worship camp this month to assist them in growing towards worshiping our Heavenly Father.

This blog cannot portray the excitement or express the immense way the Lord has blessed this ministry since January. It has been an amazing ride and it just keeps getting better! Since our last update there have been baptisms, conversions, restored friendships and new, beautiful, relationships made. We cannot thank you enough, for intervening, interceding, and carrying this task with us. Thank each and every one of you, our readers and supporters. AND most assuredly THANK YOU JESUS!!!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Catching up Once again

Some how we managed to get months behind on our updates once again! Thankfully the last few months have been fairly regular and I will attempt to get all caught up.

The month of March went by like a flash, with a World Race team, travel to America, and Pastor Eric coming down for a month to fill in for my absence.

World Race, although the team came just at the end of the semester of University ministry we were able to do a 3 day extra-curricular English Camp on Student leadership. The camp was supposed to have 28 students but being that is was the week after the semester ended, considerably less showed up. By the end of the camp we were down to about 10. Praise the Lord for this as it enabled us to really build some relationships with the students as apposed to just teacher/student. This allowed for some real personal conversations, including some real questions regarding Christianity. The camp was small but effective and anyway who are we to question numbers? Due to this camp we have been asked to do another English camp when school resumes in August with possible  400 students. Some of the other ministry the WW team was able to participate in was teaching English at the church 3 days a week. There were days that we had to use the restaurant across the street because the church was just too full. At one time I believe we had 28 students! English teaching has really become one of the most effective ways to minister to the Thai community and we are excited for this opportunity to share the Lord and be a blessing in the area in which we live. English classes have taken a 2 week break to allow for the students to adjust back into the school year, they will pick up again tomorrow.

Travel to America, the day after the WW team left, I did as well. I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to the States for one month. This one month was to mostly share what the Lord has been doing here in Phuket, sharing the vision, gaining support, meeting some needs and getting others to share the load by joining the "team". I flew out March 27, and flew back April 27, Two days before our 10th wedding anniversary. Though the time was short and many people I would have liked to visit were missed the time was very beneficial. During the month I was able to share at 3 new churches and 4 small groups. I was also able to speak at a few locations that I have spoken at before. Thank you to Calvary Chapel Placerville, Calvary Chapel Truckee, Calvary Chapel Valle Vista, Calvary Chapel Romoland, and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa Seniors for allowing me the time to speak and share. Thank you Lord for supplying our needs. One of the big needs we are trying to meet is furlough, we have now been on this trip just over 2 years, and it would be nice to visit, take a break and get refreshed. The Lord provided a huge chunk of this need however we are still lacking. We are praying that we can come for furlough at the end of this year or beginning of next. From the time spent in America about 5 people expressed interest in coming over for different periods of time to assist in the ministry.

Pastor Eric come for a visit, as the door opened for a trip home, one huge hindrance to the trip was someone to do the teaching while I was gone. As we are a new ministry leadership training is still in the process. I called pastor Eric and asked what where the chances he would be free to come down for the month, as it were he was already planning to come to Phuket for "summer" vacation. Ticket prices just so happen to be during the time Eric was already planning on being here, and he was more than willing to fill the position! Praise the Lord! Pastor Eric came down March 23 or so and left April 28. Perfect timing, His timing is always perfect. Thank you Lord and thank you Pastor Eric, MJ, Aubrey, Jana.

Ministry is back full swing. The time back in the states was both, fruitful and insightful. The Lord gave direction and focus, and we are now walking in what He has opened up, feeling our way along for His perfect will and allowing those "other" things to fall by the wayside. In the initial months of this new direction many doors were opened, and many opportunities taken, but not all things are from the Lord. The Lord has us here for a very specific purpose, and we must walk in that alone. Our focus must remain steadfast, opportunities are great but they are not all for us. We are focusing on our different language studies, English ministry, and purposeful intensive leadership training. "Other" things must not divide our focus and draw us away. Please pray for this as we discern what the "other" things are and walk in obedience to our Lord.

English Camp for Student Leaders

Free English Lessons @ New Beginnings

Pakistani Midweek fellowship

Pastor Eric and the guus

Honoring the Mothers

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Newest Opportunity

Last week I posted on FB one of the most awesome opportunities I have had in Thailand, possible ever, in the service of our Lord. Now don't get me wrong we have been blessed to serve in many ways but after reflecting and again hearing the continued reports and the report of a dear brother that is partnering, IT IS AWESOME! Let me explain....About two years ago I received a phone call from a brother here on the Island (Phuket) regarding Pakistani in Bangkok. He had heard stories regarding asylum seekers and their dire situation, he wanted to help but did not know what to do. I also living in Phuket and avoiding Bangkok like the plague, had very little to go on. Only stories of scammers looking for the next do-gooder to take advantage of. Not something I was interested in but together we committed this thing to the Lord. Several times over the next year or so we would talk about this situation but really had nothing to go on. A few months back some Pakistani began filtering into the church with stories, legit stories, personal stories, of the situation there in Bangkok. So bad that some young girls have even turned to prostitution for food. Now this is serious, these are our brothers and sisters suffering to the extent of prostitution. Shortly after this my friend and I were eating and he had a contact, something to go on, if I could contact her. At which point I shared the information I had gained over the last few months. If we could only find these girls etc. No information, no location, nothing to go on. As we prayed and began to actively attempt to make contacts to locate these girls, family after family began to make themselves known, we are hungry, without work and need help. My friend committed to donate, ship, and store, 5 tons of fish per month to feed these people, if we could get a program set up...screeching halt! Now we have the need, the resource to meet the need but no way to distribute the resource... PRAYER! Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to have the means to help and no ability to do so? Praise be to God who's love never fails, within a few weeks the Lord brought another Pakistani that would be able to get this whole thing going. It would take about 3 months of prayer, visits and countless hours on the phone to put something like this together. We have 1 ton of fish to deliver in about 6-8 hours before it defrosts and begins to spoil, fish does not keep well if not frozen. Last Monday I had the opportunity to meet the first shipment of fish and distribute to over 400 families, roughly 1500 people received fish. I must stop to explain just how awesome this is; this project has been in prayer for close to 2 years, the majority of people that received the fish were not even in Thailand when the Lord began this project. Every step of the way has totally been by His doing. My friend has the resource no contact or information, I have the information and time, but no contact no resource, the last person our Pakistani sister, has no resource all contact. The Lord in His perfect timing brought us all together to meet these people when they are at their absolute worst, and with FISH no less. Not only were we able to meet the physical need of these roughly 400 families but we were also able to meet their spiritual needs, with an encouraging Bible message about just how much God loves them, and how HE has worked all this out for them.

To top it all of I was also blessed with the opportunity to partner in one of the Pakistani church's community outreach to Muslims. This feeding ministry has made a way for around 75 Muslim Pakistani to hear the Gospel and personally experience the Love of God. For me it just doesn't get much better than that, Both physical and spiritual needs, AND preaching the Gospel. To truly explain how awesome this is would take more words than any of my dear readers could bear. God and His Love are truly, truly Amazing.

We are asking for prayer for this ministry. It is draining to say the least. Even as great as this is it only scratches the surface of the problem, not even a dent. There are currently over 15,000 Pakistani in and around Bangkok, weekly we can only reach upwards of 2000. This trip requires 24 hours on a bus travel back and forth. The actual distribution lasts about 12 hours. Being poured out in every stop and being stretched in every way possible. The lack of ability to help everyone in and of itself is difficult, add minimal sleep, sun, exhaustion, both physical and spiritual, little food as there just is not time to sit around, and believe me you are drained! Currently there are three of us, two American missionaries and one Pakistani/Missionary/etc. The two Americans take turns every other week and the Pakistani every week. Please keep us in Prayer, We truly yearn for your prayers. There is Duke, Tirza and myself. That is our number one request. Although I do not want to I must, this program costs about $300 a week to run. This covers all travel, distribution costs. Currently we split the costs according to week but we are trying to get partners in financing this work. As you remember us in prayer please prayerfully consider this secondary need. Thank you God bless
Loaded and ready to go

Ready to hand out

One of 6 such lists

distribution to the needy

One location of distribution/crowd gathered 

Monday, February 9, 2015

New Year New Start

We are now in the second month of the New Year, so far so good. This year has brought about some unexpected but welcomed changes, and this is where I will start. Upon the completion of the last year some of the leadership and members of the fellowship felt the need to go another direction, although this greatly saddens our hearts we welcome the change. The Lord is so good and always in control. This change has allowed us to focus more on the things we feel the Lord is calling us to do, share the Gospel and Make disciples. More on that to follow. With the change we really went to the Lord in prayer and have decided to go ahead with a new name of the fellowship, New Beginnings Calvary Chapel Patong has officially opened for ministry as of last Saturday. We have been awaiting the proper paperwork and it arrived! Praise God.

Gospel and discipleship. Currently we have the two studies mentioned in the last post, Burmese and Pakistani going and staying steady. Some of our Pakistani brothers have moved away but other than that doing great. One of the Pakistani was a teacher for many years and has taken on the project of translating some study materials, beginning with the book of James, "A faith that is real". Which is a study guide Inductive style study. We are currently in lesson 4. In the Burmese study we are working our way from the Gospel to application of the new life we have in Christ. For the most part this study is growing as well, attendance fluctuates greatly but on the general upward trend.

Recently a local Nepali church began a home fellowship here in our area and we have been attending weekly to assist with teaching and just to support any way that we can. There are now 3 fellowships like this, and the members try to attend all three, they have expressed the desire to combine them into a day of church with worship in all the languages. Not sure what that would look like or how the Lord might have that play out, just an expression from some that attend? This added fellowship and ministry has been a true blessing

University ministry has just come to a break, we can go and teach 3-5 weeks between the beginning of the class and the exams at the end. We were blessed with the opportunity to teach one class 3 weeks straight, this allowed for some real relationship building and on March 7th we will do a one day English "camp" with these same students along with those that we have been able to meet over the last two semesters, this will not be a university event and we have much more freedom to share our faith. Please pray for this. There is one particular Thai man we have been ministering to for some time and are starting to see some real interest in Biblical concepts, we are very excited about this.

Over the last two months we have had the opportunity to share the gospel weekly, if not more. The different smaller groups that we have been able to take part in has allowed for a much more personal time of fellowship where we can really break down the word and its meanings, moving very slowly gleaning from the Word of God.

We have been approved to host up to 3 World Race teams a year and are excited about this, it was and is such a blessing to have young adults fired up about the Gospel to come and serve the Lord here in Patong. March is our second such opportunity Also lift this up in prayer for us please.

The kids are back in school and doing great! We began a "new" program this year and it is a much easier system, more difficult for the kids as there is alot of work but much better structure. We are really happy with it. Last week Joey had dengue fever, again, this is his third time but praise God he is fine and furthermore only one more type to get until he is immune. Other than that we have had no serious health issues this year.

Please pray for us, spiritual growth, more opportunities to share the gospel and go deep into the word for discipleship, we would like to begin some leadership training please pray the Lord would allow this, as always please pray for our family, health and provision, and lastly but certainly not least, March 27th I will fly to the states for one month, Pastor Eric Johansen and family will travel down and fill in for me, please lift this time up to the Lord for us 
Group photo after English service

Worship practice with Pastor Josh from Samar, Philippines

Although blurry, open air worship at Patong Beach

God bless you from New Beginnings Calvary Chapel Patong

Saturday, January 17, 2015

World Race and Exciting News

Up and running again sorry for the delay

I bet you all thought I forgot and fell off the map again... NOPE, still here, busy as ever. As promised I wanted to give a brief update in regards to what has been happening over the last month or so.

Over the last few months we have been in contact with World Race, a missions organization that puts young adults on the missions field for 11 months at a time. With the team members being in a 11 countries in 11 months. We have been approved as a Host ministry, and hosted our first team this November. The team was made up of 6 girls. Not exactly what we were expecting or had prepared for really but that is what the Lord had in mind, not our plans but Yours O Lord. Although not what we had expected, everything turned out wonderfully.Due to the fact it was an all girl team it actually opened up the doors for ministry I should not, actually cannot do. A majority of their time was spent on Bangla Road, the local red light district, in the bars ministering to and loving the bar girls. For obvious reasons not a ministry I can do. Sarah was able to go on several occasions and began to make contacts there for future ministry. While the team was here the Lord also opened the door wide for the University ministry. We made weekly, almost daily trips to the Uni to teach English and have a great time with the students there. Again we have many new contacts within the University that we are currently working with on a regular basis, as we build relationships towards the Gospel. It was really nice having the girls around, both for us and the kids, the kids don't get much English fellowship and the girls really felt the Lord leading them to encourage the kids, praise the Lord, they really need it. Thank you Lord for the World Race team and we look forward to hosting more

Ministry at the University has been slow going but we were blessed with the opportunity to host one of the Professors for Thanksgiving, he joined us and got to experience a Christian Thanksgiving, not only hearing of all the great things the Lord has done in our lives but enjoying some really great traditional Thanksgiving food.

Some other things that had been in the works before the team came were some individual ethnic studies.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, we did an outreach to the Burmese, it is now a weekly fellowship meeting with worship, and teaching, along with a great time of actual fellowship. The original group was about 5, we have seen the Lord draw His people and the last two weeks we have had over 10 in attendance. This study begins at 12:30am and we try to finish before 3am, Yes that is AM. The Lord has also brought some Pakistani asylum seekers into the English fellowship. They have been coming weekly now for several months as the Lord frees their demanding work schedules. Upon talking to them we discovered there are actually more that would like to come but they cannot due to work or other things... But given the opportunity they will attend fellowship. SOOO we have also begun a Pakistani fellowship. Actually as I write this I am preparing to head off to fellowship with them. The Pakistani fellowship has grown to 5 and begins after work on Wednesday, 12:00 am. We generally finish about 2. The Lord is beginning to reveal the leaders in both of these groups already and some real kingdom building desires. Both fellowships will be independent in ministry yet joined as the greater body of Patong International Fellowship.  Please pray for these and other studies we would like to start as the Lord makes a way. In our immediate area we have Russian, Khmer, and Vietnamese, as well as the groups we are already working with and of course Thai.

On a personal note we had a beautiful Thanksgiving with turkey and all the fixins' it was great. For the most part we are all healthy and excited for the work the Lord is doing, as always remember us in your prayers and check back often to stay caught up. If you like you can subscribe and be updated automatically.

Burmese Members at the Christmas Party

World Race Team and the Family

Some Pakistani Members singing at the Christmas Party