Dear Friends & Family,
Some missionaries feel the pressure to perform, but one of the things that I appreciate most about all of you who pray for and support us is this: You value the regular faithfulness of a long-term ministry over exciting reports of short-term successes. In the book “Ordinary”, Michael Horton asserts that the essence of the Christian life does not consist of high-energy extreme or radical experiences that promise a higher plane of Christian life. Rather, it is in the regular, ordinary, everyday seeking after God in ordinary ways, and the daily obedience in small, normal things that results in sustained growth in the Christian life over the long run. As applied to the missionary context, that means that the most productive thing I can do is to be faithful in the regular tasks and responsibilities that I have, rather than continually running after some new method or teaching that will result in amazing breakthrough or some kind of rapid, unprecedented church planting or people movement (as if the "secret key" or "silver bullet" that other generations missed is somewhere just around the corner). In reality, some things take time, and genuine spiritual growth depends upon the moving of the Spirit, not upon human striving to get things done by a deadline. In this vein, I want to give 3 brief updates on the ministries that we are involved in here in Bangkok.
Grace City Church, Bangkok
This new church plant in downtown Bangkok has been holding weekly worship since April 2014, and currently has about 20 members, of which 2 are adult converts who received baptism at Grace City Church. Attendance varies from 20-50 each week, with a healthy stream of visitors. We are steadily plugging along with preaching, visitation, evangelism, etc. but are in need of more Thai men, especially those who can become elders eventually. Our church session consists of 3 missionaries (including myself) and 1 Thai.
Dear Friends & Family,
I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying your summer. Our family has done some traveling recently, both for vacation and for a big conference celebrating OMF’s 150th anniversary. We enjoyed some refreshing times but are now back in Bangkok, looking ahead to the start of the new school year.
Teaching Seminary: A Work-in-Progress
The new school term at Bangkok Bible Seminary starts Aug 17th, and I will be teaching 3 classes I have taught before. Each time I teach them, though, I try to improve the courses so the students get more benefit, and my teaching is more efficient. Last term, I replaced the short answer & essay section of my exams with oral interviews. It was fantastic because I could get a better sense of students’ understanding, and I was able to eliminate much of the endless tedium of correcting exams and deciphering Thai handwriting. As I prepare this month for the new semester, I am considering further how to best help students learn, especially how to adjust the teaching and assignments to the reality that many students are probably preferred oral learners, not bookworms like myself.
Homosexuality and Thai Christianity
The gay marriage juggernaut has not yet come to Thailand, but that does not mean everything is fine. Thailand has a relatively modest public culture and very immoral private culture, and sexuality is generally not addressed in Thai churches, except to tell young unmarried people, “Don’t.” Whether it is extra-marital heterosexual or homosexual practice, the fear of offending people or pushing them away often times results in non-action by churches. This is not true in all churches, of course, but it happens often. Conflict avoidance is a common trait among many Thai, which means that sin is often not addressed in the lives of believers. Of course, we are all “works-in-progress” and we must be patient as people grow in grace and understanding, yet some issues need to be talked about, not swept under the rug with the excuse, “I’ll pray for that person, and the Holy Spirit can speak to them Himself.” Pray that Thai Christian leaders will have the moral conviction, courage, and trust in God to speak the truth in love at the right time with the members and inquirers in their churches.
Karl grew up in New Hampshire with his parents and younger brother. Through the ministry of a Presbyterian church youth group, he became a Christian and received a solid foundation in the faith. During college, Karl was actively involved as a student leader with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and got his first taste of missions through a short-term trip to Poland. Following graduation, Karl briefly worked for a publishing company before heading to Thailand for two and a half years to teach English and aid with evangelism and discipleship as part of an OMF church planting team. Karl earned a Masters of Divinity (M.Div) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Master of Theology (Th.M) at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).
Sun and her family fled from the killing fields of Cambodia and arrived as refugees in California. Sun heard the Gospel in Sunday school and later prayed to receive Christ. After high school, Sun sensed the Lord calling her into missions and pursued a degree in Biblical Studies from Biola University. Following graduation, Sun went on a short-term mission trip to Cambodia and then taught elementary school for a few years before returning to Asia to teach English in Laos. During her four years in Laos, she also earned an M.A. in TESOL through Azusa Pacific University. In 2002, Sun sensed God leading her to a very large Asian country where served for two years. Sun and her team shared the Gospel with top university students and partnered with churches.
Karl and Sun met in Colorado at OMF’s Candidate Course for new missionaries and were married in 2005. They have three children, Joshua (born 2006), Caitlin (born 2009), and John (born 2013). They did church planting ministry in Central Thailand from 2006 to 2010 and are now located in Bangkok where Karl teaches part-time at Bangkok Bible Seminary, and assists with editing and translation of Thai Christian books at Kanok Bannasan (OMF Publishers Thailand).
Karl teaches missions and church history at Bangkok Bible Seminary, and assists with translation and editing at Kanok Bannasan (OMF Publishers Thailand), one of the few publishers of Thai Christian books. Living right next to the seminary campus in downtown Bangkok, both Karl and Sun have opportunities to invest in the lives of students, the next generation of Thai church leaders. They are also involved in a new church plant called Grace City Bangkok, and Karl does itinerant preaching at various churches in the Bangkok area and beyond.
During their previous term of missionary service (2006-2010), Karl & Sun worked alongside a Thai pastor and his church to do new church planting. Living in the town of Prabaht in Central Thailand, they sought to plant a new church in the farming community of Nong Doan, about 6 miles distant from Prabaht. Karl assisted with preaching, pastoral visitation, and evangelistic outreach. In addition to being a full-time mom, Sun enjoyed discipling some women who came to see her at home.