Bothered by Evil Spirits

A fellow missionary friend here in Thailand recently shared the following story about the influence of evil spirits on Thai people and I think that those of you who pray for us and for the Thai people will find his story insightful. He writes:

"In the west, we often don't think much of what it would be like to be under the domination of spirits. Fear and manipulation of spirits is a constant theme for many Thai.

Late yesterday afternoon, I got a phone call from one of the church members. He was at the church with a high ranking military officer and his wife, who were asking for prayer [although neither of them are Christians]. She claimed that someone had hired various spirit doctors to possess and attack her. She reported having various visions that I'd rather not go into, and that the spirits were taunting her and telling her she was going to die. There was a look in her eye of emptiness and fear, and her husband had a deep look of concern in his face. As we prepared to pray for her, he asked if he should take off his amulets, and we said yes. He proceeded to take off 4 or 5 necklaces filled with amulets and talismans - one necklace with about 15 small amulets, another with 3 or 4 large amulets, and so on. Some of these amulets are

Prayer and Winning the Lottery

I was talking this evening with our neighbor across the street and he asked if I could thank my wife for praying for him because he felt that those prayers had helped him win the lottery. Lest that you think that we prayed for a winning lottery ticket, I'll provide a little background here. About a week ago, we sat with him for a number of hours in front of his home chatting about this and that. Sun wanted to ask him some questions for an cultural research assignment from our language school but we also talked a lot about various topics, including spiritual ones.

Our neighbor's perspective on religion is not that uncommon among Thais, namely that all religions are good and in order to be a good person, you basically need to set your mind to it and you can be a good person, which is the end goal of religion. All Thai people are familiar with the Buddhist saying, "The only thing that you can depend upon is yourself." He is not into amulets or going to the temple because he says that he counts those as sacred in his heart, so he doesn't need to buy something to hang around his neck or go to a certain place. I've had many conversations with him over the months that we've been here and I often stop and chat with him at his roadside fruit cart when I pass by on the way to the market. Whenever I talk about the Gospel, he always has

Language Progress

Both of us are still plugging along at the language school, making plans to finish up the current units we are working on before moving to our new ministry location in the next month or two. We still are not quite sure where that will be but hopefully will know soon.

In the meantime though, I (Karl) am working on a module where I develop interview questions on a particular topic (in this case, I picked the violence in Southern Thailand) and then go out and interview some people. I record the conversations and then transcribe them in order to learn about on-the-street conversational Thai and see

How Hot Is It?

In my last entry about the heat here, I neglected to mention exactly how hot it has been in degrees. Lest anyone think we are exagerrating or just wimping out, at one point it hit a high of 113 F (45 C) but there were many days when it was somewhere around 110 F (43 C). They do it in celesius here so initially it took some backwards conversion to figure out how hot it was in numbers that we can feel the emotional weight of. Praise God that it has started to rain more this past week and with that some cooler temperatures. It is still in the 80s and 90s with lots of humidity but it sure feels better than 110.

Hot, Hot, Hot

When even the Thai themselves are complaining about how hot it is, then you know that it is hot. This is a particularly hot "hot season", and we are oh so glad that we have some A/C in our home. Our bedroom has A/C and baby's room has A/C and we will often turn it on around bedtime for a few hours to make sleeping a bit more bearable. Air conditioning in Thailand is fairly expensive to run, especially in comparision to the cost of living so we don't use it that much but it sure does feel good when we do.

It is simply easier to get work done when you are cool. Going here and there in the heat is quite draining and I've heard from others what I myself have been saying for a week now: I'm exhausted. And I think the heat is the culprit. Motivation lags too when you feel like you are sitting in a sauna. Before I leave the house in the morning, I can already feel the sweat rolling down my back. Not a promising start to the day. But this is the place that God has called us to and we just do the best to put up with the heat and whatever else.

Yesterday I was reading Ephesians 5:20, which says "giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." That is a tall order and difficult to implement when I am feeling miserable because of the oppressive heat and sunshine that makes me feel exhausted. How shall I give thanks for something I find bothersome? Thank you God for reminding me of my human fraility and weakness compared to the power of the forces of nature which you have created and which reflect your power and greatness.

Idol Madness

Jatukhamramathep amulets for sale in a Thai shop (photo credit: www.jatukarm.com)We recently took a field trip to Southern Thailand to check out a potential ministry opportunity in Nakorn Sri Thammarat province and, among other things, we observed how much the people there are into a particular amulet called Jat-Tu-Kham-Rama-Thep. In fact, the amulet comes from Nakon Sri Thammarat and is so immensely popular right now that people come from all over the country to buy up these amulets and resell them at a 30-60 fold profit. Jat-tu-kham, unlike a lot of other amulets, is not a Buddha image but is an image of an ancient king of Nakon Sri Thammarat who has been elevated to divine, or angelic, status. Every place in Nakon is selling these things - restaurants, beauty shops, malls, convenience stores - everyplace. It's idol madness, really.

Something really notable about the Jat-tu-kham, besides the fact that it is so immensely popular with Thai people, is the probable reason why it is so popular. I recently read an article in a Thai national newspaper's weekly magazine that said the Jat-tu-kham amulets are popular because what the amulet promises corresponds to Thai people's current needs - i.e. the desire to have money and get rich! The economy is down and people want something to help them make money (or get rich, perhaps). Listen to some of the names of the different editions (or models) of the amulet that

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