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It has been really good to finally arrive back in Phra Baht after four months in the States. We got in on Saturday evening and found our house in fine condition, with a very green yard due to all the rain during the past few months. Two of our banana trees had big big bunches on them, still quite green. Pastor Jarun and his wife had been taking care of the place while we had been gone. We are thankful for their help and are glad that they have been able to take advantage of our house while we have been away.Aside from the surroundings, we really enjoyed seeing folks at church on Sunday morning and beginning to catch up with what has been going on in their lives while we have been away. One fellow may move to another province soon, one woman has changed jobs because her employer wouldn't allow her to go to church on Sunday. Sun chatted with two elderly ladies who may be interested in helping us with evangelism. Sun and I are both feeling rather strong these days and eager to get out there and share the Gospel - both on an individual basis and in more direct evangelism - tracting and open air evangelism. On Sunday evening, we got to chat with our neighbors who had gathered across the street from our house in the community area for our neighborhood. A few months ago, the neighborhood committee put in some
Why is it that so many people like to worship on high places? This morning, a friend and I hiked up a steep mountain at the end of a peninsula in Prajuab province, Thailand. At the top, there was a glorious view of the surrounding area - ocean to the east, coast to the north and south, and distant mountains to the West in the direction of Burma. But on top of the mountain, there was also a small shrine to the Buddha’s footprint with accompanying Buddha images. Throughout Thailand, there are lots of shrines and yellow Buddhist prayer flags on the tops of hills and mountains. Every time I see them, I can’t help but think of the high places in the Old Testament that the Israelites worshipped on. When the Israelites worshipped on these high places, it was usually idolatrous worship in violation of the First Commandment (and probably the Second Commandment as well).
I see it all over the place. It’s on T-shirts, handbags, motorcycles, car windows and wherever else is fashionable. The image of the Playboy Bunny seems to be everywhere in Thailand these days. However, I suspect that most Thais are not aware that it is the official symbol of a well known pornography magazine. A young woman at church was wearing a stylish t-shirt with the Playboy bunny on the front and I asked her if she knew where the rabbit picture comes from. She replied, “No” and I explained that it is the symbol used by a well known pornography magazine in America. “Oh” she responded uninterestedly, “I didn’t know that”. I thought that perhaps I had been unclear in my explanation so I went on, “When Westerners see this rabbit picture they are reminded of a magazine with naked women in it. A pornography magazine.” She still seemed unconcerned that she had the logo of a porn mag emblazoned on the front of her shirt. “Why do you like the rabbit picture?” I inquired further. At this point, I might have guessed her reply. “It’s cute. I like it.”
Siam is the old name for Thailand and I have never known why and how that name change came about. A Bangkok academic is now petitioning the government to change the name back to Siam in order to make a step towards creating greater peace and unity in the nation. For those who are curious about the history of the name change from Siam to Thailand or wonder how on earth changing the country's name could do anything in the way of reconciling a divided nation, check out the Bangkok Post article "What's in a name?" The comments on this article are at least as interesting as the article itself as people weigh in on whether they think the change is a good idea.
How do very different denominations work together to do church planting? This is the big question that remains to be answered as the 7th Thailand Congress on Evangelism in Bangkok came to an end this past week. The conference brought together three of the largest Protestant church groups in Thailand - the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT), the Thailand Baptist Convention, and the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand (EFT). In the past, these large denominations didn’t get along very well so it is encouraging to see leaders and members of these different groups coming together in order to pursue the goal of proclaiming Christ throughout Thailand. A few years back, the involved denominations had formed the Thailand Evangelism Coordinating Committee (TEC) and came up with Vision 2010 which aims to see a church planted in every provincial district (อำเภอ), a Christian group in every sub-district (ตำบล), and a Christian presence in every neighborhood/village (หมู่บ้าน).Throughout the conference pastors, Bible college professors, and other church leaders from the various groups preached on the themes of Obedience, Faithfulness, Unity, and Cooperation. Listening to the preachers, worship leaders, and other speakers up on stage, I got the sense that the goal of the week was not so much as to spell out how to work together in unity, but rather to rally the troops and encourage the people in attendance that unity is important and the God will work as we work together in obedience and faithfulness to the Great Commission.