Dear Friends & Family,
Happy New Year! I hope you’ve enjoyed a pleasant Christmas despite drastically scaled back celebrations for many of us. Though is easy to complain, as Christians we need to choose to be hopeful because God reigns and rules over the circumstances of our lives. I can sometimes be pessimistic and need to continually re-orient my mind to God’s good promises in the long-term, and give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). There is always something to be grateful for when we make the effort to look for it. In this letter, I want to share briefly some things from this past year for which we are thankful, and then outline what is likely ahead for us in 2021.
Thank you to the many of you who prayed for the oral defense of my PhD thesis. I met my examination committee (online) on December 10th and was pleasantly surprised to pass without any corrections. I am grateful to God, to my supervisor, to my family, and to all of you who have supported and encouraged me along the way. It feels great to be done although it is surreal to be finished with this thesis since it was a primary focus of my life for nearly 3.5 years.
Local Ministry in Edinburgh
Despite on-again, off-again lockdowns and restrictions in Scotland, my wife and I are thankful for various ministry opportunities we’ve had over the past year. My wife Sun has been meeting up with various international ladies (Muslim, Chinese, etc) in Edinburgh, seeking to minister to their practical and personal needs and share the Gospel. She’s had some good conversations, especially with an Asian woman who was interested in the Gospel and Sun helped her think through the family implications of what it would mean if she got baptized. We’re thankful to God for these opportunities and pray that as we continue to seek relationships with the people around us, God will strengthen and expand his church.
Articles Accepted for Publication
An important part of my ministry is writing and producing resources about church history and missions/world Christianity (and Bible/theology) that will educate, inspire, and challenge Thai speaking Christians and missions-minded English speakers to faithful discipleship. For that reason, I am thankful that some articles I have submitted have been (or soon will be) published. In April 2020, my article “The Sinner’s Prayer in Animistic Cultures: Problems and Solutions” was published in OMF’s journal Mission Round Table (read online). Sometime in 2021, a chapter I wrote on the history of Christianity in Thailand will appear in a book on missiology published by the Asia Theological Association / Langham Partnership. In June 2021, my article “A Bumpy Road to Indigenization: The American Presbyterian Mission and the Church of Christ in Thailand” will be published in the Journal of Presbyterian History. While we are waiting for the way back to Thailand to re-open, I have some additional writing projects in mind for the first half of 2021, including exploring ways to modify my PhD thesis and get it published as a book.
Thai Ministry From a Distance
Despite being half a world away, the miracle of the internet keeps me in touch with Thai Christians in various capacities, often related to my writing and online work. Because authors often don’t know the impact of their work, I have found these interactions encouraging and an affirmation of the value of my writing. Here are a few examples from the past year:
- a Thai Christian in a leadership position wrote to me after reading some of my Thai-language online articles against the prosperity gospel as well as a Thai-language book on the five solas of the Protestant Reformation to which I contributed two chapters. She wondered if it would be better to find a different church because they were promoting the prosperity gospel and other false teaching. Keep pushing for change or move on? I gave the best counsel I could but don’t know the outcome. Please pray for believers in such difficult positions.
- a Thai man messaged me to say thank you for the Thai-language version of the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan that I published online. He told me how much he appreciated it and also that he has shared it with others, including Orthodox and Catholic friends.
- two different Thai Christian men were referred to me because they are interested in doing post-graduate studies related to Thai church history. I am really glad to be in touch with them and offer counsel because one of my long-term hopes is to help raise up Thai Christian seminary professors of church history who can bring out the riches of the past to inspire and disciple other Thai Christians. One of the men asked if I could supervise his upcoming Master of Theology thesis and I agreed.
Return to USA and Waiting for Thailand to Open
We cannot currently go to Thailand due to the country’s tight COVID-19 restrictions and the need to raise some additional support. Missionary visas are not yet available and other suitable visa options have not materialized. Once missionary visas become available again, it will take at least 3-4 months (or possibly longer) for the application to be processed. Thus, in February 2021 or thereabouts, we will likely move from Scotland to the U.S. for an indefinite period of time until Thailand is open again for us.
During our 6 months (or more) in the States, we aim to:
1) re-connect with churches and mission partners
2) raise more financial support (we need an additional $1400/month to return to Thailand)
3) Karl will work on some writing projects (TBD), mostly likely seeking to get his PhD dissertation published as a book, and some articles/resources for the Thai church
Thank you so much everyone for your prayer and support up to this point, and going forward. We don’t know what 2021 holds but we lift our eyes up to God. Our help comes from Him.
By Christ’s grace,
Karl & Sun Dahlfred
- Successful oral defense and completion of Karl’s PhD
- God’s constant faithfulness and provision
- Please pray Thailand will re-open applications for missionary visas so that we can get back there sooner rather than later.
- Please pray God will provide an additional $1400/month to meet our support budget goal for 2021 (this money needs to be pledged before OMF will give us the green light to return to the field)
- We need to leave the UK in the coming months, but we are not sure where to live in the States until Thailand opens again. Please pray for God’s provision and guidance.
- Please pray that our children’s trust would be in Christ, and that we would be good guides and role models for them.
31 Jan – Karl preach at Buccleuch Free Church (Missions Sunday)
February – move to USA?
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