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October 2015 Prayer Letter

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.

adult Sunday school at Grace City Church, Bangkok

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August 2015 Prayer Letter

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

Moving Books into the New Library Building at Bangkok Bible Seminary

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.

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May 2015 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends & Family,

Thank you to the many people who pray and give financially so that we can be in Bangkok and contribute to what God is doing to build His church in this city and this nation.

Grace City Bangkok Receives New Members

We are thankful for our small church plant which recently celebrated its one year anniversary since we began weekly worship in April 2014.  On Sundays, we have between 20-40 people on average, and at the end of April welcomed five new members, 4 by affirmation of faith, and 1 by baptism (a young man who received Christ a few months back).  Grace City Bangkok aims to be a grace-centered, Christ-centered church, which is different than what many newcomers are used to, having often seen moralistic, Bible-lite approaches to preaching and teaching in other places. Continue to pray for this small church as we reach out to visitors and others, and seek to disciple our members and regular attendees.

Helping Pakistani Refugees

The trials facing Pakistani Christians refugees has not improved any as police recently raided numerous apartment buildings and threw many men, women, and children into the Immigration Detention Center (IDC).  The majority of these people have fled from religious persecution in Pakistan and have overstayed their visas in Thailand as they wait for the United Nations to process them for relocation to a third country, which can take many years.  The IDC is an unpleasant, crowded, sweltering hot jail where detainees receive little food, or space to move around.  Many members in our church are personally involved with helping Pakistani families in various parts of the city, and have also visited people in the IDC.  Recently, Grace City Bangkok helped to bail a young family out of the IDC, which gives them legal status in the eyes of the police, and also tends to speed up processing by the UNHCR.  Many churches and missionaries throughout Bangkok are involved with helping these Pakistani brothers and sisters but the physical, financial, and spiritual needs are great, and many times overwhelming.  Pray that our family, our church, and Christians throughout Bangkok will know how best to help those in need.

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February 2015 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends & Family,

Thanks for praying for and supporting us in this new year as we serve Christ in Bangkok.  I want to briefly update you on the prayer points from our previous letter and then provide some other items to continue to remember in prayer.

New Believer at Grace City Bangkok

In December, we asked you to pray for the Christmas event at Grace City Bangkok church plant.  We had good attendance and we praise God that a particular young man who came to the Christmas event recently professed faith in Christ.  Pray for “Sound” to grow in his newfound faith in Christ.

Joshua at the Lord’s Table

Also in the area of faith, we asked you to pray for our kids to have genuine faith.  Our oldest, Joshua, has been showing some signs of faith for a while and was recently interviewed by the elders at church.  On February 1st, he was welcomed to the Lord’s Supper upon his credible profession of faith.  We praise God for his work in our son’s life.

Balancing Our Lifestyle

We also asked you to pray that Sun & I would get more sleep, exercise, Bible reading and prayer.  We are still working on getting enough sleep, but I have started running again regularly, and Bible reading and prayer is improving (somewhat).  Please pray for a balanced lifestyle that prioritizes what is most important so that we can be most effective in ministry and glorifying to God in the long run.