Wednesday, September 19, 2018
An idea is floating around that Islam is the fastest growing religion. Perhaps it's true. However, I still believe that the number of persons who know and believe in Jesus are getting bigger. Below is an excerpt from the page of the book written by Richard Bauckham about the increased of number of persons who believe in Jesus.
Jesus of Nazareth, or Jesus Christ (as Christians call him), is undoubtedly the best known and most influential human person in the world history. Two billion people today identify themselves as Christians, with the implication that Jesus is the focus of their relationship to God and of their way of living in the world. Such followers of Jesus are now more numerous and make up a greater proportion of the world's population than ever before. It is estimated that they are increasing by some 70,000 persons every day.
This growth of Christianity is taking place despite its decline in the West, especially in Western Europe, and those who think the figure of Jesus Christ is of fading significance need to reckon with astonishingly rapid increase in numbers of Christian believers in other parts of the world, such as Africa and (who would have expected it?) China. Jesus is plainly no longer icon purely of the Western culture, but in fact he never was. He lived in the Middle East, and in the first few centuries of Christianity the faith spread in all directions--not only to Greece and Rome, France and Spain, but also to Egypt, North Africa, and Ethiophia, to Turkey and Armenia, to Iraq, Persia, and India. Christianity was a world religion long before it was a European one.
Richard Bauckham, Jesus: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Monday, September 17, 2018
If you are a parent, you would understand how sad we were when we left him especially when we had been with him for a few days. As we were walking away and waving goodbye, Narlin said, “I can’t help but cry, I am sad we are leaving our son again but joyful just to remember how faithful God was to see our children through college.”
God’s provision for our children’s education is one of the most beautiful testimony we share about God’s faithfulness in our lives as missionary. We know some people who believe that God has called them to mission but could not go because of their children’s schooling. Likewise, we know people who were in the field but decided to go home for the same reason.
When we went for mission, our children knew that they need to make sacrifice especially with regards to their education. We did our best to put them to school. The homeschooling didn’t work because travel and materials cost were way beyond our means. Moreover, International Schools in Thailand are catered for the affluents.
To make a long story short, the Philippine’s Department of Education came to Thailand to conduct Equivalency Test and all our children passed the test that made it possible for them to go straight to college. God is faithful.
One night, out of the blue, a friend sent us a text message asking if we want to continue the sewing ministry. When we answered yes, she told us that she would give us the money to buy a new sewing machine. It is a miraculous provisions for a specific need. Narlin is now helping a lady by teaching her how to sew and to extra income by making items.
Praise the Lord that even though we don’t have resources to run a training center, God provides the opportunity to continue helping young women.
God's AssuranceWe were invited to attend an opening of a new children’s home in Chiang Mai. And we could not help but feel a little bit insecure thinking: How much money has been spent buying the property and constructing the buildings? What does it cost to run the Foundation and paid the staff? We never in our wildest dream could afford any of these frills.
But then God assures us that the success of our ministry is not measured on how much property we owned, how beautiful our house is, or how much money we have. It is about caring and loving the children, teaching them to be good person, to believe in God and to be like Christ. God assures us that we are doing well with the resources that He has provided.
We thank you for your partnership in the ministry, your support and prayers surely helps us to continue to love and care for the children and do other ministries that God wants us to do.
Prayer ConcernsOnce again, we want to share to you our thanksgiving and prayer concerns.
- We thank the Lord that our work permit problem is resolved. The Rainbow Foundation helped us to keep our visa in spite of our cancelled Work Permit. But this cost us to pay more fees to the Department of Labor. The only positive upshot of this hurdle is that we will be given a two-year work permit. Thank you Lord.
- Pray for the children’s national ID (Thai citizenship). To be honest, we don’t have any idea how to do this. We are expecting our friends to help us by giving their testimony to the government in behalf of the children but they refused. Please continue to pray for this as we gather information about the process.
- The school term is about to end. The children are having their final exam next week. A long three week vacation is waiting for them to enjoy. Pray that they will do well on their final exam and for their needs for the second semester. We are preparing activities for the long break.
- Please for us, Joey and Narlin, for safe trip to the Philippines . We were invited to attend a Missionary Care Conference on September 24-29. Although, we benefited from several Missionary R&R here in Thailand, it is the first time in twelve years that we have the privilege of being invited to events like this. Please pray for safe travel and provisions.
- Pray also for our ministry involvement in the church. We are actually involved with two congregations. The children lead worship at a local Thai church and I (Joey) preached once a month. We also do the same tasks in an international congregation (which gathers once a month) composed mostly of Filipino English teachers and few people from Thailand, USA and Europe. We started this fellowship since we came here twelve years ago. Please pray that these ministries will be a blessing to the community.
- Please also pray for the Philippines in the aftermath of the category 5 typhoon, Mangkhut. Please pray for those who are greatly affected especially in the northern part of the Philippines.
This is also posted in my other blog and sent in email form to our family and friends.
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Bauckham, Richard. Jesus: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, 2011.
Two billion people today identify as Christians, with the implication that Jesus is the focus of their relationship with God, and their way of living in the world. Such followers of Jesus are now more numerous and make up a greater proportion of the world's population than ever before. Despite its decline in the West, Christianity is rapidly increasing in areas such as Africa and China.
Richard Bauckham explores the historical figure of Jesus, evaluating the sources and concluding that they provide us with good historical evidence for his life and teaching. In order to place Jesus in his proper historical context, as a Jew from Galilee in the early first century of our era, Bauckham looks at Jewish religion and society in the land of Israel under Roman rule. He explores Jesus' symbolic practices as well as his teachings, looks at his public career and emphasises how his actions, such as healing and his association with notorious sinners, were just as important as his words.
Bauckham shows that Jesus was devoted to the God of Israel, with a special focus on God's fatherly love and compassion, and like every Jewish teacher he expounded the Torah, but did so in his own distinctive way. With a discussion about the way Jesus understood himself and what finally led to his death as a criminal on a Roman cross, he concludes by considering the significance Jesus has come to have for Christian faith worldwide.
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
I picked up this book and finished reading it overnight. Having live in a Buddhist country for 12 years, this book is informative and helpful. Although, this is about Zen Buddhism instead of Theravada, the basic tenets are the same.
While in his twenties and thirties, international journalist and best-selling author Martin Roth, living in Japan, became deeply involved in Zen Buddhism. So much so that he co-authored a reference work on the subject, “Zen Guide.”
Now he explains the attraction of Buddhism to himself and to other young Westerners. He also recounts – often in amusing detail - some of his adventures.
He became possibly the first Westerner to complete a famous pilgrimage to thirty-three temples in northern Japan. On another pilgrimage he spent three days hiking through some of Japan’s holiest mountains, sometimes standing under frigid waterfalls in purification rituals. He stayed at famous monasteries, often participating in morning worship services full of dazzling ceremonies.
He introduces some of the fascinating people he met. These include the young priest who lived and meditated in a giant soy sauce barrel; the professor who devised “commuting Zen” meditation for his strap-hanging one-and-a-half-hour rail commute to work each day; and the American advertising executive who became head of his own Japanese Zen temple, a place where Caroline Kennedy, now US ambassador to Japan, stayed during her honeymoon.
But he also explains why his interest in Buddhism began to fade, and why, today, he is a Christian.
This short book (18,000 words), part travel adventure, part memoir, part spiritual odyssey, will entertain and inform.
Chapter One – First Steps
Chapter Two – Learning about Buddhism
Chapter Three – A Series of Newspaper Columns
Chapter Four – Writing a Book
Chapter Five – Zen Adventures
Chapter Six – Was I a Buddhist?
Chapter Seven – Kyoto
Chapter Eight – Heading North
Chapter Nine – Christian Zen
Chapter Ten – Buddhist Art
Chapter Eleven – Doubts
Chapter Twelve – Becoming a Christian
Chapter Thirteen – Buddhism and the Book of Ecclesiastes
Chapter Fourteen – Talking with Buddhists
Monday, August 06, 2018
I have been reading lately. Since I have not been posting more often, I thought it would be a good idea to post the books I have read in the last couple of years. Here is a book by Gregory A. Boyd. The simplicity and clarity of his writing got me interested in reading more of his works. His correspondence with his father (who was in his 70's) has provided a personal and emotional elements in a deep and yet simple theological answers to common questions about God that agnostics are asking. However, I believe that even Christians who have the nagging questions about God and their faith would find most of the answers helpful.
Here is the short description of the book and a review by reader Jill Heatherly:
Greg Boyd and his father, Ed, were on opposite sides of a great divide. Greg was a newfound Christian, while his father was a longtime agnostic. So Greg offered his father an invitation: Ed could write with any questions on Christianity, and his son would offer a response.
Letters from a Skeptic contains this special correspondence.
The letters tackle some of today's toughest challenges facing Christianity, including
- Do all non-Christians go to hell?
- How can we believe a man rose from the dead?
- Why is the world so full of suffering?
- How do we know the Bible was divinely inspired?
- Does God know the future?
Each response offers insights into the big questions, while delivering intelligent answers that connect with both the heart and mind. Whether you're a skeptic, a believer, or just unsure, these letters can provide a practical, common-sense guide to the Christian faith.
Edward Boyd's agnosticism rested "not ... too much on any positive position ... but rather on a host of negative ones" about Christianity. In an attempt to address these negative issues, his son Greg, a professor of theology, asked his father, a strong-willed, highly intelligent, and stubborn 70-year-old, to enter into a correspondence in which "all of their cards would be laid on the table." Greg would give his father the opportunity to raise all his objections to the veracity of Christianity, and Greg would "answer these objections as well as give positive grounds for holding to the Christian faith."
Three years and more than 30 letters later, Letters from a Skeptic was published and Edward Boyd came to accept Christ. During his journey, he and his son hash through such topics as why the world is so full of suffering; why an all-powerful God needs prayer; how you can believe in someone who rose from the dead; and how another man's death can pardon others. Despite their brutal honesty, both men exhibit respect and love toward one another as they address these volatile subjects. In Edward's second response to Greg, he boldly says, "Well, your distinction between the 'Christian Church' and 'Christians' is interesting and novel, but frankly, I don't buy it." Greg responds, saying, "I've got to admit that you are raising some extremely good points in your letters. You are raising the most difficult questions a theist can face."
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
This is the message I shared at the church about the 12 football team and their coach trapped in Tham Luang Cave. I shared this message on the first of July, the eighth day that the team hadn’t found yet. Everyone was sad and expecting the worst. Somehow, deep in my heart I believed that they were still alive and safe inside the cave. As you already know, they had been found on the next day and eventually successfully rescued.
Last Sunday, we woke up with the news about the 12 children and their coach trapped inside Tham Luang Cave. The rescue efforts have been going on for several days now. We are amazed on how many people, organizations and companies who are willing to help. Tragedy likes this draws the best from the people. It also shows that in doing good we have unity. We hope and pray that all the children are alive and safe.
Perhaps some of us personally know some of the children. We happen to know one of the boys from Mae Sai Grace Church and three of our children are classmates and friends to four of them.
We are praying and hoping that they can be rescued sooner than later. We pray for the family of the children and we pray for the people who are doing the rescue.
As a believer, how do we deal with tragedy like this?
What can we learn from tragedy?
We learn that God is in control
Perhaps I should say here that we are reminded that God is in control.
There are times when we are outside and a strong wind blows, the clouds get dark, lightning and thunders roar, and heavy rain falls. What is the first thing that we normally do? We get inside into some shelter. We go inside our homes, we closed all the windows and we sit back, watch TV or we go to bed and take a nap that you get to take when it’s raining outside.
However, what happens when the storm is so strong that destroys our house? The storm is so strong that it rips the roof off and the rain get inside our house? Then we come to realize that the shelter we think can protect us is not so safe after all.
We see, there is a shelter that we can find refuge that can withstand any storm we face, not built by human and is not made with bricks and cement. We can read in Psalm 46 verse 1-7 that:
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. 7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Here we learn that God alone is the shelter that we should find refuge during the storms of life. No matter what we face in life, we can be assured that God is in control. When we are facing tragedy or when we are worried that someone close to us is facing tragedy, we can pray with confidence and trust God completely because He is in control.
We learn just how important a relationship with God is!
When tragedy happens, we will see two groups of people.
One group of people are those who try to rescue people. They worked hard and sacrifice themselves to save others. We appreciate what these people are doing. They are good people.
Second there are group of people will take advantage of the situation and would try to gain something for themselves. In fact, the police announced that there are people who are asking for donations and giving their bank accounts. But the police warned that nobody should give cash donations. These people are not doing good.
We are reminded here that Satan can use people to do bad things. At the same time, God can use people to do good things this time of tragedy. But I believe that what is important is that every people, good and bad, need Jesus Christ.
In Luke chapter 13, Jesus used a tragedy to make this point. A tower in Siloam collapsed and 18 people had died. Many people thought that those who died are bigger sinners than everyone else and that God was punishing them.
Jesus taught that it doesn’t matter how small or big their sins. They were all equally guilty and that if the people don’t repent they are going to die too. He reminds them that in the midst of tragedy we are all going to face death someday and we need to repent and turn our lives to God.
We don’t know when tragedy will happen to us, but I believe the most important truth that will help us to get through suffering and tragedy is that we know and have a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
We learn that we will really never know “Why?”
When tragedy happens, the first question we ask is “why?” In this life, we may never know the “whys” of everything, especially what happened to the 12 boys and their coach. If we will have a chance to talk with people who are ask, why did God let this happen? Why these 13 people have to suffer? We can honestly tell them that we don’t always know the answer to the question “why?”
But there is one important truth that we know. We can encourage them that God is our shelter that will be with them during and will bring them through tragedy. We live in imperfect world, sickness and accidents happen. This isn’t heaven and we cannot expect that our lives here will be like heaven.
One thing we do know is that bad things happen in this fallen world. In a world full of sin, bad things are going to happen. That’s why we must hold on so desperately to the only one that can rescue us from sin. That is Jesus Christ.
The worst tragedy has nothing to do in this world. The greatest tragedy is that many people in this world has no relationship with God. We know how to help them, yet many times we don’t do anything about it.
If anybody of us is given a chance to meet these children, we hope we can let them know about God and how God loves them that His son died on the cross for their sins. We hope we can still have a chance to pray for them and love them when all this is over.
What can we do in tragedy?
In Nehemiah chapter 1 verses 3 to 4:
3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. “4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
If we will read further, we see this wonderful prayer of Nehemiah, which deserves more and closer study than we can give it this morning. We don’t have the time to study about Nehemiah’s prayer here, but we know for sure that he sat down, wept and prayed for those people who were experiencing tragedy. What can we do in tragedy?
The first thing that we must do is pray.
As Christian, we neglect our duty when we fail to pray to pray for the people who are hurting and suffering. This was Nehemiah’s first and most natural response to the tragedy he was facing. He went to prayer. When people are facing tragedy, when we ourselves are facing tragedy, we must pray. Why?
Remember that first point we said a while ago, that we learn from tragedy that God is in control. We can pray and trust God because he is in control.
I know everyone wants to go to Tham Luang and volunteer to help. We want to do something. But at this point in time, the best help that we can do is not to go there and be a distraction and hindrance to the people who are doing their best to help rescue the children.
However, we can continue to pray that God that although they haven’t been found yet, pray that God will sustain the children, that they are still alive and safe. We can also continue praying for the children, their family and the people who sacrifice to save the children.
The second thing we can do is give
When a tragedy happens, there will always people who will be in need. We can do it individually or we can give through the church. I know some of us have already given. As I think about this tragedy, the 13 people are not the only one who are in need right now. There are many people who are sacrificing their time and work to help. They also need help.
We praise the Lord that the Christian community and churches in Mae Sai are doing their part to help. But we give not to attract attention to ourselves, we give because people are in need.
The third thing we can do is help
There are people facing personal tragedy around us all the time. It is just that their tragedy doesn’t make the news. They may have lost a loved one or are in need of food or clothing. Some lost their job, or their spouse left them. We personally know stories like this.
There are people hurting all around us every single day, yet we get so busy and don’t realize it. During times of tragedy, our heart opens up to people who are hurting. Especially now that we know some people who now are in tragedy. Now we suddenly get unselfish and we start wanting to help.
We are praying that this tragedy will be over. And when it is over, we hope that as a church we can continue to help these 13 people and their families. Not only through giving them material things but to help them overcome their bad experience by helping them emotionally, psychologically and I believe the most important is that we may be able to help them spiritually.
As I said, there are people around us who have personal tragedy that do not make the news. They may be our neighbors, our friends, maybe even in our family, and maybe in our church.
This a challenge for us, let us help people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives.
This is also posted in my other blog.
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Happy New Year!
As the year ended, we could not help but once again remember God’s faithfulness. 2017 is the beginning of a new decade for us here in the mission field. We arrived in Thailand on the 6th of January 2006, with three luggages, meager support and three children, nobody thought (including ourselves) that we could even last for a couple of years.
But here we are, with God’s care and provisions and with our friends’ love and sacrifices. We are ready to face another decade of ministry. We will continue serving God and helping people to find their freedom in Christ.
In Thailand, they don’t celebrate Christmas or at least they do not know the real reason why Christians celebrate it. Although it is not considered as a holiday, the supermarkets and shopping malls are full of Christmas stuff on sale and Christmas songs filled the air. This is the time of the year when Thai people are open to listen to the true message of Christmas. This Christmas, the Lord had given us several opportunities to be in that situation-share the message.
Christmas ActivitiesWe are thankful to God that the Tesaban 1 Municipal school asked us to sing carols and explain the meaning of Christmas at the school during their flag ceremony. We thought it was a great opportunity to involve our church in the activity. Our church’s youth joined us in the singing and our Pastor, Ajan Sunit shared the message.
We also had the privilege to join several Christmas activities. First, we organized the New Life Creations Foundation Christmas Party. Second, we had the opportunity to be part of Pantamit Church’s Christmas outreach program in Baan Nana, one of the biggest children shelters in Mae Sai. Lastly, for three years now, we had been invited to be part of the Christmas program for the School for the Blind in Mae Sai. We are praying that our working relationship with the School of the Blind will grow deeper. We pray that we may be able to help through connecting them with people who have called to work with the blind.
English Camp at Tesaban 1Narlin is doing what she does well, organizing English camp at schools. Joey has to excuse himself to take the time to write this newsletter. She had been planning this English Camp (with YWAM-Madison Team) for more than a month when Teacher Jar (the head of the school English department) told us that two other teams from Univeristy in the US would join the activities. So instead of having 7 people from YWAM, we ended up with 18 volunteer teachers from the US.
It is a big group, but by God’s grace we are on the last day of the English camp and as far as we can see, it was a success. We are once again, thankful to the Lord for giving us the opportunity to serve the children at the school. We also have helped the teachers and our good relationship with the school has grown stronger. All for the glory of God.
Family UpdateWe considered going home to the Philippines to celebrate Christmas with our family. But we thought it would be better if our children, Jared, Jillian and Reuven, would come to here to celebrate with us and also that they would be reconnected with their little brothers and sisters. Nuch came home from Chon Buri to join us. That was the first time in five years that we were reunited.
Friday, October 14, 2016
As we enter the final quarter of 2016, we see how God put into reality the ministry which three years ago was just a vision. It was in 2013 when we first met Larry and talked about our common burden to rescue, protect and empower young women and children against the evil of human trafficking.
We learned from an NGO called DEPDC that many exploited workers (mostly women) in Bangkok and South Thailand come from Northern Thailand. They are either illegally transport from neighboring countries of Myanmar and Laos or recruited through middlemen from very poor families in the tribal villages.
We thank the Lord for this opportunity He has given to us to help these young women and children through New Life Creations Foundation. Our ultimate goal is for these young women and children to have a personal relationship with the Father through Jesus and experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you Lord! This vision is now a reality.
Thank you for your prayers and support for our ministry with the children. Your continued prayers and financial support make it possible for us to take care of the children and send them to school. They are also active in the church and may soon be part of the worship team. The Lord is indeed faithful to provide for our needs.
Please continue to help us pray for a new house. Our landlady advised us that anytime she calls, it means we have to leave the house within six months. We have been searching all over the town for a house suitable for the children. We also started dreaming of buying our own property and build a house. Pray for provision for this specific need.
New Life Creations/Sak Saum ThailandOur friend and partner, Larry will be in the US for a couple of months hoping to raise more funds for New Life Creations Foundation and Sak Saum Thailand. The registration of NLCF with the Thai government took a lot of financial resources. We desire to help younger women by providing them home and skills so that they can support themselves and live in dignity.
We are thankful to the Lord for the Canadian team that visited us last month and shared our ministry in their church. Their church raised and sent the fund for two industrial and one ordinary sewing machines. We are praying for individuals or churches who are willing to sponsor two more girls and for the rent of the girls’ home and sewing training center. Please help us to pray for this ministry to rescue, protect and empower young women against human trafficking.
Moreover, we formally signed an MOU with Sak Saum Cambodia. They will allow us to make for them selected “approved” products and will help us to market them in the US. They made order for scarves, wallets and bags and surprisingly, the girls were up to the challenged and were able to fulfill the orders within three weeks. We pray and hope that through this partnership with Sak Saum we can sustain the salary for the girls and the rent for their home and sewing training center.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
I have been neglecting this blog and I feel bad. I am doing a lot of blogging about our ministry projects and I thought to myself, why should not have my own blog. Then I remember I have one which I have been neglecting. I hope to revive this and write about my theological thinking which I have not been really doing lately except for sermons that I write when I do my regular preaching.
Friday, July 15, 2016
It’s rainy season here in Thailand and aside from the humidity, we are loving it. It turns the mountains, fields and almost everything around us into a lively green. The air that had been heavily polluted is now refreshingly clean. The birds unceasingly singing beautiful notes. This reminds us once again of God’s love and faithfulness. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse
NLC Foundation/Saksaum Thailand Facilities
While we were in the Philippines, NLC/Saksaum Thailand leadership team found a suitable plac
Joey has shingles
A week after we arrived in Thailand, Joey was already complaining of pain and numbness on the left side of his body. He ignored the pain and just kept on working until rashes and blisters appeared. The pain became unbearable. Blisters also started appearing on his arms and face. (The doc said it is totally unrelated to shingles.) We wanted to go to Overbook Hospital but out truck broke down again. So we ended up going to a famous dermatologist here in Mae Sai. It entailed waiting for two hours. His patients are just too many. But he is really good. Joey has shingles, he needs some rest and strengthen his immune system. It may last for another week, but the worst is over. We thank the Lord for healing. We thank all those who are praying for us and our health.
Our last “quick update” was an appeal for help for Narlin’
We are also thankful for the opportunity of being part of the ministry of great needs here in Mae Sai.
We are thankful for Rocky, our truck. It
We are thankful for the children. They have grown up to be responsible and disciplined. Although they still need constant supervision, they are growing up to be a good model to other children in the church and community. By God’s grace, we are hoping to take care of them until they finish their university.
We are thankful that our work permit is already extended for another year. Our visa will expire on the 20th of July and its extension is based on the validity of our work permit. Please pray that the visa renewal will go smoothly this year. We are thankful for our children in the Philippines. They are taking their education seriously and for God’s guidance, protection and provision for them. We hope to see them again soon.
Thanks again for your friendship and partnership in the ministry. Until the next update. God bless you.