Monday, October 31, 2011
Thursday, September 08, 2011
This is the another story written by my sister, Nori. She had spent time with the children and they told her their stories. This is her reflections and it is posted as it is.
Dina has complete parents and she is very proud of that. She also has 1 big brother, one younger brother, one big sister, 2 younger sisters, one of which is still baby. Her big brother (most likely in her early teens) is now being trained in the military. Dina and her younger brother escaped the possibility of being recruited for military training that is why both of them ended in children homes. Dina is here in Mae Sai while her Sam Soon is in “My Father’s House” in Tachilek.
If you will ask Dina, “when are you going home?” “My father comes to get me when in Christmas time. So, I just wait for him until he comes back.” Her eyes glistens as she says that. She has full hope that she is coming home very soon. All she has to do is wait for Christmastime. Her stay with the Dela Pazes is just temporary, it is not going to be forever. In fact she proudly says that her father is a saya and her mom is a sayarma (both of them are school teachers in Wa, Burma).
This is the reality of it all. These Dek-deks are here in the care of the Dela Pazes simply to escape the military training that is required of every child that turns 8 years old. This is why parents do everything in order to take their children out of their place–to help them escape their distressing predicament. Maybe, their parents have this hope in their hearts that one day, everything will be fine and they can get their children from their adoptive homes or shelter and they can be reunited to have a better life as a family.
Some of these parents cross the border and work as truck drivers and they bring their children and just drop them off at the gates of a shelter where they believe their children will be taken cared of. others work for some businesses and then bring their children to the (Day Care) and then leave them there for good. It seems heartless but actually, they count it as a better option. What they see within themselves are their limitations and things that they cannot do. They have dreams for their children–they do not want them to end up like their parents. They have high hopes or for some others– they have grown tired of handling much responsibilities but with limited capabilities…
i suddenly realized how much these Dek-dek’s parents are suffering and overcoming all sorts of sorrows in being separated from their kids just to see them enjoy a hopefully much better life than what they can offer. Most of us would think that being together and being there for your children are wonderful things to do–seeing them grow and watching them turn into a beautiful gal or handsome guy are most fulfilling. But for these parents , it is harder and much more complicated.
Dina is an exotic beauty. She is tall and slim. I can see a possible beauty queen or a fashion model, z teacher like her parents, a doctor, a nurse, or even a business woman. I know her parents can see other possibilities for her too. That’s why they can sacrifice being separated from her. It looks like they are giving her up but actually they wanted for her to gain more and to be exposed to a brighter and bigger world.
I believe God has a better dream for her. She needs to recognize that dream. She needs to start learning about the Great God who had made her and had given her big dreams and chances of fulfilling those dreams. Being here in this house where she is being nurtured in the Word of God, in prayer life, church work, and hosting missionaries in their home, contribute to Dina’s life and preparation for the future. How long will she be here? How much more sacrifices can her parents afford? No one knows… but for sure, she has a family and a home to call her own…
Let us pray for Dina and let us share in making all God’s implanted dream for her come true.
Monday, August 01, 2011
I was reading Grace Cho’s God’s Favorite Face and except for Chai, all the other Dek-dek are chattering as they compare their noses, eyebrows, lips, hair… the noise was so deafening that i had to sssshhh! them. Yex Chai was in a very pensive mood… actually, she was sort of melancholic. In a matter of split second, i tried to analyze what was happening to this girl.
Possibility 1. Separation Anxiety. Lola Linda, Auntie Selma, Tita Dadai, and Eb-Eb has left the other day and they have gone back to the Philippines. The AVSTM big brothers had left the day after. The kids have been counting days and we are also going home with Ross.
For some days, the house was full… 28 people plus one dog… Narlin and Joey slept on the living room for two weeks or so. They planned to buy a tent and set it up in the yard, but after the earthquake, the tent available in town were all sold in one day.
Summer is a busy time for missions. A lot of groups come in to spend time with the Dek-dek. The house is practically full. There was too much commotion and each meal is like a feast. MaEng is always busy in the kitchen plus take note of the cleaning, washing, marketing, groceries, etc. and the planning that goes behind each menu. The washing machine is running everyday.
But summer is almost over. Rainy days start to set in. Schools in Thailand will open on the third week of May. The busy-ness will soon end. The visitors are going home group by group.
Possibility 2. Yex Chai is missing her mommy, this is how the Dek-dek explained it. The other day, while waiting for the music to be downloaded for their interpretive dance lesson with Kuya Ross, I read Robert Munsch’s “I love you forever”. It is a story about a mother and her son. Featured in there are the most important yet crucial stages in the life of the child and the way the mother would carry the baby (as a real baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager, an adult, etc) and the song she always sang for him. I tried to put a tune to the song. It does not sound so right, and it is not at all original. I have taken a chorus of some song, but i cannot even remember which one is it.
The lyrics of the song goes like this, “I love you forever, I like you for always… As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” Since the song was repeated several times, the children were able to memorize it all at once. They sang it while preparing the table for lunch, while washing the dishes, during their silent moment as they take their nap, as soon as they woke up, and practically every lull moment.Yex Chai proudly told me that she has memorized it and that she can sing it.
Most likely, the children are correct in their diagnosis. Or, it is also possible that all of them started thinking about their parents and their home. Some of them literally felt so homesick afterward. But maybe, Yex Chai felt it more. I suddenly reckon that someone hugged me from behind and asked me, “can I call you mommy?” and i just replied with another question, “Why? do you want to call me mommy like Ycoi?” “Yes!” Others said, “we want to call you mommy too.” But I never heard anyone call me mommy yet…
I stopped reading the story, and i signaled Yex Chai to come closer… She was in tears and was almost sobbing. I felt her forehead, “no fever Yex Chai, but what seems to be the problem”. As she tried to control her sob, I immediately hugged her close… and let her sit on my lap… and as i held her, i cradled her a bit… kept her there… and continued reading the book. Then the Dek-Dek started talking again relentlessly.
That night, after the devotional time, and as we close in prayer, the Dek-dek remembered to pray for Yex Chai and for their own parents back home. All these times that i was with them and that we are having our prayer time, i only hear them pray for Tatay and Nanay (Joey and Narlin). While they were away, i even hear the Dek-Dek prayed for them in their supposedly silent individual prayer before they sleep. But I hope this night as they felt that nagging loneliness may it help them see that their real parents need their prayers too…parents whose hearts miss the little one whom they will love forever, they will like for all time, and whom they will call “baby” for as long as they live.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
We are sincerely grateful for your love and prayers. This week, heavy rains fall continuously and the need for a vehicle hit us more than ever. The older children walk to school with their raincoats and umbrellas and the younger children ride with me on the motorcycle.
Few more friends have been touched by the Lord and generously contributed to our vehicle project. I realized that they don't want their names and the amount they contributed to appear in this email. So what l give you here is the summary info. We need to raise 270,000 Baht to buy a good second hand truck. To date, friends have rallied behind us and contributed 163,700 Baht. THIS IS NOTHING SHORT OF A MIRACLE (PTL!). We still have a long way to go, but we're almost there.
All things are possible with God. He can do anything he wanted in an instant but I believe he is giving us the privilege of being part of the Kingdom work through giving. Your contribution will be a big part of God's mission here in Mae Sai.
Friday, July 08, 2011
We thank the Lord for the opportunity he had given to us to be part of the consultation in a conference of well established NGOs, Foundations, and Religious organizations who are doing similar program for women and children. We were able to present our ministry in the conference. The conference were beneficial to us in several ways: (1) We were able to share our ministry and hence gained recognition from like-minded people and organizations. (2) We learned about the rights of the children under our care. The Thai government recognizes the right of the children regardless of ethnicity, citizenship, or economic status. (3) We had the opportunity to expand our network. The organizers talked to us personally and told us to consult them if we are experiencing difficulties in getting our children to school.
We thank the Lord for our fellow missionaries who left their vehicle for us to use while they are home. We are using this vehicle in bringing the children to and from the school. This is convenient for us because of the heavy rains we are experiencing now. It also gives us the chance to have the old van repaired.
Please pray for our need for a new vehicle. The van is very old that the mechanic refused to do a body repair. The roof is pull of holes that the water leaks when it is raining. Narlin and I will do the body work so that we can use it a little bit longer. I will write another story about the fund-raising we are doing for the new vehicle.
Please pray for Ma Eng, our hardworking, kind and reliable helper. She had been staying with us for two years. She was extremely helpful with our ministry with the children. She needs higher salary because she is supporting her mother and sisters in Burma. She was offered a job in Bangkok. We were sad to see her go but she has a big need that we cannot afford to provide. Please pray for her safety and that she will not become a victim of human trafficking.
Pray for our children shelter ministry. We took in another two little girls aged 4 and 5. They are both totally orphaned. We also took in a baby girl of nine months and her mother. The husband got involved with human trafficking and now in jail. They don't have a place so they are staying with us in indefinite period of time.
Pray for our visa and work permit extension in July 14. Pray for provisions and safe travel to Chiang Mai. Please pray also that the process will go on smoothly.
Thank you so much and God bless.
Sunday, July 03, 2011
Some quotes from Moltmann’s presentation at Garrett are below:
“Despair can be like an iron band constricting the heart.”–Jurgen Moltmann
“The turn from this end [despair] to a new beginning came from three things. A blooming cherry tree, the unexpected kindness of Scottish workers and their families, and the Bible.”–Jurgen Moltmann, the spark of life when he first left the prisoner of war camp after WWII
“Christ’s own ‘God-forsaken-ness’ on the cross showed me where God is present where God had been present in those nights of deaths in the fire storms in Hamburg and where God would be present in my future whatever may come.”–Jurgen Moltmann
“Imprisoned professors taught imprisoned students free theology.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on studying theology at the POW camp at the Norton Camp in Nottingham, England
“There are various names for this ‘Spirit of Life’ because there are various life experiences.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on the Holy Spirit
“God is not only a divine person who we can address in prayer, but also a wide living space … We human beings are giving each other space for living when we meet each other in love and friendship.”–Jurgen Moltmann
“With every righteous action, we prepare the way for the New Earth on which righteousness will dwell. And bringing justice to those who suffer violence means to bring the light of God’s future to them.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on the future of God
“Americans as no one else in the Old World are looking ahead and are future-minded without the limitations of traditions and can look ahead without the burdens of the past.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on America
“To reinvent your own country you need a great audacity of hope.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on the recurrent desire of American presidents to reinvent America
“[In 1967] The ‘Hope Movement’ replaced the ‘God is Dead’ movement.”–Jurgen Moltmann
“Christian hope does not promise successful days to the rich and the strong, but resurrection and life to those who must exist in the shadows of death. Success is no name of God. Righteousness is.”–Jurgen Moltmann
“There were two different expectations … in this land of the future. On the one hand the the optimistic belief in an unending progress with millenarianistic overtones and on the other hand the doomsday expectation of the final battle of Armageddon. Both are perspectives are uniquely American and both are inter-related.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on the messianic politics of the American founding fathers
“No where else in Christianity does the terrible or heroic name of Armageddon play such role as in America. Not even in the Revelation of John.”–Jurgen Moltmann, on the Left Behind series
Saturday, July 02, 2011
The participants were divided into groups. NGO, religious group (monks, pastors, and catholic priests), and foundation. At first we were dumped together with the religious group. However, when they realized that our knowledge of Thai is very limited, they put us together with the international group. Apparently, they were expecting more foreigners were coming to the conference. But they didn't came, so Narlin and I were the only people in the international group. They assigned persons who interpreted for us and facilitated us in the discussion.
Nine groups were formed and each group was given the opportunity to present the result of the small group discussions. And since were were the only English speaking person, I ended up presenting what we are doing in our children shelter ministry.
In my impromptu presentation, I told the audience that we are just a small group with very limited resources. However, when I was presenting what we are doing, the audience realized that our experience is extensive. We provide shelter for the migrant and stateless children, we were able to rescue a little girl from child trafficking, we were able to take care of the orphaned children, we had the opportunity to take in child whose parents had died of AIDS/HIV, and we are able to send the children to Thai school.
After my presentation, some people serving from different organizations approached us and expressed appreciation of what we have accomplished for the children. Likewise, we were happy to be part of the conference. Our network has widened, people and organizations are starting to recognize the ministry that we have been doing for the children.
Friday, June 24, 2011
June 19, Sunday was my fifth birthday celebration here in Mae Sai. Like the previous celebrations, I was not expecting any fanfare at all. Narlin prepared fruit macaroni and JIllian baked bread and cookies. A simple celebration spent with the family was what really I was looking forward to every year.
It was also Father's day and Pastor Maung asked me to preach that Sunday morning. It was the day when the church appreciated and honored the fathers in the congregation. Unlike most of the churches here, our church actually has almost equal if not equal men to women attendance. The fathers were asked to stand up and were given gifts.
However, our Pastor made a big fuss about my birthday. He prayed with the congregation and requested them to sing the birthday song. As far as I can remember, this was the first time that the church prayed for me during my birthday. After the service, we had lunch at the church as we had customarily doing. While we were enjoying the lunch fellowship, somebody put the birthday cake on the table and once again everybody sang “happy birthday.”
I truly enjoyed the day. I thanked the church for making that day very special. Ultimately, I thank the Lord for another year he has given to me.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Today is “FATHER’S DAY”. This is the day of the year when we remember and honor our earthly fathers. Fo most of us this is a happy day because we have such good relationships and for those whose father are not around any more, we surely have a good memories of them.
Moreover, we all have a common heavenly Father and all of us are brothers and sisters in Christ. We have a Father who cares for us and loves us like no other. When we believe in Christ, we become the children of God and our perfect, intimate relationship with the Father God is restored. Ultimately, we honor God the Father this morning.
We all know that everyone does not have the same experience with the earthly fathers. Some fathers are cruel and abusive. Some fathers ignored and abandoned their children. There are fathers who do not even care to know who are their children.
But there is hope and promise to us this morning. Nobody of us need live without a father. God is our Father. He loves everyone of his children. There is none like him. His fatherly care is not just a replacement for those who do not experience the love of their earthly father. God is our true Father.
This morning we will look at what the Bible says about the fatherhood of God.
First, the Bible tells us that God is by nature is our Father.
Good has the heart of the Father who cares for his children, more so with his creation. We can see this love through his relationship with his creation. God created all thing and continuously sustain them with loving care.
Jesus taught this truth to us. Listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:26-34
Second, God is the model of Fatherhood.
When we think of God as Father, we try to understand it in reverse. We think of God to be like our earthly Father. Instead of modeling our Father to God, we model our God to our father. Evidently, this does not work because many fathers are evil. Some people reject God because if God is like their own father they don't want to have a relationship with God.
But God is not like our father. He is the Father. The Bible tells us that God is model of fatherhood upon which all other fathers are judged. If we want to know God as our father, we should not look at our father or any father in the world however good they are.
If we want to know the goodness of the fatherhood of God, we should read the Bible and see the heart of the Father revealed. He is the model. The one who is: faithful, true, just, merciful, compassionate, slow to anger, loving, providing, patient, kind, etc.
Third, God is our true Father
If you received Christ into your life, then you can be rest assured that you are a child of God in the fullest sense. You have been taken into God's household and you are under the care of the God the Father.
We have received the Spirit of adoption by whom we can cry out, “Abba Father!“ It is like saying Daddy or Khun Pho or A-phe to God. It is a term of affection that signifies a loving relationship with God. If we believe in Christ, we should in anyway have to doubt that.
Today is Father’s day. We celebrate and appreciate our earthly Father. But most especially we celebrate and honor our true Father.
Friday, June 17, 2011
However, Narlin phone's battery was dead that night and it was only in the morning that she had read the message. She asked me, ‘are you willing to drive to Chiang Rai to donate blood.’ Chiang Rai is about 45 minutes to one hour drive from our home depending on the timing of the traffic lights. If all those traffic lights are green then we'll be there sooner, but if they happened to be all red then it will take an hour or so. But I digress.
Anyway, I agreed to donate my blood. In fact, I already missed doing it. I had been donating blood before that I could no longer remember how many times I have done it. Giving blood is scary. I know many people who are really afraid to give blood and I perfectly understand it. But when you overcome the fear, it is as easy as giving someone a drink, only there is a little pain involved.
So Narlin and I drove to Chiang Rai Hospital. Upon reaching the hospital, we called up our friend on the phone and told him that we arrived and I am ready to bleed. He met us at the lobby of the hospital and brought us to the ward where his sick father was. He introduced us to his father, brothers, sisters and nephews. He told them that I am a Pastor and a missionary here in Thailand. Then he asked me to pray for his father.
I wasn't supposed to do this. I expected to go the laboratory and give my blood and then just move on. At any rate, I had prayed for the sick on a hospital bed many times. And I was happy to do it.
My batting percentage in praying for the sick is very low my wife reminded me. It means many of those whom we prayed for didn't make it out of the hospital alive. Nonetheless, I prayed for him. This kind of prayer is the most fulfilling experience for me. Because I'm not uttering empty words, offering pretentious comfort for the sick and his family. I'm praying and I'm giving my blood and it is the least that I can do.
After the prayer, I uttered some words of encouragement to the sick. I then shook his hand and to my surprise he kissed it. I knew it was to show his appreciation either for praying or for donating my blood. But I surmised because I did both.
Faith without faith is dead. Likewise, prayer without efforts or at least an intention to be part to the answer of the things you are praying for is, for me, an insincere prayer.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
First of all we want to thank you for untiringly praying for us. God has been faithful in his promise to provide for the needs of his lowly servants. From the bottom of our hearts we sincerely thanks the people who have made big sacrifices for the sake of his kingdom.
Second, the Lord has greatly encouraged with the ministry through his words:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)
In the moment of discouragement, people encourage us by telling us that what we are doing is really very much needed.
Third, we consider 2011 to be the year of short term missions. We have hosted and coordinated short-term missionaries in the previous years, but this year proved to be the grandest of them all. For January to May, we have been blessed to work with different mission sending organizations. The teams performed various ministries that includes evangelism, medical missions, music camps, English camps, agricultural training, computer training, and children ministry. It was exhausting time but a very blessed fulfilling and meaningful time for all of us.
Fourth, we were blessed and humbled to have been visited by leaders of different missions organizations. We are thankful to the Lord for they have greatly encouraged us to persevere with the orphanage ministry.
Fifth, our ministry is now officially recognized by the Mae Sai municipality through our membership with Network for Women and Children Under the Same Sky (NCWSS). We are hoping to become active member of this organization.
It was a busy and tiring time but we have proved once again that the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Monday, March 28, 2011
This recent event made us realize how bad the earthquake was in Japan. Here are some of the excerpts from BGR report about the situation in Japan. Continue to pray for the people of Japan and the rescue and relief effort that have been going on. Read here for further details.
This document attempts to summarize the recent events of the past 10 days and can serve as a talking/summary point to where BGR personnel and volunteers are in their efforts to respond to the devastating March 11, 2011 Japan earthquake and resulting tsunami. While the major event was the earthquake (one of the strongest this century) the ensuing tsunami coupled with the disabling of the cooling systems of the Fukushima nuclear power plants, has turned this tragedy into a very complex humanitarian event.
- Major event – 9.0 magnitude earthquake (Fifth largest since 1900)
- Secondary major event – Resulting tsunami
- Tertiary major event – Radiation hazard from damaged nuclear power plants
Statistics/Numbers of interest as of 20 March, 2011:
- 8,199 people confirmed dead and 12,722 officially missing (total dead + missing = 20,921)
- Myagi prefecture hardest hit. Confirmed dead = 4,882 but authorities believe this number will rise above 15,000.
- There are currently 367,141 people living in 2,300 evacuation centers. About 10,000 per day are returning to their areas as power/water is being restored.
- Already 21,000 people have relocated to other areas of the country living in secondary places such as with family, friends, vacation houses, etc.
- Government has initiated rebuilding of 30,000 homes. Standard specs are 30 square meters and about US $30,000 per house.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
The Spirit is Love: "Therefore anyone who enters into love, and through love experiences inextricable suffering and the fatality of death, enters in to the history of the human God, for his forsakeness is lifted away from him in forsakenness of Christ, and in this way he can continue to love, need not look away from the negative and from death, but can sustain death.
Moltmann totally agrees with Hegel:
This is the form which the history of God's manifestation takes for the Church; this history is a divine history, whereby it reaches a consciousness of the truth. It tis that which elates the consciousness, the knowledge, that God is Trinity.
The reconciliation believed in as being in Christ has no meaning if God is not know as Trinity, if it is not recognized that He is but is at the same the Other, the self-differentiating, the Other in the sense that this Other is God Himself and has potentially the divine nature in it, and that the abolishing of this difference, of this otherness, this return, this love, is Spirit.
The of the closed circle Trinity should not be conceived as a closed circle of perfect being in heaven. This was in fact the way in which the immanent Trinity was conceived of in the early church. Barth also uses this figure of the 'closed circle' for God.
In contrast to this, though, one should think of the Trinity as a dialectical even, indeed as the event of the cross and then as eschatologically open history. The Spirit, love, is open to the future for tholw of forsaken humanity; in positive terms for the new creation. The one who believes and loves and loves first experiences an arrabon, an anticipation of this Spirit.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
The first quarter of the year of our sixth year here in Mae Sai will soon be over. Just as soon as we thought that we have nothing more left to go on, God gives us the calm assurance of his constant presence and provisions.
"The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning." (Lam. 3:22-23)We are sharing to you few recent interesting ministry developments.
First, we are happy to be invited to join the effort of unifying all Christian churches and ministries in Mae Sai for the sake of the gospel. I was asked to preach at the initial prayer gatherings of the group. It was a gathering to pray for big evangelism project this coming May.
Second, organizing, planning and preparing for the English Camps; Music camps, SEE training and seminars are keeping us busy at the moment.
Third, it has been a privilege for us to work with YWAM teams. Two teams from Madison, WI and Muizenberg, South Africa came one after the other to minister and share God's love to the children and young people in Mae Sai and Burma. We are more than happy to pick up where they left off.
Fourth, we are looking forward to working with SEND-Phils. Their consultations with us has helped them to decide to send a mission team this coming May and eventually a long-term missionary who will do church planting work among the Shan people.
Fifth, after much prayer and lot of thinking, we decided to get our volunteer visa from Hands of Hope Foundation (a.k.a. People to People), a charity arm of Indo-China Missions. We have chosen it because its purpose is very similar to what we are doing, hence, it can provide us legal covering for our orphanage ministry. We are also helping them with their Indo-China Missions Training Center project. Related to this, the officers of the Foundation invited us to join the Conference and Camp on April 3-6. Narlin and I will attend the conference and our children will join the camp. We praise the Lord for this opportunity to have a time of R&R for the whole family after three years.
Sixth, Narlin is invited to attend and share about our ministry here in Thailand to the delegates the Philiipine Women Missionary Union Triennial Meeting in Baguio City this coming April 13-16.
Lastly, we are happy that a family reunion of sort will happen in April. Narlin's mom, sister and nephew will come. Joey's sister with his family and another sister with her friends are also coming to join us this summer.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
"The Japanese government is very strong and able to respond and is not asking for private help from outsiders," said Jeff Palmer, BGR executive director. "However, BGR working through our Japanese brothers and sisters, we will be able to mount a response that will be effective, meet needs in overlooked areas and help strengthen the witness of Japanese believers to hope in Christ. Please pray for the response. Please pray for wisdom and knowledge as we try and discern how to best help. Most of all, please pray for Japan: physically and spiritually."
"The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas in northern Japan," Prime Minister Naoto Kan told reporters.
Baptist Global Response has partners in the affected region who are moving to assess the damage, said Ben Wolf, who with his wife, Pam, directs work in the Asia Rim for Baptist Global Response. An initial allocation of $100,000 has been made in preparation for the initial response.
“We hope to have someone on ground tomorrow for an initial assessment and contact with Baptist partners there,” Wolf said. “We have great Baptist partners that we will contact and see how we can initially support them with resources and expertise in the response.”
Concerned individuals are asked to pray for families affected by the disaster and for humanitarian workers who are mobilizing assistance, Wolf said. Prayers should be offered that God would move through these circumstances so people would experience his love and discover the abundant life he wants them to enjoy.
Whether Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers will be needed remains to be seen until the assessment is complete and a relief strategy has been defined, said Jeff Palmer, BGR’s executive director.
Sunday, March 06, 2011
I was asked to speak tomorrow in gathering of Christian leaders from different churches in town. The message will be based on John 17:21-26. Here are some thoughs from my readings:
The Letters of John reveal the existence of deep divisions within the Johannine communities; while there is no hint of reference to them in the prayer it is scarcely conceivable that the Evangelist did not have them in mind as he penned the prayer. Christians from Pentecost on are called to give expression to their unity in Christ, as truly as they are called to give expression to their new life in Christ, and in both cases this has to happen before the eyes of the world.
The re-creation of believers as one Body in Christ should determine their common life. It is a principle which requires us to begin within the life of the local church, then extend outward, both to relations with communities of the same order as ourselves and to fellowships of Christians of other confessions. In the light of the divisions that have arisen between Christian churches through the centuries, it was inevitable that a movement should arise to call the churches to reverse the trends of the centuries and to seek to experience and express anew their unity in Christ.
It was equally natural that this movement should begin within the missionary agencies of the churches (as at Edinburgh, 1910), since the divisions were hindering the carrying out of the missionary task; the nations frequently saw the reconciling power of the gospel less clearly than its divisive power. That the World Council of Churches in process of time has made mistakes, and at times even adopted policies that have alienated Christians rather than brought them closer together, is a reminder that churches are composed of sinners saved by grace, and sometimes the sins are more apparent among them than the grace. For this the churches and their agencies have need to repent—again, and again, and again. But they also have need to listen to the prayer of Jesus—again, and again, and again!
For reflection on the prayer of necessity leads to urgent consideration how the unity which embraces all Christians within one Body can be expressed within their mutual relations, and how it should become a principle of action in the churches’ mission to the world. Perhaps then reflection on the fact that the unity of the Church was the subject of Jesus’ prayer to God rather than exhortation to disciples may drive us to our knees in prayer for grace that his prayer may be answered in us, and in our own churches, that the world may be able to perceive in us the reconciling power of God in Christ.Source: Word Biblical Commentary (New Testament)
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Ever since we came in the mission field, we had lost count on how many short-term missionaries both individuals and teams we have received and hosted in our house. Short-term missionaries are huge blessing to us in several ways.
First, they have been a source of encouragement to missionaries on the field. Talking with people who speak the same language and from the same culture is indeed a big encouragement.
Second, they have been a source of encouragement to the national church. National churches on the mission fields are usually small and struggling. They feel alone and isolated. Success stories of big churches from all over the world provide inspiration knowing that the belong to the world wide body of Christ.
Third, short-termers have been able to gain greater vision for the missionary enterprise. Being in the field witnessing how career missionaries are working make them envision the kind of ministry they can do on the field.
Fourth, short-term workers have been able to partner with long-term missionaries in many different kinds of ministries. Short-termers have assisted career missionaries in building projects, evangelism, teaching in Bible schools, agricultural projects, etc.
Although short-term missionaries have been a blessing, there are some things they need to remember.
First, they need to realize that their main purpose in going overseas is not to be tourists. They need to think carefully how to maximize their time doing ministry. They should minimize unnecessary travel time and unlike tourists, they should show authentic love for the locals. They should not criticize the local culture--their language, food and the way they do things.
Second, short termers need to realize that missionaries have their own work to do. Missionaries are not meant to be tour guides, or negotiators for bargains in the local shops and marketplaces. They need to talk with the host about their plans ahead of time so they can arrange their schedule.
Third, they need to realize they are not there to question and argue with the career missionary with regards to the way they do their ministry. They should not assume that they know more than the people on the field just because the have more education and training. They need to remember that the missionaries have been on the field longer than them.
Fifth, they need to realize that most career missionaries have limited financial resources. They should not burden their host to spend for their housing and food. They should share with the expenses they accrued during their stay.
Sixth, they should not act as visitors waiting to be served and entertained by their host. They should also do house chores like cook breakfast, lunch and dinner or help in the cleaning of the house and the ground.
Finally, short-term missionaries need to realize that God may be calling them to long-term missionary service. While more and more people are going on short-term missionary trips, fewer and fewer individuals seem to be accepting the call to enter into career missionary work.
The ideas come from an article in the old periodical entitled Evangelical Missions Quarterly written by Jim Lo.
I had a meeting with Jethro the other day. Both of us are ministering cross culturally here in Thailand. He is leading an NGO that focus on agriculture and community development. He has an extensive experience training the church and the community about the importance of holistic ministry. He trained church and village leaders how to farm and hence help to support themselves.
My involvement with community development is very little. However, I have enough church leadership and theological education experience. Basically, these are kind of work I have been doing since we came to Thailand five years ago. It is true enough to say that God had used me in starting two Bible training centers. (Continuing to work though is a different story).
Between Jethro and I we have more than 10 years experience in doing training in our respective field in this region. We decided to work together. We will start a training center for church and community leaders. The training will be done within three months with 10-12 people. The projection is that we will have three (3-month) training a year. The venue will be the NGO's agricultural training site since they have dorms, training hall, kitchen and other facilities.
We formulate our goals, mission and vision. Along side this, we create a curriculum that we best think would meet the need of the people we addressed to train. The annual budget will cost U$6,000 a year. Please help us to pray about this project.
Mae Sai Out of School Training (MOST) started from the vision of Christian workers ministering in Northern Thailand and Myanmar. MOSt also stands for Mae Sai Outreach School of Theology. They see the needs of the churches and community in both sides of the border. The School is designed to meet these needs by training people who will become competent leaders in both the church and community. It is a joint program of Asia Rural Life Development Foundation (ARLDF) and Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary Education by Extension (PBTS-SEE).
To assist and facilitate church planting activities in a community where there is no existing church.
To train 10-12 church leaders from 5 churches and partners entity annually.
To enable the students to demonstrate and mentor other on what they learn.
To assist at least 10 churches in ministry development.
To train and equip God-called people to be Christ-like leaders in their church and community.
Under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we envision seeing Christ-like leaders in the church and community.
- Knowing the Bible (Introduction to the Bible)
- How to Understand the Bible (Interpretation)
- Teach the Bible Through Story (Chronological Bible Storying)
- How to Share the Gospel (Evangelism)
- How to Disciple (Follow Jesus Training)
- How the Gospel Spread (Condensed World Mission Course)
- How to pray (Devotion and prayer)
- How to lead like Jesus (Leadership)
- How to share the gospel (Evangelism)
- How to preach (Homiletics)
- How to plant a church (CPM)
- How to be a true worshipper (Leading praise and worship)
- How to do village farming (ARLDF)
- How to do community development (Church and Community Development-CCD)
Monday, February 14, 2011
It was 2006 when we came to Mae Sai. We didn’t have any means of transportation so we used our feet. We walked going to the church, market and to the places of ministry. Angela, seeing our predicament lent us a very old motorcycle and we used it for two years. Through friends, God provided us with a brand-new Honda motorcycle. However, my children were growing bigger and obviuosly it would take us several trips to go to the church and other events that require the presence of the whole family.
A fellow Filipino missionary in Chiang Mai had been blessed with new pick-up truck and he had no parking space for his almost thirty-year old van. He tried to sell it but nobody wanted to buy it for a decent price. He thought it would be more useful for the ministry. We received the van with open arms and he was proven right, it is indeed useful to us. Not to mention that later, we had started a children’s home and the van was not only useful for the family but it became indispensable in transporting the children to and from School and to the church.
So, we drove the van from Chiang Mai to Mae Sai for five hours and except for its tendency to overheat the van did well. The whole family worked very hard in cleaning it inside and outside. Making it look newer than it really was. However, when my daughter closed the sliding door, it fell off. We could not restore it so we brought it to the mechanic. We pay almost 2,000 baht just to have the door reinstalled. That was the time when we have our second thoughts. Was the van a blessing or another problem that would siphoned down our already depleted ministry funds for its maintenance?
To make the long story short, we have the van for almost four years. It undergone some major repairs that cost us a lot but overall we are quite happy with its performance. We even thought of having body and upholstery works and have the aircon installed.
However, this week the van broke down twice and this reminds us once again that any upgrade is not worth and that we have to pray harder for a new van. Some friends who had seen its condition had contributed seed money in the fund raising for the new van. Jonathan gave U$ 200 and another friend gave 5,000 baht. We thank the Lord for their contributions. We believe that this “little fund” becomes big when we place it in God’s hands for his kingdom work. Please join us in praying for this need.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. (Ps. 102: 25-27)
Although we have been anticipating big changes since last year, we are still blown away that they are finally happening.
Firstly, it is now certain that we are leaving Mae Sai Church. We had been working with Burmese migrant workers for 5 years now and this church had been the avenue through which we minister to these people. No one could have thought that several years ago the church have no sunday school, no migrant primary school,no nursery, no children’s home and no trained staff. There were very few worshippers especially in the morning. We are happy that we had been part of its growth and to know that our presence is no longer needed. At the same time, we are sad that we are leaving and will have to look for another church to work with.
Secondly, when the English worship was cancelled, Jethro and I among other Filipino Christian workers in Mae Sai decided to gather together once a month for worship and fellowship. It is a simple gathering but we are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit if he wills that a new church will come out from this fellowship. We are praying that it will expand to become a church that is open to all nationalities and tribal groups.
Thirdly, it is now definite that we are leaving The Foundation that is providing us visa. Nonetheless, we praise the Lord for his timely provision. The school Rong Rian Powihan is willing to give Narlin a volunteer visa. In addition to this, Asia Rural Life Development Foundation (ARLDF) is willing to sponsor our visa if the the school arrangement didn’t work out.
Fourthly, our partnership with an agricultural NGO is now official. The NGO will have a regular 3-month (spread through out the year) discipleship and agricultural training. Jethro, the NGO director will teach agriculture and I (Joey) will teach the discipleship part using Seminary Education by Extension curriculum. The training will tentatively start in March.
Finally, we are praying for the probability of working with a charitable Christian organization from Bangkok. People to People Foundation found itself in a very unusual situation. They stumbled upon very cheap properties between Mae Sai and Chiang Saen and they believe that God has planned everything. A team from the USA came, bought the properties and is now financially supporting the construction of the building. They will call it The Indo-China Mission Training Center. The construction will be finished in August. The coordinator of the Foundation is a Filipino who is married to a Thai lady. We came to know him through a local Pastor in Mae Sai. He had a meeting with us and told us that they have the facilities but they are still praying for people who will oversee its daily operation and activities. Since we are already in Mae Sai for five years, he believes that we are God’s answer to their prayers. He had invited us to join their Camp and Conference in Bangkok this coming April in order for us to know the leaderships of the organization.
We are excited with the changes that will happen this year. We are confident in God that we can continue on serving him this year in whatever capacity because you are praying for us.