Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Land I Will Show You: Our Testimony


The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

These verses are God’s words to Abraham but these passages felt very personal to me when my family and I were preparing to go as missionary to Thailand. Not because I think that God will make us a great nation or He will make us famous but because we were going to a foreign land with nothing to hold on but God and his promises.

We joined Asia Vision Short-term Missions (AVSTM) in 2004 as short-term missionaries and this event marked the beginning of our journey. The short missions trip opened our eyes to the need of the nations to know Jesus and his love. The trip made us realize that God has called us to be missionaries. We eventually left for long-term missions in 2006.

In two years, we did what we have to do to raise our support. We preached in churches, associational meetings, WMU activities and youth camps. We realized then that our hard work was not enough to raise the fund. And if we waited for it to be completed, we may never be able to leave. We believed, however, that financial support or the lack of it was not an excuse to disobey Christ’s commissions to go.

In January 2006, with money barely enough for travel expenses and no assurance of regular support, Narlin and I together with our three children, packed all our possessions and “left our country, our people and our father’s household to a land that God will show us.”

It was seven years ago and we have been living in Mae Sai all those years but God is still showing us wonderful things about the land.

God is Showing Us the Land: Ministry Opportunities

When we arrived in Mae Sai and met some of the Christian workers, we realized that we had been praying for those workers and for their ministries for several years even before we decided to come to Mae Sai. It was God’s confirmation to us that it was indeed the land he had called us to minister.

Although we did some research and explored Mae Sai, we still knew very little about the land and its people. The information we got from books and internet were at best only partially true. Until now, we have no idea how many people are living in Mae Sai. The land is composed of different people groups from within Thailand and migrants (documented and undocumented) from neighboring countries—Burma, Laos and China.

Suffice to say, that after all these years in Mae Sai, we feel that God is still showing us what is in the land. Most of them are good (e.g. several UPGs or its representative are found here) but some are bad (e.g. child trafficking, illegal drug trade, prostitution, HIV/AIDS). But we considered these discoveries as opportunities to minister. We are limited both in resources and manpower but we have to do what we can do to help in our own small way. God has given us the privilege to adopt twelve wonderful children who might have been victims of child trafficking.

Recently, God has given us the privilege to work with a local churches, association of churches and network with NGOs fighting against human trafficking. We are also teaching English to the children and teachers in the municipal school. We are given the privilege to mentor community and church leaders. God is indeed still showing us the land.

God is Showing Us the People: Ministry Partners

We came to Mae Sai with no team to either received or work with us. But God can turn this weakness into strength. This setback open the way for our partnership with a Burmese church. The church was on its second year when we came. It was young and it was struggling.

Although we did not speak the language, we offered our help to teach English through Sunday School. Eventually, we were requested to lead the morning worship in English and Burmese. These attracted other English speaking Christian workers in the area and after a year it became a well attended bilingual worship service in Mae Sai.

However, after five years, the Pastor thought that it was about time to use only Burmese in worship service. This decision ended any participation from English speaking congregation. Nonetheless, we thank the Lord for giving us the opportunity to contribute to the church development. At present, the church has several ministries that include primary school, children’s homes and nursery.

Not having a team also gave us the chance to work with independent Wetern missionaries. We were requested to help them in founding Bible schools and training centers.  Sad to say that these partnerships had to end because of cultural differences and theological preferences. Nevertheless, at present one of the Bible schools is still operating.

Moreover, in previous years, we had been helping in receiving and coordinating YWAM teams that come every year. We have the privilege of knowing and working with these wonderful people of God. Many people from different teams become our friends and prayer partners. However,  YWAM-Mae Sai Base had been established last year and we were happy to know that the there is an official host for future YWAM teams who will come to Mae Sai.

We also worked with Angela in setting up Grace Home Kindergarten Center the same year we arrived. She held a key position in Wa Convention for 10 years and still respected as a leader. The kindergarten ministry opened the way for fruitful ministries with the Wa children in particular and to the Wa people from Burma in general. Every summer we are working with her in holding SEE trainings and English camps both in Thailand and Myanmar.

AVSTM is another important partner in the ministry. The organization had been working with us ever since we came to Mae Sai. The team usually come every summer to help us in organizing and leading the English camps that were held on mountain villages in Chiang Rai, in the towns of Mae Sai and in Tachilek in Myanmar. They are also teaching SEE classes, leading seminars and facilitating trainings for church leaders.

The team extends their helping hands in teaching and caring for the children we adopted. In the past the team were able to reach out to the remote villages in the mountains. Our prayer is that this partnership will grow stronger.

God is Showing Us His Faithfulness: Ministry Provisions

The first three years had been difficult for us financially. As I said, we were able to raise funds for the air fare and enough money to last for another three months in a foreign land. People pledged but apparently most of the pledges were easily forgotten. Paying the bills and house rent was a real struggle. Moreover, renewal of visa every year was and still is a major financial concern.

That was the situation when we had Tina. She was three years old when her mother died of unknown sickness and her father of AIDS. She was one of the children we were taking care of at Grace Home Kindergarten Center.  We never planned to have a ministry to the orphans and abandoned children but God put us in the middle of it and we accepted the challenge. Our dilemma then was that our support was barely enough for our family, how can we provide for twelve more people in the house. But we never doubted God’s faithfulness to provide for his servants. 

We can testify with the words of missionary J. Hudson Taylor when he says, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” God works in our lives in mysterious ways. After accepting the challenge, the Lord brought people into our lives (some of them we did not even meet personally) who made contributions to our ministry. These contributions are sustaining our ministry up to the present.

Interestingly, Thai people, total strangers would knock on our gate and will bring food that was enough to feed eighteen people for  couple of days. Other Christians downplayed this act of kindness as part of the Thai religious practice. But we believed that it was all about God’s miraculous provisions.

In closing, we want to thank AVSTM for giving us the privilege to share our testimony. Thank you also for partnering with us in our ministry in Mae Sai. Our prayers is that this partnership will continue and grow and that God will continue to use AVSTM to inspire and encourage many people to get involved in the remaining task of reaching all the nations for Christ. We encourage those who are called to be missionaries to go and see how God enables, empowers and provides. Those who do not go will be equally involved in missions through prayers and support. Missionaries in the field greatly need people who will performed these tasks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Christ is above all

Colossians 1:15-20

There was a rich and famous man. He was also a religious leader and he did not like Christ and his followers. He did his best to stop them from gathering and worshiping together. He hated what they were teaching about the salvation that God was offering to the people in Jesus Christ. He hated them so much that he killed those who were preaching the gospel.

One day as the man was traveling to a place called Damascus to arrest and to put Christians to jail, a big bright light suddenly flashed around him. He heard a voice asking him why he was persecuting him and his followers. It was his first encounter with the Lord Jesus. He became blind and in his blindness he saw the truth. He became a Christian and he was considered as one of the greatest Christian in history.

He was the Apostle Paul. When he came to know the Lord Jesus, he believed that Jesus is all he need. Jesus is sufficient and has the supremacy in his life. He endures all kind of persecution and hardship. He was jailed, whipped and stoned because of his faith. He did not give up because for him, Jesus is all he need.

Our passage this morning was written by Paul to the Colossian Christians when he was imprisoned in Rome. We will see what Jesus means to him. He wrote to the believers in Colossae about the uniqueness, supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

If you or I were imprisoned because our faith what would our letters from prison read like? What Paul writes is both surprising and revealing. He did not complain about what happened and he did not complain because he was in prison. Instead he focus on Christ and expressed his appreciation of who Jesus is and these thoughts about Christ keep him going. He also wanted the Christian in Colossae to know and appreciate who Jesus is. In the same way, God wanted us to know who really is Jesus.

How do we react when we are in difficult situations in life? If we know and appreciate who Jesus is it will help us deal with the difficulties.

For us to understand more of the meaning of the the passage, we need to know a little background about Colossae and the church there.

Colossae is a small town in what is known today as Turkey. It used to be the center of clothing industry but during Paul’s time the industry was going down. It was cosmopolitan meaning there were mixed population of Jews and Greeks. The Colossian Church was planted by Epaphrus, a disciple of the Apostle Paul while he was teaching in Ephesus. Paul was not able to visit the church in Colossae

Colossae had a big problem. The people were being influenced by many religious teachings. Hence, it was also becoming a big problem among the church members in Colossae. The Christians were getting confused and their understanding of who Jesus is was being corrupted.

I don’t have the time to point out what are the false teachings but the these teachings caused the church members to believe that some of them could save themselves by hurting their bodies. In contrast, some members believed that they could do bad things like adultery, drinking, gambling, smoking and other vices and they will be saved anyway.

These false teachings affected their knowledge of who Jesus is. They came to think that Jesus was less than God, that Jesus was more like an angel than the Son of God. Needless to say, this misunderstanding about Christ resulted in pride and immorality among the church members.

Our beliefs about who Jesus has a direct effect on how we live our Christian life. If we do not recognize that Jesus has died on the cross for our sin, and that he has the power to save us from our sin. Then we might ignore Christ altogether in our lives. And maybe we might just continue living a sinful life.

In this passage, the Apostle Paul wants to make it clear to the Colossian church who Jesus is. This is the truth that God wants us to learn this morning.

Jesus is unique (15)

“He is the image of the invisible God, the first born overall creation.”

The Bible declares that there is no one like Jesus. Many people think that Jesus is like Buddha or he is like Mohammed or many famous religious leaders. But the truth is that there is no one like him. He is unique.

“He is the image of the invisible God.” This is one of the strongest statements in the Bible about Jesus being God. Here the Bible declares that Jesus is not only equal to God, he is God. He is the visible (can be seen) image of the invisible (cannot be seen) God. He does not only reflect God but Jesus reveals God to us.

As the book of Hebrews declares in chapter one verse 3:

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

In other words, everything we know from Jesus makes us learn more about God. When we look at the love of Jesus on the cross, we see the love of God. When we look at the righteousness of Jesus we learn of the righteousness of God. Looking at the power of Jesus makes us seek the power of God.

Just like the Christians in Colossae, the Christians in Mae Sai are in danger of having our faith confused and corrupted by the different religions and teachings that we found around us. What make it worst is that even in the churches, few Christians are teaching ideas that are against the word of God.

I believe the challenge for us this morning is we have to focus our faith to Jesus. We need to learn more about him through talking with him in prayers and through the pages of the Bible. If we fail to do that then our knowledge of Jesus will be very little. And if we know very little about Jesus then we also know very little about God, the Father. If we know very little about God then we will have doubts regarding our faith.

We believe without doubt that Jesus is unique (the only one)-who shows us God and that He is God.

Jesus is powerful (16-18)

Jesus is not only the unique image of God but he is also the “firstborn overall creation.”

[16]For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. [17] He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

The word “firstborn” Paul uses in this passage refers to Jesus’ status. In Paul’s time, the firstborn in the family had special status. The firstborn was given authority over the family. And so Jesus, the Son of God, has authority because of his status as a firstborn. He is the agent of creation.

False teachers taught that God’s power is limited to the spirit only. And because of this, they think that Christ’s power is also limited only to spiritual life. But Paul explained that all the thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities of both the spiritual and physical worlds were created by Christ and therefore are under the authority of Christ himself. This includes not only the government but also the spiritual world that the false teachers were so concerned about. Christ has no equal and no competition. He is the Lord of all.[1]

God is not only the creator of the world but he is also sustains it. In him, everything is held together, protected, and prevented from breaking out. Because Christ sustains our life we should live for him and serve him. We are his servants we must trust him daily to protect us, care for us, and sustain us.

Knowing these truths, I believe the challenge for us is to put Jesus in the highest place in our lives. He deserves our worship. We must worship him through the power of the Holy Spirit as creator and sustainer of our lives. We should be thankful to God for giving us this church where we can worship Him with other believers. But we should worship him not only every Sunday but every moment of our lives.

Jesus is sufficient (19-20)

The passage does not talk only about the uniqueness and supremacy of Christ but also of His sufficiency.

[19] For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, [20] and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

“All the fullness of God is in Jesus.“ In this passage Paul was trying to refute the teaching that Jesus is only human and not God. Yes, we believe that Jesus is truly man but we also believe that He is fully God. Christ has always been God and will always be God. Because Christ is fully human and fully God, he is sufficient for our needs because he knows them. Most importantly, he knows our need for salvation.

Christ’s death gives way for us to come to God. If Christ did not die for our sins, we could not have a right relationship with God. We can have peace with God, we can be reconciled to God by accepting Christ who died in our place.

Sometimes we have doubts if accepting Christ alone is enough for our salvation. We think that maybe salvation is more sure if we accept Christ and do good works. We feel better when we accept Christ and then observe other religious practices (like in Buddhism and animism). But here we learn that our salvation is through faith in Christ alone. We cannot add anything to earn our salvation. Jesus Christ is sufficient.

The challenge for us is to keep in our minds and hearts that Jesus did everything so that we can be reconciled to God, so that we can enjoy our fellowship with our Father. The only things we need to do is live a life that will give glory and honor to his name.


In Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting, The Last Supper our Lord’s hands are empty. Here is the inspiring story why it is so.

Da Vinci dedicated three years to this painting, determined that it would be his crowning work. Before the unveiling, he decided to show it to a friend for whose opinion he had the utmost respect.

The friend’s praise was unbounded. “The cup in Jesus’ hand,” he said, “is especially beautiful.” Disappointed, Da Vinci began to erase out the cup. The distinguished friend was stunned and asked for an explanation. Da Vinci explained that “Nothing must distract from the figure of Christ.”

Da Vinci focused attention solely on Christ by removing the distraction of the cup. Having removed the cup, he had to do something with the hand. The left hand was already outstretched just above the table, lifting, as if to bless and command. Now the right hand, also empty, was also outstretched invitingly.[2]

It should be the same with us. Because Jesus is our God, he is supreme and he is sufficient. Our faith should be focused in Jesus Christ alone. Nothing should distract us from Christ.

[1]. Life Application Study Bible


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Temporary homes, eternal treasures

Our house.jpg

The 13-hour bus travel from Bangkok to Mae Sai was pleasant but not the less tiring. We arrived in bus terminal very early in the morning. I remember everything, it was January and it was raining. It was cold, in fact, it was colder than we had expected. Even the sun seemed so lazy to peek out from the thick clouds. We had arrived to the place we know little about and would become our home for seven years.

Although we were commissioned by two churches and several organizations, we had not received any assurance of commitment for regular support. We came to the field on our own. Nobody arranged for our housing or the ministry that we would be doing. We were totally dependent on the Lord's guidance and provisions.

Fortunately, there were people who kindly helped us during our first two weeks. We met Angela, whom until that time, we only knew by name. We also met Pastor Maung whose church we would become active members. He, his wife and few church members would become our friends and family during our first year of stay in Mae Sai.

We believed that we were in the place where God wanted us to be. with only a few clothes and some books for our kid's home schooling, we practically did not have anything. No house we can call our won. We slept in Angela's house during the night and walked around the town we could call our own during the day looking for the elusive home.

After two weeks, with the help of a lady named Nim, we found an abandoned row house. Apparently, some people thought it was a good idea to buy these cheap houses but realized later that they did not want to live in this kind of house. So they abandoned the house and was left uninhabited for many years. But for us, it was once again God’s miraculous provision at that time. The house had everything that we need in it. It had closets, book shelves, mattresses, bed frames, bedding, comforter, blankets, dining table and a rice cooker. It was our first experience of God’s miraculous provisions.

We lived in that house for over three years. God proved true to his promise that he will provide. Monthly provisions for the payment of rents and utilities always came in the nick of time. God is faithful. We were in that house when we got Tina and a year later we got Nuch. Few more children will be added a year later. It was then that we realized that God was giving us a new ministry. We need a new house with a big a yard that the children can play and work on.

A year later, God had found us another home. An old but bigger house with a big yard but it needed a lot of works--cleaning, painting and repairs. But God had helped us in many ways by sending teams and individuals who were willing to do the hard works. We cleaned the yard, trimmed the grass and made vegetable gardens. For us, it is the most beautiful small spot in this part of Mae Sai-- our home.

Jillian Teaching.jpg

Gilmhe Teaching.jpg

Until recently, the house seemed to be getting smaller. The children are growing so fast. This is something we already anticipated but it is coming sooner than we thought. Nuch is now in college and the girls, of course, are growing faster than the boys. Moreover, we are having English, Thai, Bible and music lessons in the house. Visitors and guests were coming often and at times with twelve and when so many things were going on at the same time, the house was verging in to a chaos. We realized we need a separate place for the boys and to hold those classes. But then we thought, it was financially impossible. We could not afford the monthly rate and the utilities.

Needless to say, God never ceased to surprise us. A home that fits our need had become available. A row houses nested in the middle of a community, a strategic place to know the people and minister to the children were provided by God. We converted it to learning center and invited the children from the community (besides our adopted children) to learn English and Thai for free.

We thank the Lord for the people who have been helping us with our ministry. Keeping two houses is not easy but we believe that God will provide for the monthly rent and utilities. We believe that God will use this place to point people to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We believe that this will be a place where God will be honored and glorified.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Not One But Two

We have been working with Sayama ever since we came to Mae Sai. She is managing several children’s homes and orphanages in Burma. When we took Tina into our home, it marked the beginning of our ministry to the orphans and abandoned children. She began asking us to help her in by “adopting” the younger children who come to her.

So we were not surprised when one day, she called us up and told us that a Pastor came with a little girl from a remote village in Burma. And although she wanted to take care of her, the orphanage had no room for another child.

We had been very selective in adopting children. Our experiences had taught us that we could not just take every child who comes to us. We had adopted children before whom we thought do not have parents or next of kin. Only to be  surprised that after a year,  people claiming to be their aunties came and took three of the children away from us. We felt cheated.

To make sure that we were not getting another child who might be claimed by a relative later, we asked Sayama to give us the child’s background story.

Her story goes like this. The little girl’s mother has died. The father has remarried and moved out of the village. The little girl was left behind to the care of the neighbors. Sayama said the neighbors took turn in providing food and shelter for the child. The girl even though she was only four years old was asked to do menial chores in the neighborhood. Her main responsibility, however,  was to go to the jungle every day to gather firewood. This was what she was doing when the Pastor saw her in the woods.
Narlin and I knew when a story was made up or true. This story at least for us, sounded true. But we did not want to appear very enthusiastic about all this. We set a date with Sayama to see the girl first and only then we would decide if we would “adopt” the little girl.

We met Sayama at the border and saw the girl. But lo and behold, there was not only one girl but two. Sayama had found a way to “trick” us to consequently take not only one but two girls. (The other girl was almost a year older.) She knew beforehand that we were hesitant to even take one but she put us into a position where it was impossible for us to say no to both. “They have the same story".” She quipped. It didn’t matter anymore to us that time. We cared for the children more than we believed her.

The girls were dirty but beautiful and relatively healthy. At first glanced, they looked strikingly similar but upon closer examination we saw their individuality. One has round dark brown eyes and hair while the other has jet black China eyes and hair. I guess because they had been together a long time, they now have each other’s look. It made sense to us then that they need not separate, we had to take them together.
Pia's bdayPia and Kristi with the other children during Pia’s birthday.
The girls had been with us for almost a year. We changed their names to Kristi and Pia. Kristi has a cute sense of humor, full of life and laughter. If you happened to be with her, she will just talk to you and tell her story. It does not matter if you understand her or not, she will surely make you laugh. Pia was very quiet when we first saw her. But that did not last long, because now she also learn play with the other children. She has already won a coloring contest in the school.
They are both doing well in the school. Every morning I drove them to school, I watched them go down from the truck and run to the school happy and laughing. We thank the Lord that we have the opportunity to take them under our care. By God’s grace, we already had saved these girls from child labor and perhaps we had saved them from child trafficking as well.
Please pray for Kristi and Pia. Together with the other children, they need your love, support and prayers.
This a repost from Missions Beyond Borders.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From Bunker to New House

The quiet night was broken by a loud banging noise that made the floor and windows vibrate. Tina fell from the top of the bunker bed that the girls are using because of the limited space of the bedrooms.

Narlin went to the room and found Tina sprawled on the floor crying. We took her downstairs and checked if everything was well with her. Fortunately, there was no broken bones and big bumps except for a small bluish swelling on her right cheek. We put ice pack to reduce the swelling and to give some relief to the pain she was experiencing. We delayed her sleep for an hour and observed her to make sure that everything was really alight.

We woke the next morning and she seemed to be fine. That was until she was in school. While Narlin was teaching at the school, Tina’s adviser approached her and said that Tina had been crying the whole morning. The reason was her bruised was painful. So after Narlin’s class we went straight to Mae Sai hospital and had her checked by the doctor. The doctor thought that an x-ray would be required, so we have to wait two hours because we came during the break. We had our lunch at the hospital.

The result: no broken bones but the inflammation on her cheek was not looking good. She had to take medicine for several days but she will be fine.

We need to get rid of the bunkers but it means we need more space for bedroom. This what made us think that our decision to get another house for the boys is a very good idea. The children are growing. Boys and girls could no longer share the small space upstairs. And besides the Thai government requires boys and girls to stay on separate buildings.Narlin and Tina
At first, we were thinking of a place that we could use for ministry like English learning and training center.  But if it is the reason, we are willing to forget about the idea and we almost did.
We have been moving stuff for a week now. The boys are sleeping in the new house starting tonight. Tina does not need to sleep on top bunk. There will be enough space for everyone.
This means additional expenses. But we believe that God will provide. We are grateful for our family and friends who remember us in their prayers.

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Friday, September 14, 2012


I stumbled on the lecture notes by Professor Malcolm David Eckel, Ph.D. an Associate Professor of Religion in Boston University. I found his lecture notes enlightening and current. I will be posting fragments of his lectures here.
The lecture is a survey of the history of Buddhism from its origin in India in the sixth century B.C.E. to contemporary times in America. The course is meant to introduce students to the astonishing vitality and adaptability of a tradition that has transformed the civilizations of India, Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan and has now become a lively component in the cultures of Europe, Australia, and the Americas.
The lecture begins by exploring the religious and cultural world of the Buddha in ancient India. To understand the Buddha’s contribution to the religious history of the world, it is important to know the problems he inherited and the options that were available to him to solve them. In ancient India, before the time of the Buddha, these problems were expressed in the Vedas, the body of classical Hindu scriptures. The Vedas introduce us to scholars and ritual specialists who searched for the knowledge that would free them from the cycle of death and rebirth. The Buddha inherited this quest for knowledge and directed it to his own distinctive ends.
Born as Siddhartha Gautama into a princely family in northern India about 566 B.C.E., the Buddha left his father’s palace and took up the life of an Indian ascetic. The key moment in his career came after years of difficult struggle, when he sat down under a tree and “woke up” to the cause of suffering and to its final cessation. He then wandered the roads of India, gathering a group of disciples and establishing a pattern of discipline that became the foundation of the Buddhist community. The Buddha helped his disciples analyze the causes of suffering and chart their own path to nirvana. Finally, after a long teaching career, he died and passed quietly from the cycle of death and rebirth.
After the Buddha’s death, attention shifted from the Buddha himself to the teachings and moral principles embodied in his Dharma. Monks gathered to recite his teachings and produced a canon of Buddhist scripture, while disputes in the early community paved the way for the diversity and complexity of later Buddhist schools. Monks also developed patterns of worship and artistic expression that helped convey the experience of the Buddha in ritual and art.
The Buddhist King Asoka, who reigned from about 268 to 239 B.C.E., sent the first Buddhist missionaries to Sri Lanka. From this missionary effort grew the Theravada (“Tradition of the Elders”) Buddhism that now dominates all the Buddhist countries of Southeast Asia with the exception of Vietnam. Asoka also left behind the Buddhist concept of a “righteous king” who gives political expression to Buddhist values. This ideal has been embodied in recent times by King Mongkut in Thailand and Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent resistance to military repression in Burma.
The Indian tradition was radically transformed by two major new movements. The first was known as the Mahayana (“Great Vehicle”); the second, as Tantra or the Vajrayana (“Diamond Vehicle”). The Mahayana preached the ideal of the bodhisattva who postpones nirvana to help others escape the cycle of rebirth. Tantra developed a vivid and emotionally powerful method to achieve liberation in this life.
Buddhism entered Tibet in the seventh century and established itself as a powerful combination of Indian monasticism and Tantric practice. Tibetan Buddhism eventually developed four major schools, including the Geluk School of the Dalai Lama. Today, the fourteenth Dalai Lama carries Buddhist teaching around the world.
Buddhism entered China in the second century of the common era, at a time when the Chinese people had became disillusioned with traditional Confucian values. To bridge the gap between the cultures of India and China, Buddhist translators borrowed Taoist vocabulary to express Buddhist ideas. Buddhism took on a distinctively Chinese character, becoming more respectful of duties to the family and the ancestors, more pragmatic and this-worldly, and more consistent with traditional Chinese respect for harmony with nature. During the T’ang Dynasty (618–907), Buddhism was expressed in a series of brilliant Chinese schools, including the Ch’an School of meditation that came to be known in Japan as Zen.
Buddhism entered Japan in the sixth century of the common era and soon became allied with the power of the Japanese state. Buddhist Tantra was given distinctive Japanese expression in the Shingon School, and the Tendai School brought the sophisticated study of Chinese Buddhism to the imperial court. During the Kamakura Period (1192–1333), Japan suffered wide social and political unrest. Convinced that they were living in a “degenerate age,” the brilliant reformers Honen (1133–1212), Shinran (1173–1262), and Nichiren (1222–1282) brought a powerful new vision of Buddhism to the masses, The Kamakura Period also saw a series of brilliant Zen masters who gave new life to the ancient tradition of Buddhist meditation.
Since the end of the nineteenth century, Buddhism has become a respected part of life in countries far beyond the traditional home of Buddhism in Asia. The teaching that began on the plains of India 2,500 years ago has now been transformed in ways that would once have been unimaginable, but it still carries the feeling of serenity and freedom that we sense in the image of the Buddha himself.
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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hearts full of joy

“This is the time of the year in Mae Sai when you can experience three seasons in a day”, a Thai friend told us. True enough, the remnant of the summer heat, the rainy season is still at its peak and the cold season is slowly seeping in. Seasons change but God remains faithful to his children. Paul explained this truth to the people in Lystra in Acts 4:17:

“He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”Picture of all at Pia's Bday

Indeed, regardless of the situation, we can testify that the God’s faithfulness never fails and he has filled our hearts with joy. Here are the highlights of our recent activities.

 Mother’s Day Celebration

Mother's Day @ Pantamit ChurchThai people celebrate the Mother’s day in honor of the Queen’s birthday on 12 August. We were happy to be part of the celebration both in Pantamit church and in the Rongriyan Tesaban 1 (municipal school). To of our children once again won the prizes in the drawing contest held in the school. The holiday also gave us the opportunity to go for picnic and swimming at our favorite place- Khon Nang Nam Nun Lake. We are grateful to the Lord for the break.

ASEAN English Camp

After being postponed for three weeks, the English camp was eventually held on 31 August. A total of 260 students joined the activities of learning English through songs and games.

Chai read the history and purpose of ASEAN in English and she did very well. Tina on the other hand recited an English poem.

Once again, we thank the Lord for the opportunity to strengthen our relationship with the school.  The occasion made us know the school supervisor more, develop our friendship with the teachers and we become more involved in the life of the students. We thank the Lord for this privilege of being part of the school family.


ASEAN Camp Participants ASEAN English Camp

New House for the Boys

We have been praying for another place for our other ministries like English teaching and discipleship. We also noticed that the children are growing up to become young ladies and gentlemen. Hence,  we need another house for the boys. The Thai government also requires orphanages to have separate buildings for older children.

This week a friend has called us to tell us that they are moving out of their house. The house is relatively cheap and they are leaving to us some of their furniture (bed frames) and stuff (beddings, blankets, pillows, etc.). This is an opportunity we could not let slip away.

However, we need your help in prayer for the support of the monthly rent and utilities. Any amount will be a huge help. We will be moving in the new house this coming Saturday (22 September). If you have any questions regarding this matter, please don’t hesitate to ask.

More Prayer Requests

Please continue to include us in your time of prayer. 

  • We thank the Lord for keeping the children generally healthy despite of viral fly break out in Mae Sai.
  • We thank the Lord for the children’s diligence to study. Their education will be their ticket to a better life here in Thailand.
  • Thank you for praying for Jared and Reuven. Jared is now in his second trimester in college in the Philippines. He is  doing well with his studies. Reuven is holding his own in Thai school. We thank the Lord for his provisions too.
  • We thank the Lord for Narlin’s teaching ministry at Rongriyan Tesaban 1. Our relationship with the school helps us to minister and share the gospel to the teachers and students.
  • Pray for the Tina, Ayung and Mike’s ID. We are hoping that their ID will come out on the 17th of September. Pray for Nuch's ID too. There is a problem with her ID but hopefully with the help of some people it will be resolved soon.
  • Pray also for our plans to go to the Philippines for a week in December. We are invited to share our testimony by Asia Vision Short-term Missions.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Day 12: 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of the theologians I admired. He died as a martyr resisting the Nazi reign in Germany during the Second World War. So when I read from the Bible Gateway site that his 40 Day Journey is being reissued to be sent directly to my inbox, I subscribed. Bonhoeffer’s theological reflections are very practical and truly relevant today as they were more than 8 decades ago. I am sharing in this blog some of his thoughts that challenges us to look at ourselves as Jesus’ disciples.
These people without possessions, these strangers, these powerless, these sinners, these followers of Jesus live with him now also in the renunciation of their own dignity, for they are merciful. As if their own need and lack were not enough, they share in other people’s need, debasement, and guilt. They have an irresistible love for the lowly, the sick, for those who are in misery, for those who are demeaned and abased, for those who suffer injustice and are rejected, for everyone in pain and anxiety. They seek out all those who have fallen into sin and guilt. No need is too great, no sin too dreadful for mercy to reach. The merciful give their own honor to those who have fallen into shame and take that shame unto themselves. They may be found in the company of tax collectors and sinners and willingly bear the shame of their fellowship. Disciples give away anyone’s greatest possession, their own dignity and honor, and show mercy. They know only one dignity and honor, the mercy of their Lord, which is their only source of life.

Friday, August 24, 2012

There is time for everything

A lot of things had happened in our lives lately. We are reminded by the word of God through the preacher in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 that

there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance….

Needless to say, we are assured that God’s comfort and presence are always there whatever the circumstances are. We are thankful to the Lord knowing that you have been praying in our behalf and ready to extend support and encouragement. Because of God’s timely provisions, Narlin is back after spending two weeks in the Philippines after joining her family in mourning their mother’s death.

Once again, we are sharing to you the events that happened recently and the prayer accompanying them.

Kids’ Thai ID

After almost three years of praying and waiting, the children have eventually got their Thai ID. Although it is not the REAL ID yet, we are rejoicing that they have acquire the first level in acquiring Thai citizenship. The ID will be upgraded by the Thai government depending on their performance in the school and what they will accomplish after their studies. We are here to help them to get there.

However, only six of the nine children recommended by the school get their ID. The three younger children will have to wait for a month or so. Continue to pray for Tina, Ayung and Mike. Kristi and Pia have to wait for the school recommendation.

Our Father’s House Ministry

When the Korean missionary brought a property for Grace Home Kindergarten Center (renamed Our Father’s House) three years ago, a Korean couple also took over the ministry. Because of this we have to step back from our work there and just serve as adviser to Aye Phet (the person we have trained to run the day care center). She has resigned recently, thus the Korean couple and Angela requested us to help them train the new staff. It seems are back to the ministry we started.

In relation to this, we are now having a regular worship service at Our Father’s House building  every Sunday afternoon. Joey is helping in preaching and the kids help with special song number. We are praying that more people will come and a new church will be born.

Prayer Concerns

The Lord has been faithful in empowering us and providing for our needs. It is because of your faithful prayers in our behalf. Here are our recent prayer requests.

  • Prayer of thanksgiving for Sam Rong’s healing. He has his last check-up and tests last month. His doctor declared him completely healed.
  • Prayer of thanksgiving for Reuven’s adjustment to the school. Please continue to pray for him. Our hearts break every time we see him struggles with his social life.
  • Pray for the three younger children’s Thai ID. Nobody understand why their IDs did not come the same time as the others but we trust God that everything will be for good.
  • Include Nuch’s ID with your prayer. She has encountered technical problems in acquisition of her Thai ID. Her grandmother already have it while she has not. Apparently, the village leader messed with the process to get some money. But the officers at the district office said they will try to sort it out.
  • Pray for Jared’s needs for his studies in the Philippines. The first tri-semester will soon be over and he will be needing money for his tuition for the next tri-semester. We are totally dependent to God for this need. We do not have mission agency that look after our natural children’s education.
  • Pray for Nuch’s and Jillian’s education. Please pray not only about their financial needs but also the method of study appropriate to their situation. We are considering weekend schooling for Nuch and online (open university) for Jillian.
  • Pray for Narlin’s teaching ministry. English camp was postponed because of her mother’s death but it will be resumed on 31st of August. Pray for strength and wisdom.
  • Pray for our church ministry. Our involvement in teaching and discipleship at Pantamit church and at Our Father’s House Children Center.


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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Missing Nanay Linda: Thanks for comforting words and prayers

Nanay Linda I have been meaning to post other things more regularly besides our monthly update. But my brain has quit working for some time. Sitting down here in front of the monitor with my hands on the keyboard trying to hit some keys to form words that would express ideas on my head.  Sad to say, most of the times I feel my head is empty.

Perhaps one of the reasons is we have been in the field for six years. We really did not have a real long break just like other missionaries do. We are envious with those who go could go every now and then for an extended period and spend time with their family, friends and churches. We do not have that luxury, well at least, at the moment. Perhaps another reason is our own children are going to college. Jared is already in the Philippines and Jillian will follow suit.  The stage of empty nest? Is that what they called it? They say it causes separation and mid-life anxieties.

Loneliness, yes, being away for from home for a long time makes one lonely. When friends, relatives and family started dying one after the other caused us unexplainable sadness. My mother in-law, Nanay Linda, had died almost a week ago. When she was alive, she expressed her desires to spend time with us especially with her grandchildren. So last Christmas, even though our budget was tight, we found way for her to come and spend Christmas with us including her adopted grand kids. The kids fondly called her Lola (equivalent of grandma in Filipino) and they were happy just to be around her. Talking and laughing most all the times. The children sometimes were naughty but overall I think they made her happy. She cooked food and baked bread and cookies. She made beautiful dresses for the girls and pajamas for all of us.

We brought her to places in Northern Thailand that she wanted to see and we had a blast doing road trips and spending a night or two in cheap hotels. Although she got tired easily and experiencing pain on her feet at that time, we knew she was very happy that she was spending that what were her last precious moments with us. There were times when she would tell us jokingly (but perhaps she was serious) that because she had seen us, she was ready to die.

But we never thought that she would leave us so soon. When she died, the world had to stop for a while for a while. Narlin abruptly cancelled all her plans including the English camp that the school and her were planning for quite some time and went home to mourn her mother’s death. For us who could not go, mourning is expressed in other ways. However, the Lord promised to turn our mourning into joy.  We rejoice in knowing that Nanay Linda is happy because she finally meets her creator and rejoicing that she sees Jesus face to face. As the Lord say in Jeremiah 31:13, “I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”

Narlin will be back on August 1. Apparently, all the flights of Cebu Pacific in between the dates are fully booked. Please continue to pray for provisions and safe travel. In behalf of Narlin and her family, we want to thank those who convey their of condolences and sympathies. Those words of comfort and encouragement meant a lot to us. Thanks for those who understood that Narlin would never make it home without financial help. Your gift whatever the amount is always a huge help for us. Thank you and may God bless you more.

Hebrews 12:1“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Time of Refreshing

We had seen the end of summer and it is now wet season here in Thailand. However, the rain though is not falling as much as the usual Mae Sai rainy season. This makes the humidity so high that it makes us all feel heavy and tired than we really are.

This morning, we rejoiced when we woke up with a refreshing cool heavy rain but the it has stopped as soon as it has begun and the sun was out hot again. Whatever the season is, we continue to give praises and thanks to the Lord. The rain is a symbol of God's blessing.

Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone. (Joel 10:1)

We share to you once again the blessings we received from the Lord recently.

Visit from an Old Friend

An old friend from our first short term missions trip in 2004, Kuya Fil came to visit us. He came with his son David and co-worker, Arlene. They came to Thailand representing Every Nation Church to provide member care for their missionaries who are working in Thailand. They intentionally included us in their itinerary and ministered to us by giving us a "debriefing"  They also treated to a good lunch at MK Restaurant which admittedly we had never been able to do all of our six years of stay here in Mae Sai.  They also came to bring a violin donated to the children by Kuya Fil's daughter, Mai Mai. The visit was truly a huge encouragement for us.

Violin Donated

Big Time Treat by DOI

The children had experienced one of the happiest days of their young lives, so far. Displaced Orphans International (DOI) a non-profit Foundation from the US treated us to a weekend full of fun and joy with a 19-people team. We were checked-in to a beautiful place called Horizon Village & Resort in Doi Saket, Chiang Mai. It was one of the most beautiful places we have ever been.

We have come to know DOI by God's own divine appointment. Sometime last year, a friend sent us an email telling us that his old friend's son and his wife were in Mae Sai and asked if we could see them. We met Jon and Joyce and we had a wonderful time of fellowship together sharing each other stories.

Incidentally Joyce is member of the board of  DOI They had a medical-dental mission to Tachilek, Myanmar last January. They thought that it would be a good idea to have the children checked-up for medical and dental. In their visit, we also meet Greg and Lynette, the founder of the DOI.

We praise the Lord for this opportunity to meet people who have the same burdened as we are for orphaned and abandoned children.

Children at Village Resort Lobby

Swimming Pool

Teaching Ministry

Teaching English is has always been "in demand" here in Thailand. But it seems the need for the Thais to learn English has escalated because of the coming ASEAN Summit and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. The schools are now hiring more English teachers.

Narlin has been requested to teach English in Pantamit and Namchan. We are also busy preparing materials for English camp in Wat Poweehan school. God has given us Gilmhe as our partner in this ministry. She is an English teacher in BanTham High School from Baguio City, Philippines. She is also helping us looking after the kids on weekends.

We are praying for a ministry to help English teachers who will come and work here in Mae Sai. We hope we can help them in visa processing and in finding ways to minister to the Thai through English language learning center.

Prayer Concerns

Our security God's laborers in His harvest field is the in the knowledge that He is always with us and your constant prayer for us. Here are our prayer requests.

  • Pray for our visa extension. We have not received any call from the Foundation yet about the schedule of our visit to the immigration office for the stamp [one-year visa extension]. Our visa will expire on the 20th of July.
  • Pray for more opportunities to share God's love, mentor and disciple our friends and acquaintances.
  • Pray for Jillian and Nuch as they are getting ready to go to college next year. Pray for guidance and provisions.
  • Continue to pray for Jared and Reuven's studies. We are touched by people who expressed support, encouragement and give advice for Reuven's difficulty in adjusting to school. Your concern is sincerely appreciated.
  • Pray for all the kids and their needs. We are certain as of the moment that two girls will not stay with us for long (they might go home to Myanmar one summer and might not come back). But the rest of them will be staying with us until they finished school. Your prayer and support is all we have to sustain their daily needs and education.
  • The kids might get their ID today. Thank you for your prayers.

Thank you for every prayer uttered in our behalf. Thank you for the riches shared through us for His Kingdom. May his name be glorified in our lives forevermore.

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Spirit of Hope

Eschatology is one of the most dominant themes of Moltmann’s theology. For him, eschatology is the key that unlocks all the truths of the Christian faith. He laments the fact that the theme is relegated to the appendix of major theological works instead of being the medium of all theological thinking.[1] Its scope is not only about the end of times but the anticipation God’s impending recreation of all things. With this line of thinking, he brings eschatology back to the very heart of Christian theology. It should not remain as merely one of the doctrines but it should be included in all of Christian proclamation, intrinsic to every Christian existence and of the whole church.[2]

Eschatology is all about Christian hope. Hence, Moltmann in effect put the theme of hope at the heart of Christianity. He defines hope as action, transforming the present, forward looking and forward moving. Christian faith is based on the hope of the resurrection of Christ. This section examines ideas about the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of hope.

First, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of hope hence he is the one who sustains faith. According to Moltmann, faith is foundation of hope but hope nourishes faith. “In the Christian life faith has the priority but hope the primacy. Without faith’s knowledge of Christ, hope become a utopia and remains hanging in the air. But without hope, faith falls into pieces, becomes a a fainthearted and ultimately a dead faith.”[3] Moltmann shows the relationship between faith and hope through the following examples: (1) Faith believes in the promises of God but hope anticipates the fulfillment of God’s promises. (2) Faith believes God to be true; hope awaits the manifestation of this truth. (3) Faith believes that believers have eternal life; hope expects the revelation of eternal life. In other words, one could not exist without the other.

Second, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of hope because he is the source of life and consequently he is passionate about it. This statement is understood more clearly in the context of the resurrection hope. For Moltmann, the resurrection of the crucified Christ from the dead is God’s declaration for his passion for life and protest against deliberate actions that cause suffering and unjust physical death. He perceives faith as participation in love by getting out of this apathetic existence of misery and fighting against death and people who work for death. Hope then is anticipation of faith’s victory against death and against powers that bring death.

The resurrection faith can be proven by participation to this “rebellion” against death not by historical evidence or through the knowledge of life in the next world. This participation in the resurrection faith is possible only through the movement of the Spirit who descends all flesh and gives it life. This movement of the Spirit is the divine “liberation movement” for it is the process whereby the world is recreated. For Moltmann, Christ’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s revolt against death and it continuously happening in the Spirit of hope. It will end only when “every rule and authority is at last abolished.” The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of hope then finds expression in men and women who are protesting against death and those who are slaves of death. It is the Spirit who makes believers to live in the super abundance of God’s future and gives joy for the coming victory of life.[4]

Summing up, Moltmann strongly argues of the connection of faith and hope. Without faith there is no hope and vice-versa. However, Moltmann perceives that it is through Christian hope that the Holy Spirit assumes his activities in the life of the believers. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of hope because he sustains faith. Moreover, he is the Spirit of hope because he empowers Christian to fight against death and makes them live a joyful victorious life.

[1] Jurgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Theology, trans., James W. Leitch (New York, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1967).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Jurgen Moltmann, The Power of the Powerless, The Power of the Powerless (New York, NEw York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1983).


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Moltmann’s Worldwide Influence

Jurgen Moltmann is considered to be the most influential theologian of his generation worldwide. This is evident through his many books which are translated in more than twenty languages and through his untiring visit and lectures in many parts of the world throughout his life.[1] His influence is more apparent in the Third-world that its theologians recognized him as the most valuable conversation partner amongst western theologians. His deep awareness of the theological issues that emanate from the oppressions in Asia and Latin America motivates him to address the relevant issues in the development of this theological program.[2]

Moltmann has direct experiences of the suffering that many Christians are going through in countries like Korea, Kenya, Ghana, Philippines and Latin Americas.[3] A Protestant theologian writing from a German perspective, his works nevertheless have become increasingly more open to other traditions and movements that include Roman Catholic theology, Orthodox theology, feminist theology, Emergent movements and the liberation theologies of the Third World among others. Undeniably, his theological passion is producing diverse and extensive works that its relevance echoes in all parts of the world.[4]

[1] Bauckham, "The Modern Theologians," 209.

[2] Farenholz argues that the best way to read Moltmann’s biography is to see it as a long life process of ecumenical discoveries. See Geiko Muller-Fahrenholz,,+A+Broad+Place.+An+Autobiography-a0189832911 (accessed November 8, 2010 2010).

[3] Bauckham, "The Modern Theologians," 81.

[4] Muller-Fahrenholz, The Kingdom and the Power, 12.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Jürgen Moltmann, ‘the most influential Christian theologian’

This article is from the University of Cambridge Research News page. Professor Richard Bauckham wrote this article as part of the announcement that Professor Moltmann will give a lecture at the Emmanuel College. The photo came from the same website. 
Jürgen Moltmann has been of his generation the most influential Christian theologian worldwide, both through his many books (translated into twenty languages) and through his tireless visiting and lecturing in many parts of the world throughout his career.
Since his first major work, Theology of Hope (1964), which was ground breaking in its time and was instantly recognized as such, his work has continued to be profoundly original and constantly creative, while also continually resourced from the theological tradition. Some key themes, such as eschatological hope, give a characteristic shape to his whole theological development, but his work has also continually moved on, and at every stage he has not only rethought major Christian doctrines, but also related them to one after another key issue that has arisen in the contemporary world (e.g. the Holocaust, advances in medical science, feminism, ecological issues, inter-faith dialogue).
Often his originality emerges from this bringing together of the theological tradition and the issues, demands and insights of the contemporary world. Some of the most creative features of his earlier work – such as his emphasis on hope, his claim that God’s love entails God’s suffering, his understanding of the triune God as fully interpersonal – have been so influential that they have become common, even taken-for-granted features of much subsequent theological thinking.
His work has been important not only for fellow theologians and theological students, but also for very many church leaders, clergy and interested lay people worldwide. This is not only because his work relates the central theological themes of Christian faith to the contemporary world and its concerns, but also because, alongside his major works, he has written many shorter and more accessible books that communicate his best thinking without technicalities and in a readable style.
Often in these shorter works for a wider readership he expands on the practical implications – spiritual and socio-political – of his ideas more than he does in the major works themselves. He has also progressively expanded his dialogue with Christians outside his own tradition: his trinitarian explorations brought him alongside Orthodox theologians, his strong affirmation of the Spirit in all life and experience brought him into dialogue with Pentecostals. He is a Reformed theologian who has become a genuinely ecumenical one.
The widespread recognition of the importance of his work can be seen in the fact that more than 150 doctoral theses have been written on him!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Broad Place: Moltmann’s Biographical Sketch[1]

Moltmann is considered to be the most important German-speaking Protestant theologian since the Second World War. The importance of his works is quite evident as he engages with the most controversial theological issues of the second half of the twentieth century as well as he interacts with the great theologians of the first half of the same century.[2] This section looks at Moltmann’s early life, his life during and after the war, his pastoral experience and his influence to theology all over the world.

Moltmann’s Early Theology

Jurgen Moltmann was born in Hamburg, Germany on April 8, 1926. He was raised in intellectual secular family that had no place for the Bible and the church. He grew up under the influences of German poetry and philosophy of Lessing, Goethe, and Nietzsche. Einstein and Heisenberg were his heroes and he thought he would become a mathematician and physicist.[3] It was not meant to be because he became one of the world’s greatest Christian theologians. This section will discuss the events that lead to the development of his early theology.
There are several events that lead to the beginning of Moltmann’s theology. First are the circumstances in his life during the Second World War. He was part of the Royal Air Force that defended against the Allies bombing of Hamburg’s center. Many of his friends were brutally killed during the attack while he on the other hand to his own bewilderment escaped unscathed. Witnessing his friends mangled to death while his life was spared evoked a few essential questions: “Where is God; “why am I not dead too;” and “what gives life meaning?” These questions signal the beginning of his theology.[4]
Second is Moltmann’s discovery of hope in the midst of prevailing hopelessness he shared among his countrymen during the war. He felt shame for the atrocities that their country committed at their expense. Those who survived the war certainly escaped death but their lives were stripped of purpose and meaning. This hopelessness overcame them like a disease that he realized that it was the actual caused of many deaths among the wounded rather than the physical injury or illness. Moltmann discovers hope from the Bible. He learned about the suffering of Jesus and believed that Jesus was with them as they suffer as prisoners of war. This hope was enriched by the unconditional love and forgiveness he received from Christians (supposedly are the enemies) who ministered to them in the prison camp. These acts of kindness gave him new life perspectives and the courage to live again. No wonder that hope and theodicy were of subjects of special interests for Moltmann in his early theological works.[5]
Third is his experience as a prisoner of war (POW). It was in the POW camp that his fascination with theology began. With the help of YMCA, books were purchased and famous theologians like Andres Nygren, Vincer’t Hoof, and John R. Mott visited and taught at the camp. The prison camp became his first seminary. His theology grew deeper not only because of what he had learned from the teachers and from reading the books but also because of the virtues demonstrated by the Christians. He received love and forgiveness and this experience gives him liberation from existential meaninglessness. It was from this moment that he experienced true freedom and uttered these words; “I was able to breathe again, felt like a human being once more.”[6] This explained why liberation is significant in Moltmann’s theology.
Moltmann’s association in the collective suffering, guilt of the German nation during the war, his discovery of the true meaning of hope and his experience of existential freedom set him on the road in his commitment to political theology.

Theological Development after the War

After the war, Moltmann’s theology radically developed. This section will discuss the events that serve as major contributors to the development of his theology as it is now perceived and analyzed.
The first event is his entering the University of Gottingen to pursue his newfound passion for theological studies. There, he learned from famous theologians like Hans-Joachin Iwand, Ernst Wolf and Otto Weber. It was through these theologians that Moltmann came to be recognized as Barth’s disciple. The great theologian profoundly influenced the young Moltmann. Moreover, during that time, Barth’s greatness was so remarkably pervasive that Moltmann thought that development of theology beyond Barth was impossible. Nevertheless, Moltmann’s theology had astonishingly evolved independently of Barth.[7]
The second event is his marriage to Elizabeth Wendell, a fellow doctoral student under Weber, had greatly affected his theological thoughts. For his wife Elizabeth, the decision to marry him meant sacrificing her own calling because the church regulation during that period forbid married woman to become minister and ordination to pastorate was unacceptable. She was relegated to the role of a housewife taking care of the children and cleaning the house. This relegation imposed by the church upon women impelled her to become a feminist theologian. Consequently, Moltmann himself became one of prominent theological voices in support of feminist theology.[8]
Finally, his early experience as a pastor of a small community church in Bremen is also essential to the development of his theology. He originally accepted the pastoral position of a city church in Berlin-Brandenburg. The government, however, refused him an entry to the city suspecting he was a spy because of his involvement in the war. He ended up ministering to a village church in Bremen. These circumstances provided him the opportunity to know the theology of the ordinary people in their struggles, bereavement, and anxieties. It was through his pastoral ministry that he “experienced theology as shared theology of believers and doubters, of the oppressed and consoled.”[9] His involvement with the life of his parishioners persuaded him to do theology for the benefit not only of the scholars but also of the church.[10]
Moltmann’s experience during the war, his theological studies after it, and his experiences as pastor of a small church are compelling reasons to believe that his theology is relevant to the subject of this research.

[1] A Broad Place is the title of Moltmann's autobiography published in English in 2008. The researcher has already written this brief biographical sketch when the book was published. Moltmann has been using the term to describe that the Spirit is the broad place in which human beings have their experiences. See Jurgen Moltmann, A Broad Place: An Autobiography, trans., Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 2008). See Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 174.
[2] Geiko Muller-Fahrenholz, The Kingdom and the Power: The Theology of Jurgen Moltmann, trans., John Bowden (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 2001), 12.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Jurgen Moltmann, The Source of Life: The Holy Spirit and the Theology of Life, trans., Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 1997), 17.
[5] Ibid., 4.
[6] Ibid., 9.
[7] Bauckham, "The Modern Theologians," 209.
[8] Jurgen Moltmann, Experiences in Theology: Ways and Forms of Christian Theology trans., Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 2000), 4-5.
[9] Bauckham, "The Modern Theologians," 209.
[10] Moltmann, Experiences in Theology, 4-5.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Christian Walk

Text: 1 John 1:5-10


Based on research studies, walking on a regular basis has the following health benefits:

  • Helps keep your bones, muscles, and joints healthy
  • Reduces anxiety and depression, boosting your mood
  • Helps you handle stress
  • Helps you feel more energetic
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Improves your self-esteem
  • Gives you an opportunity to socialize actively with friends and family.

Walking makes us healthy.  How many of us do walk? If you do, how far can we walk? One, two or one hundred kilometers? There was a time when people wanted to go to a place they walk. But today, people become so dependent upon their car or motorcycle.  Nobody wants to walk anymore.

Walking is a part of our life. No wonder that the Bible likens the Christian life to walking. There are three important principles in this text that tell us about the walk of the Christian life.

I. Christian should walk in the light (vv. 5-7).

We have to understand that when John this letter, people believed that darkness is evil. People had real fear of darkness. When darkness comes they think that something bad will happen to them. The believe that the darkness harm them.

Today, we may not understand how afraid they were because we have electric lights. During that time, when night came men just stayed in their homes, they do not move, they just slept or watched in fear of the dark.

John tells us that God is more than just light. In God, there is no darkness or evil in Him at all. He says that “you claim to be sons of God, Light has enlightened you, do your actions show this?

In the Philippines, there was a time when there was  energy shortage and there were long black outs every day. When it was dark in the cities  many bad people committed many crimes. The government has to find ways to keep the street lights on to reduce the crime rate.

This is the challenge for us as Christians, we need to ask ourselves the same question that John asked to these early Christians. If we claim to be Christian and have fellowship with God who is light, how can we still live in darkness. Why we are still do bad things that destroy our testimony and makes our church looks bad to the unbelievers. Some of the things we do, some words that we say and some of our attitudes show darkness than light.

II.  Christian should walk in fellowship with one another (v. 7).

John was writing to a gathering of Christians. He use the word “we” to show that he is included in their fellowship. All Christians should have fellowship with one another. If you say you are a Christian and do not want to be in the church to have fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, then you are missing one of the most important part of the Christian life.

One day I was driving, I was following a truck that has sticker saying “You’ll never walk alone.” I just learned that this is the song of the Liverpool Football Club. But this is true also with the Christian life. We never walk alone. God is walking with us and we are walking with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

As Christians, we should not even think that we can live apart from one another. When we do not fellowship with other Christians, our church suffers.

III. Christian should walk in forgiveness(vv. 8-10).

John tells those early Christians that God is a forgiving God. In order to be forgiven by God, the Christian must confess his sins. Before he can confess them, he must first admit them. To refuse to admit them makes God a liar.

It is surprising how many people today do not feel the need of confessing sin. Also, many do not believe they commit sin. Not to admit our sins, is to call God a liar. The hardest words to say are the words “I’m sorry.”

If we confess our sin we will be forgiven, if not then we will not. If we sin against a brother and a sister we have to do the same.  God has forgiven us and we should forgive one another.


In closing I want to read the poem of St. Theresa to inspire us to walk as a Christian.

Christ has no body now but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes through which he looks
compassion on this world
Yours are the feet with which
He walks to do good
Yours are the hands with which
He blesses all the world
Yours are the hands
Yours are the feet
Yours are the eyes
You are His body

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Exciting times

It was early morning the noises made by the children excitedly talking had awaken us. They were preparing to go to school.  It has been a month since the school had opened but the children are still overly excited to go to school. We pray and hope that their enthusiasm to learn will not dwindle down even when they grow older.  Although, the memories of last summer’s fun and activities are still fresh in our minds we are now determine to face the challenges of taking care of the children’s needs for their schooling.


Provision for Kids’ Education

Nine of the children are continuing their schooling at Wat Poweehan Municipal School. Christy and Pia will also be going there for the first time as pre-schoolers. Sam Rong is advancing to grade six in a school in Tachilek, so he has to cross the border to Burma every day at six o’clock in the morning. Reuven needs to learn to wake up early to go Mae Sai Prasitsart High School. This will be a totally new experience for him.Kids on Song Taew.jpg

Jared went back to the Philippines to go to college. The latest update we received from Nori and Dadai is that he is now enrolled in University of Cordilleras in Baguio City and had his first day of classes today (June 5).

We thank you for your prayers for  all the children’s education including our own three older children. Thank you also for your support, the school fees we are paying are much higher than the previous years. Nonetheless, God’s faithfulness to provide for this need never fails.  Please remember all the children and their needs in your prayers.

Teaching Ministry

Narlin enjoys teaching English to the elementary kids at Wat Poweehan Municipal School.   She was also invited to teach English in a community at Ban Nam Chan on the evenings. She has been teaching for two weeks. The number of students has doubled this week and it seems more people will be coming this weekend.  We are thankful for this opportunity. Here in Thailand, teaching English is still one of the most effective ways of sharing the gospel to the Buddhists.

Narlin Teaching.jpgJoey has been an itinerant preacher for a while. He has the opportunities to be invited  to share the word of God to the congregations in churches. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will use him in this ministry.

Taking care of 15 children and having other ministries are not easy. There are times when we feel tired and burned out and just wanted to get away which we could not do at the moment. However, we thank you for understanding our situation and for offering us time to rest. We will have the needed break as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Thank you so much for your care and concern.

Teams Visit

We had teams from two seminaries dropped by in our house. Students from Singapore Baptist Theological Seminary and Asia Theological Seminary from the Philippines came to Thailand for mission exposure. We were happy to welcome and show them the work we are doing. Our children’s home has served as a model of doing mission to students and future missionaries. We are thankful for the encouraging time they spent with us.

With ATS Students

Nuch is back

She called us up and said she was lonely and tired working  so hard in Bangkok. We asked her to come back home and work for us. We could not pay her higher salary than she was earning in Bangkok but we are confident that God will provide for this particular need.

Narlin & Nuch.jpg Nuch was one of the first two girls we adopted (the other one is Tina). Her father died when she was young and her mother spent more of her time in prison accused of selling illegal drugs.  We took her when she was 14 years old. She is now twenty and has finished her high school.  We believe that God saw our need for a co-worker and she is God’s answer to our prayers. She is the kind of co-worker we need. She is a good worker and can speak several languages like English, Wa and Chinese.

We are planning to send her to college with Jillian next year. Please  include Jillian and Nuch in your prayers. Both of them help us in many ways in working and  looking after the children.

Wait upon the Lord

Our plan to have a Learning and Ministry Center for discipleship, English learning and music school may not materialize this year. We thought that the center could minister to our adopted children and the children in the community. It can also be a means to evangelize and a source of extra income for missionaries who want to teach English.  However, we have doubt at the moment if we can sustain the cost of the rent and utilities as of the moment. Our ministry and finances are all focused to the care of the children and their education. The Lord has impressed upon us that there is wisdom in waiting. Please pray for this ministry opportunity.

Song Taew

It is now rainy season here in Thailand and bringing the children to the school on the back of the truck is no longer possible. We thank the Lord for God’s provision. We were able to pay for the installation of the song taew. The children are enjoying it.

Song Taew.jpg Just in case you are wondering what happened to the van, its door broke and fell down again. The repair was taking so long that we decided to give it to the mechanic who become a good friend already.  The van had been a big blessing to us but it had seen better days and had served us beyond its years.

Prayer Requests

  • Pray for the children’s schooling and their health.
  • Pray boldness to share the gospel through teaching English.
  • Pray for the churches we are attending and helping at the moment. 
  • Pray for Jillian. June 7 is her 17th birthday.
  • Pray for Sam Rong’s complete healing. There will be a celebration on 17 of June declaring that he is totally healed together with other TB patients at the hospital organized by the NGO who helped them.
  • Pray for smooth processing and provision for our visa extension in July.
  • Pray for Jared and Reuven’s adjustment in school. Pray also for provision for their school expenses.

Most of all our hearts is full of prayer of thanksgiving to God. We thank the Lord for you and other friends who are our partners in the ministry. Thank you so much for your love, prayers and support.  Our prayer is that God will continue to richly bless you.

Much love,

Joey & Narlin
With Jared, Jillian, Reuven & Nuch
AiPang, Tilek, SamChing, SamRong, Mike (SamRang), Ayong,
YekChai, Muey, Christy, Pia, Dina and Tina

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