the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

Filtering by Tag: Akha Bible Institute

A Heritage of Ministry

Paul and Lori VernonTen years ago this week was the first time we arrived in Thailand. As two young, wide-eyed, newlywed college kids we first set foot in the nation that we knew God had called us to serve. We had come to Thailand to visit a fledgling ministry to the Akha people and assist them with some land planning. But the reality was that we were taking the first step of obedience to the call that God placed on our life. We continued to travel between the United States and Thailand over the next five years; leading teams and growing in our relationship with each other and with the ministry to the Akha. Finally in 2005 we moved here full-time, and Akha Outreach Foundation had grown and matured in its ministry. By this time the ministry here was serving the Akha with three ministry focuses: House of Joy, a children's home for orphaned and high-risk kids; Akha Bible Institute, a training program for young emerging Akha leaders; Akha Outreach Services, a ministry to Akha villages and churches.

Earlier this month Akha Outreach Foundation celebrated it's 10th year of ministry. Nearly 2,000 Akha men, women and children came to participate in the event and to celebrate the heritage of ministry that Akha Outreach Foundation has fostered.

The 10-Year Anniversary celebration was a beautiful event that was well worth the months of preparation that we put into it by printing books, images, pamphlets and banners, editing videos, and coordinating visitors. It was amazing to see what God has done over the past ten years. Former drug addicts leading their villages in worship. Men and women who had been witch doctors and mediums smiling with the joy that comes with the freedom of the gospel. Christians from multiple denominations and backgrounds laughing, singing and eating together.

Akha Outreach - A Heritage of WorshipAkha Outreach - A Heritage of EqualityAkha Outreach 10 Year Celebration - A Heritage of FamilyAkha Outreach 10 Year CelebrationAkha Outreach 10 Year Celebration - A Heritage of Honor Akha Outreach 10 Year Celebration - A Heritage of CelebrationAkha Outreach 10 Year Celebration - Heritage of LearningAkha Outreach 10 Year Celebration - Heritage of Friendship

But as exciting as the look back was, and as encouraging as it has been to see what God is doing, the most exhilarating thing is that the vision for ministry to the Akha is just beginning. The barriers that have bound the Akha for generations are being broken, but this is just the start. As God leads the Akha into freedom, the barriers that exist between individuals, villages, regions, and nations are being broken. The rice is ripe and harvest is coming.

The Satterfield Dream Wing and an Akha Doctor

Last Saturday AOF had a monumental celebration to dedicate the new classroom / future radio studio building as well as to recognize Aje for the completion of his Doctorate. Over a thousand Akha from around Northern Thailand, Christian and non-Christian alike, came to join in the festivities; and all the Satterfield girls were here for four days to celebrate with us as well. The event was so much fun (I'm serious, we had a blast!) that I only snapped a few shots at the very beginning and during the "formal picture taking time", but here are a couple of moments captured throughout the day:

The Newly Dedicated BuildingDedication of the Satterfield Dream WingCutting the RibbonCutting the RibbonCutting the RibbonThe Graduate poses after the celebration

We had a great evening, too, but I'll leave that story for Lori to share that with you in our Baby Notes.

2007 Graduation Gallery

This has certainly been an exciting month for us. Between visa problems, guests, graduations and a new computer (hurray!) we have put a lot of miles on poor little Suzi with three trips each to Mae Salong, Mae Sai and Chiang Mai this month. It's our belief that God wanted us to have these 33 hours of driving together as a lasting memory of "how things were" before we have kids.

I had promised some pictures of the ABI graduation and have also added some pictures of the graduation of our pastor from Phayao Bible College.

As you can see below, Dr. Paul Lewis was in Chiang Rai for the graduation. As the original transcriber of the Akha language and the original translator of the Akha Bible, he receives and incredible outpouring of love and respect from the Akha people. What was most incredible to us, however, was his flawless Akha. His accent is flawless, he truly speaks like a native Akha, as we are so often reminded by our Akha friends. Oh well, maybe in 50 years we'll speak that well too.

As we have come to expect, the graduation at House of Joy was a spectacular event. Approximately 1,000 Akha from all over the region came down and enjoyed hearing from Dr. Lewis and Dean Fraise, watching choreographed dances, and listening to the spectacular choir led by Salama Bu-Zi. The graduation in Phayao was also a lot of fun for us, especially because six of our friends from our village came down to celebrate the graduation of the Mae Salong pastor.

Dr. Paul Lewis shares with the AkhaThe AOF Choir sings to a full houseThe GraduatesU Lo Akha women in full headdress enjoying the festivitiesThe House of Joy DancersThe Cutest Girl in the CrowdDean and Mrs. Fraise with an Akha Salama (Pastor)Paul and Lori pose with all the Lo Mi Akha womenThe Phayao DecorationsOur Akha Grandma came down for the Phayao GraduationOur Akha Mom also came down for the Phayao GraduationOur Pastor and his FamilyOur Pastor and his Cousin

The celebrations continue as this month three pastors will be sent out as missionaries to reach the Akha who have never heard the gospel. Please hold these men up in prayer as they represent the beginning of an exciting new era in the Akha Church.

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A Look at the Graduation

We wanted to let you all in on a few moments of the graduation on March 12th. It was a great celebration of twelve young men and women who are moving into their internships. Please remember them in your prayers as they have a large task ahead. The children sang worship songs in Akha waving banners brought by the Pearson's from Colorado. Akha leaders came down from their villages to show their support and to celebrate the first graduation, and American pastors and support team pray for the graduates.

Akha GraduationAkha GraduationAkha Graduation

Sending out the Twelve

How appropriate that the first Bible Institute has twelve graduates! Yesterday we celebrated the sending out of these 6 men and 6 women to various internships as pastors and leaders. It was an amazing time - you can see some of the moments here. Hours of Akha singing and celebration - it was a great day. I've been stuck on a passage for days now, and it gained so much more strength watching the graduation. The passage is in Mark 1, quoting Malachi:

"Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple"

How wonderful that the God who created the universe loves every one of us! It's amazing, he sends messengers to love people and to talk about Christ so that when they seek Him and encounter the Living God they have already seen what love for Christ is.

It was as if we saw the embodiment of the song "Did you feel the Mountains tremble" yesterday...

Here we see that God you're moving A time of jubilee is coming When young and old will come to Jesus... Fling wide you heavenly gates Prepare the Way of the Risen Lord!

Be encouraged, the message is going forth. This is an exciting place to be, because God is already moving so powerfully from here.

Please continue to pray for us. We have decided to move to an Akha village about an hour and a half from here. One of the men who graduated yesterday will be going up to pastor the church there and we are hoping to move there to concentrate on the Akha language and way of life. We are confident this is where the Lord is leading us, but please pray for us in this process. We will let you know more as some of the details come together.

Don't forget to see the pictures!

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