the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

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A Team Like Christmas

This article was written for the Foursquare Missions connect site, but I wanted to repost it here as well. Any of our readers who are interested in FMI, Foursquare or missions in general feel free to join the FMI connect site for news from the global FMI work.

At the end of December, Christian churches around the globe celebrate the incarnation of the Eternal God, the dwelling of Emmanuel, Christmas: the birth of Jesus Christ in a humble manger. The songs, the scriptures, the stories awake something eternal in us. We began Christmas early this year, and in an unexpected way. At the beginning of December we, along with fellow FMI missionaries in SE Asia, hosted a team of 8 pastors and leaders from the Gateway district, led by George Cline as they came on a short trip to two SE Asia nations to see what was happening out here and how the US church could partner with the work in Asia. This team was an encouragement to us in a way that few, if any, prior teams had been, and we would like to highlight four reasons why:

They Came, They Engaged, They Imparted, They Testified (and will continue to do so!)

click the images below to view the full-size image: [gallery]

How Can I Become a Missionary?

We get a lot of emails and questions, mostly from people in America, asking how they can become missionaries to Thailand or other nations in the world. I'm a proponent of missions, and encourage anyone and everyone I meet to seek the missions call in their life. So, for those of you who hear the call, I want to exhort you with these words today. The principles behind becoming a missionary are straightforward: receive a call from God, seek direction from God and obey in each step. However, there is no consistent series of events on how these principles unfold. Through the Foursquare Church we have guidelines and an application process by which someone can become a Foursquare missionary, but, even with guidelines and processes, each story is unique - as ours testifies.

But becoming a missionary is much more than applying, interviewing for and accepting a job position. Becoming a missionary is aligning yourself with the identity God is calling you into. As we have grown in our experience in the field over the past five years, we have noticed a few patterns that are visible in the lives of long-term, successful missionaries. These patterns reflect what I believe is the identity of a missionary, and are things that we are hoping to see transformed into in our own lives. I want to share 4 of those patterns here today.

This is really for those who feel called into missions in some way, if that's not you, I recommend you take a look at some of these posts instead. Also, before I share with those of you who feel called into missions I want to make a few assumptions as to where most of you are coming from:

  • You know God and can connect with Him
  • You're confident you've heard His call to missions
  • You don't know what to do next

If these assumptions are true for you, then the following patterns should be helpful as you seek your commission into missions: Pattern 1, Pattern 2, Pattern 3, Pattern 4.

Pattern #1: Patience

There are a lot of life events that lead up to our call into missions: most importantly our conversion to Christ and our connection with the living God. Whether our conversion, connection and call occur as one instantaneous event (see Paul on the road to Damascus) or through years of laborious lessons, once we receive our call to missions the next step is the same for everyone. The first lesson we learn after our call through in the process of becoming missionaries is submission to God's Timing - or, the more difficult word, patience.

I'm going to use the Apostle Paul, perhaps the greatest missionary after Christ, to help me with this pattern:

Galatians 2:15-18

When it pleased God... to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.

For three years Paul knew that he was to go preach Christ "among the Gentiles". For three years he did not even go up and speak to the Apostles, the original "Missionary Sending Agency". But for those of us who feel called to long-term ministry to "the ends of the earth" it might get worse:

The chronology of Paul's ministry is not known with any certainty, but from Galatians 2:1 [Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also.] it seems likely that more years went by before he begun active mission work (Orthodox Research Institute)

Here's the big news missionaries: God doesn't need us to save the world, God just wants us to obey Him (I Sam 15:22). I know the fire that burns in the heart when we hear that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. I know how that stirs us to hop on the next plane and never return. But the call to missions is a call to obedience before it is a call to action, and the first step in obedience is learning how to wait for God's timing.

Let me draw a crude analogy. When training a dog to eat on command, the dog is not obedient if he runs to the food the moment he sees it. The obedience is when the dog knows whats in the bowl, but it willing to "Sit! Stay" until the Master says "Go!".

God powerfully revealed the calling to Thailand in my life when I was 18, but I wasn't released to move to Thailand until I was 27, and am just now beginning to see the buds of fruit in ministry at 32. In 14 years I've had a lot of struggles with God as I told him how much I wanted to go and to serve and to do... and His silence told me to wait, and to trust the call He had laid on my life. But I found that each time that I waited; that I was silent; that I was still, my faith in God and my trust in His perfect timing grew.

I've seen good friends who have a call and anointing on their life for missions step out before God's timing arrived, and when all their plans crumbled around them they were broken and lost faith in their call. New life springs from brokenness, and I am confident that God will bring their vision back from death, but I am grateful that God carried us through the waiting period to see His timing fulfilled.

Pattern #2: Service

The world is full of opinions and voices. You're reading one right now. What the world lacks is humble servants*.

Humility: being able to know your gifts, talents and skills without thinking more highly of yourself than others. It is not humility for me to say "I'm not any good at tennis", it is simply truth. It is also not humility for me to say "I can't throw a curveball", which is a lie I throw a pretty mean curveball (or did 12 years ago), lying to be humble is false humility. True humility is recognizing your gifts without thinking highly of yourself because of those gifts (Ph 2:3).

Service: working for the benefit of another. Service involves a willingness to do things that you are not gifted in (Ex 4:10), or that you are not passionate about (I Cor 9:19-23). Service involves allowing others to do things that you could do (Luke 9:1-2). Service is exemplified by obedience, not by gifting.

Let's look at what Paul has to say on the subject again:

I Corinthians 9:19-23

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;  and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;  to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

Paul understood as well as anyone who he was and how he was gifted. He knew his strengths and often walked in them. But he was willing to humble himself, to be whatever it took for the sake of the gospel.

The fields we are called to don't need pastors, evangelists, teachers, or church planters. God has prepared His body with all the parts that are needed - and they're already living there. However, the local pastors, evangelists, teachers and church planters already living in the field need servants to come in humility and help them shine like a "city on a hill". This might mean that we missionaries serve as pastors, teachers, evangelists, or church planters or any other role for a season, but those roles are taken on to serve and to lead the church until it is healthy enough to take on those roles itself.

The world needs Kingdom servants, and servants of the Kingdom will win the world.

* The term "humble servants" is a reference to the teachings of Beth Barone, a woman to whom I am indebted and grateful as she has been instrumental in challenging me, my view of God, and my understanding of the Bible.

Pattern #3: Authority

The most important effort we can make before arriving on the field might be to spend time developing meaningful relationships with our local church and pastors.

Nearly every missions agency has a requirement for a local pastor to sponsor or to write a letter of recommendation for a prospective missionary. The requirement exists because these agencies have the foresight to understand that if pre-sent missionaries have already developed authority relationships in their home culture they are much more likely to succeed on the field.

Trusting leaders is a step in the growth process of Christianity. Haphazardly tossing leaders aside because they offend us (and they will because they're not perfect) is not maturity. Growth is shown when we trust God enough to allow ourselves to trust, and be hurt by, spiritual authority. That connection to God must exist first, but God leads us to serve under [imperfect] men and women wherever we are.

If our goal truly is "Service" than this is the reality: if we can't serve under the spiritual authority that is in our home church (or if we are unwilling to put ourselves underneath a spiritual authority), then we will be of no service to the church on the field.

Harsh words? Maybe. Let me soften them:

The church is full of broken people. The liturgy and culture varies from church to church, but the fact that church is filled with imperfect people does not. If we can't serve broken people and serve under broken leaders in America, we are exemplifying pride, and are probably interested in furthering the Kingdom of Ourselves instead of the Kingdom of Heaven.

You're right, that didn't get any softer. Sorry.

So lets go again to the Bible, where the Apostle Paul has some more great examples in I Cor 9:19-23 and Rom 13. Look them up, but the verse I want to highlight is in Hebrews (which may or may not have been written by Paul):

Hebrews 13:17

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Ultimately, our response to human leadership reflects our faith in God. Do we trust God enough to submit to the (fallen, broken, imperfect) authorities that God has established in the church? Do we trust Him enough to know that those leaders must give an account for their decisions to God, and it's not our role to judge them, but to "obey them so that their work will be a joy"?

Again, we must be connected with God, I'm not advocating serving under a leader that God is directing you away from! It's true that authority can be misused and there are times to step out from underneath an unhealthy authority, but we must also remember David, who was called to continue to serve and honor Saul. The response of a mature believer is to have such a firm trust in God that we can submit to human authority and council that God has introduced in our lives.

I hear a lot of pre-sent missionaries say that they don't like the way that church is done in America so they want to be part of something new on the field. I understand the sentiment, but if we're unwilling to work with people who are doing things differently than we would, are we really ready to work with others? The pre-sent missionary who cannot trust the Father enough to respect and submit to authority is not ready to take on a position of authority in the church.

In our lives we've been fortunate. We were commissioned by our home church, we have been sent by Foursquare Missions International and we serve under Akha Outreach Foundation here in Thailand. Going through the requirements of these three groups took (and still takes) time and energy, but it provides a crucial covering that has kept us in good standing when the "honeymoon" period ended and the difficulties of ministry set in.

Bottom line: if we surround ourselves with Godly leaders and see what we can do to serve them and to impact our church family positively for the Kingdom we will be well equipped to serve the leaders on the field to which we are called.

Pattern #4: Giving

As I sit here and think of five or six of the missionary families that I respect the most, all of them are characterized by giving. In fact, missionaries usually fall into one of two categories: those who are always worrying about funding and support, and those who are willing to give the shirt off their back, the roof from over their heads and wheels from beneath their feet at the shortest prompting of the Lord.

I'm not advocating that you give all you have to the next person you see, this goes back again to your ability to connect to the living God, but if He asks us to give can we do it? Do we hesitate? Are we Matthew, who walked away from his fortune, or are we the rich young ruler?

It is a tremendous step of faith to quit our jobs and trust that the Lord will provide for our needs, but we must be careful not to fall into the trap of poverty, which believes that we do not have enough to give. Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". Powerful words. Not blessed are the poor, but blessed are the poor in spirit. If we can shed our love for money, if we can realize that nothing changes if we lose all that we posses, then we are poor in spirit. Then we will see seasons plenty and seasons of nothing, but we will always be living with a heart willing to give, even to death. (Remember the widow and Elijah?)

Paul stands out again, as he shows us how to be a missionary:

Philipians 4:12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

As we see the missionaries here in Thailand who challenge us, who call us to the next level in our walks with God and with man, we only see men and women who are givers. Givers of time, givers of money, givers of possessions. Givers are often hurt by takers, leeches who seek their own comfort. But obedient givers will continue to give, even to the leeches, if they are prompted by the voice of the Lord. True givers are willing to give no matter the cost, no matter the pain.

Powerful things happen in the spiritual realm when we challenge the kingdom of darkness, and that kingdom is shaken by selfless giving.

What am I missing?

Ok, fellow missionaries (pre-sent, actively serving, retired) these were my thoughts and observations. But I'm so limited. I live in a specific part of the world, I have few credentials, I have few years of service and I have a specific calling. I need your voices to help make this complete.

  • What have I missed?
  • What have I gotten wrong?
  • What do you agree with?

Please join in the conversation below...

Boring Work is still Good Work

We have been in a season of beginnings for about a year now. As our comfort and ministry with the Akha in Thailand has grown, opportunities have come our way to expand our ministry. Since we are part of two large organizations (Akha Outreach Foundation and Foursquare Missions International), most of the opportunities we accept are through these two ministries. In the last year we have taken on a ministry to the Akha extracting teeth, a monthly training of Akha pastors and church leaders, and an Akha Vacation Bible School to both AOF and FMI villages. These projects have added on to our normal daily work within our home village, assisting our director in his projects at AOF and teaching monthly at the Bible college.

balancesheet-1

Most recently, I (Paul) have received an opportunity to fill in for another FMI missionary who has been serving the foursquare church in the nation to the northwest of us here in southeast Asia. While this missionary is on furlough over the next 14 months, I will be meeting with the pastor from this region who is essentially in charge of reaching thousands of people from multiple people groups with the gospel.

Honestly, the work isn't that exciting. Balance sheets. Grant reporting. Emails and communication. Office work.

But the realities behind the work: 5000 salvations, 1700 water baptisms, 1200 filled with the Holy Spirit, and 40+ churches and cell groups planted all in the last calendar year. Those are exciting stories, and worth the headache that is spreadsheets and accounting.

Beyond the actual work hours, this also provides me with an opportunity to speak with, pray for and encourage a pastor who is serving the Lord in one of the most difficult places on earth. The very existence of his ministry challenges me in my walk and work with God.

So, you probably won't read to many more updates on my spreadsheet and accounting work, but I wanted to share with all of you the men and women behind the work who are shining lights in a very dark place. Please remember them in your prayers.

Into Indochina

We recently traveled north into the largest country, by geographical area, in Indochina to join in the dedication celebration for a local Foursquare church. As with each time we've traveled into this country, the border crossing and weaving through the crowds of "tour guides" and taxis can be a stressful experience... but once you've crossed that initial boundary of sellers, smugglers and scams typical of many border-towns, the people are truly wonderful. Despite the difficult conditions they live in (or perhaps because of those conditions) there are few other places that possess such a richness of cultures and an appreciation of the simple pleasures of life. We woke up very early in order to cross the border in Maesai by 7 am. After going through Thai customs, we crossed the bridge over the Mekong river, which divides the two countries. Once that bridge had been crossed, we found ourselves in a different world. The language, the customs, the people, the food, the vehicles and even the time have all changed. That's right, having left Thailand at 7:00 am we found ourselves in customs at Tachileik at 6:30 am, as the entire country has set it's clock 30 minutes off of the rest of the world's recognized time zones.

Abi playing with the Kids Once we had worked our way through customs and the crowd of sellers, we hired a Tuk Tuk to take us to Esther's home village to see her parents. As is typical in any Akha village, Abi quickly made herself at home, "helping" fix breakfast and playing with all the Akha kids, and (as is also typical) the villagers were all amazed to see a little "foreign girl" speaking Akha and interacting in the Akha world.

An American from Singapore showing Akha kids a Russian toy in Burma.Abi cooking breakfast with Esther's momAkha boys travelling to the fields on bicyclesEsther's grandma and and Akha girl talking with Lori and AbiEsther and her parents

After the delicious breakfast and great time in the village, we headed off to the dedication celebration for the new church. It was beautiful, and over 500 people from the various Foursquare churches in the region came down. A majority (probably 80%) of the attendees were actually hilltribe members - most of them were Lahu but many Akha were there as well. We enjoyed speaking with the pastor and Bible students from the church, but Lori and I especially enjoyed connecting with the Akha and Lahu people who came down. (The Lahu are a group related to the Akha, and although the two languages are unique and distinct, most Lahu speak a little Akha and vice versa.) Abi put on the traditional Burmese outfit that Esther had tailored for her as a Christmas present, and even wore Thanakha - the traditional face-paint of the region.

The new Foursquare churchLittle Lahu boy wearing ThanakhaGirl wearing Thanakha face paintAbi with all her new friendsAbi with her Thanakha makeupThe church celebration

In the middle of the service I (Paul) was asked to come up and give thanks for the offering, I was planning on speaking in English with a translator, but when I got up front there was no translator, so I decided to just stumble along in Akha. Once I finished, the reaction of the crowd told me that most of them could in fact understand Akha, and it was great to connect with everyone in a language they could understand - although they were extremely gracious overlooking the ineloquence of my words.

We really enjoyed our time and look forward to some great opportunities that are on the horizon to continue to build into the new relationships we have with these Foursquare churches.

In the Middle of Mae Sot

I received a phone call in the middle of September from Kelly, our Foursquare supervising missionary from Bangkok. In his typically subtle way, he asked me "So, are you guys interested in taking a little break?" Knowing that there was a much larger backstory to this question, I asked Kelly what he meant and he shared the following story: The Gilberts, Foursquare missionaries to Mae Sot, have been in America since August visiting churches and fundraising. Mason and Virgene Hughes were overseeing the ministry, but Mason had some health problems that required them to return to America. Now there was a home, two dogs, and some ministry activities that needed some bodies to fill in for about a month.

I began telling Kelly all the reasons we couldn't make it, going down my list of activities and opportunities that would make it impossible for us to be away for that long. However, every word I spoke felt like it was more and more incorrect. Soon I found myself stopping mid-excuse and saying to Kelly, "You know what, let me talk to Lori and I'll call you back."

Immediately after explaining the story to Lori, she confirmed the check in my spirit, saying "We're supposed to do this."

A week later (after hosting Sarah Smith - a short-term Foursquare missionary serving for the summer at Our Home Study Center in Bangkok), we were packed up and on the road (a 7-hour drive) moving to Mae Sot.

Our time in Mae Sot has been interesting. There are many Aid organizations working in the region, including the Mae Tao clinic - an incredible medical facility we were able to visit and exchange information with that "provides medical services for Burmese migrants in Thailand and for the thousands who come from Burma each year seeking medical help". They have suggested that they might be able to partner with us by sending doctors our way to do mobile clinics along the border in the north, and might also have training options available for us and for nationals who are serving their villages as "barefoot doctors".

The Foursquare church in Thailand also has a significant presence in Mae Sot. The National Leaders of Foursquare Thailand, John & Sarah Srivichai, pastor the church here and there is also a children's home, an elementary school, a coffee shop / english school and village churches. We are especially excited to have learned that there is an Akha village about 48 kilometers (30 minutes) from town, and plan on visiting it later this month.

But, as we have found in Thailand and understand to be true in most of Asia, you just can't pick up and start ministering immediately in a new area. Relationships are slow and history is important. So, although we've been to the church, the coffee shop, the children's home - we are still strangers and visitors, not active parts of the community. We've been able to work with the ex-pat community, and Lori has taught some English classes, but for the most part we're just house-sitting, dog-sitting and sitting around.

maesot2maesot1maesot3

This has been difficult, as we've been going non-stop for so long that we don't know what to do with ourselves. Lori and Esther are especially stir-crazy coping with the minutia of daily life and with the culture-shock of a new region and new food options.

However, despite the difficulties, we have found that "just being" and "physically being" here we can still be used as tools for God's Kingdom. Here are some quick examples:

Rusty, Lynette & Olive: as many of you are aware from our Facebook updates and Journey Notes, Rusty and Lynette had a baby girl, Olive Hope, 2.5 months early.  She is still suffering complications and is hospitalized in Chiang Rai. Rusty and Lynette have been staying in our city home (about five minutes from the hospital) ever since Lynette was released from the hospital. The family are all still in need of our prayers, but we have seen God's hand providing for them every on step of this difficult journey, the least of which is getting us out of town so that Rusty and Lynette could have a place to rest between their vigils with Olive. Our relative inactivity here has also allowed for us to be constantly remembering Olive and lifting her little life and body up in prayer.

Sang: Sang is a Jingpo, or Kachin, woman from Burma.  Neil and Diana have helped her get paperwork to live and work in Thailand and she has been caring for their home daily as her full time job. Her husband, however, has recently been hospitalized and is very sick as he battles progressed stage-3 stomach cancer. In the last week he has been unable to eat solid foods and has been put on IV nutrition. Sang was running herself ragged trying to care for the dogs here, her husband at the hospital, and her children at home. Since we arrived she has been able to pay much more attention to her husband and family, and is only coming over here for a few hours each afternoon. Esther has also been able to really minister sympathy to her as the two of them sit and share with one another in Burmese.

Paul, Lori & Esther: we're probably doing the worst of everyone on this list, but we're trying to just be. To be with God, to be with family, to be with ourselves. We rarely get opportunities like this, and are really blessed to have them (just pray that we appreciate this time for what it is, rather than wishing we could be somewhere else!) Attending church here has been restful. Esther has been fed by great Thai worship and sermons, and we have appreciated attending a church as visitors without any additional responsibilities.

Abigail: this has been a great time for Abi and for us to focus on her. We drag her all over the globe  (she flew on 33 different airplanes before she turned 2!) and she is a sweet, precious little girl. This time has been good for us as a family to set a good schedule for her naps and nighttime sleep and we have finally weaned her at night (again!). She is a two-year old with a huge personality and a very strong will, so this has also been a great time for us to set good boundaries with her and gently correct her when her will turns into a tantrum.

We're leaving Mae Sot tomorrow for about 10 days, and are planning on returning here on the 19th or 20th of October for the remainder of the month. We will be going up to Mae Salong to reconnect with our church and village this weekend.  Then Paul will be going to Singapore to attend a seminar taught by Beth Barone while Lori, Esther and Abi will be attending the annual interdenominational Akha Christian Youth camp next week.

Pray for us as in our travels and as our family is separated that we would stay safe and open to what God has for us in this strange season of our lives.

Thanks for following our Journey Notes online!

Moving to Mae Sot

Moving from Chiang Rai to Mae SotWe are moving from Chiang Rai down to Mae Sot today and will spend the rest of September and most of October there. The foursquare missionaries who live in Mae Sot, Neil and Diana Gilbert, are currently on furlough in America and some health complications with the couple who was watching their home and ministry have forced them to return back to America as well - so we are filling in for a month and a half, helping with the home, coffee shop, English classes, English fellowship and local church ministry. Mae Sot is a border town between Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand. Historically, many Karen refugees have come into Thailand seeking asylum and live in refugee camps in the area. Like many border towns, it has a mixture of languages and cultures packed densely into a small area.

It is a little daunting to move from a region where we can speak a very common language, Akha, to a region where there are very few Akha and the majority languages are Thai, Burmese and Karen. We are looking forward to the opportunity to increase our Thai language skills, and are grateful as always for the huge blessing that Esther is for our language needs. We speak to her in Akha, and she can translate it to Thai or Burmese as needed.

We don't really know what to expect in Mae Sot, but know that the National President of Foursquare Thailand pastors the church there and we are honored to get a chance to get to know him and his ministry a little more. Here's an excerpt from the Worldbase Thailand website regarding the ministry in Mae Sot:

The main church in Mae Sot is the Mae Sot Foursquare Church. Pastor John Somphon is the National President for Foursquare Thailand. We have several Hill tribes churches, an orphanage and a Refugee School for Burmese children (Elpis School). Pastor John has a heart for the many Karen refugees in the region and has started many churches in the Mae Sot area and in the surrounding Hill Tribes villages. Pastor John also oversees our church in Pitsanulok.

Foursquare Zimbabwe

Please join us in prayer!

Philip Chimeto, the national leader of Foursquare Zimbabwe, collapsed last night after checking himself into a hospital. Pastor Chimeto, who is in Anaheim, Calif. following Connection 2009, has been diagnosed with cerebral malaria. He is in a coma and is now on life support.

The intensive care unit staff are currently giving him a platelet transfusion. Please intercede for Pastor Chimeto. Pray that Jesus Christ the healer will raise him up and completely heal his body.

Technical Difficulties and Updates

I need to apologize to all of you, especially our new readers from the recent issue of Foursquare's Missions Advance magazine (see article here), for the current state of the Vernon Journal. We recently had some server changes which have required some coding updates on all of our pages, and a complete overhaul of our news feeds on the right side of the page. Unfortunately, I just do not have the time right now to completely update all of the pages on the site (the entire site has needed design and code changes for some time), but I have been able to get our ministry blog (Journey Notes), our prayer and praise blog and our personal blogs (Lori's, Abi's and Mine) up on crutches for the time being.

As for the rest of the site, our info, media updates, partner pages and the upcoming Mae Salong Project pages, they will not be updated for a little while. We are heading back to the village today and will not be back in Chiang Rai for any significant amount of time until the end of the month.

We are also waiting for some developments from the server over at Foursquare Missions which will allow us to begin receiving online contributions toward our ministry. As these features become available over the next months our site will be updated accordingly.

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Here are our current updates...

We are planning on building a new home in our village in Mae Salong: This was actually not our idea, and was difficult at first, but as we have thought more about it we are getting very excited about the prospect. The village leaders want to move us away from the center of the village and use our current house as the village home for cooking, hosting and storing things as needed. Actually, our home has always been used for these purposes, but now that we have a growing family they want us to move to a home with a little less foot traffic.

We are hoping that we will get an internet connection in our new home: We still will have a bamboo house and grass roof, but because of the proximity to the Chinese town of Mae Salong we might be able to put DSL into our new hut. It's still just an idea and there are a few development issues that might stand in our way, but if we are able to set up an office with full internet connectivity in our new home it will allow us to more effectively communicate with all of you as we spend more and more time in the village compiling the data we collect from the Mae Salong Project.

Visa Travel: After we receive our 1-year visas at the end of this month we will have to travel to Bangkok to apply for a 1-year visa for Abigail. If we cannot get this visa in Bangkok we will have to travel to Singapore to purchase a visa there. We are planning on traveling to Singapore at the end of April anyway, but would love to have all our visa issues worked out before that trip.

School Break Plans: School break has begun in Thailand and will continue through the beginning of June. Other than our visa needs and ministry travel plans (we have some exciting developments in the works that we will update you on if they work out) we have some plans to minister in our village as we build our new home and settle in again for the year.

Around the Thai new year we will treat our entire village for stomach worms (ourselves included). Although we will all be sick for a few days, the village is really looking forward to this medication as they understand that when the stomach worms are dead, the food (and therefore, the money) goes much further for the family.

We will also be "teaching english" through some sign language videos that John donated for the deaf family in the village. This way the kids will all learn sign language while learning english words and will be able to communicate with the deaf children as they are learning to sign.

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Thanks for your patience with us as we deal with the site changes and please keep our energy and health in your prayers as we enter these very busy months.

Podcast :: Pastor Jack Hayford ECFC Session 4

November 2006 ECFC Conference Bangkok, Thailand Audio

Pastor Jack Hayford continues his six-part series "Anointed to Serve" as shared with leaders, pastors and dignitaries of the Foursquare Gospel church at the Eastern Counsel of Foursquare Churches conference in Bangkok, Thailand.

Pastor Jack : Anointed to Serve 4 of 6 (right click, "Save As" to download)

Originally recorded and cast by our Foursquare friends at Mustard Seed Fellowship Canningvale, Western Australia. Used by permission.

Prayer Force Update : Kampot, Cambodia

We have received an update from our Missions Director asking to pray for the people of Kampot, Cambodia.

A flash flood has struck the city covering much of it in as much as seven feet of water. Please join us as we have been asked to pray the following:

Pray for the restoration of lives and homes damaged by the floods, for the peace of God to flood the community, and that God would minister to all affected through the aid provided.

Thank you for your prayers.

Expanding our Map

As you come down the road from Mae Salong you reach a military checkpoint. From there you can go east towards Chiang Rai or west towards Chiang Mai. On the road to Chiang Mai is a little town called Fang (Rhymes with Dong, not Tang). When we were last in Bangkok we met a couple named Jim and Eda who are serving as Foursquare Missionary Associates who were about to leave for Fang to work with Pastor Timothy and his church in the area. During our most recent time in Mae Salong, they called us to let us know that a book they had ordered for us ("Where there is No Dentist", we're coming across more and more abscesses and teeth problems) had come in. So off we went to get the book and spend a day looking around Fang. It's a great little town, mostly fruit orchards and national forest and we really enjoyed our time there. Pastor Timothy and his wife are wonderful people, very welcoming and hospitable. Their English is very good and we really enjoyed talking with them as we ate wonderful Thai food, visited their home, saw Grace church and went to see a hot spring. Jim and Eda are settling in well and are busy with language classes nearly every day. They are living above the church in a very nice apartment and had a friend from their home church, a girl named Tanya who Lori really enjoyed talking with, visiting them.

Great things are happening with Grace church, they have seen many churches come out from them and are purchasing land for a future church site and orphanage. Be praying for them as they are working on the price for the land and looking to make these expansions.

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