Monthly Archives: February 2014

Visas and New Studies

It seems that visa issues and political turmoil are just a given when it comes to foreign missions these days. We currently have nonimmigrant visas that are specific for NGO workers. Last week we went to do our first 90 day nonimmigrant check-in for our 1 year visas. It was a good thing that we went a couple weeks early because things didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped. We found out that we can’t extend our stay in Bangkok and will have to leave the country. Since we have a 1 year multiple entry visa, we’ll receive an additional 90 days once we return to Thailand. So this Wednesday we’ll be heading to Cambodia for our visa run, and will be spending a few days there visiting with some of the missionary families we know in Phnom Phen the nation’s capital.  

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Last week was our last time to teach English at Suan Dusit for their school year. For our last time together we had a surprise pizza party. We’ve really enjoyed getting to know our students there more and look forward to spending more time with them at our English Camp later this summer.

Gary has been studying one-on-one with some of our students who were coming to our English class at the church building before. For these one-on-one studies he’s using the Bible to teach and giving the students an opportunity to practice their conversational English. The studies are going really well. It’s always amazing to see the excitement and curiosity that people have when hearing God’s word for the first time!   

Michelle Studying hard

Michelle studying hard at Thai school!

This past month Michelle has been studying Thai at a school near our apartment. Her 50 hours that she signed up for has just come to an end. So hopefully we’ll be able to find more time for her to resume studies sometime again soon. It was nice for her to get a start in understanding the language a little more. It’s a good start for her to be able to order coffee and food from the street vendors and to have simple conversations with our Thai friends.

Over the past week the demonstrations in Bangkok have gotten more violent. At times even clashing with the police. There have been several bombings at a rally site not too far away from the church building. The video above shows some of the recent events that have occurred. Please keep praying for the political tension in Thailand. It’s clearly far from over.

Rice Puffs of Thanksgiving

This is a discussion guide that can used along with the above video in a small group or Bible class setting on prayer and service to God. Click here for a printer friendly pdf.

Some Background Info 

Roughly 90% of the people in Thailand are Buddhist on paper with less than 1% Christian. But many of the spiritual practices that they do and believe in are actually forms of animism, the worship of spirits and things in creation. In Bangkok alone, there are over 400 Buddhist temples and everywhere you look you can find some kind of idol or shrine.

When people go to pray to an idol, they basically are trying to cut a deal with that certain god. Saying, “If you grant me this wish, I promise to… for you.” The woman in this video came back to offer food to the fish because she believed that the fish had kept their end of the bargain, and now it was time for her to keep hers.

Discussion Questions 

  • How are our prayers to God different than hers to the fish? Are they different?
  • Have you ever tried to barter or make a deal with God?
  • What kind of things do you normally pray for?
  • What kind of things do we pray for as a church?
  • Are your prayers ever routine?
  • Are they selfish?
  • Are our prayers ever like rice puffs? Fluffy, without much substance or meaning?
  • What are things that Jesus prayed for?

Prayer is about more than just getting what we want. Prayer is about connecting with God, seeking His will and finding His desires for our lives.

The woman in the video gave the food to the fish -which is something they need to survive. God on the other doesn’t need anything from anyone but rather chooses to have relationship with His creation.

 Diving Into the Word | Acts 17:24-25

 “The God who made the world and everything in it—He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands. Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things.”

Context: The culture of Athens is similar to that of Thailand in several ways. Both places are full of idols and the people are spiritually and religiously open to new ideas (See Acts 17:16-22 for the whole context).

Romans 1:25 “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.”

 It’s always heart breaking to see people worshiping idols here in Thailand.

Further Discussion

The idea of people worshiping some things in creation like a fish, a tree, a mountain or something man-made like an idol can seem pretty strange to us.

  •  What’s an idol? How would you define idolatry?
  • Do you see idolatry in our own culture?
  • In what ways can our forms of “American idolatry” be especially dangerous?
  • What idols do you wrestle with in your life?

Prayer Challenge

Spend time with your group in prayer. Pray that doors are open across the globe for others to hear the gospel. Pray for specific people in your life that need to know God and have been searching for Him in all of the wrong places. Pray for God to use you/ your church/ youth group as His tool to reach out to the world.

When we pray, we don’t approach our King to negotiate -but to ask for orders.

 

 

Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand

In December we went on a trip to northern Thailand to spend time in the hill tribe village of Borseeliumn. We went along with some of the ministers from Somprasong 4 Church of Christ and a couple of the staff from Suan Dusit University (SDU) to make plans for a service learning trip that we’ll be a part of this summer. The university’s nursing department will offer an opportunity this summer for some of their students, and students from ASEAN (South East Asia) countries and a group from Abilene Christian to gain hands on experience in their field. We and several from our church will be a part of leading the trip and translating since everything will need to be communicated in English. We really enjoyed our time there and are looking forward to returning to Borseelium this summer!