International Ministries

The "Friending" Phenomenon

November 8, 2010 Journal
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The "Friending" Phenomenon

"Consider the Facebook phenomenon. People want to connect with others, even if it’s just to share a quick thought for the day or show a picture of a favorite pet. "

The recent elections ushered in many changes in the political landscape of the U.S.,  including a controlling majority party change in the U.S. House  of Representatives.  The weather in Chiang Mai suddenly dropped 20 degrees within the last week, marking an early transition into cool season this year.
On October 1, International Ministries entered a new fiscal year with a budget deficit. In many parts of northern and southern Thailand, the worst flooding in decades has brought the national flood death toll to 122 for this year. At the New Life Center, we are working on developing a new strategic plan for the next three-year project cycle, to start in May 2011. The exchange rate in Thailand recently dropped below 30 Baht to the dollar, diminishing the buying power of my salary.

And even time itself is not a fixed variable as people in many countries experienced a time change on Nov. 7. (We don’t do daylight savings in Thailand, so now I have to adjust my calculations of the time difference when I want to call someone in the U.S.) 

We live in a remarkable, and rapidly changing world.

Some changes are positive. Others are negative. Many have both positive and negative consequences.   But whatever changes our families, churches, communities and nations experience, change is, nevertheless, stressful. 
Unfortunately, the stress of change often causes conflict and drives people apart – red and blue; citizen and immigrant; men and women. Families often do not even share a daily meal together because everyone is so busy trying to manage their activities. But what would happen if we decided that stress and change would NOT polarize and isolate us, but rather, would bind us together? Now, more than ever, we need friendship. We need to know our friends know, respect and accept us, even if we have differing political opinions. Our society is starving for such friendship. 


Consider the Facebook phenomenon. People want to connect with others, even if it’s just to share a quick thought for the day or show a picture of a favorite pet. The verb “befriend” has even changed, thanks to Facebook…now it’s called “to friend someone”.   Call it what you like.   I call it “a gift from God”. One thing I like about living in Asia is that people value friendships very highly. We take the time to chat with guests, gardeners, grocery store clerks and grandparents. It makes us less efficient, but at least we have taken the time for friends.

One of our New Life Center girls named “Pat” graduated from high school three years ago. She then went off to Bible School in a far-away province on a New Life Center scholarship. Her face popped up in a “Facebook chat” window on my computer this morning. “Hi, Adjahn Kit! How are you?” she typed in Thai. (“Adjahn” is the term for teacher, professor or respected elder.) “I am doing well, Pat. How are you?” I typed back. “I am OK. I miss the New Life Center” she responded and then asked, “How is everything in the handicraft program?” I wrote back, “Well, we are working hard to fill an order for 300 pajama pants to send to America. Too bad you are not here to help us with the sewing!” 

We chatted for about 10 minutes. Just a moment to touch base, and share our love and care for one another.  People often ask me if my work at the New Life Center is worth it.  I can't imagine anything more gratifying and worthwhile than "friending" young women like Pat.

Thanks so much for “friending” me with your financial support, prayers, letters and emails. Your partnership is vital to this ministry. For those of you who attend American Baptist churches, please remember that IM’s World Mission Offering, taken in the fall,  is an important part of reaching out to the world with the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ.   If you have not yet done so, would you consider uplifting my work here by making a special, tax-deductable, year-end gift?

 Thanks so much for your friendship.