International Ministries

Wonderful Words of Life

July 31, 2013 Journal
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Dear Partners in Ministry,

But it’s raining
July rolls to an end, and the rains have finally started in earnest.  We have had steady rain all over the valley starting last night and continuing into the day.  This is great for the farmers, but it’s causing some family problems because we both wanted the car this morning.  We both deemed the motor bike option unfavorable.

Yes, missionaries “fight,” too, but we compromise as well, so I used it for a quick visit this morning, and Larry grabbed the keys as I walked in, and he is out and about while I write.

Sending them off Northern Thai style
July seems to have passed quickly and normally, so I would like to feature a cultural event.  As you know, we live in a rural community, and we try to minister in culturally sensitive ways.  This week our colleagues Dema and Carolyn are leaving for home assignment. We needed to send them off appropriately within the community of believers. 

The Northern Thai do a ceremony involving a Bai Sii and the village shaman, who chants to protect the people who are traveling.  The Bai Sii is a beautiful multi-tiered arrangement decorated with folded leaves and flowers and filled with the things one needs for life—traditionally rice, steamed chicken, money, a comb, some rice whiskey, and clothes.  As Jesus followers we want to involve Jesus in this process, so we used the Bai See but changed the elements to include the cross, a Bible and communion elements. (We left out the comb, chicken and whiskey).  The initial chant binding the person’s essence together was changed to a prayer of thanksgiving and prayer for safety.  Then we had communion using sticky rice and herbal tea made from local tree bark and leaves.  After communion we tied string around the wrists of the family, praying for them and reminding everyone that we are bonded in the family of God.  This was followed by a benediction in the Thai way.  Then we got into the “let’s eat” mode, which seems to be supra culture.

Where do we go next?
We are feeling frustrated with our leadership training classes with the group from Ban Sra.  We have been going over two evenings a month to teach them from the Bible and to encourage them to develop teaching skills, but we seem to have hit a wall.  We would appreciate your prayers for us and the leaders.  We need insight into their situations, which are so different from ours.

Wonderful words of life:
The MP3 players are popular, and we change programs on them regularly when we visit.  We have finally gotten a good clear Northern Thai reading of the Gospel of Luke in MP3 format.  This is wonderful for people who cannot read, those who don’t read well, and those who don’t like to read.  We hope to have Acts in the near future.

Most of the programs are done by Voice of Peace, which transmits Christian programs in many languages.  Because we are in a small valley, we can’t receive these programs over the air, but they are keen to get the word out, and they allow us to download their programs and distribute them.  Larry was telling a story to a couple the other week and was told, “I know this story.” Larry was confused and wondered if he had messed up, but no, it turns out they had heard it on the MP3 player.

May the word of God be bringing you peace, hope, and guidance.

Jan and Larry

Prayer and praise

• Praise God for the ministry Dema and Carolyn have had here in Ban Luang, and pray that their time in Australia and India will be encouraging and restful.

• Pray for someone to come and work alongside them next year, homeschooling their children, Grace and Daniel.

• Praise God for Sara who came on a moments notice to teach the kids for 5 weeks.  She is staying on for a few more weeks to check out the rest of Thailand.

• Pray for us and Anna as we fill in for them while they are away.

• Praise God for Voice of Peace and Global Recordings, who produce quality resources.

• Pray that people will be drawn closer to God by the programs on the MP3 players.

• Praise God for the Thai leaders and their commitment to Jesus.

• Pray for wisdom and ability in strengthening their faith and helping them develop as teachers.

Dates in August
• 3 -7     TBMF Conference at the beach
• 8    Team meeting in Bangkok
• 15 & 30    Leadership training
• 21     We both have meetings in Bangkok

House church meetings every Friday, Saturday, and Monday