Almost every week during the month of September, we found snake in our yard. One day a cobra was found curled up around some school bags in our living room! The silly thing was almost a yard long. We are living here in Northern Thailand with almost all the modern conveniences and looks of a Western country. But snakes in one’s living room is a stark reminder that things are not quite like America yet.
Another clear symbol that the Western world hasn’t completely overrun our Oriental culture are the Buddhist temples. We have them on almost every city block and in most villages. Though I have grown to appreciate them as something uniquely Thai, the temple are also a clear indication that the vast majority of Thai’s don’t know Jesus. My own mother-in-law, Tan’s mom, is a devout Buddhist who goes to the temple often. Since she’s a widow with free time, she will stay at the temple for several nights at a time. So please continue your prayers for this country. It is claimed 95% of Thai people claim to be Buddhist, but we are seeing change. More people are open to the Gospel than ever before. A large number of ethnic minority people are believers now and together with missionaries from all over the world, they are starting to see significant gains in the larger Buddhist society. And because of your partnership with us, you have been a part of the effort. Tan and I continue to live and serve here, and we seek to be witnesses to the love of Christ to the people around us - including Tan’s sweet mom.
Well, like we planned, Tan and I have begun work in our new roles at Envisage, the new ministry that serves the people of Burma through research and documentation. Tan has been really enjoying getting back into office finances 23 years after she graduated from college in accounting. The business of raising three children took precedence over a career, but now that Sam, our youngest, is in 11th grade, it’s time to see about serving the Lord in different way. As for me, I have been starting to research the issues around human trafficking in the region as my first significant assignment.
Even though Tan and I have been putting most of our recent efforts at this new ministry, you may have surmised, that we have been involved in a number of other interesting things as well. One that you may be interested in is an Akha Scholarship Project for Lao young people. I may have mentioned this one to you awhile ago. It all started over five years ago, when Dr. Paul Lewis, a former missionary to the Akha and Lahu ethnic minority peoples in Burma and Thailand, was visiting friends and leaders here in Chiang Rai. At the end of his visit, he challenged a few of us to see what we could do about helping young poor Akha in Laos to have access to education like so many Akha in Thailand have had over the past 40 years. To help make this a reality, he provided initial scholarship support the Elaine Lewis Memorial Fund which he set up in memory of his wife.
So a group of Thai Akha leaders and myself helped to start a program that has been channeling funds to Akha university students in Lao PDR for the past four years. Almost a dozen have graduated and another 25 are currently being assisted. This is very exciting because before this time, very few Akha have had an opportunity for further education. Recently, representatives from the Akha Scholarship Project committee, who live in Thailand, travelled over to Vientiane, the capital of Lao PDR, to meet some of the young Lao Akha people in the project. We found that the need for scholarships is great.
If you are interested in helping with this fund, International Ministries has set up an account called the Akha Scholarship Fund. Any support you provide will complement funds the Thai Akha leaders are raising amongst the Akha in Thailand to help support these poor young people.
Again, thanks so much for your partnership as we together seek to bring God’s Kingdom in Thailand, Burma, Laos and around the World.
Scott and Tan Coats