Students at Gethsemane Bible College
Christian Center for Persons with Disabilities
IM missionaries and volunteers at Thai Baptist Missionary Fellowship annual meeting
Leslie with some performers from the Garo tribe in NE India at the India Mission Summit
A sukiyaki party hosted by Rev. Matsuda of the Japan Baptist Union
I (Leslie) was privileged to speak at a church in West Virginia recently sharing for the first time about my new role as Area Director Designee for South East Asia and Japan (to begin July 1, 2014). Having just this week returned from a trip to Thailand and Japan where I was introduced to partners, churches, schools and missionaries with whom I will be working and having been blessed to be in attendance at the India Mission Summit in early October, I feel I am beginning to get a better understanding of what that role means. One statement during my time with the church was unplanned and yet grabs the essence of what I'm feeling now. I said, “As a missionary, I was able to have good understanding of the small area where I worked: the people, the work, the culture. Now, as I am learning about the position of the Area Director , I am getting the broader, bigger picture of what God through International Ministries is doing around the world.”
My visits this past month gave me experience with those who are doing awesome work for God in a variety of places. I learned about :
How all the American Baptist related groups gathered together in Northern India to see how God can use them as a group in unity to further the Gospel.
- The work of Jeff and Annie Dieselberg to combat human trafficking through the work of NightLight in Bangkok.
- The work of Kim Brown through ministries for those with disabilities and those without families at the House of Love and the Christian Center for the development of People with Disabilities.
- The work of Kit Ripley at the New Life Center and through her arts ministry.
- New missionaries Kyle and Debbie Witmer as with their family they are living out their commitment to serve in Thailand.
- Scott and Tan Coats and their ministry in Chiang Rai with minority peoples, Envisage and Chiang Rai International School.
- Ruth and Chuck Fox ministering to the Ahka Tribe and at Chiang Rai International School.
- Becky and Mike Mann helping local farmers through coffee production and education through the formation of schools.
- Joel Hoefle and Patricia “Trish” Magal who are development workers serving in Thailand and Myanmar.
- Volunteers serving at Chiang Mai International School.
- Patayap University and McGilvery Seminary in Chiang Mai; two educational institutions anxious to work with International Ministries through the vehicle of education and teachers.
- The River Kwai Hospital and the work of Lea Lindero meeting the needs of marginalized people as they offer low cost and free medical care and tuberculosis clinics.
- The many individuals who have received financial support from International Ministries for education and the many organizations who have received help in time of need.
- Visits with churches, bible schools, schools and ministries for the disabled and many other organizations.
- Associate missionary Shigemi Tomita as she is working towards ministry at Kanto Gakuin University.
- Lee Ann and Gordon Hwang with ministry in Yokohama with Soshin School and the Japan Baptist Union.
- And more!
This is only a hint of what I was able to see in my short time and I wasn't able to share everything that everyone is doing as it would be too much for this journal...but, are you impressed? I am. Coming out of my small picture in Okinawa to see this big picture of what God is doing in Asia has invigorated and excited me. How is my picture becoming bigger?
First, I am learning that the work of the AD is pastoral, administrative, people-oriented, and busy. The AD is the glue that often holds things together. David and I have worked with current Area Director, Stan Murray, in our context as missionaries in Japan, but I had no understanding of the immense “other side” of the work.
Second, I have learned that IM is well-known and highly respected for our mission philosophy and for our work. I heard many times over how thankful our partners are for our partnership. Together we are able to do great work for the kingdom.
Third, being able to see the work of the missionaries and volunteers in person, I learned much more about their dependence on God, their passion for his work and their desire to serve. We have humble and courageous servants for Christ on the front lines of work for Him.
Fourth, I have been thankful for the service of many American Baptists and others who support this work around the world by their unceasing prayers and their financial support of the many missionaries and work around the world.
Fifth and the most crucial, I have learned that God is in control and directs the work of his people. He continued to amaze and surprise us often in our journeys! Even on this trip we saw his hand at work.
My picture enlarging, but I am thankful that God always has the “Big Picture” as he directs the paths of his servants throughout the world! I am thankful he is allowing me to see more of this in my service for him.