James dedicating a week old baby
Presenting a gift to the owner of the building
Guest Speaker, Rev. Dr. Sharon Bryant
Worship at the church dedication
Pastor of the Thai Church, Rev. Samerjai Srimala, and I serving communion at the June 7th Dedication Worship Service
Seven countries represented at the church!
The past three years have been quite a roller coaster. I have been in Thailand since 2012 living in Phitsanulok (“Pits-ah-noo-loe”), a city in mid-Thailand in between Chiang Mai and Bangkok. When I first arrived I served as an English language teacher in a private Christian K-12 school. I then assisted in a supervisory role to aid in the acclimation of foreign English teachers at the school. Wanting to be more involved in the teaching of Bible to students, I joined the Christian education department of the school teaching on Christian topics in English. While being a part of the school milieu I have also been very involved in the church. With the school being a Christian institution, I began attending the church that is connected with the school.
The Thai pastor of the church is well-known for his passion for the Great Commission and planting churches; he is an influential figure among Thai church circles. He had a vision a few years back to begin a service specifically for foreigners and in English. An English language church service by the name of “International Chapel” was started a few months after my arriving and was mostly attended by Thai who wanted to learn more English. As I taught at the school I would also preach regularly at this English church service and also at times in the Thai church (with an interpreter). Last year the pastor asked if I would be the pastor of that service with the aim of eventually becoming its own congregation separate from the Thai church. I agreed. This is a very monumental occasion. Thai churches have planted daughter churches for Thai; foreign missionaries have planted churches for foreigners (and for Thai). However, this is the first time a Thai church has planted a daughter church specifically for foreigners and in English.
Part of the reason for such a move is in line with a desire for outreach to foreigners as people prepare for ASEAN to take effect. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a 10-member group of nations who have been planning for some time to open their borders to one another in efforts to grow the economy and community of Southeast Asia. ASEAN holds English as its lingua franca and so the vision is to facilitate greater outreach to the foreign population already here in Phitsanulok as well as those who are anticipated to come. Phitsanulok is already seeing an influx of peoples from various countries around the world. Over the years more foreigners in Phitsanulok have come to know about International Chapel and have begun attending. We had been worshiping on the campus of the Thai church, but it was agreed that we should procure our own building. A member of the Thai church graciously agreed to let us use a three-story building that she owns. On June 7th we held a dedication worship service to dedicate that building to the worship of God.
This is a very exciting time as God is doing new things, building His church by bringing people of different nations, people and languages together to worship Him. Life is still a roller coaster, only now the ride is getting too interesting to get off.
from International Ministries: We are so grateful for James' two years of volunteer service in Phitsanulok. Accompanying him in the journey has been an honor and a blessing as he followed God's calling, even as the road took twists and turns. James has been faithful in his following and all praise to God for the roller coaster James is on! God is glorified as we each step on the ride and find it too interesting to get off.
Please pray for James in this new and exciting time!