International Ministries

Bangkok + Koh + Akha = Kuel!

September 26, 2016 Journal
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Normally, “cool” and “Thailand” are not used in the same sentence. But if you put 33 IM missionaries and staff together with their newly appointed Executive Director (ED), Rev. Sharon Koh (Sharon), and mix well, you get “Kuel”! (Kids’ slang for “awesome!”)

Arriving four hours late due to a closed runway at Narita Airport, we enjoyed our first taste of Thai hospitality at 2:30 AM. Our hosts from Bangkok Christian Guest House, greeted us with the famous Thai smile. Our meetings the next few days gave us a chance to renew acquaintances and make new friends. Individually, we shared our passion for ministry (in 3 mins.). We also reflected on the “Responding to the Call” vision as we move forward in implementing this plan. I particularly enjoyed our worship times at the start of each session. For me, the highlight of our time was the closing communion service and blessing of Sharon. Our family, Lee Ann, Miki, Matthew and I, all laid hands on Sharon and each prayed words of encouragement. I felt the Lord’s presence and His words fill me to share with her. We are very blessed to have Sharon as our new leader for this important time in IM’s history, starting our third century! Kuel!

         Our friends and colleagues, Chuck and Ruth Fox, invited us to visit them in Chiang Rai! So, we spent 2 ½ days touring the northern most part of Thailand. Our hosts provided warm hospitality and were awesome tour guides. Thank you!!

They arranged a dinner in an Akha village with their pastor friend. As the 4WD pickup bumps up the narrow mountain dirt road, we are treated to a beautiful sunset. As we arrive, we begin to hear rumbling thunder. They usher us into the pastor’s house because a storm is coming. They normally dine outside. It is raining as we go inside.

We enjoy a fabulous meal of fish, meatballs, vegetables, mild curry, and rice. The intensity of the storm increases while we eat and then the electricity goes out! Out come candles and cell phone lights. I notice the pastor carrying his guitar. Someone is handing out hymnals and there is English writing with the music. Traditional hymns have been translated into Akha using the alphabet! I can almost pronounce the words. It is getting late, but we sing three or four hymns with passion and in joy and praise to the Lord who brought us together.

Through translation, we learned that sixteen years ago, their group had no home, no land. They prayed and the Lord gave them the land they are living on now. Their village grew to over 130 residents, but still is poor. These tribal people came from Burma where they cannot live anymore. The pastor is the newly elected leader of a group of Akha churches. They need the Lord’s help again for wisdom and resources. Please pray for this Akha pastor and his family. Please pray for Chuck and Ruth as they continue to encourage and serve among the Akha people.

Later, our kids told us this night was the highlight of their trip. They want to go back to the Akha village and play with the children! Kuel!

“On Earth, As in Heaven” is our IM theme. We experienced a taste of the joy of this reality in Bankok and in Chiang Rai. Thanks to all of you who supported these meetings through prayer and giving. It was a tremendous blessing. I am encouraged and invigorated to follow Jesus in ministry together with our new ED, Sharon Koh. Please pray that Sharon remains healthy and be given divine wisdom to guide us to God’s “promised land,” our preferred future.

In October, you may be hearing more about mission around the world. We want to express our thanks to the many people that have responded and pledged toward our financial support. Would you consider a donation or pledge to the World Mission Offering in October? Please know that your part in the body of Christ is extremely valuable. Please donate through your local American Baptist church or click the link below:

World Mission Offering

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May the Lord continue to richly bless you!

With Thanks and much Love,

Gordon and Lee Ann Hwang