Viewing entries tagged
2019

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Bittersweet Lasts

Greetings one and all! One thing I can definitely say: this past week has been a week. So much happened that God has orchestrated, it’s hard to not burst into spontaneous song.

This past week was our last week teaching English classes at Santisuk. As such, it has left a bitter-sweet aftertaste in my soul. Bitter because we as a team, have invested parts of our hearts here and are now preparing to leave. There were a lot of “lasts” this week, and a lot of goodbyes. For my part, I also feel like I have finally gotten my feet under me in terms of teaching, building relationships, understanding how to get around Bangkok without a guide, and a host of other things. Particularly, I feel like I have just started to finally get comfortable around the students and to get to know them on a personal level. And just as that has happened (at least to some extent) we are leaving. So in that regard, it’s been a challenging week.

On the other hand, it was also an incredibly sweet week. The depth of grief experienced when leaving a person or place indicates their value to us and therefore the worth of the relationships built. Thus, in our preparation for leaving I feel like we are realizing just how much this time has meant to us. There were also a lot of really cool things that God did last week. I think Thursday night in particular was a highlight of just about everyone on the team. That evening, we had an end of session party. There were songs, a game, and a short testimony from Eh Doh. I think God really used him and his story to impact all the students, staff, and teachers there. 

Eh Doh told about the way Jesus saved him and brought him to life – an incredible story in itself. He went on, though, to tell about how he feels God is calling him to possibly come back to Thailand in the future. By the end, he was weeping, as was I and quite a number of others. As Ben put it, “I feel like often people get emotional when telling their testimonies because of all that God has brought them through – which is incredible. However, Eh Doh’s story was particularly striking because he was visibly gripped by his love for Jesus and what He is calling Eh Doh to in the future.” To see the way God worked in that alone was incredible. God went even further, though, to use Eh Doh’s story to really touch the students here. Joyce, one of the long-term teachers at Santisuk, said that often testimonies are told and students don’t really engage fully. Yet on Thursday, while talking with the students after the “official program,” it was clear they were moved too. Praise God! 

God has also been working in other ways in the lives of the students we’ve been getting to know. There are many stories I could tell, but I will limit myself for the sake of brevity. Art and Ploy are two students in particular who have really changed this month. Art has been willing to study the Bible with Mitch, and Ploy has really come out of her shell and engaged with the community at Santisuk in meaningful and significant ways. From what Joyce says of Ploy in particular, “God is working mighty miracles in Ploy’s life.” Praise Him for that great grace!

Another story is one from my own teaching this last week. Part of the curriculum at Santisuk is “Reading Comprehension” based on reading Bible stories. On Thursday, the “story” was John 3:16-17. In my morning class, we read the story and went over the comprehension questions. I then asked, “Any other questions?” Silence. And we moved on, no problem. In the evening, however, when I asked for further questions there was a moment of silence, but then the students started asking questions – and I mean questions, indicating that they were not just thinking about the English syntax, but about spiritual reality; Heaven and Hell and righteousness and wickedness. I even had the chance to share what sin is that it requires God to save us. Praise the Lord! What a grace, that he would work in their hearts in that way! I pray and trust that he will continue to work as he wills, to the praise of his glorious grace. 

There is so much more I could share, but I hope this gives you a snapshot into the work of the Lord this past week. Thank you all so much for your prayers and support – God is answering!

- Karl Geary

End of Session Party

End of Session Party

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The Harvest is Plentiful

This past weekend, part of our team had the opportunity to visit a village in Northern Thailand. The village, Fak Tha, is about 350 miles north of Bangkok in the providence of Uttaradit. Fak Tha is the hometown of our host in Bangkok, P’Noi (P is added before a name to show honor to those older or in a higher position than you), and his nephew, Book, one of the students at Santisuk this session. We were able to go with Book as he traveled home to prepare for university in Uttaradit beginning in July. It was a blessing to go up country as it allowed us to continue relationships with P’Noi’s family that have been formed by our Global Partners in Thailand and a team of short term missionaries from Bethlehem Baptist last year.

Ben, Mitch, Noah, and I traveled by train and bus with Karen, our Global Partner, and Book. Being the first train ride for the guys it was an exciting cultural experience to take a six hour ride through the Thai countryside. Staring out at countless rice paddies, fields of various crops, small villages, and mountains passed the time quickly. The following three hour bus ride to the village center made for a tiring day of travel.

We were met with generous hospitality by Book and P’Noi’s family when we arrived. We slept at the house P’Noi built for his parents and simply walked across the road to Book’s family’s house for delicious meals. Book’s family are farmers which meant all of our food was fresh and the majority of it was from their fields. We enjoyed trying new dishes specific to Uttaradit with the staple of sticky rice at every meal. Having family-style, home-cooked meals was a refreshing change compared to eating at street vendors or restaurants for almost every meal in Bangkok.

Our time was spent bonding with Book and his family, praying for them and their village, and exploring a bit of Fak Tha. We had the pleasure of driving mopeds around the quiet roads of the country to see the water reservoir, the family’s asparagus and rice fields, and schools in the area. We even traveled to a local “farmers” market with fresh meats, produce, and other goods for sale. We definitely stood out, but it was interesting to see how rural Thailand differs from the city.

The main purpose for us going on the trip was missions. Although P’Noi is a believer, the rest of his extended family, including Book, are not. We prayed for opportunities to share the gospel with Book’s family and people in the village. Although we did not have an opportunity to share the gospel explicitly though words, we were able to show aspects of Christianity through our actions and Karen had spiritual conversations with Book on the train. It was incredible to hear stories of how changes had happened in Book’s father’s life since the Bethlehem team was there are shared the gospel with him. We believe and are continuing to pray that the Holy Spirit would be at work in his life and all of Fak Tha. Being that we were surrounded by unbelievers and farming communities, Jesus’ words in Matthew 9 were a consistent thought and prayer for our team.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Matthew 9:36-38

A specific prayer for laborers came from meeting a believer who lives in a nearby village. We were able to speak and pray with him and his family at the market. He is eagerly praying for a church to be planted in Fak Tha that he and his family can attend so that he could grow in his faith and his children would come to have a personal relationship with Jesus. We have joined in the prayer that our Global Partners have been praying; that a long term missionary would be called to Fak Tha and help to establish a multi-ethnic church there. There are connections with P’Noi’s family to host the missionary(ies) and help them learn the language and culture.

On the ride back to Bangkok, our team was praying about being called to long-term overseas missions. This experience in Fak Tha showed us it is more feasible that we may have previously thought. Pray that God would continue to work in our hearts to show his glory to us and through us. Pray that we would be willing to go wherever we may be called for however long is necessary. Pray that a missionary would go and a church would be planted in Fak Tha, ask boldly that God would place one of our team members there.

- Harmon Squires, 2019 CCP Director

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Sawasdee Thailand

Sawasdee! (Hello) We have been in Bangkok for over a week now and it has been a whirlwind of learning, adjustment, and meeting new people. The team and I are extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve with Santisuk English School and Water of Life Church for the next month.

The transition here has been more difficult than I imagined. Most of us on the team had never traveled across the world before, and jet lag became a very real term to all of us. Luckily, waking up far before our alarms allowed our team to spend time with the Lord every morning and some of us took the opportunity to exercise with the Thai believers we are staying with. Long days of taking in new sights, sounds, and smells along with heat that has not gone below 80 degrees Fahrenheit helped us to fall asleep quickly and rest well at night. This helped us to get over jet lag quickly.

Our first few days consisted of trainings at Santisuk, the English School we will be teaching at over the next four weeks. We learned about Thai culture, how to teach our English classes, the ministry our Global Partners run, and how we can best serve them and the Thai students we will be teaching. Orientation also included tours of the neighborhood we are living in and the area around our school. Acclimating to an unfamiliar city, new methods of transportation, and street signs in a different language has not been easy. We got lost once so far, but that is just the way we like it! We have found our footing now and are excited to become more familiar with Bangkok as we explore it with our students.

We have enjoyed meeting and growing in relationship with our Global Partners and the Thai believers connected to Water of Life Church. It is a small church that meets in the same building where we are teaching. The service is in Thai, but parts are translated into English so we are able to understand and follow along. Worshiping with brothers and sisters in Christ in a different language shows me a greater picture of how big and great our God is. It has truly been a blessing to interact with the believers here, and even though we desired to encourage them, they have been constant encouragement to our team.

Oh, and did I mention the food? Aroi! (Delicious) This has been another adjustment point, but one myself, and the team are really appreciating. Streets full of stalls with various foods have introduced us to another important part of Thai culture. From spicy rice dishes to fresh, sweet mangoes we have loved experiencing new flavors and getting to know Thai people over a shared meal. And yes, I did try the fried crickets.

Khop khun (Thank you) for your prayers and support. God has been so faithful throughout this experience so far and I believe he will continue his faithfulness.

- Mitchel Magee

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Far More Abundantly

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

There is only one day until we board our flight for Bangkok, Thailand. As I reflect on what God has done in the past six months as we have been preparing for our 2019 Cross Cultural Project, I am completely amazed by how truly good he is. Preparing a team of incredible guys that love the Lord, hospitable and helpful Global Partners overseas, and 100% of our financial support only scratch the surface of his goodness.

Six months ago we were praying for all of these things. Not only have they come to fruition, but God has exceeded our expectations. I eagerly await to see how God continues to do far more than all that we ask or think while we are in Thailand. I ask that you would join us in praying for God to be glorified through our lives as we see and share his presence and power.

PRAYER POINTS:

  • Health and Safety

    • Pray for uneventful travel to Bangkok, protection in the city, and safe travels home. 

    • Ask God that our team would not get sick. Pray for quick adjustment to new foods and hot weather. 

  • Reliance on God

    • Pray that we would see our insignificance and rely on God in everything.

    • Ask that our inabilities plus God's abilities would lead to limitless possibilities. 

  • Humility

    • Ask that we would be learners, coming to aid the Global Partners in what God is already doing and not push our desires on them.

  • Understanding of the Gospel

    • Pray that Thai students we interact with would hear and accept the Gospel of Jesus and see Him as ultimate, worthy, and worth it.

    • Pray that our team would see more of our sinfulness, more of God's holiness, and understand more greatly how the cross bridges the gap between the two.

  • Encouragement to Local Believers

    • Pray that our team would be a breath of fresh air to the local Thai believers and Global Partners. As they do not have much exposure to Christians, ask God to allow us to be uplifting to them. 

  • Relationships

    • Ask that relationships would happen quickly and depth could be had between our team, Thai students, and local believers. 

    • Pray for depth of love and care between our team members as we rely on one another and point one another towards God.

  • Anxieties 

    • Pray that the peace of God would surpass all understanding as we travel, teach, and connect with Thai students. 

    • Pray for us to cast all our anxiety on him because he cares for us.

  • Thailand

    • Pray for a country surrounded by spiritual darkness. Pray that people would accept the Gospel of Christ.

    • Ask God to send out laborers to the harvest field. Prepare the hearts of our team for the potential of future, long-term missions.

  • Praise God for Full Support!

    • Join us in thanking God for His provision as our total support goal was raised.

We as a team look forward to keeping you updated on what God is doing in and through us during our time in Thailand. Specifically, we are excited to share how he does far more abundantly than any request here.

- Harmon Squires, 2019 CCP Director

2019 CCP Team: Mitch Magee, Karl Geary, Eh Doh Drawny, Ben Hershey, Harmon Squires, Noah Schuetz

2019 CCP Team: Mitch Magee, Karl Geary, Eh Doh Drawny, Ben Hershey, Harmon Squires, Noah Schuetz

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