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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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Babel

It has been two weeks since our team landed in Bangkok, Thailand. Yes, Bangkok is hot, humid and has an endless flow of chaotic traffic. By God’s grace our team is learning the ropes of this foreign city, and our chances at survival are looking pretty good! We have conquered jet lag, learned to navigate our way back and forth from the English school, and even began to find some of our favorite street vendors. It is evident that the Lord is making our path level and protecting us at every dangerous street corner.

It’s still early into our trip, but already we have seen so many things to praise God. Specifically, the students and staff at Santisuk English School. Our mission here is primarily to plant seeds in the hearts of our students. We hope to achieve this by teaching them stories about Jesus in the English language during class and spending time with them outside of class time. While we were preparing for this trip we thought that most of our students would be university students, but we have quickly found that many of our students are working full-time and a few are even in high school. Despite this unforeseen twist, our whole team has been able to create great relationships with our students so far.

Together, our team is teaching a combined 49 students in seven different English classes. Within the classroom, our method of reaching students with the good news is one that requires patience and trust. Each level of English consists of 15 class periods over the span of four weeks. During most class periods, students will read a Bible story of Jesus performing a miracle or teaching and then they will answer questions about what they read. As a class we then discuss the questions which gives students an opportunity to organize their thoughts into English as they ponder the life and teachings of Jesus. During their fourth English course (Level Four), the students are required to have a one hour interview to test their English conversation skills. During the final part of the interview, one of the local believers who is fluent in Thai will share the gospel with them in Thai. By their Level Four class, most students have enough of an understanding to obtain a grasp of what the gospel means. If they have questions, they can always ask question in Thai for a better understanding. The ministry is well designed and it has been a privilege to teach English and engage with our students, but our team in learning about all the patience and trust that it takes to evangelize across a language barrier in a foreign nation.

What has been truly powerful to see is how people from different cultures with different languages can interact and bond on such a deep level. Our students have taken us out for meals and sightseeing on many occasions, and each experience has been a joy. It’s clear that God is working in our relationships with our students, the local believers, and in the hearts of this team.

Though the Lord has given us people of peace, willing to treat us like family without knowing us, the communication barrier has been a profound obstacle. It’s an obstacle that is rooted in our sin and a consequence that manifested soon after the creation of the world. The words of Genesis 11 give insight into why:

They they said, “Come let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the earth…Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.

Genesis 11:4, 7-8

The weight of our pride is a harsh reality. “But God, being rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4) interrupts and redeems the consequences of our pride through Jesus Christ. He uses this dispersion of people, this language barrier, not only to humble us but also to glorify Himself. This separation of people by language has given us the opportunity to come to Thailand to share Jesus. We can use our ability to speak English to share the gospel. What separated us in Genesis can be used to glorify His name and not ours. As Revelation 7:9 says:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.

Yes, God redeems our pride in Genesis 11 by using each culture and people and language to give himself Glory! And what a miracle it is to see two cultures speak in two different languages to worship the same God. Here in Thailand, we have experienced a small glimpse of what is to come.

Please pray more people of Thailand to join the celebration of Jesus. Pray for them to enter the Kingdom of God, so as a great multitude, we may enjoy him forever, together.

- Ben Hershey

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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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