Dear praying friends,
As I write this ministry update, my heart is full and very happy. Last Saturday, I flew down to Bangkok To visit our second daughter Liz Vaughn and her husband Dallas and our newest granddaughter Mary Ella who made her entrance to our world on December 18. WELCOME MARY ELLA. Here are a couple of pictures of this precious Christmas gift. Hope was able to be with Liz and Dallas for the past week to help with Mary Ella.
My first trip down to BKK was a quick one because we had been planning a baptism at the church so I caught a flight early Sunday morning (Dec 22) back to Chiangrai to perform and oversee the ceremony for 6 people. I was able to return to Bangkok and celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the family in Bangkok and Hope and I returned to Chiangrai the evening of the 25th.
God is truly transforming lives and it has been so incredible to be a part of reaching so many of the least reached people groups in our world today.
Would you believe that all 6 people who were baptized are from 6 very different people groups? Let that sink in. 6 baptisms with each person representing a very different ethnolinguistic culturally distinctive people group. That is just cool in itself. But not only that, like most of the people we have seen come to know the Lord Jesus over the last 20 years we have served in Thailand, 4 out of these 6 people that were baptized this past Sunday are not only the first persons in their entire families to become followers of Jesus, but 4 out of these 6 people are also representatives of the 4 largest unreached people groups in Thailand today!
My heart leaps with joy to think about how God has chosen to allow a small group of ordinary people living in Chiangrai, Thailand to significantly impact some of the least reached people groups in our world today.
One of these 4 we call “June.” June is from Sukhothai and is from the largest unreached people group in Thailand called the Central Thai people UPG which if you include the ethnic Chinese-Thai living in Bangkok in this mix is made up of over 25 million people. June is the 1st person in her entire family to become a follower of Christ. As I talked to June and prepared her for baptism last week, she shared with me that she believed that she was most likely the first and only believer in her whole “Ampur” which is like a whole county in the USA. God is moving my friends and this is just the beginning for June’s family and God has chosen Baan Athitaan Church to be the church family with the opportunity to equip, train, and disciple June with the knowledge and heart to share her faith with her family, with her neighbors, with her unreached people group, and with her world. Please remember to pray for Baan Athitaan Church, for June, and for Boom who will be June’s mentor to help her grow in her relationship with our Lord Jesus.
The second of these 4 we call “Nicha.” Nicha is married to a Western friend of ours from the Netherlands and her family of origin is from the second largest unreached people group in Thailand called the Isaan people.This Isaan UPG is made up of over 18 million people and Nicha is also the first person in her entire family of origin to become a follower of Jesus. Please pray for Nicha for Baan Athitaan Church, and for Pii Mem as Pii Mem begins to meet with Nicha each week for Bible study and prayer and helps her to grow in her relationship with Jesus and begin to reach out as an authentic follower of Christ and fisher of men.
The third of these 4 we call “Jupjaeng.” Jupjaeng is from the 3rd largest unreached people group in Thailand called the Mueang or the Northern Thai UPG. Jupjaeng is the first person in her family of origin to become a follower of Jesus, but God willing, she is just the beginning. Please pray for Jupujaeng as she has been meeting with Pii Ja as her mentor for several months now and learning how to grow in her relationship with Jesus and become the salt and light of Jesus in our world. Please pray for Pii Ja and for our church as well as we help these new believers become connected with our church family.
The last of these 4 we call “Nampueng.” Nampueng is from the 4th largest unreached people group in Thailand called the Southern Thai UPG. She is from a very strong Buddhist family and is the first person in her family to become a follower of Jesus. Please pray for Nampueng and for Pii Mem as they begin to meet together as Pii Mem serves as her mentor and helps her to grow in her relationship with Jesus.
These 4 people, June, Nicha, Jupjaeng, and Nampueng have no other people in their entire families of origin that know Jesus as their personal Savior and they will go through some very difficult times of adjustment as they begin to share their faith with their families of origin. Please pray for a softening of the heart that the seeds of the witness of these new followers of Jesus would take root and many in their families become followers of Jesus in the days ahead.
God is truly moving and allowing all of us here at Grace Language School, Baan Athitaan Church, and NTIM to be a part of raising up a new generation of followers of Jesus who love Him with all their heart and who are gentle yet bold in sharing their faith with others.
God also gave us the opportunity to celebrate baptism with Nong Art who is Jon and Chrissy Espy’s adopted son from the Akha people group. We also celebrated the baptism of an English teacher from England named Jack. What a great Christmas Sunday! The Bible declares that the angles in heaven rejoice over 1 sinner that repents and puts their trust in Jesus Christ. All of us here in Northern Thailand celebrated with the angels over 6 that recently surrendered their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our hearts are truly full. Thank you for sending us to Thailand and supporting the work God has put in our hands to steward.
Before we move to give you an update on our building project, we wanted to ask for your prayers for our youngest son Caleb who is getting married in just a few days in Grand Rapids, MI to a very special young lady Gabriell Brusseau. They met while studying at Calvin University and got engaged a year ago. Caleb will continue studying at Calvin University for another year and one half. Hope and I will be making a very quick trip to Michigan and would appreciate prayers for us as we travel and for all who will be traveling as well during this very cold time of year. We will be leaving Chiangrai headed to Michigan on Dec 28th. Caleb’s wedding is on January 4th. Hope and I get on a plane headed back to Thailand on January 5th. Please pray for us.
Before we give an update on the building progress, we also wanted to just give a praise update on a great team from Gulfport, MS who came to help us reach out into villages, schools, and with our main Christmas Evangelism event where we had somewhere between 500 to 600 people. Here is a link to a video clip that Gahn put together for us of that main outreach event.
Thank you Crosspoint Church of Gulfport, MS for your continued partnership with us as we reach deeply into the unreached people groups in and around Northern Thailand with the gospel of our Lord Jesus. More to say on our Christmas outreaches in a later update.
Please continue to pray for us on our first ever building project we are calling "The Lighthouse Learning Center.” There are three areas we need help: 1) Finances – we are still needing about 175,000 U.S. dollars to complete the project, 2) Volunteers to help in the final phase of construction, and 3) Advocacy – We need God’s people all over the world praying for the redemption of millions of the least reached peoples in our world today. Please also pray for our continuing outreach and discipleship ministries that go on every single day here in Chiangrai, Thailand.
Here is a Video update that we recently put together. Please click on the link below. It is only 5 minutes long but will be very helpful for you to see in video form.
Some of you reading this are family members wanting to keep up with us and what God is doing in and through us. Most of you reading this are friends who know us personally and support us as we seek to do all that God wants us to do as we continue to serve God on your behalf in the country where over 99 out of every 100 people do not know Jesus nor have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
We are also so very thankful for those of you who realize that we could not live and serve here in Thailand without your financial support. Thank you for loving us enough to give. Thank you for loving the Lord enough to give to missions because you want to see the precious Thai people have a chance to be blessed by the one true God we serve.
Here is a reminder of just a few of the ways in which NTIM reaches out into this part of God’s world with the love and message of our great Savior. Remember these as you bring us before the throne of grace in your prayers.
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 15:58
Michael for the team.