“He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 27:18
Matthew, Sharon, Ric, Carl, Barb in Thailand
If you had asked Trinity Church’s Global Outreach team last spring about Trinity’s Southeast Asia missions focus, they would have told you that Southeast Asia was to be considered in the near-distant future. As it turns out, the Lord had a different plan and a different timetable!
On January 20th Matthew Philip, Ric and Sharon Bruce (New Tribes Mission), and Barb and I boarded a plane for Thailand and emerged in Bangkok some 20 hours later. The next morning we flew north to Chiang Mai where we were met by Trinity missionaries Kenneth and Maxene. They had arranged meetings with leadership from NTM, Pioneers, and others engaged in missions-related work, and graciously transported us and kept us on schedule. As part of our visit, we also flew to northeast Thailand to visit Trinity missionaries Mike and Sandy who immersed us in rural village culture.
It is evident to us that our Trinity missionaries are having a significant impact on the lives of the people with which the Lord has connected them. They have been intentional in their relationship-building and we were warmly received by their Thai friends and acquaintances. Our missionaries provide an excellent testimony of faith and service in their communities.
A temple in Northeast Thailand
Traveling the streets of Chiang Mai with Kenneth and Maxine as our guides we caught a glimpse of the Thai lifestyle and culture: busy city streets with many small motorcycles and street vendors, archways and paintings honoring the King of Thailand, breathtaking flowers and gardens reflecting the country’s love of beauty and color, and numerous spirit houses, temples and statues that attest to a unwavering faith in unseen gods. Kenneth and Maxene work at Grace International School (GIS), a school designed for missionary children so that their parents can continue their work. We also met several other GIS staff and faculty, including Mark and Joanne from Trinity.
In northeast Thailand Mike and Sandy led us on an extraordinary walk. We strolled along the narrow streets and in keeping with local customs Mike and Sandy spoke with everyone we encountered and engaged in leisurely conversation.
Sunrise over a rice storage shed in the village.
We learned first-hand that “time” has a very different meaning here, and is not as linear as we see it in the U.S. As Mike translated, we learned about basket making and weaving from the local women and visited a store owner selling homemade food. What a privilege to see the warm and trusting relationships shared by Mike and Sandy and the villagers.
The respectful, kind, and generous nature of the Thai people made our interactions easy and comfortable. Smiling, laughing and gesturing with our hands allowed us to effectively communicate even though we couldn’t speak the Thai language. Most Thais in larger cities such as Chiang Mai and Bangkok speak some English.
What is the state of the Thai Christian church? Is it vibrant? Can we partner with them? How can we best come along-side our own missionaries in Thailand? These were some of our questions and though we don’t have complete answers, we are very excited about what we have learned and the potential for Trinity’s growing involvement in this part of the world.
We ask for your prayers as we seek to discern God’s plan for Thailand and SE Asia and the role that Trinity Church will play. The Lord is already moving ahead: shortly after our return, Ric and Sharon were formally invited to join NTM Thailand. We’re excitedly looking forward!
On behalf of the Southeast Asia Leadership Team at Trinity Church,