My (Ernie Schache) New Year began with having the privilege of being able, in the first few days of January, to visit, with Jeff and Penny Vann, the team at Christian Mission Naratchakwai.
It was a pleasure, at what is the best time of the year as far as climate is concerned for those of us not used to higher Asian temperatures, to have plenty of time to fellowship with the leaders and members of the Mission including attending their Sunday morning service and to spend time with the core leadership team – Maeo, Pastor Boontaa and Ploy and Parn – discussing the year that had just passed and more importantly looking ahead to the plan for activities and ministries in 2016.
The Leadership Team consisting of Maeo, Pastor Boontaa, Ploy, Parn and Lita, very ably assisted by five other capable young ladies does a wonderful job of planning, preparing and carrying out a full program of activities and ministry, including the teaching of English to the children who attend the Sunday service and Sunday School.
Please continue to pray for these folk – pictured below – and also for Maeo’s brother Dtee, who drives the van for many activities and the Sunday services, picking up the children and young people and returning them safely to their homes.
On the Saturday we were at Naratchakwai, we accompanied and assisted the team as they prepared, cooked and delivered their regular, monthly SOUP of LOVE. This nutritious soup is taken each month to some in their own village – Naratchakwai – and other nearby villages, who are needy or shut-in or less able to care for themselves. This ministry is very much appreciated by the recipients and suitable printed material is handed out to those who are visited, reminding them that it is the love of Jesus Christ which brings those who deliver the Soup of Love to their doors.
The route taken for the month’s deliveries was specially chosen to include the home village of Ploy and Parn – Kham Pok – which is some distance from Naratchakwai. This gave us the opportunity and privilege of meeting Ploy’s and Parn’s parents and wider family, and of being able, as best we could because of language difficulties, of sharing our appreciation of their daughters and what they are doing for the Lord at CMN.
After a busy morning and lunch together “on the road” and an afternoon nap we treated most of the members of the team to dinner at an “eat all you can as long as you cook it yourself” restaurant that the girls (and the adults!) enjoy very much!
It was a joy to worship the LORD with the members of the Mission on Sunday 10 January. Many “old”, well known hymns have been translated into the Thai language and are sung to the original tunes, and CMN’s slides have both the Thai and English words, so we were able to sing with each other, each in our own language, but together bringing praise and worship to God.
Another of the Mission’s regular, monthly ministries is the gift of a food parcel to two of the village’s needy, elderly folk and we had the opportiunity of participating in giving these gifts for January. This ministry has the added benefit of bringing the recipients, where their health allows, to the service to hear the Gospel. On occasions when the recipients’ health does not allow attendance, the team delivers the food parcels to their homes.
After a fellowship lunch together the children who attended the Sunday service and Sunday School had an English lesson. Although the wider program of teaching English in schools and to groups of university students had to be curtailed following Brother John Middlewood’s death, the older members of the group mentioned above, who were well taught English by John and were also taught to teach English, continue to teach the children for about two hours on Sunday afternoons, following the service and a meal together.
On the Sunday we were there, Penny did a great job of being the visiting teacher of English for the group. If the noise and laughter coming from the room was any indication, it was a very memorable lesson!
The Lord has blessed and continues to bless the activities and ministries at Christian Mission Naratchakwai. As with any ministry there are multiple critical factors which keep the activities and ministries of CMN going, not the least of which are of course the Lord’s power and grace and guidance.
Maeo’s commitment to allow her property and its wonderful facilities to be the centre of the ministry which she and John developed over many years is one of those factors.
Pastor Boontaa’s availability to teach and preach from God’s Word is another – without a Thai speaking teacher/preacher the ministry could not continue.
Ploy, Parn and Lita, with their abilities and commitment to use them to serve their Lord and their willingness to spend considerable time (from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon each week)and effort in planning, preparing and carrying out the various activities and leading and encouraging the other five girls are also critical for the ongoing ministry. Also very important is their Christian witness to these five girls who have not yet committed their lives to Jesus Christ – Ploy regularly asks for prayer for their friends, that they too may take the step of commitment to their Saviour.
Finance is also a critical factor of course. The Lord has graciously provided the funds required to meet the costs of the 2016 budget or spending plan as Ploy and Parn like to call it, but there are other financial needs which need to be met in the future.
The laptop computer which the girls use for a wide variety of tasks, including communicating with me and putting posts on Facebook and preparation of many kinds of material for the ministries including slides for the data projector for hymns etc. for services is over 10 years old and is in the repair shop almost monthly. Their camera is in a similar state. Both are critical for the activities and need to be replaced.
The 12 seat vehicle that is used, and is driven by Maeo’s brother Dtee when it is so used, to pick up the children for church and Sunday School and to return them to their home is 16 years old and has 232 thousand kilometres on the odometer and is feeling its age and will need replacing to avoid growing repair bills. They are not confident enough to use it for longer trips these days.
Ploy and Parn will begin University studies at the nearby Nakhon Phanom University later this year, both hoping to do an English Major. Both decided on this place of study so that they would be near to the Mission compound and thus be able to continue to play the critical part that they have played in the past in the leadership of CMN’s ministries. They are trusting the Lord to provide the necessary funds for their studies as their families cannot do so.
There is a young lady – Dtae – from one of the other churches of the Christ for All People Churches Association who will begin her third year at a Theological college later in the year, having heard her Lord’s call to full time service. She was formerly mentored by John and sponsored by CMN to a large extent. She too is trusting the Lord for funds to enable her to continue and complete her studies.
ACGC is actively looking for a lady or a married couple who are willing to go as missionaries to assist and help Maeo and her team develop the ministries at CMN. This person or these persons would need to learn the Isaan dialect of the Thai language before beginning full-time service at the mission. Funds to support this person or persons will also be required of course. Naratchakwai would be an ideal place to live and serve the Lord where the spiritual needs are great but the potential is enormous!
The needs in Thailand are great and so is our God! Will you please pray regularly for Christian Mission Naratchakwai, and for the above specific matters, asking the Lord to bless and use its ministries and people and provide their needs as He has so wonderfully done in the past? Many lives, mostly younger ones but also including many adults and many elderly folk, are touched by CMN’s ministries – God promised Isaiah that “… my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” – and our prayers and support can make that a reality in Naratchakwai, Thailand.