Saturday, February 8, 2020

URGENT PRAYER FROM NORTHERN THAILAND - STORMS COMING - February 8, 2020

Hello Family, Friends, and Prayer Partners. We have an urget prayer request for you all. This is the time of year when we have seen some pretty terrible storms in this part of God's World. Over the past several years during this time we have even seen winds strong enough to blow the roof off of a church. We do not have tornadoes here - praise God - but we do get really strong winds. Please begin praying for us as we are beginning to anticipate them coming possibly even as soon as tomorrow. There is an article below that provides more details that was posted today. Please click on the link and Please pray for us.


https://www.chiangraitimes.com/thailand-national-news/chiangrai-news/northern-provinces-warned-to-brace-for-tempestuous-weather/?fbclid=IwAR2khMQFireriPl4Y133s3_7C4T1KB_MWCr7Ki88dN_Yea83-CuOfxjM4CE

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Reflecting on 21 Years in Thailand - January 15, 2020


Dear praying friends,

Twenty-one (21) years ago on January 13, 1999, the Johnson family landed in Bangkok, Thailand. Our oldest daughter Jessica was 9, Elizabeth was 6, Joshua was almost 2, and Caleb was 7 months in the oven. Wow, what an adventure this past 21 years has been for us. We have been blessed beyond measure as we have faithfully served God these last 21 years in Thailand.

We started our journey with the International Mission Board and served faithfully with them for the first 7 years. (We are still SBC missionaries just no longer with the IMB). Those first 7 years were good years and we are grateful for the IMB's investment in our lives. BUT THESE LAST 14 years have been nothing short of “incredibly amazing.”

We have been on an awesome journey of faith with a sense of great freedom and blessing from God to follow God’s leadership to use the gifts and abilities God has given to us to reach some of the least reached people and people groups in our world today. We are so grateful for the godly board members of NTIM who love and support us and help keep us on the right path. We are ever so grateful for the financial supporters that donate to God's work every month on our behalf. We are also thankful for the hundreds of volunteers that have come to help God's Work flourish in Northern Thailand. We are deeply grateful to all the partners both Western and Thai who have come along side us to work together to advance God’s kingdom over the last 21 years.

This is my prayer this morning,

"Lord, we want to thank You for these last 21 years. You have blessed, lead, provided, and given this ordinary family a chance to see a Faithful and Extraordinary God at work in and around Northern Thailand and allowed us the awesome privilege of joining You in Your work in seeing dozens and dozens of people become the first persons in their entire families to become followers of Jesus. Our hearts are grateful that You are our God and that there is no one like you in all of creation. Help us to continue to be your hands and your feet in this very needy part of your world and help us to continue making disciples from some of the least reached peoples here in and around Northern Thailand."
This is very similar to a post that I posted on Facebook two days ago but I have also felt compelled from the Lord to also share with you 7 lessons that we have learned over the past 21 years. We have learned hundreds of lessons but today we simply want to share 7 of these with you and hope that they will encourage you in your walk with Christ.

7 LESSONS LEARNED WHILE SERVING GOD IN THAILAND
OVER THE PAST 21 YEARS.


When we think about how much God loves us and how much He has done in our lives, sometimes our heart is overwhelmed and we want to do something for God. I am not saying that is all bad but what I have learned is that if I truly want to be pleasing to God, I will recognize that He already has a plan for our lives and what gives Him the greatest joy is when I recognize those plans and then embrace them as my own and live out the life that God has already planned for me to live. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11 and I think applies to this very concept and lesson that I am sharing with you. Jeremiah 29:11 says this, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”


When we really are honest with ourselves, we recognize that we are all a work in progress. We still have so much farther to grow when it comes to being made into the image of Jesus but oh, we are not the person we used to be. This man named Michael Johnson today is so very different than I was some 40 years ago. What is truly amazing to me is that God does not give up on us but is committed to conforming us into the image of Jesus and we need to not give up on others so quickly just as God doesn’t give up on us. I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul shared with us in Romans chapter 8 when he said, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son….” Romans 8:29



It is human nature to want your life to count for something important. We all want that but God has created us to give glory to Him and to live for Him and He has told us in His Word that if we want others to know if we are authentic genuine followers of Jesus, then we must be known by our love for one another.  Remember what our Lord Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

LESSON 4 – Organizations and leaders who seek to make a name for themselves more than they desire to make Jesus famous, often find themselves placed on a shelf where God will not use them while God chooses to use those organizations and leaders whose heart is completely His.

Sometimes we let our success go to our heads and forget that God does not desire to share His glory with anyone. We must be constantly aware of the temptation to think more highly of our ourselves and our organizations than we ought to think. I am reminded of a great passage in the Old Testament that says this, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His….” 2 Chronicles 16:9a


We live in a place where only 1 person in every 100 people know Jesus as their personal Savior. We live in a place that is so unreached that most of the people who come to know Jesus as their personal Savior are the first persons in their entire family to become followers of Jesus. Oh, how we pray that God would stir up His people all over the world to take this great message to the least reached people group populations in our world today. How will they be saved unless they hear. How will they hear unless someone sends them? How can those who are sent stay and serve the Lord if they have no resources? Let us renew our commitment to missions, missionaries, and reaching the least reached people in our world today for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom. Please consider giving regularly at www.gontim.org

LESSON 6 – Keep your eyes and heart focused on Jesus and obeying His will for your life.

People are people and will make mistakes from time to time and cause your heart to be disappointed. This is why we need to keep our eyes fixed on the author and finisher of our faith. I am reminded of something the writer of Hebrews wrote when he said, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

LESSON 7 – “Relationships” “Staying the course” “obedience” and “Finishing the race” is very important to God.

There are times in our lives when God allows circumstances to come into our lives that force us into a place where we are at a fork in the road where we have two very different paths to choose. One path is the path that sometimes is the harder path but the path of obedience, faith, and perseverance. The other path leads us down the road of disobedience, the comforts of life, and is a much more heavily traveled road. As we reflect on these past 21 years, we are so grateful for the grace of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God who have helped us make some of those hard choices of the path of obedience, faith, and finishing the task God has given us to finish. We are not there yet but we have come oh so much farther by the grace of God. I am reminded of a passage tucked away in Acts 13:36 that talks about David completing all of the purposes of God for his life. Notice what God’s Word says, “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay.”  I want to finish my life much like David did having done everything that God wanted him to do and then “fall asleep.” What a great reminder of this important lesson I have learned over these last 21 years of the importance of relationship, the importance of “staying the course” the importance of “obedience, and the importance of “finishing the race.”

What a great journey God has allowed us to be on these last 21 years and we look forward to serving the purpose of God in our own generation well. Please continue to pray for us as we continue to complete this next phase of ministry here in Northern Thailand.

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.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Ending the Christmas Season with a Full and Happy Heart - update Dec. 26, 2019


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.



BUILDING 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.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

PRAYER REQUEST - Teaching English and Sharing Culture to Advance the Kingdom - November 27, 2019


Dear praying friends,

As I write this prayer update, I am sitting in the auditorium of one of the largest and best schools in the city of Chiangrai, Thailand where we have lived and served for the last 18 years after we had spent our first 2 years in Bangkok in full-time language study of Central Thai. 

This is a time of the year where we see God working in some amazing ways. Those of you who know us well, have heard me say many times that God is at work in mighty ways here in Northern Thailand. You also know that we believe in prayer and we are asking you to pray for us in a special way from now until the end of the year. We currently have a great partner team from Australia that is with us including the Pastor and his wife and two of their children as well as some great friends from their church in Glouster, Australia.

This past Sunday night, these awesome volunteers helped us with our Christmas Soccer Outreach to about 80+ university students. We not only had fun playing soccer with these young men, but also had the opportunity to share with them the greatest message the world could ever hear and challenged them to consider how they should respond to the love of God displayed through Jesus Christ.




Yesterday and today these volunteer partners from Australia helped our English language platform called Grace Language School reach out into our community with what we call an English Fun Day in one of the schools here in Northern Thailand.  Yesterday we lead over 100 children grades 1-3 in an all-day activity we call “An English Fun Day” which is basically a mini camp. We used the American holiday of “Thanksgiving” as our theme for the outreach. Here is a picture from yesterday.








We also had the chance to lead another 100 children grades 4-6 today in an all-day activity we call “an English Fun Day.” We used the same material and simply did the same kind of thing we did yesterday with the children at CVK School in grades 4-6. Here is picture of the camp today.



Here is a short video clip of one of our awesome Thai Staff doing a dance with one of the children at CVK. Who said you can't have fun while you are working hard?


If you have Facebook and want to see all of our pictures of these two English Fun Day Outreaches, please click the following link:


EFD Day 2, Grades 4-6:

We are just getting started with our outreaches during this awesome time of the year and we want our friends and partners to keep us before the throne of grace as we seek to light up the darkness in our communities with deep intentionality. Would you please take a moment now and pray for us? Then, please keep us in your prayers each day until the end of the year as we reach out to some of the least reached people groups in our world today.

Please also continue to pray for us and for the funds needed to complete our first ever building project we are calling "The Lighthouse Learning Center," and for the continuing outreach and discipleship ministries that go on every single day here in Chiangrai, Thailand.

We will update you very soon on our building construction process with a video clip.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

As we shared with you, we have been using the theme of “Thanksgiving” as our theme for our English Camps the last couple of days and are reminded of how thankful we are for our relationships with all of you. 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.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST FROM THAILAND - OBEDIENCE - Update Oct 14, 2019


Dear Friends, Family, Partners in Ministry,

I realize that many of you are wanting to know where we are with the building and we will give you an update very soon but during this whole building process one of my roles as Vice President and Director of Field Operation for NTIM is to help us all maintain focus upon what God is doing, why we are here in Northern Thailand, and what He is doing each and every day in the hearts and lives of people.

We still have many things to share with you about the building but please let me ask you to remember that we need your prayer not just for the whole building process but we need your prayers every single day as we seek to be deeply involved in making disciples and giving our lives out every day for the advancement of the great commission to some of the least reached people groups in our world today.

Today, I want to ask you to pray for me personally as I begin this Monday morning preparing for the important work of speaking God’s Word this coming Sunday morning here in Northern Thailand among both missionaries who need to be feed and among dozens and dozens of people who are genuine 1st generation followers of Jesus. God is raising up a new generation of believers to reach this part of the world and what we do here every Sunday morning is important to building the right kind of foundation in God’s church that we call Baan Athitaan Church.

Please pray for me as I begin to seek God's understanding and heart and begin preparations for preaching/teaching this coming Sunday morning on the very important topic of "Partial Obedience" from the life of Saul in 1 Samuel 15. Such a very rich passage and so many things that could be said.

Please pray for me that I would discern the most important things to say and to say them in a way that others may hear to Spirit of God speaking to them. Our church is filled with dozens and dozens of 1st generation followers of Jesus and there are many things that are will be difficult for them to hear but important that they understand the Holy and Righteous God that we serve that says, "to obey is better than sacrifice." 1 Sam 15:23
Much Love & Prayers from Northern Thailand. Michael

“For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Corinthians 4:5



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Financial support can be given through NTIM....

Northern Thailand Impact Ministry (NTIM), P.O. Box 26115, Birmingham, AL 35260 USA Main Website: www.gontim.org

NTIM is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization based in the USA. We are committed to connecting people in need with people who care and are focused in the heart of Southeast Asia where poverty is high, education is low, needs are great, unreached people groups (UPGs) are all around us, and the love and message of Jesus is needed to transform lives.

Reaching, Teaching, Discipling, Equipping, Training, and Serving People in some of the least reached people group areas of God’s World today through acts of love and compassionate is what NTIM and our ministry team is all about.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

A Call To Renew The Tenderness Of Your Heart - Update October 12, 2019


This update will be a very different than our regular updates. Today, we want to speak renewal in the heart of all of our friends, partners, and prayer warriors.

Today I feel a special need to speak some encouragement in your personal relationship with God. 

I simply ask you to do 3 simple things, 1) Open your heart to hear what God wants to say to you through this song, and 2) Click on this video clip and take 4 minutes and carefully listen the words that are sung, and 3) thank God for His goodness to you in your life.

May you draw near to God…..He will draw near to you my friends.

Here is the song: 

May God continue to be pleased to use broken vessels like us for His glory and the advancement of His Kingdom.

Michael, for the team.

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." James  4:8