As I write this update, I still have jet-lag and am sitting in the mission house at SMBC in Vestavia Hills in the great state of Alabama. I am reflecting on the good news we received a couple of days ago from Thailand. The good news is that Jesus is still transforming lives today! What a great joy it brings to my heart to realize that God invites ordinary people like you and me to join Him in what He wants to do all over the world. I want to introduce you to “Nok.” This is a picture of Nok and Phet, my Administrative Assistant in Thailand, that was taken just this last Sunday, June 7, shortly after the Sunday service at Baan Athitaan Church. Yes, I am here in Alabama for the summer, but for the last 16 years we have lived in Thailand. God has planted us in an area where there are numerous unreached people groups.
One of my “vocational/work” roles in Thailand is serving as the Director of Grace Language School (GLS) and as a teacher. Last week, before we left for America, I was teaching the level 4 class. Nok, who is one of my students, is sitting on my left in the red shirt in the picture below. Ball, who gave his heart to Jesus recently, is sitting to my right.
Nok received a scholarship to study English with us when she came to our large Christmas program at Baan Athitaan Church this past Christmas 2014. Nok is a university student at Rajabphat University and is from an unreached people group known as the Lu Mien or the Yao.
There are about 44,000 Lu Mien people in Thailand, but including those living in Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, and mostly China, there are some 1,604,000 Lu Mien people. They are one of the largest ethnic groups in Asia. The Joshua Project website indicates that this is one of the least reached people groups in the world. Yet, God is at work among this unreached people group in Thailand. Most of you know that Phet is also from this unreached people group.
We have known Nok for over a year now and for most of that time she has been “learning” about Jesus and studying the Bible with Phet and studying English with me as well as with others. She has been very open to hearing about the gospel and God has been working in her heart helping her to see and embrace the truth of our great Savior. Jesus has been knocking on the door of her heart wanting to come in and this past Sunday, Nok opened that door and Jesus went in. I want you to understand one of the things that I know from living and serving in Thailand. Nok’s decision to become a follower of Jesus was not an easy decision. If my memory serves me right, like most of the people we see come to know Jesus, Nok is the first person in her entire family to become a Christian! Friends, like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.” What do I mean by that? Let me tell you a little about where I live.
We live in the most thoroughly Buddhist country on the planet. It is also considered one of the most gorgeous places on the planet with both beautiful mountainous areas as well as some of the prettiest beaches you will ever visit. It is a country that is rich in culture and history and made up of over 66 million people from over 110 different ethnic/language/culture groups that all consider themselves part of the “Thai” people. Many of these ethnic groups are some of the least reached people groups in the world. When one of these precious people gives their heart to Jesus like Nok did this past Sunday, we rejoice and thank God that He is allowing us to be a small part of His mission to transform lives. Please take a moment and pray for Nok as she begins her new walk with Jesus and for Phet as she meets with Nok each week for Bible study and discipleship. Please continue to pray for us as we seek to be ordinary people whom God is pleased to use for His purposes for such a time as this.
STATESIDE TIME FRAME FOR JOHNSONS – June 3rd – August 23, 2015
We are here in the Alabama area for most of the summer to rest, and to reconnect with family, friends, supporters and supporting churches on what God is doing and to expand our partnership base. If you know of any small groups or churches that would like to know more about what God is doing in Thailand and would like to have us share or speak, please let us know. You can reach us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another reason we are here in the US is because we have planned our “stateside” times around our children’s graduations from high school. It’s hard to believe our oldest son who was not quite 2 when we left for Thailand has now graduated from high school. Just a couple of weeks ago Joshua graduated from Chiang Rai International Christian School and will begin a new chapter in his life this August at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. We are very proud of Josh. Please pray for Joshua as he adjusts to life here in the USA and to life at Liberty University.
Update on NTIM’S Land Situation
May 6, 2015 was designated as our day of prayer and fasting for our land situation. We feel that we are at a very critical and pivotal place in our ministry and are in need of establishing a more permanent “Beach Head” for our work. May 6 was indeed a day of Prayer and Fasting and on May 7, I gathered all of our staff together to see what God has said to each of us. I was expecting for God to do something spectacular and show us a piece of land, but man’s thoughts and God’s thoughts are sometimes quite different.
What I heard God say to me was more in the form of a question something like this: “Why do you continue to get ahead of My leadership on this. Be patient. Trust me with all of your heart. When I am ready, I will show you this piece of land but for now, live out Proverbs 3:5-6 and wait on Me.” Wow! That was surprising, but was at the same time refreshing. As our staff discussed things it became clear that the Lord wanted to establish this “Beach head” but we were going just a little too fast and getting ahead of the Lord’s timing. Please continue to pray for us as we “wait upon the Lord.”
TEAM FROM FBC FLORENCE, MS – AWESOME PARTNERS
We are very grateful for the partners and friends from various churches, and individuals all over the world who support our family and team of partners in God’s work here in Northern Thailand. One of our key partners is from the great state of Mississippi from a town just south of Jackson, MS called Florence. FBC Florence is made up of folks who love Jesus and who have fallen in love with the Thai people as well. Folks from FBC Florence have traveled to Chiang Rai numerous times to serve with us, including one partner who has come out 8 different times. We are deeply grateful for FBC Florence and their commitment to help us reach the Thai people for Jesus’ sake. FBC sent a team in May to help us expand our ministry at Grace Language School and Baan Athitaan Church. Thank you FBC Florence for your partnership with us for the sake of the gospel. Here are a few pictures of our time together.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST – FINANCIAL PARTNERS NEEDED
Most of you know that we are Southern Baptist Missionaries but do not receive any support from the Cooperative Program or the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Like most missionaries today, we have to raise our own support. God has graciously provided us with supporters who give financially so that we can do what He has called us to do, but we are in need of additional financial supporters who would be willing to support us on a consistent monthly basis. The reality is that we cannot do what we do without financial partners like you. If you are not one of our monthly supporters already, please consider becoming one and joining us in a very practical way in what God is doing to reach some of the least reached people groups in the world?
Prayer Example: “Lord, we have been reminded today of how You are at work building Your church in Northern Thailand and using NTIM to reach into some of the least reached people groups in the world with the gospel. We thank You for allowing us to be a part of seeing many young people give their hearts to Jesus. We thank You for allowing us to see how You are using 1st generation believers to reach and disciple other 1st generation believers. We thank You for Grace Language School and how You are using them to reach out not only to Thai people but to Chinese, Laotian, Burmese people and many others. We do sense that it is Your time for them to establish a more permanent beach head and to say to the forces of darkness that God’s work through NTIM is there to stay. We ask that You would open the storehouses of heaven and provide NTIM with the needed resources in money and personnel and land to do all that You have put in their hearts to do. Please guide them as they seek for the piece of property that can best be utilized for Your purposes in that part of Your world. We also ask you to raise up more financial supporters so the Johnsons can continue the work you have called them to do. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.”
Your Servants to the Nations in and Around Northern Thailand,
Michael for the Team
Donations can be sent to:
Northern Thailand Impact Ministry (NTIM),
Northern Thailand Impact Ministry (NTIM),
P.O. Box 26115, Birmingham, AL 35260 USA
or given online at our main website:
or given online at our main website:
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, darkness is everywhere, and the love and message of Jesus is needed to transform lives.
Reaching, Teaching, Discipling, Equipping, Training, and Serving People in God’s World in the heart of Southeast Asia through acts of love and compassionate is what NTIM and our ministry team is all about. Here is a video summary of our work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBYHjbnn8zE#t=60