Yesterday, January 13, 2019, was a very special and significant day for Hope, Jessica, Liz, Joshua, Caleb and myself because it was on this 13th day of January that we all landed for the first time as a family in Thailand 20 years ago. For all practical purposes yesterday was Hope and I’s 20th year anniversary of living and serving God in Thailand. When we got off that plane 20 years ago in Bangkok, we had never heard of this awesome city called Chiangrai in the Northern most part of Thailand filled with enormous natural beauty and filled with dozens of unreached people groups, each with a rich cultural heritage and language but some of the least reached people groups in the world today. Below is a picture of our family 2 months after we arrived in Thailand 20 years ago as Caleb made his appearance on the day of his birth in Bangkok on March 10, 1999. When we landed in Bangkok Jessica was 9, Liz was 6, Joshua was 1&1/2 and Caleb had been in mommy’s tummy 7 months.
We had yet to discover that after we would spend 2 years in language and culture learning in Bangkok, that we would sense God’s leadership to move our family of 6 at that time to Chiangrai and begin what we then called “OPERATION CHAINGRAI.” “Operation Chiangrai” was a “vision” a “dream put in our hearts” to join God in establishing an English language platform that God might be pleased to use as a tool to reach hundreds and possibly thousands of Thai young people and be the starting point for planting this church that we now call Baan Athitaan Church, and a tool in the future that could be used to facilitate church planting not only in Thailand but in neighboring “closed countries” as well and still be “under the radar” of a legitimate legally registered English language school.
20 years ago we did not see the future very clearly at all but we loved, trusted, and knew God well enough to trust Him with all of our heart and not to lean on our own understanding and to acknowledge Him in all of our ways and we believed that God would guide and direct our steps just as His Word promises us in Proverbs 3:5-6.
Today, we want to honor God and give thanks to Him for His mercy and His goodness these past 20 years. We also want to take this opportunity to encourage each of you to walk with God, to trust God, to give you lives to God, to seek after His kingdom and His righteousness first and foremost in your life, and then…. enjoy the adventure of following Him and seeing How He allows you to be a part of as He is doing in His world as He seeks to save that which has been lost.
Let me be perfectly clear: Your life does matter. What you do and what you do not do has an effect on other people and on eternity. May God help each of us better sanctify Christ as Lord in our lives and to learn better what it means to seek God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness in our lives first above all other people and things. Let us resist the temptation to be driven by those things that drive the rest of the world but instead be driven by the love and purposes of God and the desire to honor him with all of our lives and to joyfully do our part in assuring that the message of Jesus Christ gets to every person in the world, even to those is some of the least reached people groups living here in and around Northern Thailand.
For more on the idea of “sanctifying Christ as Lord in our hearts,” please listen to a message I shared with our church here in Thailand just over a week ago. The link is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xXarEzrOa4&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3xgMYv9Rawxqq6zyaQzBLSUk1epeF5iZ2-avBxq9poD-OAMyM3oq3yq38
It has been our honor to serve God and to serve Thai people in a special way these last 20 years…. We have tried to do it all for His glory and for the advancement of His Kingdom. One of our life verses is 2 Corinthians 4:5, which says, "For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake."
We thank God and we thank you for letting us be your representatives to the Thai people these last 20 years. I pray that God has been pleased with our service and that He will be pleased to allow us to serve Him here many more years to come for His glory and for the advancement of His kingdom in and around Northern Thailand.
There is still so much work to be done. The fields are ripe, ready for the harvest but the workers are truly few. This is not work for the fainthearted! Let us be faithful to find the course God has for us and then to stay on that course regardless of the difficulties and hardships that come into our lives.
Our lives do matter and as we truly reflect on the meaning of Galatians 2:20, we realize that God desires to live in and through us to reach the lost, to help the broken and the distressed much like we see our Lord Jesus doing in Matthew 9:36. The various unreached Thai people groups, the various unreached Burmese people groups, the various unreached Laotian people groups, and the various unreached Chinese people groups, simply to name a few, are some of the least reached people groups in our world today living in darkness without the light of Christ.
These precious people have been in darkness far too long now and it is time for God’s people to take the light and message of Jesus into every village and to every people group living in this part of God’s world…. and may it begin…. with us. “Here we are Lord, send us” is our prayer.
Here is one very practical and urgent way you can help. Most of you know that we sensed God’s leadership around 3 years ago to move in the direction of saying to the darkness in Thailand that God’s work of redemption is here to stay. We shared our vision for what we have called “Project: Lighting Up The Darkness.” We have been in “rented facilities” for the last 17+ years we have lived in Chiangrai and we believe it is God’s time to establish a more permanent platform for NTIM to reach the nations for Jesus with the home base being here in Chiangrai.
God has blessed us greatly and we are somewhere between Phase 2 and Phase 3 of our project. Phase 1 was completed when we purchased land in a very good location just 2 minutes from our current rented location. Phase 2 started the day we began raising support for the building process. God’s people and several of His churches have been generous but we are still in need of about $190,000 so that we can begin this building project with all the funds needed to complete the building phase of the project.
We are looking at doing a “running/walking fund raiser” here in Thailand, in the USA, and in Canada (and in any other countries where someone is willing to coordinate this effort) in the days ahead and will provide more information on that soon.
But for now, in honor of our 2O YEARS OF SERVING GOD IN THAILAND, we want to ask each of you reading this to consider giving $20, or $200, or $2,000, or $20,000, or even $200,000 (as the Lord prompts your heart) and send it to NTIM designated to go to the completion of our building project of “Lighting Up The Darkness.” Please remember that this is not for our sakes…but for the sake of the millions of people living here in and around Northern Thailand who have yet to hear the “good news which shall be for all people” much like the Angel said to the Shepherds in the fields watching over their flocks when our great Savior was born. Believe it or not, after 2,000 years of the great commission, there are still areas like where we live where 99 out of 100 people do not yet have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. In Thailand alone there are 66 million of those people! For the last 20 years we have had to honor of joined God in seeing that alarming number change for the glory of God.
We have “in faith” submitted our paperwork to the government for the approval of our building project and according to our Architect as of yesterday, we expect to gain the approval to begin the building process this week. Please PRAY. If we can begin soon, we will be at a stage in the process where by June 1, we will need volunteers. We hope to have some of you come out this Summer on a mission team and help us put up walls for our classrooms and finish the painting. Derek & Jodie May are here from Mississippi serving as NTIM’s volunteer team coordinators for our building project and would love to hear from you. Again, let me say thank you in advance for any financial donation you feel that you are able to make toward this project at this time. We want each of you to be “invested” in God’s work here in Thailand because as Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there you heart will be also.” We want your heart to be in Thailand. Please open your heart along with us to love these precious people enough to join God in His work of redemption here.
Until the People in and around Northern Thailand know Him,
Michael for the NTIM, GLS, and BAC teams,
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