A recent guest coming through our center was a retired Naval Captain for the US Navy who had been serving in Thailand in the past. Duane is now not only a Pastor in USA, but also the "spiritual father" of some of the local young people here. Pastor Duane Harper and his wife, Dianne came up to meet an unofficial "adopted" Thai daughter he and his wife met here many years ago. At that time, they were involved in visiting a Baptist church planting ministry in Bangkok and met a beautician, the mother of Miss Nut, now one our our teens.
As Duane told the story, Miss Nut's mom kindly invited Duane and Dianne to Sawang Dandin a few years ago and the grand mother welcomed them into their family as not only friends but family (a Thai form of artificial kinship). For Duane and Dianne this was a chance to show the Lord's love to an unsaved family and they took prayerful opportunity to join as a "Dad and Mom" for Miss Nut. Now her spiritual Dad as well, to their delight.
Duane and his wife met little Miss Nut, then a fourth grade girl and encouraged her to pursue a good education offering to help her and then brought her to us for help in English Classes. After they introduced her to us, then they returned to USA and continued in their ministry, praying faithfully for Nut and her family. In successive visits, they helped out with her needs and continued to encourage her to study well and again brought her to us. Nut was saved in classes earlier this year.
Since Nut's village was a long drive from our home, we asked Nut to consider bringing fellow villagers when we go and pick her up to make the drive worthwhile. Soon that trip to pick up just one little girl grew in numbers as Nut invited friends to fill a entire van load of children. Soon I had so many from her village grouping that I decided to hire a local truck in her village to help bring that group of youth saving me a lot of travel time each time we opened the doors for special classes. One by one, Nut and many of her friends grew in understanding, as they not only studied English, but the Bible, became Christians. She has recently passed her 14th birthday and continues to grow spiritually. Amazingly Nut and her friends have on their own with a little help from us, bought their own Bibles, memorized many key passages of Scripture, and have shared their faith with others. Many of their friends have also come to the Lord. This is a picture of Nut and some friends at a English Camp (From left, Nut's Best friend, Oom, also a new Christian, Miss Nut, Miss Aoh, Miss Kunya an adult helper, Miss Ann-- baptized in May, and Kristen Caynor, a MK who is an age mate).
How delighted Pastor Duane and his wife were when they met Nut this time and heard from her own mouth, "I have trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior." Last Saturday, we had a lot of fun with our growing English Classes with Pastor Duane and Diane helping out with not only English Classes but the music since Diane is a wonderful Piano player.
I invited them to share in our Saturday Bible time/English Classes and also asked if he would preach for our two Church services on Sunday here in Sawang Dandin and also at Santisuk Baptist Church, through my translation into Thai. It was a wonderful time studying from John 1. 1-14 and Joshua 6.1-6 together. The passage in Joshua was preached at the Santisuk Baptist Church and focused on the confidence in the Lord the Lord's people had to have to be victorious over Jerico and an application to our lives today as we face difficulties.
The Harper family are sweet servants of the Lord and blessed with a gift of encouragement. They unfortunately had limited time (as many pastors do since they are on "personal vacation" here) but we really appreciated the gift of encouragement and ministry they shared here. We were exhausted as drivers and counsellors at camps, for two camps in a row so we also welcomed the ministry help they offered.