Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Ministry in Sawang Dandin

Romans 15:9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.

The ministry God has chosen to lead us into is in a far corner of the world. Perhaps some might think it is unimportant and obscure since we live in a town which is not considered a huge town or financial giant among world cities. In fact, our town is almost devoid of any industry. We are roughly 340 miles from Bangkok and half way between two provincial capitols. There is a plan to develop this city into a provincial seat that has been delayed mainly because of the economy. Yet, there are 152,000 people registered residents here, though most families have at least one working elsewhere to support their families. There have been many gains in recent years developing the regional economy for agriculture, in particular Sugar cane production and rubber plantations. But most local salaries are still below national minimum wage. Many of the local youth grow up to move and work elsewhere to acquire work that would be gainful enough to support them since other than sales, government and education, Sawang Dandin offers very little opportunities.

Our Baptist Center, composed of three buildings and a open air Basketball/sports area is located just outside the edge of the city limits. It is in a particularly quiet and secure locale being on a side street off the main road and with a high elevation, which is good for a church property. While other areas in Thailand are enduring are flooding, and unlike our former rented church location, we are high and dry on a hilltop. Parents who send their children to our English ministry are also happy about our center location since it away from stores and busy streets. Gail opened a small snack shop so children who attend special classes do not want to leave our center to get snacks, and the profits are used for the prizes used for bible memory and group games.

Kids Games a great success!

Four wonderful days for our group here at Sawang Dandin Baptist Church. Our first day was "leadership training" classes for those participating as leaders. This was a new concept for camping, which includes youth in the work and leadership process and equipped them for the following three days of camp. A side benefit is we have youth who learned a number of principles about Christian leadership. It was no wonder that on the final day, at least nine people dedicated their lives for Christian work. Kids Games included lots of fun games for kids with a Bible focus, Bible memory, and a jam packed, fast moving program where the youth were not bogged down in classroom activities. After all, they are on their semester break from the public schools, so this was a welcome change of pace. A few schools in the area had already begun the next term conflicting with the camp schedule, something we often face here during the three week break, cutting into the numbers who attend. But still the quality of the camp was wonderful and the results point to the success of the kids games camp

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Kids Games in Action!

Very pretty and talented Miss Debbie Meiers (back) came to help us for two months from her home in Wisconsin upon recommendation of her pastor and has been an amazing delight with lots of musical and interpersonal skills with our Thai students. Here is Debby with some of her English Classroom. She amazed all of us when she memorized the Thai words to Thai versions of songs and sang duets and parts with her crystal clear voice. Debbie continues to learn Thai expressions and has a lot of energy -- the kids here all have fallen in love with her. Also in this picture is another Church Planting Assistant from the Bangmot Baptist Church, a fellow Romprakhun Baptist Fellowship Church near Bangkok, Miss Warang, one of the favorite helpers at our camps.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Football! (What we Americans call Soccer)

With the World Cup in the news internationally and daily, once in four year event, our teens are really interested in playing football (the game we Americans call soccer). We had two team, one small kids and one big kids in a form of soccer called fusol played on a cement pad. The game is fast and actions is constant. One week before this our big team played in Nong Mek on a full size soccor field, at a friend's church there and were beaten twice. But here on home court they won handily twice. This soccer match with the Song Daaw church and it was a lot of fun. Extra special was the chance to bring in neighbor boys who normally do not attend our classes. We are trusing the Lord that we can reach our neighbor boys with the gospel through sports.

A point for our team!
Our goal is smaller but according to the fusol court regulation size. The player's skill level has to be much higher as everything moves fast in this game.

Regular tennis type shoes mean more control and fast action. The light blue Sawang Dandin Baptist Church "Wild Cats" are pressing for a goal.

Though it was sprinkling and humid, it was cool making the game fun. Even the ones who stayed to cheer on the players had a lot of fun.

Three hours of sports is pretty exhausting but Gail made a huge pot of Wanton and noodle pork Soup for the players. They finished every drop.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

2010 Missions Conference at Sawang Dandin Baptist Church

Thailand Association of Baptists for World Evangelism Mission, missionaries, appointed to serve in Cambodia. (from their prayer card)
From 3John, "Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth".
It was our great privilege to be a part this new work for our Lord.

When they came to our annual Missions conference, I did not know how well this family sang together until they came and shared with us this weekend. From the left is there daughter Lydia, Mrs Nat Khamma and Pastor Soontorn singing the Ron Hamilton song, "A Servant's Heart" translated into the Thai language. They blessed our conference at the Sawang Dandin Baptist Church with their zeal and passion for the Lord and shared their burden and mission to preach the Gospel in East Cambodia. They will be the first TABWE missionaries from the Romparkhun Fundamental Baptist Church Fellowship sent out to serve overseas. These are exciting days for the member churches to see one of their own go to the mission field with the Gospel, supported and sent by their own.

One of the blessings of a missions conference is the many folks who participate. Here is Pastor Wittaya, assistant Pastor of the Bangkhen Baptist Church, Bangkok, and his wife sharing a short message followed by a song by his family.

After these meetings, my heart was blessed and stirred with the job again. I am sharing my heart after hearing the messages and challenges. How these things remind us of how we have found the Lord faithful to us these 30 years of service in Thailand.

Our missions conference was blessed by mission messages from the Word of God and songs sung by the Soontorn Khamma family. Our conference began Saturday morning with a challenging message about the need to preach the Gospel by Pastor Soontorn.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

2010 Missions Conference first day

During the afternoon session, Pastor Soontorn told about the formation and registation of the TABWE mission as a legal entity for missionary work under the Thai Department of Religious Affairs, paving the way for recognized status as TABWE missionaries open new countries for Thai missionaries.

Our mission Board showing faces of Cambodia and the Cambodia flag and a map.

Challenging music and messages make a missions conference.

Our evening time was a special informal time where Pastor Soontorn and Nat and their two children shared in an informal setting about their conversion, call and minstry. It was very interesting and was a time for interaction with our missionaries.

A number of youth raised there hand to show a desire to give their lives to the Lord. Pray with us for them.

Final prepartions for the morning meeting included our teen boys preparing their special music one more time. Then a time honoring the Thai flag and the opening of the Mission Conference.

A number of challenging songs such as "Send the Light, the Blessed Gospel Light" in Thai.

Leading up to the conference, the youth helped set up and decorate including the Poster Board featuring the mission field of Cambodia.

Missions conference poster.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Our 2010 Summer Camp

We had as many as 72 in our camp April 5-10 extending six full days! This is our final day picture with certificates and some of the parents who came and participated in the awards time. It was one of the best summer camps we have ever had and all of the camp for these kids was hosted right here at our Sawang Dandin Baptist Church.

Our camp program theme this year was "Working together in Love." Each day was filled with opportunities for lots of sports utilizing our church facilities which has a combo basketball, volleyball, takraw (an Asian sport) and short court soccer area.

Each day began with morning calisthenics, then morning devotions, followed by breakfast and the morning Bible study session. We had group games outside in the cooler mornings with some of the craziest games for kids on earth and in the hot afternoons we had more games inside and English classes until the evening meal. Smaller children were taken home after the afternoon classes and games (exhausted by the way!).

Our evening session was really special with great preaching, singing and special music from the fellow campers. Then we had "Sports with a Passion" under our flood lights until bedtime. Many of the young men slept outside in pup tents scattered on the east side of the property. The young ladies and lady leaders slept in the "Youth Building," which was our ladies dorm this year on the south side of the church. Overflow boys slept in the auditorium on the floor and stage. Thai kids do not mind sleeping on a floor mat or rug. So sleeping areas were easy to come by.

Even though camp week was one of the hottest weeks in 2010, the general health and well being and attitude of the campers was great. The youth really did not have time to get bored since our helpers kept them busy all day! When they did have a little free time they were basically ready for a rest.

Our cooks had worked for weeks preparing the menu and meals. Our food this year was almost like eating out in a fine Thai restaurant, thanks to our helpers and especially Miss Kunya from the Santisuk Baptist Church. Needless to say, our camps will be well attended in the future with the team we have.

I was reminded once again how just three years ago at this time of year, Gail and I were at one of the lowest points of our 30 years of ministry with a burnt out rental home and uncertain future. We are amazed and praising the Lord seeing how has taken this destroyed and useless situation and made it one of the finest facilities in Northeast Thailand for the Lord's grace.

Matthew 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

Many of our helpers came from member churches in our Romprakhun Fundamental Baptist Church fellowship. All of these churches have been planted by the Philippine Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. Gail and I work as fellow PABWE missionaries in this fellowship of churches. We had Thai Pastor Sawkham and Orn, who are church planting in Cha-am in the evenings with Romprakhun Baptist Seminary student, Khun Wichit. In the mornings, we had visiting ABWE missionary, Ron Powell, who came to help out from California. One special helper, who has been a long time friend of our ministry was Miss Walangkana Mandee, a church staff member of the Bangmot Baptist Church near Bangkok. She brought a new convert and growing Christian Dr. Tdu who shared her testimony and helped out with the youth. Our cook is Miss Kanya from our own Santisuk Baptist Church where we are co-pastoring and church planting. Helping the cooks were three ladies from the Thai Church of Nongphok, including the pastor's wife, Mrs. Plernjit Panangtang. Our other helpers were from our own church, Matthew and Kaew Panangtang.

Needless to say, the last evening with many new converts in the group (perhaps 10) there were many tears that the camp was drawing to a close and some of the helpers were going home. I always say, better not enough than too much! The kids did not want to end the camp but we only had our final day. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Camp in Sawang

Old McDonald had a "Gecko"? Wait a minute!

Pastor Sawham preaching opening message for Camp on Seven Types of Love in I John.

" I want to be your friend" song in English.

Mrs On sharing her life testimony how she was saved by the Lord while a student in Bangkok.

Bible Memory game: Arrange the words of the Bible correctly before the little train makes a circle. If not, "POP!" goes the balloon (a pin on the train makes sure of that.

Our pianist, business manager, organizer and does Gail Craft do it all.

Singing the friendship game song.

Like a row of logs after a long day and short night ... WAKE UP it is 6AM devotions in just 30 minutes.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bowling with Grandpa and the teens

Short term missionary, Miss Liz Stevens, met us at camp and we enjoyed her sweet attitude for another few days and heard of the love and zeal for our young people. So here is a photo of her ad hoc fan club (one of many I am sure!) from the Sawang Dandin bunch. This is in front of the Coral Resturant where we had a lovely seafood dinner before heading home to Sakon Nakhon.

Girls always take opportunity to make a publicity spot photo-- here they are at the bowling alley with Miss Liz.

And of course where Ronald is there is always a smile.

10 teens went to send Liz off to the bus and we had some time and went bowling. Here is Oah trying to get a spare.

When Dad went bowling with us, he did not have his old bowling arm in fact he sort of dropped them **BOOM** trying to send the ball off.

Well, Dad managed to get a couple bowling balls down the alley but the third went so slow it finally stopped half way and the managment had to go and retieve the bowling ball. So we used a handicap bowling helper and it really made it a lot of fun. For Dad it ended up a great day of fun. And Dad's score was not half bad with his handicap...ha!

Bowling is easy on the "kids lane" where they have gutter rails...why haven't they had those when I was a kid!

USA comes to Northeast Thailand

Life in our area has changed again...well sort of, since now we sport a brand new McDonalds in the neighboring town of Udon. Their 30 cent ice creams are just as much fun as USA.

Sawat dee Krup, Sawat dee Ka, the Thai greeting coming from good ol' Ronald McDonald himself. Here is Miss Oah and Miss Oom posing by the clown himself.

And here is Miss Tangmo (or Phuong Le) making the scene with Ronald McDonald

Hi Ronald!
Hi Tangmo!

Oah's World Blogspot

One of our High School Seniors has started her own Blogspot web and it is full of fun teen stuff. Here she is goofing off with some huge eyeglass frames.

She now is a HAM radio operator too with the following callsign HS4VKJ.

Her blog:

Teens are lots of challenges and fun.