The following letter is from the MTW Thailand team leader, Dave Veldhorst. It provides an excellent update of the status of their work. As a church, we're thankful to be partnering with this ongoing work in Thailand.
Dear praying friends;
Thanks for your prayers for our family and the work here. Much has been happening which can only be attributed to God delighting to answer your prayers. Thanks. As we celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday as a team and took time to recount the many examples of God’s hand at work we mentioned:
FIRSTFRUITS AT MAHATTHAI….
This coming Sunday a young girl named Fern and a single mom named Wie will be examined to make profession of faith and be baptized at New City Fellowship Church in Bangkok. Over two years we started building relationships and sharing the Gospel at Mahatthai 3. At that time many kids came to study English but few showed any real interest in learning more about the Gospel. Over the course of many conversations and two years we see those who initially were willing to study the Bible now professing faith, coming to Wednesday night small group at Mahatthai, and not being ashamed to proclaim to others in Mahatthai that they are Christians. Please continue to pray for Fern’s family….pray that as they see her change in character and hear her profession of faith God will be at work in their hearts as well. Pray for these two professions of faith to be the firstfruits of many to come.
We give God thanks for a new team member, Boonchu, who now is part of our team and works out of Chiang Mai with over 20 different Karen villages. Our primary role with Boonchu will be assisting him in going to local pastors and providing training for congregations and leaders. We also are excited to be assisting churches in doing practical projects in the villages that will assist the villages to be more self-sufficient with respect to growing rice crops and gaining usable water. Thanks to several of you who have given to support the new Karen ministry. We have all the money raised to do a water project in one village and are working now to raise support for a key conference we will be offering in February. Mission to the World will be sending two pastors to Chiang Mai in February to provide training in Living in Grace. We are hoping to provide the financial support for over 300 pastors and their wives to come to this four day conference. Would you prayerfully consider giving to support this conference and the work with the Karen people? We are in the process of raising at least $40,000 for the first two years of support to provide training for the Karen leaders….I can send you detailed notes on what the support will go for if you are interested? If you would like to give please send financial support to Mission to the World with project #95722 on the memo line. A receipt for your charitable gift will be sent and we are convinced we will see many returns on this investment in the Karen leaders.
A GROWING CHURCH….
New City Fellowship Church started formal worship about 1 ½ years ago. At that time our prayer was that (a) we would focus more on growing in spiritual and relational maturity than worrying about numbers of people attending and (b) we would focus on training Thai’s to lead in different capacities within the church. God has been so good to us. We have a regular attendance of between 50-75 each Sunday and each area of ministry (preaching, teaching Sunday School, fellowship meal, music, nursery, teaching teens and children) is led by our Thai team members. We have also seen growth in spiritual maturity. We are anticipating 9 people to profess faith and go through baptism training in the next two months. We also are excited to have 3 men being trained for the office of elder /deacon to, Lord willing, be installed in January. Thanks for praying for this little church plant and its growth. Please pray for men like Pat and Pramote to continue to grow in their ability to lead as part of the pastoral staff. Pray for wisdom as our space gets smaller and smaller with more people coming to worship. Also pray for the continued discipleship of those making profession of faith.
GOD RAISES UP LABORERS….
Last year we prayed that God would raise up just the right people to come and work here in the years ahead. As we see God call some from our team to go to seminary (Paul and Crystal Henry, Andrew and Becky Bronson) we see God raising up Thai leadership from within Thailand and call new people from the US. In the year ahead we are planning on having 3 young men and women coming as 11 month interns and a team of campus workers coming for the summer. Please pray that all of those who long to come here will be able to raise the necessary financial support to get here.
Recently in one of our prayer times with our Thai teammates we were commenting on how for so many years we simply did not see much happening with regards to spiritual response. Then, all of a sudden, we all are having opportunities to share our faith and we are seeing people showing interest. The Thai’s said “that is because you have stuck with it long enough”. I don’t consider 8 years to be particularly long with regards to missionary service when I see 35-40 year veterans around me in other organizations. However, there is a lot of truth to what Eugene Peterson calls “a long obedience in the same direction”. He writes
“The central reality for Christians is the personal, unalterable, persevering commitment God makes to us. Perseverance is not the result of our determination as much as it is the result of God’s faithfulness. We survive in the way of faith not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God is righteous and God sticks with us. Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less to our own”
All of the answers to prayer above is rooted in this wonderful commitment that God has made to his people. Thank God with us. It has been quite a year for our team with God blessing us in ministry AND within relationships within the team far beyond what we asked or imagined last year when we celebrated Thanksgiving. As we look at the year ahead there are areas of concern:
a) the political situation in Thailand…..as you have read the news there is a lot of unrest. One end result of the chaos is the poor we minister to continue to get less and less support from the government and grow in more and more despair. Please pray for God to use this time of unrest to cause people to repent and turn to Him. We do give thanks for the great conversations we have been able to have due to the unsettled nature of many hearts here.
b) financial need….pray with us that as people around the world experience a bit of an economic slowdown they will find great joy in giving even more to missions than before. God’s Word is not bound or restricted. We simply see fruit upon fruit when taking the opportunity to share. We need support for the Karen hilltribes ministry in the year ahead.
c) Long term workers…We do not have a hard time finding and recruiting people who want to come for 2 weeks-11 months. It is getting harder to find those willing to come for 2 years and beyond. Please pray that God will raise up more long term workers who will count the cost and come.
Thanks for doing the important work of prayer. Lord willing the next two months will give us great reason to celebrate and rejoice as we see the church grow.
Dave and Jan Veldhorst and kids MTW Thailand