A Step Towards Missions
by David & Andrea Foster
An introduction, as well as a prayer letter update series during our pre‐field development to explore and present the path towards our ministry as missionaries to Thailand.
On March 12th, 2018, we were officially accepted by ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism) to be full‐time missionaries to Thailand. WOW! We will now be serving as pre‐field missionaries while we partner with churches and individuals for both prayer and financial support. This is the beginning of a new life, set apart by God for missions. We are excited for the experience as we share the gospel with the Thai people.
In order to leave for Thailand, we will need to raise 100% of our regularly monthly support, as well as complete several training classes for preparation. While we would say that we are ready to go now, God is still preparing us and our mission field, as well as those who will partner with us.
Where We Are Going
Our target location is Sawang Daen Din in Northeastern Thailand. This area is home to one of the largest unreached people groups in the region. Inexplicably and inexcusably, few go to this region even though Thailand openly offers travel visas for church planters. Buddhism and Animism are the popular religions of the area, though neither provide any hope for this lost nation.
Why We Are Going
Romans 10:13‐14 for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
In 1976, during a vacation bible school program at our church, Paul Everett and his dummy Wally showed me that I was a sinner, and that only by accepting Jesus' payment for my sin would I be set free from a spiritual and eternal death and separation from God. I am blessed and most fortunate to have been set apart by God at the age of 6, to be spared the troubles that I would have surely faced in high school and college without the knowledge of what God sacrificed for me. This thought has driven me towards children's, youth, and young adult ministry for much of the last 20 years.
I was saved while attending a Good News Club when I was 8 years old. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but as I was growing up, I knew that I was saved. As a teenager, my eternal security was especially important to me as I went through a time of serious depression, even coming close to suicide. However, knowing that Christ was in me and that He loved me kept me alive and made it possible for me to be delivered from such a low point. I grew up without any spiritual growth or nurturing, but always knowing there was more that I needed. When my husband and I were married, our biggest commitment to each other was to make Christ the center of our marriage. It was during that time that I recommitted my life to Christ and began to learn what living for Him really means.
*We have both been baptized as a declaration of our faith before God and our church congregation
Our Family and Ministry Background
When did we start thinking about missions work?
Immediately after we were married in 1998, we sought out a local church near Irvine, California with an AWANA youth program, knowing then that it would be a great indicator of the doctrine and focus of the church. The next Sunday we discovered our new church home at Woodbridge Community Church, where we served as AWANA leaders while also serving on the AWANA missionary advisory board for the Southland area. While neither having, nor expecting any children of our own, we thrived on the enjoyment of teaching and working with children.
In 2007 we relocated to David’s home town and became active members in the church he grew up in, at the First Baptist Church of Richland WA.
In 2004, we welcomed our first daughter, Karen. Since she was 6 years old, she has expressed a desire to be a missionary and to share the good news of salvation to children who do not know God. This verbal expression was instrumental in leading to the three of us joining a short‐term missions trip to Thailand and Cambodia in 2014, where we knew immediately that God was planting a seed for missionary ministry.
In 2012, David was in New Haven, Connecticut for work training when the school shooting happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. David answered the Holy Spirit’s call to “go”, and soon found himself working with the Red Cross and first responders. This was a wakeup call to David that those things had and were going to change in his life. While David’s employment has brought a greater focus on adult ministry opportunities, Andrea has continued to serve in AWANA, where Karen has begun to serve as well.
We returned to both Thailand and Cambodia in 2016. Andrea was ill during the trip, but we were both able to work with the Child and Family Prison Ministry orphanage (CFPM) in Chiang Rai and confirm with each other our passion for children and their need for the gospel. Oh, how God blesses us! We soon found out that Andrea’s illness was at least partly due to her being pregnant with our second daughter.
Sarah was born in 2017.
We cannot count the many ways that God has blessed us, and how He has delivered us through difficult times. We have realized through it all, we have always been sheltered by the eternal security we have through Christ, and we have been surrounded by fellow believers. The people of Southeast Asia, however, are largely without hope. Barely 1% of the population consider themselves to be Christians. We have been called to reach out to these people with the gospel, and to encourage and support the ministries and local Christians there.
Part One: The Great Commission
When did we start thinking about missions work?
It’s a common question with no simple answer. We didn’t just wake up one morning and say to ourselves, “Let’s move to where we don’t know anyone, and tell people who don’t speak our language about God.” It is not a journey that is about to begin. It began many years ago when Andrea and I were saved, but the roots were formed well before then.
First, let us define our missions work. No, not the Webster’s definition, but the biblical definition. After Jesus rose from the dead, he went to his disciples as the Bible tells us in Matthew 28:18:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Our work as missionaries began when a risen savior, Jesus, commanded his followers to go with His authority, which is omnipotent. When we accepted that God, who created everything, sent his son Jesus to die for our sins, we were rescued from an eternal punishment. How can we accept this wonderful gift of salvation without sharing it with all nations? After all, Jesus not only told us to go, but gave us the authority to do so.
Andrea and I have strived to see, in every person, the value that God has placed on them of being worthy of the sacrifice of his son on the cross. Our hearts have always broken for those who do not see or understand what we know to be true. At times, we present God to our unbelieving friends as a small god, who is this undefined deity that sits on the sidelines of our lives like an untouched book on a shelf. By stepping forward in this new ministry, we have now put God front and center in our lives. We desired to put ourselves in a position to consistently present an awesome and amazing God, who is not only the omnipotent creator of everything, but who also knows the number of hairs on our head and presents himself as a personal savior to every person of every nation, all tribes and peoples and languages.
When did we start thinking about missions work? When we listened to what God was telling us all along. The real question that we ask ourselves, is why haven’t we done this sooner? There are many reasons for this that we will explore in our future newsletters. We ask our friends to read the following passages for an insight into our calling, but even more importantly, a look at God’s abundant power and amazing grace: Genesis 1:1‐2:25, Matthew 10:26‐33, Luke 12:4‐11, Revelation 7:9‐17. If you do not have a Bible, you can google search each of these passages for easy access.
Part Two: My Father
My passion for working in youth ministry was instilled in me by my father. More accurately, it was by both my spiritual father, God, and by my earthly father, Ed Foster. Dad’s commitment to working in the AWANA youth program at our church was a very big part of our family identity growing up.
AWANA, an acronym for Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed, was designed to be a Bible‐based evangelism and discipleship program that would give children the opportunity to know, love and serve Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:15 ‐ Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Dad served as the program director at our church for many years while also serving and supporting the Northwest AWANA missionary. It was during this time that I would often travel around the northwest on weekends with my dad to help him with events. Growing up in the AWANA program, I memorized hundreds of Bible verses, and was taught how to understand God’s word and apply it to my life. And dad was a great example to me of how to put 2 Timothy 2:15 into practice.
When Andrea and I were married in 1998, we immediately looked for a church that would be instrumental in helping us put God first in our marriage. I turned to the yellow pages to find a church with AWANA, knowing that it would be a great indicator of their doctrinal stance, as well as their focus on youth programs. We found our new church home on that very first Sunday, and served as leaders in the AWANA JV program, and soon afterwards we started serving on the advisory board for the Southern California AWANA missionaries supporting them and helping with several events.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
When dad was still pretty young, his father left the family. I cannot understand what it was like to grow up with such a bad example for a father, but I will always know and appreciate what my dad did in breaking with his father’s precedent. It would have been great if my dad had chosen to put family first, but he did one better. My father chose our heavenly father to be his example. To be diligent to present himself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, and who accurately teaches the Bible.
It was never a conscious thought to follow in my father’s footsteps, but dad was the example for me that I needed, and I appreciate that even more as time passes. May Christ be our example, my friends. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
We ask our friends to read the following passages for an insight into our calling, but even more importantly, a look at God’s abundant power and amazing grace: Romans 1:16‐17, Romans 3:9‐26. If you do not have a Bible, you can google search each of these passages for easy access.
Part Three: A Missions Focus
In the 1980’s, our church was thriving. Attendance was growing rapidly, the youth program that David was a part of was exciting and spiritually impactful, and the missions focus of our church was just that. Focused!
An annual “Missions Month” was highlighted with “Missions Week”, and a conference that brought in several participating missionary families. Each night of Missions Week was an opportunity for a highlighted missionary family to tell the congregation how God was using them to share the gospel to various parts of the world. Several events were designed to include every church member, and their entire family. Throughout Missions Month, we were regularly called to personally assess how God might use us in the carrying out of The Great Commission.
Our church has sent out over 25 full‐time missionary couples or individuals since the mid‐80’s, and several with ABWE (our missions organization). For a church with about 220 members, this is certainly not typical. It is a testament, however, to the provision of God. In addition to full‐time missions, our church has been regularly sending three teams on short‐term (1 to 2 week) mission trips, since the turn of the century, to Mexico, Thailand & Cambodia, and stateside.
Time traveling to the year 2011, Karen (age 6), started to regularly say that she wanted to be a missionary and tell people about Jesus. We recognized at the time that Karen had understood the gift of salvation was offered to everyone who believed, and that she was determined to share her knowledge of that great gift with people who might not hear otherwise.
This, and other events that we will explore in our future newsletters, helped lead the three of us to an opportunity to join a short‐term missions trip to Thailand and Cambodia in 2014. Andrea and I offered a choice to Karen that year of A) going on a short‐term mission trip to southeast Asia, or B) going to Disneyland for her first time. It was a very Christ and missions focused 9‐yearold who chose Thailand & Cambodia over Mickey Mouse and the California coast.
On this trip, we fell in love with the people in Thailand who desperately need to hear the hope of salvation.
“If you want the kingdom speeded, go out and speed it yourselves. Only obedience rationalizes prayer. Only Missions can redeem your intercessions from insincerity.”
‐‐ William Carey (1761‐1834), Father of Modern Missions
We ask our friends to read the following passages for an insight into our calling, but even more importantly, a look at God’s abundant power and amazing grace: Romans 1:8‐17, Matthew 10:27‐33, Luke 12:8‐12, Revelation 7:9‐17. If you do not have a Bible, you can google search each of these passages for easy access.
Part Four: A God-Centered Marriage, Pursuing Ministry
Andrea & I were married in 1998, and we knew God needed to be at the center of our marriage in order for it to work. We looked in the yellow pages for churches with AWANA, knowing it would indicate the doctrinal position of the church as well as their focus on youth ministry. We chose to attend Woodbridge Community Church in Irvine, California that next Sunday.
What a blessing it is to be loved without condition. We immediately connected with the church family, praised God for his provision, and looked no further. The men’s and women’s fellowship groups were so important in helping us build a healthy relationship with God. Within weeks we were serving in their AWANA youth program, and as we were building the early foundation of our marriage, God was using our ministry in AWANA to build upon that foundation. It was through learning Bible verses along with the kids, that Andrea was able to really grow spiritually for the first time.
We joined a group from our church who went with Amor Ministries to a small village in the middle of the world’s largest dump outside of Tijuana, Mexico. We experienced poverty first‐hand while we gave the children their once‐a-month bath, clothes, and a few small toys. God brought us there to show us the spiritual poverty of those that don’t have an opportunity to hear the gospel.
If our hearts are broken at the sight of financial poverty, how much greater should they break at the knowledge of their spiritual poverty. Using the skills that my dad had imparted on me, Andrea & I took an active leadership role in the church’s AWANA program. As leaders we evangelized and discipled the Jr. High and Sr. High kids. A couple of months later we were asked by the Southern California AWANA missionaries, Al & Roberta Wilsey, to be on their advisory board.
Now I had never seen myself as an advisor, and I do not know how well I advised. But that role taught Andrea & I more about serving in ministry than we could ever have imagined. It provided us the experience of seeing missionaries go through the joys of serving God and being prayed for by supporters, as well as suffering the discouraging attacks from Satan, all from within the same ministry.
Andrea & I are excited to use our experience and gifts to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the unreached people of Thailand. We are also thankful to those who have shared the gospel with us and who have supported our ministries over the years.
We ask our friends to read the following passages for an insight into our calling, but even more importantly, a look at God’s abundant power and amazing grace: Hebrews 10:22‐25, 1 Corinthians 13, Joshua 1:1‐9, Matthew 22:34‐40, Matthew 28‐18‐20. If you do not have a Bible, you can google search each of these passages for easy access.
Part Five: El Dompe (The Dump)
Nothing changes a perspective on suffering like a mission trip to an impoverished area.
In 1999, Andrea and I went on a couple of one‐day trips south of Tijuana, Mexico with our church in Irvine, California. We teamed up with Amor Ministries to provide showers, clothes, and a little food to the children of Tijuana’s ‘El Dompe’, a village on and in the center of one of the largest landfills in the world.
Andrea and I had thought we would make a great difference by helping distribute a small amount of physical needs to a few poor families, and maybe even have an opportunity to share the gospel cross‐culturally.
The children of El Dompe were not overjoyed to see us, but did seem to appreciate our visit. I cannot imagine that a shower, clothes, and some food are enough to satiate a people who are slaves to living in a dump, and scavenging for a living as drug lords and police line their pockets with the real profits.
The reality of their impoverished daily existence was overwhelming. We were face-to‐face with physical hopelessness that was so ominous, we could not imagine having the time to deal with their spiritual needs.
And this is where God intervened.
The smell in El Dompe was horrific. Even after just a few hours of visiting, it took 3 days before the smell stopped permeating our nostrils. That was 3 days of God saying “remember this.”
We found out later that by briefly supplying these people with a few physical needs, we were enabling the full‐time, long‐term missionaries to focus on their spiritual needs.
So why did God send us? Perhaps our efforts intervened in the needs of one child long enough for the missionaries to effectively share the gospel. We know this was for us to see the enormous amount of need that exists in the world, and physical poverty can hinder the gospel if not treated. Additionally, we now understand how everyone can play a part in missions, both at home and abroad.
When we returned to the church David had grown up in, we discovered they were well under way in developing a strong relationship with Amor, sending teams yearly to build homes for the homeless and support family ministries.
Scott and Gayla Congdon, along with the full‐time Amor Team, carry out their commitment and passion for helping the poorest of the poor in Mexico, South Africa, and, increasingly, other locations around the world. Find out more at www.amor.org
We ask our friends to read the following passages for an insight into our calling, but even more importantly, a look at God’s abundant power and amazing grace: Philippians 2, Philippians 4, Proverbs 28:27. If you do not have a Bible, you can google search each of these passages for easy access.
Part Six: Go! A Calling in a Crisis
The year is 2012. Karen has been regularly telling people that she wants to be a missionary, “because telling others about Jesus is the most important thing.” Andrea and I are prayerfully considering how we can encourage this. And, unknown to us at the time, a few people have started praying for our family to be called to missions.
December 2012, work sent me across the country for some very important training on fire alarm panels at Honeywell in New Haven, Connecticut. I could write three chapters of a book on the many ways Satan tried to prevent this trip from happening, and countless more on how God orchestrated and used it. However, I will focus now on that Friday, December 14th.
The final training exam was supposed to take 6 hours. Despite having slept less than 7 hours in total for that week, I was able to complete my exam in 90 minutes. When I handed my exam over to the instructor, he said, “Oh Dave, don’t give up now.” I tried to assure him that I had completed it, then headed for their cafeteria.
News then broke that a school shooting had happened at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, only 20 miles away from where I was. After processing a bit of the immediate grief and sorrow of the news, I bowed my head to ask God to intervene in this tragedy. It was that moment that the Holy Spirit said, “Go!” This directive reminds me now of when my dad would say something that, by tone, was firm, precise, and unquestionable. Without hesitation, I left the training facility and drove towards Newtown, not even heeding the warnings on the radio to avoid the area as police searched for suspects and tried to secure the area.
After calling Andrea and confirming God’s calling to go, I prayed for direction on what to do when I arrived. I will admit, there were a few times that I drove around a couple of signs for “road closed to thru traffic”. After all, I wasn’t called to go THROUGH Newtown, but to go TO Newtown.
I arrived one block away from the school at a small business area before the first news vans were in town, and few police vehicles were there. Following God’s direction, I simply walked from one business to another, praying with patrons and staff each step of the way. I was at a business that cuts hair for kids when the news came through that 20 children and 6 staff had been killed by a single shooter, 20‐year‐old Adam Lanza, who had killed his mother before going to the school. Surrounded by several digital photo frames that were rotating images of the 5 and 6‐year‐old customers who were now victims was incredibly emotional as I thought of my daughter at home who was nearly the same age. I finished praying with people there and walked across the street to a church to pray for further direction.
As I prayed for the victims, their families, the community, and emergency responders, the American Red Cross arrived at the church to set up a support center for these very people I was praying for. I quickly found myself working with the Red Cross as a spontaneous volunteer, where I was able to provide food and shelter, but more importantly pray with and share God’s love with these people in the midst of a crisis.
I am forever changed by both the events of that week in Newtown, and the privilege of following God’s calling to “Go.” When the Red Cross offered me a full‐time job to go to these types of crisis situations, I was initially excited. However, as an official employee of the Red Cross, I would not be allowed to pray with, share the bible, or share the knowledge of God’s love with others. I realized then that this was not the type of care and help that God was calling me to do.
So many people were praying for Andrea and I back home while we were following God’s calling. Little did we realize how many would continue to pray for us, as God worked in other ways when I returned home.
We look forward to sharing what God did next in our steps toward cross‐cultural missions ministry.
We ask our friends to read the following passages for an insight into our calling, but even more importantly, a look at God’s abundant power and amazing grace: 1 Peter 3:13‐17, 2 Timothy 2:1‐26, 2 Corinthians 12:7‐10. If you do not have a Bible, you can google search each of these passages for easy access.
Part Seven: A Field Revealed
In 2014 and 2016, we were blessed with the opportunity to go to both Thailand and Cambodia with our church’s short‐term mission teams. The focus of these teams is to aid churches and ministries while exposing the team members to mission ministry both at home and abroad.
We approached our daughter Karen, who was 9‐years‐old at the time, with the option of either going to Disneyland for her first time or going to Thailand with the mission team to share the Gospel. We were not able to do both, and God definitely used our daughter’s heart to push our focus towards ministry. She did not hesitate to choose Thailand. Can you imagine a 9‐year‐old kid choosing the mission field over Disneyland? She said what she had been saying for the last three years . . . “sharing Jesus with others is the most important thing.”
The three of us spent the next six months, with our team, preparing our hearts and minds for our first adventure overseas.
The first week of our trip was in Mae Hong Son, in Northwest Thailand. Though the humidity in August was uncomfortably high and the rains were more than we are used to in the high desert part of Washington state, we were so at peace there. The people are so gentle and friendly. The simple‐ness of that town of about 7,000 people was quite soothing. Andrea and I talked about the serenity of being exactly where God wanted us to be, doing exactly what He had called us to do.
Our team taught English classes to children and young adults at the church during that week, and used the opportunity to share our culture and our faith in Jesus. The church pastor, Don, shared sermons and led the praise music with his guitar. David and Todd presented a hilarious skit about the similar sounding words banana and bandana that was extremely well received, resulting in David being called “Banana Dave” during our stay.
This week we were also exposed to the mostly unreached hill‐tribes in the area. These are all very beautiful, though very different people, with diverse cultures, styles, and languages. The small church in Mae Hong Son has a such a great mission field in their area, but so few people to reach them. Thailand even has a church planting visa program, but yet somehow the laborers are still few. This thought has burdened our hearts for the people of Thailand.
We look forward to sharing what God did next in Cambodia in our steps toward cross‐cultural missions ministry.
We ask our friends to read the following passages for an insight into our calling, but even more importantly, a look at God’s abundant power and amazing grace: John 3:1‐21, and Galatians 5:1‐26. If you do not have a Bible, you can google search each of these passages for easy access.
Part Eight: God Is Calling, It's For You
In 2014 and 2016, we were blessed with the opportunity to go to both Thailand and Cambodia with our church’s short‐term mission teams. The focus of these teams is to aid churches and ministries while exposing the team members to mission ministry both at home and abroad.
Our first trip to Cambodia gave us the opportunity to establish a relationship with Pastor Soonthorn and his wife Nat (Nut), and their church plant ministry in Siem Reap. I had the opportunity to present a Sunday morning sermon on creation and who God is. This turned out to be a very important time of building relationships with some of the youth at the church, as several of them would be our students at an English camp the rest of that week.
Both our church team and Pastor Soonthorn would request that our church send another team to return in 2016.
While we both wanted to return to Thailand and Cambodia in 2016, my job and limited vacation time were expected to be a great obstacle. However, during my annual review, my unsaved bosses asked when, not if, I was going back to Thailand and Cambodia. When I told them that I didn’t have the time or money to go back in 2016, they proceeded to authorize unpaid time off for the trip and a raise to offset the missed work. Andrea and I recognized God’s hand in this and were obedient to God’s calling to return.
The first week of that trip was spent teaching an English class at the church in Siem Reap. I was asked to share the salvation message to the students on the last day, and was excited to do so. I had prepared a clear and simple message, and when the time came to present it, I was admittedly over-confident. As I finished and Pastor Soonthorn, who was also my interpreter, closed in prayer, my heart sunk. I had realized that I had skipped a key part of my message plan. As I began to embrace a feeling of failure, three people raised their hands to accept Jesus Christ as their savior.
God had just used this opportunity to speak directly to me. He showed me that even in my failures he can use me for his success. If I will be obedient to his calling to do the work that he calls me to do, God will be glorified in his harvest. This was the moment that I realized that God was calling me into full-time ministry.
We look forward to sharing what God did next in our steps toward cross-cultural missions ministry.
We ask our friends to read the following passages for an insight into our calling, but even more importantly, a look at God’s abundant power and amazing grace: Romans chapters 3 and 6, John 3:16‐21. If you do not have a Bible, you can google search each of these passages for easy access.
Part Nine: Recognizing the Need
David’s parents were saved when he was 4 years‐old. He was saved when he was 6. Andrea was saved when she was 8. It was confidence in her eternal security that helped Andrea through some very difficult times growing up. Though there was still much work to be done on our hearts spiritually, we grew up in predominantly safe, sheltered, and eternally secure environments. The people we are being called to minister to do not have this kind of security.
Many families are broken and in disarray. Large numbers of immigrant parents are imprisoned and separated from their children. The people of northeast Thailand are poverty‐stricken, and are forced to find other methods of income when their land does not permit agricultural work. This vulnerability is exploited by child traffickers who convince parents to sell children for money as a way out of poverty. These children are promised steady employment that can aid their family’s financial crisis and thus see it as a way to pay back their debt to their family.
In addition to the physical and social needs, the people of Northeast Thailand are in desperate need for eternal security. Less than half of one percent of these people consider themselves to be Christians. It is easy to see how a people that have such difficulty with healthy relationships are unable to perceive an eternal relationship with the one true God.
We can’t just go to church week after week, experiencing the saving power of Jesus, abiding in His shelter of eternal security, and then keep all of it to ourselves.
One of the last instructions we have from Jesus is to go everywhere and share the gospel with everyone (Mark 16:15). We have a hope that 99.5% of these people in Northeast Thailand have never heard of. How can we not share with them the good news of the Gospel?
The three roles of The Great Commission are going, sending, and praying. Some are called to go, others to pray and support. How is God calling you to participate in The Great Commission?
We ask our friends to read the following passages for an insight into our calling, but even more importantly, a look at God’s abundant power and amazing grace: Genesis 49:22‐24, Matthew 28:16‐20, Mark 16:15, Matthew 9:37‐38, Isaiah 6:8. If you do not have a Bible, you can google search each of these passages for easy access.
Part Ten: The Next Step
When Dave first came to me to discuss being full time missionaries to Thailand, I was 47 years old and going through a tough pregnancy. Needless to say, I wasn't exactly crazy about the idea. But I trusted that he was following an urging from God, and said “I can do the next step.” And so, one step at a time found us in Pennsylvania at ABWE’s New Missionary Orientation and final interviews in March of 2018. (ABWE ‐ Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, our mission agency)
New things are definitely not my idea of a good time. I would be perfectly content to just stay where I am (especially if there is a beach nearby) and never do anything I don't already do. But over the last 20 years, Dave has shown me that once in a while I can be convinced that new things can be fun. A bit like an adventure, really.
So, there we were, learning a little bit about being missionaries in Thailand. We had been there twice on short term trips previously. The people are lovely and we now know brothers and sisters and are in love with them and their country. The need for the gospel in Thailand is enormous. I thought, “I think I can probably do this.”
Now, mind you, in my head we were going to go to Mae Hong Son. We already know people there. The needs are right in line with the gifts and abilities Dave and I have. If I was going to go live in a new country, I was going to go where I was comfortable; where I already felt safe; where I knew people. But God doesn't have a habit of leaving us where we are comfortable. He grows us by stretching us. His desire is that we are more like Him...and I have a long way to go.
As our week at ABWE went on, I found myself becoming more anxious. More antsy and uneasy. During that time, we were learning about a missionary couple named Don & Gail Craft. They have been faithfully serving the Lord in Sawang Daen Din, Thailand for over 30 years. Essentially alone. Praying for someone to come and minister alongside them. I remember thinking “I hope someone will go work with them. WE are going to Mae Hong Son.” The more we learned about the needs in Sawang Daen Din, the more irritated I became with the whole idea of going to Thailand at all. For me, this is when God stepped in.
On the 2nd to the last day of orientation, I had a serious conversation with God about the whole thing. And when I got done talking, and started listening, He told me that WE are the ones He wants to go to minister with the Crafts. When I allowed that truth to get into my soul, I knew immediately that He has called our whole family to share the Good News with the beautiful people in Northeast Thailand. My anxiety went away, and I am now excited to learn all that I can in this time of prefield ministry so we can move on to the next thing. In Thailand!
We ask our friends to read the following passages for an insight into our calling, but even more importantly, a look at God’s abundant power and amazing grace: Jonah chapters 1‐3, Romans 10: 1‐15. If you do not have a Bible, you can google search each of these passages for easy access.
Part Eleven: Impactful Prayer
“I will be praying for you.” “We will keep you in our prayers.” “How can I pray for you?”
We hear these words all the time, and perhaps say them ourselves. The purpose behind these statements is to comfort others, but what impact does this really have?
God has called me to action on this very issue. I have since realized that when I make these statements, my immediate actions make all the difference for both them and me.
I was playing a game on my cell phone one day that requires interaction with others. While in a small group of players, a man whom I had never met made a comment about his fear of losing his job. I took the opportunity to ask “how can I pray for you?” But then I did something a bit out of my norm. I immediately asked if I could make that request with him before God. We prayed right there.
Thinking about this afterwards, I realized that by humbling myself to pray with this man immediately, I truly gave him the opportunity for God to comfort him.
If I told you, “I will be praying for you,” and proceeded to leave the conversation there, am I not taking the credit for comforting you myself?
It is God who comforts. It is God who cares for and loves us. It is God who answers prayer.
I now realize that “God and I will have a conversation about your needs,” is a world apart from “can I join you now in personally asking the God who loves you about your requests.”
Applying this attitude and action in my own life has resulted in countless opportunities for discipleship and witnessing. Prayerfully consider how many opportunities you may have missed, and ask God to help you draw others closer to Him.
Let us each be like the woman at the well, who was so filled with the living water, that it sprung up like a well flowing from her so that ‘many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the words of the woman who testified...’
Homework Assignment Part 1: Think of people in your life that are in need of salvation, healing, comfort, or restoration with God. Send us their first names so we all can lift them up. Part 2 will be in our next newsletter.
We ask our friends to read the following passages for an insight into our calling, but even more importantly, a look at God’s abundant power and amazing grace: John 4:5‐42, then read it again. If you do not have a Bible, you can google search each of these passages for easy access.
Part Twelve: Impactful Prayer, Part 2
Homework Assignment Part 2: Prayer
Many people commented on last month’s prayer letter, so we know you read it, but nobody sent us names for us to lift them up.
Think of people in your life that are in need of healing, comfort, salvation, or restoration with God. Let us pray for them by first name.
God knows their needs. We ask for prayer for: Andy, David, Ed, Emily, Jim, Jeffrey, Jenn, Joel, Johanna, Johnny, Kyle, Lewis, Mike, Mimi, Sarah, Scott, Sheryl, Sigrun, Thora, Todd, Tom, Zach, and our local churches & pastors.
If we truly believe that God has eternally saved us from our sin and punishment, then this space should not be empty, but filled with those we know and love, and even with those we have a difficult time loving. For God’s forgiveness is not only for us, but for all. His healing and restoration is not just for us, but for all.
This concludes our core collection of a series during our pre‐field development to explore and present the path towards our ministry as missionaries to Thailand.
We put these together in this format in order to offer a deep introduction to who we are for people new to us and our ministry. Our purpose in taking over a year to write these steps, was for our own benefit. Sure, breaking them into parts makes them easier to read for our casual, monthly readers, but it was a way to process these steps towards ministry ourselves, and see how God has blessed us and drawn us closer to Him.
Thank you, Abba Father, for opening our eyes to your enduring grace, mercy, and truth. Your love abounds in so many ways. How can we not share that love with others? In this life that you have provided us, may our focus always be to share with others how to have a very close and personal relationship with the one, true God.
How to Support Our Ministry
The best support you can give us is to participate in our newsletter and partner with us in prayer. Also, prayerfully ask God if he wants you to support our ministry financially. God will continue to call our financial partners, as he already has.
To give to our ministry, please direct payments through our agency at ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism), which can be done through their website at ABWE.org/give, or you can call them at 800‐901‐2293.