Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pastor's and Congregations

     Wow! Can't believe it's October already! Where has the time flown? I'm pretty well adjusted to life here. I have my routine and feel confident buying stuff in the market. I'm learning Thai and starting to recognize some words around me. I've felt your prayers surrounding me and have realized things about my character that have needed to change. My heart is being burdened with the depravity of this country.  
     Today I want to share with you about a little church I went to in the northern part of Thailand. But first I want to explain a little about Christianity in the past. In the eighteenth century a Protestant man named Daniel McGilvary brought the the gospel to the Tia Yuan. Thousands believed and numerous churches were started. For 150 years the work has been carried on by missionaries and national workers. Despite all that, today less than 1% of the Tai Yuan believe in Jesus Christ. I was able to visit the first church planted in Chiang Rai. It's used as an office now, but the set-up is very American. Many church members are nominal and pastors are struggling to awaken them to serve Christ and to be a light in their communities. Congregations are more than willing to kick out a pastor who pressures them too much. Those who serve Christ well are gossiped about and many times are having to find a new ministry. Greg and Corinne feel burdened to encourage these pastors. Many would say it's not worth the effort, especially since it's a different denomination, but Christ is still being taught and pastors need to be directed to preach a gospel apart from materialistic rewards.
     This is a picture of a Christian bookstore at the first church in Chiang Rai. The owner's husband is a good pastor who's church kicked him out because they didn't like the pressure he was putting on them to serve. The bookstore is not too different from our own, but is a very special thing for the Christian community because they are rare and small in size. Please stop and take a moment to pray for this pastor and for revival within this denomination....

...Now I will tell you the story of my visit to Pastor Siy Jiy's church in Mae Sai, Thailand.

Every 3rd Sunday of the month, CEF travels northward to a little village church. Past rice fields, mountains, and border patrol.
 The clouds covering the tops
of the mountains amaze me every time.

We go to what seems like the end of the road and stop at a
fairly large home with a covered tile area and a side porch for the
children to play at.

This is  Ban  Toen Yang Friendship Center: a small
                          but vibrant church! 

There are three young girls who giggle and laugh as they play
games and listen well to the story. (the little one struggled

 There was a little boy who could care less about learning a lesson, but then, Sunday School is something new to children here. Sunday is usually their day to play. (and he's a little out-numbered by girls!)

Koi is a good teacher who has prepared her lesson well.
They memorize everything they teach and can take questions and
interruptions with ease. It puts me to shame at the lack of effort
and time I put into teaching.

We joined the adult service then. Singing hymns, many I knew, and listening 
to God's Word being preached. Pr. Siy Jiy pastor's several churches, is the 
director of CEF and is a natural leader that I admire greatly. She cares for her 
handicapped son and her two in-laws as well. I was speaking to a member of the 
congregation later and he said that the church was big once, but that the pastor didn't 
handle money well and eventually left. The faithful still met, but without a pastor. Then Pastor Siy Jiy
came and though they are small, God is growing them spiritually. They are so grateful to have a woman who has not only got her college doctorate, but who diligently studies the scriptures and presents God's truth in context of their culture. She is a servant leader and needs our prayers.

   We shared communion and fellowship afterwards around a meal! I played with the children- helped them say their ABC's a little better and played the piano while they sang. They asked me to play the piano for them when I came back. I look forward to it!

   So, I know this is a long post but, can you pray for this little church near Mae Sai and for the children and members who are struggling to share the truth of Jesus Christ to those around them. Those who have decided, like Paul, to say "But I do not consider my life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God's grace." (Acts 20:24)


  1. The top information was taken from a 30-day prayer calendar that Greg and some others put together to pray specifically for the Tai Yuan people. It's got great information and pictures. If you'd like to get one to pray along with me, please let me know!

  2. Emily... this is great! I would definitely like to get one of those prayer calenders. Praise God for using His people to do His work. Praying along with you for His encouragement for them, and that God will bring revival to that area. Fun to see a picture of you in this one!!

  3. Is Mae Sai up on the Burma border?

  4. Count me in for a prayer calendar also. I really enjoyed this posting. I know that you prayed over what to say and I think you did a great job of relating what your heart says. Love you!