The first of November saw our annual church camp arrive. The leadership asked me to talk with our guest preacher about the background of the Thai church, and to present what we had in mind for the goals of the camp. Dr. Guy Saffold, the director of Power to Change, Canada, was our speaker for the weekend. Before the weekend began, we talked about the great need for foundational preaching of the Gospel here in Thailand. So many times, a weak and watered-down Gospel and a simple call to accept Jesus into your life is presented and left the hearer to think that simple nominal faith in this God Whom they don’t know but you seems to resemble a generous old man in the sky is all that is required.
Dr. Guy though, brought the Word. It was great to hear such solid teaching on the most foundational things that we discussed as being incredibly needed – (1) Who is God?, (2) Who are we as sinners?, (3) What is the real meaning of the Cross?, and (4) What is the response that God demands from us. Dr. Guy preached about the need to answer the greatest question correctly – this question that Jesus Himself posed, “who do you say that I am?” He continued speaking about the cross as showing both (1) how horrendously awful you and I are, and (2) how amazingly great is the love of God. The only thing that could deal with our filth of sin, was the brutal suffering death of the Son of God under His Father’s wrath. Finally, the only acceptable response is not just inviting Jesus to be a part of our life, but in repentance and faith, total trust, turning completely to God.
Awesome preaching of the Word, but for us, we left discouraged. Even with such solid teaching, the atmosphere of the camp was much like we often see at our church. Many people came, many people participated, but for most it was only about a church activity, not about growing in Christ. Many people were talking or not paying attention during the messages. They were interested in the fun stuff of the camp, and hanging out with friends, but many seemed uninterested in going deep with God. Again, not the conclusion you would hope to read, but reality. I ask for your prayers.
The reason for my trip to the Boondocks was simple – to preach the Gospel of Christ. In Thailand especially however, there needs to be a proper foundation laid before one can arrive at the Good News of the Gospel. Here, there is no foundational knowledge of who God is, His character, His nature, sin, justice, etc. – all needed before arriving at the cross. So, I seek to lay the foundation of the Scriptures as I teach and wherever i go.
Here, we’re in Nong Khai for 3 days of Bible teaching, and meeting the local community for encouraging believers and sharing the Gospel with those outside the church (and inside).
Here I am on Sunday morning talking about BOTH the bad news of our sickness, and the good news of Dr. Jesus.
Here is my partner for the teaching – P Nong. P Nong visits this church almost monthly and his teaching through the Foundations of the Gospel Bible study series I wrote, “The Road of Life.” Notice the dog getting in on our studies too. (Practically a requirement for any country church in Thailand).
And a great way to end the weekend with the after church meal with all sorts of unidentified things that made everyone’s day for me to eat until I was stuffed. It’s incredibly easy to be a foreign missionary here, really. If you (1) smile, (2) try to speak Thai, and (3) enjoy eating their food – you are loved forever. Praise God – I pass on all three counts!
That’s the big news lately and the vision for the next 5 years. Currently, Thailand is by the most generous estimate, about .6% Christian. Generous in that this figure of 400,000 Christians out of a population of 70 million includes an vast unknown number of those such as – names on the membership rolls of churches, but who are never actually in church, those going to churches from time to time, (and also continuing with old religious practices and without a saving faith in Christ), and those who call themselves Christian in the villages of the north because their great grandfather converted with missionaries a few generations ago…
With this in mind, the goal and vision for the next several years is to see 100,000 Christians in Thailand united in sharing the Gospel and united in faith – expecting God to work as never before in Thailand – converting mass numbers of Thais to break through and see 1 million Thai believers by 2015. This is completely unprecedented and is of such stature that the the theme of the Conference, (in the video above), acknowledge the utter impossibility of achieving this goal. Each leader/speaker at the conference echoed these same words – this is completely impossible. Only if God does this – we will see anything even close to this goal – thus the theme – “With Him, We Can.”
Our group, Thailand CCC, was responsible for hosting, planning, and staffing this conference. What was my job in this history-making event as everyone else was working feverishly from 6 am to midnight?…
There I am. In a seat. Talking. Being OK in English definitely has advantages. I’m not DJ-ing, but translating. That seems to be my regular job at any event nowadays, (even Sunday morning church services). I enjoy it, it’s fun. Just listen and repeat in another language.
So, when you think of us here in Thailand – pray that the leaders and believers here would not get lost in these big numbers, that they would take the time to preach and teach effectively and faithfully focusing on one person at a time. Who cares about numbers if the numbers you produce are a bunch of confused false converts? Pray that all would know the Person who had the biggest vision for God, the greatest number of people who would come to know Him, the vision truest to God’s heart – was Jesus Himself. And how did Jesus go about reaching such numbers?
By focusing on 12 people – and loving and teaching each person He came across – one at a time.