It has been a busy few months since our last update. Busy, but very good.
We spent Christmas Eve and Day in Hua Hin. We had outreach ministry at a hospital where we visited severely injured patients ( mostly motorcycle related) and the maternity ward. It was a lot of fun as the church we were working with had received numerous shoe boxes from Operation Christmas Child (Franklin Graham's organization). What an incredible experience it was to witness the receiving end of this. Back in Canada we would always fill up the shoe boxes to be sent out but it is something else altogether to be there when a child opens one. Fun, fun!
Our time in Hua Hin was also spent evangelizing to hundreds of people at a local Shopping Mall. We were given the full stage for 2 to 3 hours each night and the Bible College students performed flawlessly. There were dramas and singing and some comedy and a wonderful message about Christ's redeeming love preached by Joseph, one of our students form India. It was Holy Spirit inspired; just awesome!
Once back in Sriracha we had a huge Christmas party at our home, all staff/missionaries and students were invited. We roasted a pig on a spit in front of our house (super yummy) and had a Christmas gift exchange. It was a lot of fun and we ended up with the best gift ever - pancake mix and real Canadian Maple Syrup…actually from Canada!!
For the entire month of January we were living at the El Shaddai 2 children's home while mom (Terry Wharf) went to Canada to spend some time with her husband Dave and have a bit of a break. For us this was like falling right back into Africa. There are 14 wonderful kids living at home right now and they age from 5 to 18. It really is a big family there and it was a lot of fun. Our days were incredibly full, right from 5:30am wake to 6:30 am devotions, a crazy drive to school, a full day at our regular jobs, 5pm pick ups, dinner, family worship, and 14 tuck ins. Exhausting, but oh, so much fun!
The beginning of the New Year also marked the beginning of Dean's new role as Academic Dean and Registrar of the Bible College here in Sriracha. He is really enjoying the new opportunities and challenges; and getting to know each of the students on a deeper level. Please pray for the students that God wants to bring to Thailand.
Together Dean and I are working on developing some new areas of ministry. Two ministries we have going for the remainder of this school year is prison ministry in Pattaya and and hospital ministry here in Sriracha.
Here's a look into what ministry looks like at the prison's in Pattaya.
I can hardly believe what I am witnessing. I've seen children in prison in Thailand before, but always accompanied by an imprisoned parent. On this day, however, I find myself in a shadowy concrete building, crouched in front of a tiny, trembling boy. He is sitting by himself in an eight-by-eight cell, illuminated only by a small window. I am grateful the police have at least had the decency to keep the child separated from the dozen grown men crammed into the cell next to him.
The boy is huddled in the corner closest to my interpreter and I. His scraped knees are tucked up to his chin and pressed tightly against the prison bars; his skinny arms reach out to us and clutch our hands in desperation, as though they anchor him to security.
"Are you scared?"
"Yes," he whispers shakily through the rusty, paint-chipped bars. "Nobody knows I'm here. My dad has been in jail for years and my mom is gone. I live with my uncle but I don't think he knows what's happened to me." The boy swallows a few times; I can tell he is trying to keep the tears from spilling down his dirt-stained cheeks. "I tried to tell the police it wasn't me who took the money! I told them it was my friends, but they won't believe me."
The young prisoner begins to plead with us. "The police are moving me to a different prison in a few days. Can you phone my uncle and ask him to come?” As he weeps in his lonely cell I see a hopelessness in his eyes, as if he's already resigned himself to a life behind bars.
What can you do when faced with this kind of injustice? Should you yell and scream at the guard, demanding to know what he thinks he's doing? In a country like Thailand, all that’s likely to get you is a spot in the cell next door.
No,we have only one logical choice left. I clasp his tiny hands in my own and pray protection over his young life. Then I say, “Give me your uncle’s name and phone number. We will contact him as soon as we go and make sure he knows you're here.”
In the Western world this would never happen. Children can pick up a pair of scissors and stab their teacher in the middle of science class. Their punishment: Mom has to pick them up early and keep them home for a week. Western kids take guns to school and slaughter each other, receiving minimal sentences and free counselling.
But in this tiny cell in Thailand, a little boy is tossed mercilessly into a grown-up prison system. He hasn't killed anyone; he hasn't even hurt anyone. Even if he did steal money does that justify his being locked away and forgotten in a dirty, rat-infested cell, without a trial, or even a phone call to his guardian?
“Five more minutes!” the guard yells, and he means it. In his opinion, I have gained enough information from this child. I quickly scribble down the name and number of the boy's uncle, and, as we are ushered out, we assure him we will keep our promise.
When we get outside we also promise ourselves we will get on our knees and fight for this young prisoner, and countless others like him in cells across Thailand.
Hospital ministry is something we are equally excited about. We will be going into the government run hospital weekly on Wednesday nights starting in the beginning of March. Our vision is to break the students into to 2 or 3 groups and minister on the children's ward as well as hospice, the same kind of ministry I did while visiting the HIV/AIDS clinic in Cambodia.
This is a ministry that you too can become a part of! We will have ongoing needs of balloons, small treats as well as milk boxes and juice to bless the patients with. All of these things can be purchased quite inexpensively here in Thailand so with a small donation of even $15 to $20 we can generously bless the patients each month. Of course all monetary gifts are tax deductible so if you are able to partner with this particular ministry please email us and we will tell you how! We look forward to sharing some of the incredible stories that are sure to come out of that!
We are really excited to share some news with you all, and for those of you who have been to Rwanda, you will know who Fulgence is. But, for those of you who haven't; there is a young man by the name of Fulgence that we "adopted" into our family when we lived in Rwanda. He was a huge help to not only our own family while we lived there but he was also a big part of life at the children's home. We love him very much an have kept in contact with him since we left Africa. Fulgence's desire has always been to gain further education and he was very blessed by a group of individual's out of the mission team that visited us in Rwanda in 2007. They sent him to school in Kigali where he learned mechanics and graduated number 1 in his class. Shortly after we left Rwanda, we partnered with a couple of other individuals and sent Fulgence to YWAM where he also excelled. So much so, that they actually offered him a job when they returned from their mission trip. But Fulgence's heart remains in furthering his education and his walk with the Lord. This has led him to his next step. He leaves Rwanda on the 22nd of February where he will go to Nairobi to pick up his Thai Student visa. From there, he leaves on February 28th for Thailand! He has enrolled and been accepted at the Victory Bible College-Thailand! He is enrolled in the 4 year program and he is so excited as are we!
Right now, Dean and I are covering all of Fulgence's expenses, and we are happy to be able to bless him. However, as we ourselves live off of the generosity and obedience of our supporters, if you feel led by God to help Fulgence while he is furthering his education and his walk here in Thailand please email us and we can tell you how you can make a tax deductible contribution to him.
Here is a breakdown of his tuition and other expenses:
One School Year (two semesters) - 33,000 baht ($1065)
Monthly Living Expenses - 500 baht ($17.00)
Monthly Food - 800 baht ($25.00)
School Supplies - 200 baht ($7.00)
Air Fare - $848.00
We pray God's abundance over your lives and we love and appreciate every single one of you.
Always love to hear from you so please email us anytime!
Dean, Kathy, Baylee & Julia