Despite the many Buddhist temples dominating the landscape, with the accompanying superstition, fear and animism, Chiang Mai is a centre for Christian missions in Thailand. Korean, American and European missions locate in this strategic hub with good communications to the rest of Asia. Chiang Mai, then, hosts lots of missionary families, many of whom have served in other parts of Asia and have extraordinary stories.
I teach several Korean students whose parents are still serving in Myanmar, China, Laos Cambodia and Vietnam. I teach adopted children, rescued from the streets of India; Kiwi and Australian students whose parents run businesses as mission, schools and HIV education centres. We go to church with ‘investigators’ who infiltrate the sex trade in order to expose and undermine it. We live next door to a Thai working Grandmother and Granddaughter, on one side, and a church planter among the hill tribes on the other side. Opposite are our friends Matt and Bronwen, a teacher/recruiter at Grace and a minister to female prisoners at the local jail. In addition, Sam and I play cricket each morning with a crowd of Pakistanis who have recently been thrown out of Pakistan and severely persecuted for their faith.
Along with helping with other social studies curriculum, my great privilege is to teach the bible to the children of various missionaries and some Buddhist Thais. I have the honour of encouraging them to hear God speak to them personally and develop a relationship with Him. Some are walking with God and share their parent’s faith. Others struggle with being in a Christian school and long for the day they can leave. Many mentally assent to the truths of Christianity but have no personal relationship with Jesus yet. Statistics show that although many students from Grace leave with a vibrant faith that works itself out in a life of enjoying God and serving him, many also abandon their faith at University when they are confronted with a world where they do not fit in. We have much work to do.
This last term I have been teaching ‘tools for studying the bible’ using Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach’s excellent book: ‘ Dig deeper.’ We have learnt how to identify the author’s purpose, how to read passages in context before applying them to our lives, how to interpret different genres within the bible and how to reconcile apparent contradictions. The students write a bible journal every day and seek the living and speaking God. We have learnt many other tools too and are soon to study the whole book of Exodus.
As a family we have experienced great highs and lows. I love the teaching and have done some preaching too at the school chapel and at house church. There are lots of sports at Grace but sadly no cricket team. I keep fit by cycling up the hills that surround the city. Lois and Joe have joined the swim team with training twice per week. Sam is going to play soccer but has been set back by a nasty injury to his chin after he went over the handle bars of his bike. He is recovering well, however, and is enjoying school and serving in the community as he and many of his class members regularly visit a local orphanage called Mango House. Isaac has found it hardest to integrate, not being at school yet and struggling at pre school. Ann spends a lot of time with Isaac which means less time getting to know people and learning Thai. She has, however, enjoyed the company of several ladies nearby and as I write, she is having dinner with her prayer partners. Weekends are often difficult as family trips can be fraught. Please pray for harmony in the family, a sense of peace and opportunities to offer hospitality to others.
Thank God that Sam’s hospital visit went well and that he is recovering.
Praise for Grace International School which enables missionaries to stay on the field here in this part of Asia, confident that their children are receiving a great education.
Praise that friends have lent us a vehicle for the time being.
Pray for harmonious family times. Pray that we would get on well and be able to offer hospitality to others.
Wisdom and financial resources to fund and know how and when to obtain a driving licence and purchase a vehicle.
We are so appreciative of your prayers.
With much love in Christ
Chris, Ann, Sam, Lois, Isaac and Joe.