Return of the Exiles.

Coming back from Thailand engenders mixed emotions. We had a tough last semester at school with dreadful and dangerous pollution resulting in seven days off school. In addition, during our last week, we had to pack up the whole school in preparation for moving, which is taking place right now.

The realization that we are not returning is starting to sink in. I will greatly miss my colleagues and friends and especially the students. I had wonderful opportunities in Chiang Mai not only to teach, but to mentor and disciple. On my last Sunday I conducted a baptismal service for a graduating student from our house church. I loved teaching religious studies and being part of a school community. It was the most fun job I have had to date. I laughed a lot.

I am very excited about the new role I will take up at Above Bar Church. ABC is a warm and welcoming spiritual home which is vibrantly reaching out to the city in concert with other churches in Southampton. Joe and I had the chance to attend a service this last Sunday and we loved it. A main part of my role will be to act as director for the Formation discipleship school which seeks to train leaders across the cities’ churches. It will be great to be working with and equipping Christians from a variety of backgrounds with manifold opportunities to influence the city for Christ..

Having been away, I have started to notice things about our country and the way we operate that I didn’t appreciate before. Here are three observations:

1. There is a pace and driveness but an ultimate lack of meaning.

In Chiang Mai, have been used to greeting baristas and asking them how they are and trying to respond in faltering Thai. When I have tried to do that (In English) over the last few days, people have thought I am a bit weird. People walk, cycle and drive very quickly here, with their heads down, earphones in and phones out. Ostensibly, there is a sense of purpose, yet, there also seems to be an emptiness and lack of ultimate meaning blighting our population. I listened to a Jeremy Vine phone-in on social media fueled teenage depression this week, which was very alarming. Last week, I also received the very sad news that my first cousin, Andrew, had died at the age of 38 after suffering depression for the last year.

2. People are reserved yet hungry for community

The Brits are notoriously reserved and this stereotype is generally true. I have found my American colleagues to be refreshingly candid, which has allowed me, in community, to confess to my weaknesses, struggles and sins, bringing them into the light. I am going to need to continue to do that here. The Bible says that is the way we overcome as Christians. Yet Brits find it much harder to do that than Americans. We are more suspicious and less open. Yet, people are hungry for community. The great success of Park runs over these last five years, is testament to a desire to be doing things together. I am excited because the church is the greatest community of all. I have been stung by church and at one point I thought I was not going to recover. Yet, the church brings together the homeless and the wealthy, the refugee and the steadfast citizen, the students and the blue collar workers. We are all united in knowing that without Jesus we are lost. But in Him, the debts we owed have been cancelled. There is free forgiveness and adoption into a new family where we stand washed and cleansed.

3. People are secular and self reliant but unhappy

In most of the world, there is a sense that one needs to be reliant on a higher power. Thailand is full of temples and people seeking to earn merit and atone for guilt. However misguided people are, there is a great difference between how most of the world express their dependence on gods or God and how we in the West, seek to live our lives dependent only on ourselves. But the secular worldview increasingly adopted by Brits, is leaving us less happy and less able to deal with suffering. As Tim Keller notes:

In the secular worldview, all happiness and meaning must be found in this lifetime and world. To live with any hope, then, secular people must believe that we can eliminate most sources of unhappiness for the majority of people. But that is impossible. The causes of suffering are infinitely complex and impossible to eliminate.

What this country needs is neither religion (which makes you tribal) nor secularism (which causes selfishness as there is no ultimate meaning beyond your own happiness), but the gospel. Hearing of my cousin’s death last week, and my young half sister’s death last year, I am more and more convinced that I need to live my life communicating this precious good news: Jesus died for me, Jesus gives me power and motivation to die for others. There is hope and there is meaning because there is resurrection. Because of this I can know joy even now while I am mourning leaving Thailand, mourning lives cut short and mourning the nation’s turning from true living water to broken cisterns that hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)

O When the Saints go marching in . . .

Going to watch Southampton in a relegation battle

After five years teaching at Grace International school, we are set for another transition to take up a post called Minister of Discipleship at Above Bar Church Southampton. May God have mercy and help me get through the wretched British winters!

We asked the Lord for clarity and I believe we have it. When discerning a call as significant as this, the external call from the church needs to be corroborated by an internal call; which is a strong sense, given by the Holy Spirit, to all the family, that this is the right thing. At least that is what we prayed for, and I believe we received in Southampton. When we left Chiang Mai, to visit Above Bar Church. I felt that it was only 50% likely we would accept the position. I have really enjoyed teaching at Grace. Missionary Kid education and discipleship is so vital and strategic. Also, recently we have been doing more hospitality and the kids have been excelling in their sports. But the external call was pretty clear from the church and this was affirmed last week by the vote, at which 98% of the members voted for us to come!

The week we spent, four weeks ago, with John and Alison Risbridger (Pastor and wife) was a whirlwind of activity. We were jet lagged and slightly disoriented arriving in winter which we haven’t experienced for five years.

Yet, Joe felt, as soon as he arrived at church, that this was to be the place the Lord has for us. “The Lord sets the exact times and places we should live, so that we would reach out and find him- even though he is not far from each one of us.” ( Acts 17:26 PAR). After numerous breakfasts of porridge, some great chats with John, Paul Webber and other members and a grueling four services on the Sunday including an hour of questions and answers at tea time, I and Ann definitely felt the same as Joe. God was calling us to Southampton!

On the Saturday, we managed to escape church activities for an afternoon and go to watch the Saints lose to Cardiff with my Dad, his wife and my sister Louise who are based in Southampton at the moment. This was also a lovely day out (despite the result). Isaac and Joe were thrilled to attend their first Premiership match. Hopefully we can go to a few more!

As we think about transition there is so much to do. I have another 9 weeks at school and hope to be involved in the interview process for my replacement. We need to pack everything, find schools for the kids and then a house in Southampton to rent initially, before hopefully buying once we have sold our house in Woking.

At this stage of the school year with the pollution and heat (It will be over 100F every day for the next 6-8 weeks) we are very tired. Please do pray for us to get everything done and to be able to start our new roles somewhat fresh!

What will 2019 bring?

2018 was a very good year for us. Every year that goes by I (Chris) continue to resonate with what John Newton said in his old age: “. . . my memory is fading, but two things I remember; that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great saviour.”

When we came to Thailand in 2014, we expected to stay 3-5 years. We are now in our 5th school year here. The Lord has provided for us, granted the children to have good friends and enabled us to really consider staying more long term as the school moves once again. Lois is going to travel to Taiwan in April to play for the Varsity soccer team and the boys have also enjoyed varying levels of success on the sports field. I (Chris) have continued to enjoy teaching, including US history this year. I also have many opportunities to meet with and disciple students and frame the religious studies curriculum. Ann has felt more settled this academic year, helping at school and being involved in various groups as well as house church.

At the same time, we have been liaising with a church in the UK with a possible view to returning to pastoral ministry. This is very scary. It will be much more of an adjustment to return to the UK than it was to come to Thailand. We may need to find four schools for the kids in addition to furnishing a house and beginning a new life. Whatever the decision, we will be returning in the middle of June to the UK after Sam completes his Science GCSE, and just in time for my Grandma’s 100th birthday!

The choice, for us, long term, is between a fruitful but challenging ministry in Chiang Mai and a fruitful and challenging ministry in the UK. To make such a decision we need the external call (from the church) corroborated by an internal call ( a sense given by the Holy Spirit, that this is the right path for us at this present time).

Would you please pray for us. We do believe that God responds to such prayers. We are totally reliant on him, knowing that our last experience in Church ministry was very difficult and painful. We still bear many scars from that time and we have many fears.

With lots of love in Christ

Chris, Ann, Sam, Lois, Joe and Isaac


Rescued from the Pit of Tham Luang.

Rescued from the Pit

The extraordinary rescue of the Moo Pa (Wild Boars)  football team from the flooded Tham Luang cave near Chiang Rai, has reminded me of the amazing news of the gospel.

Image result for wild boar football team

In the Words of Psalm 40:

  1. I waited patiently for the Lord;

   he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

   out of the mud and mire;

he set my feet on a rock

   and gave me a firm place to stand.


Ignoring the warning signs

The boys had entered the cave after Saturday morning football practice. It was a birthday celebration. The boys, aged 11 to 16, rode their bikes down to the cave and spent 700 baht ($28) at the local shop, buying food, soft drink and sweets.

They left their bikes at the entrance and descended deep into the cave. They ignored the sign nearby warning that venturing inside during the wet season was dangerous because of the risk of sudden flooding.  We are not yet fully aware off all the details of how the boys ventured so deep into the cave and how they became trapped. But later that day, worried parents alerted the authorities that the boys were missing.

The Bible describes mankind in their rebellion against God, constantly ignoring his warning signs as sheep going astray:

´We all like sheep have gone astray. We have left God´s paths to follow our own. . . ’ (Isaiah 53:6a NLT )

This leaves us in a pit needing a rescue.

The rescue plan

A huge rescue operation was set up to try to find the boys. But it took nine days before their families and the rest of the country even knew they were alive.

Hundreds of volunteers and officials had set up camp outside the cave but one of the most useful offers of help came from a small team of British cave divers.

At 9.40pm on Monday, July 2, two Britons with years of cave-diving experience emerged out of the darkness and shone a light on coach Ekapol and the boys, all thin but calm and intact.

Later on Thai Navy Seal diver Saman Kunont, lost his life as part of the rescue plan.

God´s rescue plan to lift people from the pit, is incomparably costly. He sent his own Son, Jesus, to die to effect the rescue. Jesus died because he gave his life as a substitute for us, absorbing our sin in his body on the cross.




Only one way out

There is only one way out of the pit for humanity and that is to trust Jesus and to follow him. There are many religions but only one who is capable of saving us. It is only the cross that provides humanity with a way out of the pit. This seems an extremely exclusive and narrow message but this message comes straight from Jesus himself who said:

´I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.´

(John 14:6)

In his Sermon on the Mount,  Jesus repeatedly told his listeners that there are two paths, two gates, two types of builders, two trees with two different types of fruit. But there is only one way of salvation.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.¨ (Matthew 7:13-14)

The boys had to completely trust their rescuers as they swam, in the three day window provided as they negotiated flood water that was likened to swimming through coffee. Each boy followed his rescuer through extremely narrow passages to the mouth of the cave.  In like manner, the bible instructs us to follow Jesus who will lead us out of darkness and out of the pit.


The celebrations

The rescue was miraculous and rightly led to huge celebrations all over Thailand. The compassion of the Thai people was also shown through these events. Yet many of the boys saved were from minority tribal groups who are not Thai citizens and there have been calls to enable them and their coach to receive  full Thai citizenship. 

When a person repents and follows Jesus, Jesus himself said that there is great joy in heaven. That celebration  will be consummated in heaven with a banquet and a wedding feast. When a person follows Jesus, they become a citizen of heaven, adopted into His family and given full status as children of God.








Year 4 round up.

In  July 2014, we packed up our home in Old Woking and set out for Chiang Mai to begin a new chapter of our lives. Many circumstances had led us to the conclusion that God was calling us to live and work in support of missionaries in Chiang Mai. We envisioned spending 3-5 years here. We have nearly completed 4. In August we begin year 5.

Webb family arrive in Thailand: July  2014

Highlights have included: teaching some amazing students and seeing some come to faith in Christ, some great times in House Church including outreach events, some awesome Christmas holidays on the coast, a couple of treks I have done in China and India, the kids adapting and flourishing within an American system and enjoying the sports program here, Ann helping to set up and run the Uniform Shop, designing new PE kits and caring for a young Thai girl who entered our lives early on, and a thousand kilometer bike ride to raise money for the school.

Conversely, living with the constant uncertainty of where we should be next year takes its toll. The American education system here is so different to the British that we worry about our kids’ re-integration. Sam will return alone to the UK in three weeks time in order to sit his iGSCE Maths, English and Economics exams. He is still only 14 years old so will take these exams 12 months earlier than most GCSE students. However, Sam is looking forward to some time on his own in the UK.  Lois regards Thailand as her home and wants to stay here. Isaac has spent over half his life in Thailand!

We have had some wonderful times in Chiang Mai, yet each year has got harder in some ways. After two years, the school was forced to leave the neighborhood (World Club Land)  in which we live, and re-locate. This means more commuting and much more expense. Just this last week, the school sold the soccer fields it owned in our neighbourhood which means even more commuting for our sport loving family next year.  Ann, particularly, has spent a lot of time in the car recently ferrying the kids to tennis, soccer, kick boxing, climbing and drama club. School is always busy but in June 2019 the school must relocate again! This time we move 20 minutes further south. Moving a whole school with its 570 students and 100 administrative, Thai and foreign teaching staff, is a serious undertaking!

Staff Needs at GIS

Despite many obstacles and battles, the school did very well in its accreditation year (2017-2018), receiving great praise from the Thai Ministry of Education and an American accreditation team.

In my role as head of the Religious Studies Department, I have been helping to train a potential new teacher for next year and we have interviewed and appointed a teacher for middle school. Neither have taught before, so next year may require a lot of work in supervising and supporting. The school has a list of vacancies  and slowly they are being filled. This again is a miracle, since all staff must raise all their financial support from home to provide for living in an increasingly expensive and expansive city.

In the last few weeks, Chiang Mai has been the refuge sought by missionaries fleeing the recent persecution in China where foreigners have been expelled on a days notice and around 1 million Uighur people have been brutalized in re-education camps in Xinjiang province. So far, this has gone totally unnoticed by the world.

Upheaval and transition, some unexpected and some planned, is often characteristic of the month of May here.  Lots of teachers are leaving and transitioning to new ministries and jobs. Students take exams, potential teachers are interviewed over Skype and the social calendar is filled with leaving dinners, car boot  (yard) sales and end of year parties. We will all be heading back to the UK in June to reconnect with people, preach a few times,  take a rest and watch the world cup on TV!

I am looking forward to fresh air (the pollution season seemed longer than ever this year)  and to running my first half marathon in Swansea plus some family time, spiritual nourishment in Keswick and maybe some cricket, if I can fit it in. My Grandma will be 99 not out on 30 June!

Great Grandma’s 98th birthday!


It is our intention that the school year 2018-2019 will be our last year in Chiang Mai but we continue to need the Lord to lead and guide us for the future. I don’t know if I should seek to return to pastoral ministry or stay with teaching missionary kids.

This old hymn is our prayer at this time:

Jesus, Savior, pilot me,
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal;
Chart and compass came from Thee:
Jesus, Savior, pilot me

As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boist’rous waves obey Thy will
When Thou say’st to them, “Be still!”
Wondrous Sov’reign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.










Teaching Comparative Religions

One of the privileges and challenges I face here at Grace International school is teaching Comparative Religion to seniors and juniors (grade 11 and 12). We look at various worldviews including Postmodernism, Buddhism, Islam, Secular humanism and Marxism.

Living in a community where there are many missionaries, we are able to draw on the expertise of people with years of experience working with Buddhists and Muslims in particular. Among my neighbours and friends are those who are fluent in Thai, Karen and Hmong and others fluent in minority Muslim languages such as Hui, Uighur, Bangla and Pashto.

Our aim in this class is to equip students to understand, empathise with and reach out to people who have been brought up with these different worldviews as their main lens through which they see the world. Perhaps the main worldview they will encounter as they leave Grace is Secular Humanism.

It has been interesting to see that we all have a lens through which we see the world. Secular humanism claims neutrality. Yet its claims fall down when it bullies people to bow to the god ‘tolerance.’

Enlightenment thinkers such as David Hume suggested that the only trustworthy truth claims were those based on the scientific method (based on empirical observation and logical analysis). Richard Dawkins upholds this claim today describing ‘faith’ as a virus and proposing that science has buried God. However, this view fails by its own standards, because the assertion itself is not based on any scientific observation or logical reasoning!

The key word in Hume’s claim is ‘only’ – nothing but science has any authority. The absurdity of this claim passes us by because the most efficient route to reliable knowledge about the material world is indeed empirical science. But this pragmatic approach is very different to the dogma that science is the only source of truth, thereby excluding history, personal experience, accumulated wisdom and divine revelation.

No-one can avoid making moral judgements, whether they are religious or not. Secular humanists also make them on the basis of their worldview and act as if they are binding on everyone else.

However,  in practice, having rejected the concept of divinely revealed truth, western societies are loathe to allow any external authority to tell us how to behave.

As the boys from Boyzone put it in one of their songs:

No matter what they tell you; 
no matter what they say; 
no matter what they teach you; 
what you believe is true.

All this explains why autonomy is so highly valued today. The iWorld teaches me to resent any challenge to my individualism.

This new religion of individualism and subjective morality has a new gospel story which goes something like this:

“For years our spirits have been suffocated by restrictive traditions and morality. But now we must have the courage to follow our own light. We must resist anyone or anything that stands in our way. We must discover the hero inside ourselves and enter into the freedom that comes when we become who we really are. . .” (Based on a passage in Glynn Harrison, A Better Story: God, Sex and Human Flourishing, (IVP, London).

The gospel of Jesus offers a different kind of freedom. All of us are broken physically, broken psychologically, broken in our hearts. But Christ has come to bring us new life and to effect a change in us so radical that one day we will be fully put back together; body mind and soul. That “glory” described at the end of the bible will include people from every tongue, tribe and nation.





The Brevity of Life


I recently returned back to the UK to attend the funeral of my 25 year old sister Katy. It was a huge shock to learn of her passing. With a legal career, a potentially imminent marriage and everything to live for, she was killed in a road collision, two days into a holiday in Bali.

Katy had some lovely, confident, upwardly mobile friends who spoke well of her at the funeral. The message that came across in the many tributes was of one who worked hard and certainly played hard, but who was utterly unprepared for death.

It reminded me of the strange book in the Bible called Ecclesiastes or The preacher. This book, part of the wisdom genre in the Bible, articulates in ostensibly pessimistic terms, the brevity of life.

“ . . . Meaningless, Meaningless, says the preacher, all is meaningless. . . What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labour under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:1, 2:22)

We want to be happy and we do not want to consider the brevity of life and the certainty of death. We refuse to think about these things by filling our lives with other things.

Our generation, like no other before, have given ourselves wholesale to a repertoire of diversions that distract us from addressing ultimate questions about our mortality. We are submerged beneath an abundance of trivia in our fully wired, always connected, completely digitized world of social media and limitless sources of entertainment.

In his first two chapters, the writer of Ecclesiastes bursts the bubbles of pleasure and profit, materialism and laughter- even education. The sharpness of death pierces all our pretensions of ultimate happiness through these means.

But, the message of the book is not ultimately negative. The message is that the reality of death is meant to show us how to live. The source of our ultimate enjoyment is God. God is the one who ‘ gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness (2:26) When we know that that gift is not a stepping stone to greater things, we realize we are not meant to master our destiny or achieve ultimate gain through our careers. We are dependent creatures made for relationship with our creator.

Terry Pratchet, recently wrote an article for the Times in which he said: ‘ Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.’  This is why the conclusion of the book of Ecclesiastes exhorts the young person:

“Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say ‘I find no pleasure in them.’” (12:1)

My certain death must invigorate my current life. Putting one foot in the grave is the way to plant the other in the path of life. Enjoyment is the gift of God and I am commanded in this book to enjoy God’s world. I enjoy it most fully when I come to know Him and come to realise that the gospel ultimately deals with death as Jesus absorbs the sting of it in my place.








Year 4 at GIS

We are back in Chiang Mai for year 4, supporting missionaries and their children here in Chiang Mai. Rainy season means the route to school is often flooded but the temperatures are not as brutal as the spring. We are still sharing a building with a Thai school that has doubled in size and we are still trying to raise funds to build a new school as we are only allowed to stay here another 24 months.

The challenges, teaching in an international environment, are unique. Korean students (30% of school population) are very very different from American students (49% of the school population). Some Korean students begin each day at 4.30am with a compulsory morning prayer meeting. Korean students tend to be very driven and get all the top grades. Yet they struggle in class discussion or in producing creative work. Some Korean students related this morning how they spent their summer in a test preparation boot camp. The day began at 6.30am and ended at 6pm.

All students spend a lot of time on the internet in-front of a screen. Here at Grace, students are given a chrome book which they bring to all classes. They submit their assignments via google classroom. This enables schooling to proceed if the building has to be shut due to political upheaval or if the student has a period of prolonged absence. Students spending long periods of time in front of a screen get drowsy, struggle with concentration and can become addicted to pornography.

Some students feel abandoned by their parents who are often members of undermanned pioneering teams and who spend long periods of time away from home doing ministry.
Being asked “Where are you from?” can be a stressful experience for an MK. The longing to belong and the feeling of not belonging are ever present.

In addition to missionary kids, the school has a population of Thai students (now up to 20%) many of whom come from Buddhist homes and who have not encountered Christianity before.

My role at Grace as head of RE is to help all students to give logical and genuine reasons for their own personal beliefs even as we explore the beliefs of those from other religions. I also want each student to pursue a relationship with God.

In my bible study methods class, many are opening it for the first time. Others start to understand it for the first time while others develop skills that will enable them to be bible study leaders. We examine its claim to authority, authenticity and reliability. We examine its plotline and note that many of the great stories we love copy the Bible’s narrative of a situation where the prospects seem hopeless and then the intervention of a mysterious hero who with great sacrifice brings redemption.

The very first verse of the gospel of Mark says: ‘ The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ Gospel means ‘ good news.’ Truly it is fantastic news in an age of fake news. The news is that God has revealed himself through Jesus. When we look at Jesus all the guessing games about God stop. Not only that but Jesus has come to bear my sin away and to make me right with God so that I can enjoy a relationship with my maker, lover and Lord.

Easter/ Songkhran reflections

Happy Easter! In Thailand, this year, Easter weekend overlaps with Songkhran. Songkhran is the start of a new year where the gods are beseeched to bring the needed rain to plant crops after the long dry spell. In Chiang Mai, 1 million visitors descend on the city to partake in the biggest water fight in the world.


The Easter break at school provides a much needed rest after a long stretch from January during which the pollution and consistent 100 degree Fahrenheit temperatures make teaching and studying difficult. The smoke from the burning fields provides a film of smog and haze that remains over the city for a couple of months until the spring rains which have thankfully begun slightly early this year.

For Chris, the break provided an opportunity to connect with a friend and long term missionary to minority groups in China. Having worked with Uighur people in Xinjiang, Todd is now working to translate the bible into Hui and to nuture an insider group of followers of Jesus in Yinchuan. These followers remain outwardly Muslim but know Jesus as their Lord and saviour. Todd was a great companion on a short trek just north of Lijiang in Yunnan province. We had a great time hiking, eating Yak and discussing theology. Yunnan is only an hour’s flight north. The air and the skies were wonderful and the cool temperatures a great tonic.

Photo taken from the Naxi guest house, Lijiang, Yunnan.
Photo taken from the Naxi guest house, Lijiang, Yunnan.

The way the school year is structured at Grace is somewhat bizarre. We now have only seven weeks until the end of the year. Sam is intending to study for GCSE’s next year, so will home school. He has continued to struggle with energy levels and persistently inflamed glands. Recently he has been diagnosed with a mild form of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. We are thankful that this doesn’t totally debilitate him. He continues to enjoy making videos,the latest of  which you can view here.

Lois loves school and continues to thrive. Joe and Isaac are also flourishing in many ways. Joe has a friend in the neighbourhood who spends most of his evenings with us watching The Flash. Isaac has less friends nearby, but is growing up to be a charismatic extroverted little boy: The life and soul of a party.  As a family, we sense God’s protection and care, if not certainty concerning our future direction.

Ann continues to serve in the uniform shop and in elementary school classes. Occasionally she teaches piano and she manages the household finances, which is no small task when income is irregular. However, as we come to the end of another school year, we do reflect on how God has provided for the six of us to serve missionaries in Thailand.

Easter Sunday is my favourite day of the year. The fact of the resurrection is the bedrock of our faith and the reason for our continued hope. As Paul writes: ‘If Christ did not rise from the dead. We of all people are most to be pitied.’

Christ’s resurrection is the first fruits of our own. As my body begins to creek and my knees begin to weaken, I rejoice in the fact that one day I will not just get my young body back, I will have the body I always wanted. Our future is physical. Just like the pollution in Chiang Mai covers the glories of what lies underneath, the pollution of the curse presently covers the glory of what will be when redemption is total.

The seeming irretrievability of things that are lost can suck the life out of us. But one day everything will be retrieved. The resurrection is a giant receipt stamped across history proclaiming that the debt for sin has been paid in full. Christ was not reaping bad karma on the cross, he was purchasing salvation for all humans willing to receive it and for the entire cosmos.






Mission and Truth

The Webb family are here in Thailand to help serve missionaries by teaching their children. The aim is that the missionaries can be confident that their children are receiving an excellent education while they serve in mission in Thailand and in 24 nations in this vicinity. Both the school and our little house church are occasionally involved in mission to the Thai people giving us a little taste of front line mission work as we also relate to Thai culture day to day.

christmas photo

We were uncertain whether this school year would be our last in Thailand. Sam needs to start GCSE courses which Grace does not run and we had thought that 3 years might be the duration we serve in Thailand before returning to the UK. However, we do not have any job to go back to in the UK so we are thinking that we should stay at least another year. This may mean that Sam is home schooled next year so that he can access GCSE online courses.

To assist our thinking in terms of our future, we hope to attend a conference in Switzerland this summer called ‘Breathe’ which will enable us the chance to catch a breath and seek God as to the next steps.


This Summer, Ann and I will have been involved in full time Christian work for 17 years. Though we have had many ups and downs in that time and possess many weaknesses as well as some strengths, we do feel that our life’s call is to serve God’s mission in this world and to partake in the first request of the Lord’s prayer: ‘May your kingdom come!’

Mission is certainly an unpopular concept in the world today. Having just watched The Life of Pi with my RE class, I realise that a prevailing ideology in the West is that no one story can make sense of our world. The Christian story may have some value, but so do the stories told in Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and many other faiths. To insist on the exclusive truth claims of one story runs counter to a so called ‘tolerant’ outlook.

The Life of Pi
The Life of Pi


The concept of ‘truth’ took a battering in 2016. The Oxford English Dictionary coined ‘post-truth’ as its word of the year and electorates across the world took it as a given that all politicians are liars. Yet Jesus Christ spoke some terrifically counter cultural things about truth.

At his trial, Jesus said ” . . . everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37) ‘What is truth?’ Pilate responded; but didn’t hang around for an answer. Most counter culturally of all, Jesus claimed to be the only ‘way truth and life’  for all people. (John 14:6). He was not another religious leader pointing to truth. He claimed to be the ultimate source of all truth.

Foucault and Nietsche said that truth is a power play that leads to oppression. In our post modernist, relativist world, to say a statement is true is simply to say that a person or culture believes it to be true. Hence the popular refrain, “Well, that’s true for you.”

According to this view, one person can say “Jesus is Lord” and another can say “Allah is Lord”, and both statements will be true, if they accurately express the sentiments of the speakers. “Thank you Lord Vishnu for Jesus Christ” cries Pi from his life raft. This view seems to advance tolerance and civility, but it does so at the expense of logic, meaning and truth. That price is too high.

"Thank you Lord Vishnu for introducing me to Christ."
“Thank you Lord Vishnu for introducing me to Christ.”

Christianity stands or falls on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead in Jerusalem after being crucified by the Romans. Were this proved objectively false, Christianity crumbles and becomes just another story. I, for one, would become an atheist.

Because of the objective truths of Christianity, I am a Christian. Because Jesus is the only way to God, I am a missionary. Whatever position we hold, we exclude some others. It is just as arrogant to say that ‘Buddha, Muhammad and Jesus were wrong in their exclusive claims’ as it is to say ‘Jesus is the only way’. Saying there are no exclusive truths is an exclusive truth claim.  Everybody makes truth claims. Making a truth claim doesn’t lead to oppression, it is the content of the truth claim that leads to oppression.

Jesus said that the truth sets us free (John 8:32). The modern idea that you have to get away from the truth to be free is silly. Freedom is not creating your own truth.  Freedom is submitting to the truth. As I get older, I realise that I can’t eat everything I want. I am constrained in what I can eat,  if I want to be released into the freedom of good health and long life. Freedom is the presence of right restrictions which accord with the truth who God made us to be. A fish on the grass is not free. The fish needs to be restricted to the water.


There are a lot of gods put out there. But only Christianity says that God became a person and went to the cross. How can I trust God? Here is a God who lost his freedom for us. Here is God who was the ultimate free being but who surrendered his freedom so that you can trust him and be free. God does not give us an abstract truth, he brings a personal truth to us to set us free. This is why we continue to serve him in Asia.