Seeds will grow.
 
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Finding Good Soil

 

In the days leading up to and following the birth of Tirzah we often found ourselves wondering, "how is this going to work? It seems like the time and energy we have available for ministry is so limited... we are confident that God has led us thus far, but, really, how is this going to work?"

To our surprise and delight God has continued to demonstrate that He really is continually at work during all seasons - including sabbaticals, pregnancy, child birth, adjusting to new babies, and finding that "new normal" with every addition to the family. 

Both in the lives of those who regularly participate in the small gathering of neighbors we help to shepherd, as well as in the lives of neighbors who don't choose to to participate in regular activities, we have seen God drawing people towards himself. We've also been blessed to discover places and partners He is working through that we didn't even know about before. Whether through the sowing of seed, watering, bringing new life, or new helpers, or even harvest - God has been finding good soil in the lives of those we have the privilege of journeying alongside. 

Some stories follow... 

Carrying A Cross

Shortly after Tirzah was born I was taking the boys to school in the morning when P Daow called me over: “Iven, I have a cross for Baan Rak Teh”. My hands weren’t free to receive her offering of a beautiful old wooden crucifix, but I told her I’d be back later to pick it up.
 
Several days passed, and I was needing to go outside and take a walk. Passing down our crowded streets, P Daow waved me over once again and showed me the cross, sitting out amongst used cell phones and small amulets she was selling. At first I wasn’t exactly sure if she was asking me to buy it or giving it to me, (and I’m not sure if she was sure either!) but then she handed it to me and said it was for the church, so away I walked down the street, carrying the crucifix.


 
“Hey, where did you get that cross? Did you get it from P Daow?” hollered a woman sitting on the side of the street. I approached her and told her, yes.
 
“How much did you pay? I wanted it but P’ Daow said she was asking for 2000b ($60), and I only had 500b ($15), so she wouldn’t sell it to me,” lamented the woman.
 
A bit surprised at her desire for the crucifix, I asked, “Why are you interested in having a cross? You must know something about Jesus?” To which she replied, “Oh yes, I go to church at Soi 10 with Annie and Jeff (the founders of Nightlight – a ministry reaching out to women involved in sex-work with foreign clients), and I thought the cross was very beautiful, but I didn’t have 2000b.”
 
So I explained that P Daow was giving it to the church, which the woman respectfully understood, and I prayed a blessing on the woman and then continued on my way, a bit surprised at the unusual encounters from the afternoon.
 
It was only later that week that I put the pieces together to realize what a special thing was going on: P Daow chose to forgo easy money in order to give something special to the Lord – showing that the spirit of God inside of her was working against the most evident idolatry in the lives of each of our neighbors – that of believing that money is their most important need.
 
God was also reminding me that he is always at work, often in ways that we don’t see, through the encounter with the neighbor who wanted the cross. How unexpected to be called over by an unknown neighbor because they were willing to pay for a reminder of Jesus, disappointed that they didn’t have enough! (And how encouraging to be reminded that God is seeking out those who have challenging lives all over this city, and drawing them together into His body to encourage them in their lives with him.)

The Passing Of The King

On October 13, 2016 His Majesty the King of Thailand passed. He had been on the throne for 70 years - the entire lived memory of almost everyone in Thailand. The people of Thailand are grieving the loss of their monarch. He was a righteous king, the father of the nation, and he is deeply missed. 

Our family joined massive crowds in front of the Grand Palace on the day after his passing to honor his leadership and service, waiting in silence as his body was transported from the nearby hospital to the Royal Temple where traditional funeral rites will take place during the next year. 



For our first Monday night Baan Rak Teh Church gathering following the passing of HM The King of Thailand, we chose to pause our study in the book of John to read from Revelation 1 together. 

As we opened the Revelation of Jesus Christ, revealed to John in his old age, I was struck by the things our small group of grieving neighbors noticed: “Jesus says we don’t have to be afraid.” “He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” “He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and he loves us so much that he has freed us from our sins.” I asked, is this good news? Everyone agreed, yes, this is good news. We concluded that whether or not we are looking to the past, the present, or the future, our hope in Jesus is certain and unchanging. 

Continued Growth

Right after Tirzah was born (while still in the hospital!) Iven received a call by a group from our local international church wanting to do a special visiting the homeless to celebrate the organizer's birthday the following Saturday. Despite our initial internal reaction of, "No, we can't do anything right now!", during the brief conversation it became clear that this individual had already taken the initiative to make a plan, organize a group of volunteers on their own, and was simply asking for us to bless the outreach, open the doors to Baan Rak Teh for briefing and debriefing, and help order food. What a gift to be reminded that God doesn't need us (or even our team!) to proactively seek after our neighbors - and that even when we are otherwise occupied, he is always faithful to remember those who have yet to come home. 

Later that week we got a call from a Thai church in a different part of the city letting us know that they were also doing a semi-regular outreach sharing food with people in our neighborhood, and asked if Baan Rak Teh would be up for receiving anyone who responded to Jesus' invitation. Another reminder of God's activity on behalf of our neighbors. 
 
About a month and a half ago now, P Daow, whom we mentioned earlier, was having a hard time selling second-hand goods due to the rainy season. She was praying and asking God what to do and she said she felt like she was supposed to come ask Iven for an investment in order to start up a small food cart selling “aharn taam sang” or food made to order – simple thai dishes over rice.
 
As a team we sensed this was a great opportunity for encouragement and jumped on board with our teammate Ling helping P Daow find, collect, or buy all the needed components to start selling. The next morning, the day started with a hard rain (never encouraging for those who make their living on the street), and we were gathered together as a part of our normal team prayer time, praying for her by name when we saw her pushing her newly put together food cart up the street, smiling, ready to sell. Sales have been slow, but sufficient to cover her needs, and her heart is encouraged most days.
We mentioned that God is inviting us to be witnesses in a previous newsletter. P Daow first heard about Jesus when her parents brought her to church as a young woman, even choosing to get baptized. Unfortunately when her parents separated, she left the church and went her own way, landing in our neighborhood where she has been for almost 20 years now. When Baan Rak Teh opened it’s doors last year Ling invited P Daow to church and she came, showing steady interest in knowing the Lord, learning his word, praying, worshiping and now (of her own accord) giving.
 
We are continually struck by God’s faithfulness to have sent us to this specific place, virtually across the street from where one of his wayward children has been hanging out for almost 20 years. When God’s children aren’t getting themselves home, sometimes he brings the home to them! 

Thank you so much for your continued partnership in prayer, encouragement and support. We are so deeply blessed to be able to continue being a blessing in this neighborhood! 
 

All grace and peace,
Iven, Kashmira, Izayla, Elian, Kyin, Rinnan & Tirzah


 
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