It was nice to connect briefly with family and friends in Australia. Mitchell and I arrived safely back in Chiang Mai after two long days of waiting and flying. I had a couple days to recover before attending a Community Development/Agricultural conference designed to connect Christian workers in this whole region. Many of them are indigenous to the countries they come from and others are more traditional Christian missionaries.
I was on the committee that started the original meeting more than ten years ago and remember all the uncertainty of whether we would have enough people to cover the costs of the event, so it was very satisfying to sit there six conferences later and see all the hundreds of people there.
I haven’t had any role to play for many years apart from leading end-of-conference tours. This year I gave a talk and hosted a garden tour at my house. So that stretched me a bit, but I am hoping that I may be able to use some of my material and use it and my backyard as a way of getting a work permit in the area of community development with Wycliffe Thailand. So pray with me as follow this up.
Over 30 years ago I had something in my heart that drew me towards agriculture and serving God cross-culturally. That desire has never left me, but God has taken me in other directions I could never have dreamed of.
Now that I am no longer really needed for storying, could God be finally opening that door? That’s the question I have been tentatively exploring for a while now, and I talked with my director just a couple of days ago and I will be applying for a work permit with the idea of becoming more involved in this area. It is already a big need in the communities with which Wycliffe Thailand work, and these people have requested help. We have been translating agricultural materials for a long time, and I have been doing some consulting and helping other missionaries over the years so it will not be a big change of direction, but more of a change in focus. I will continue to be connected to bible storying but in a less active role.
Songkran is still using stories and teaching young guys at the juvenile prison. She does this every Tuesday. This is a ministry from her church and is connected with other prison ministry teams. She has been asked also to return to run a story group at a church-run children’s home. It seems the staff want to continue after being told to stop a few months ago. This happens every Monday. Every Thursday she helps lead another story-crafting session in Northern Thai. The house being built next door for her sister has been going okay, but some problems with the plans, and builders putting extra cement floor and beams, are still to be resolved!
Two of our Northern Thai story team mates are being mentored while leading a two-week story workshop in another part of Thailand. They have four language groups that are only able to train outside their own country. They are not able to safely use their phones in Thailand and are unable to test stories in Thailand. So in order to test their stories they are having to travel to a particular spot where they can get overlapping cell coverage from their own country. There still is considerable fear and risk for them to do this. As a result of this workshop, trainees produce Bible stories in their own language and teach others, some of whom are hearing God’s Word for the first time.
There is only one thing we can really do in these situations and that is pray.
• It would be good to pray for the trainers as it is their first time as formal trainers and are finding things challenging and they are worried about making mistakes.
• Also pray for the participants to be able to find people with whom to test, and that they can be wise but not controlled by fear.
• Stories can be a powerful form of indirect communication, particularly in sensitive political situations. Jesus used stories in this way every time he taught in public. Pray that these four groups may catch a vision of how stories can be used in their situation and enrich their own lives and others that hear them.