God is on the move in SE Asia, and so were we in August and September. Your partnership has made it possible for usto serve alongside Christian sisters and brothers in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand in recent months. These ministries some times make our hearts ache, but they fill us with hope at the same time.
You may have wondered why it's been a while since you received a ministry update from us. One of our communication challenges right now (aside from time) is that we often serve in sensitive areas. As a result, we can’t be too timely or specific about where and what we’re doing. This is not only for our own security, but also for that of partners with whom we’re working.
Highlights for Praise and Prayer
- Pastors who were part of an Integral Evangelism course we taught in Vietnam shared on the last day: “I thank God for attending this class. I had too small a vision for my church.” “I always assumed it should be the pastor who does all the visiting and outreach. You have shared a simple but deep idea: I should disciple my members to do ministry as well. Thank you!” While in Vietnam, we also participated in the Baptist Convention of Vietnam’s General Assembly. We were impressed to see how the Convention is growing and maturing, and to hear government officials in attendance encourage its churches and members to make a difference in Vietnamese society.
- The Union of Indonesian Baptist Churches, a new ministry partner of International Ministries, invited us to participate in its 45th anniversary in Surak arta – together with about 5,000+ others in attendance! The centerpiece of the grand evening was the history of the Baptist work in Indonesia recounted using traditional music, song, and dance - a remarkable example of contextualization.
- In Thailand we attended a regional gathering of IM missionaries and had a chance to meet our new Executive Director, Sharon Koh. Bruce also did field research on two social enterprises for his doctoral program before returning home to New Zealand. In the meantime, Ann taught over 60 students in the 4th year Bachelor of Theology program at the Kawthoolei Karén (Kayin) Baptist Bible School at the Mae La refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border, and ministered in two remote villages. The stories of the suffering and loss experienced by these refugees from Myanmar were heart wrenching. As one young man declared, “I just want to go home…” Please join us in praying for wisdom and strength as we prepare for these upcoming projects (and others):
- Accessible Theological Education - Ann is serving on a team with Baptist convention partners in Vietnam and Cambodia to develop accessible, affordable strategies to train pastors, most of whom live in rural areas.
- Doctoral studies confirmation seminar - Bruce is scheduled to officially present his doctoral research proposal on faith-based social entrepreneurship in November. If his work is approved, he will be officially recognized as a doctoral candidate at Massey University.
- Kayin refugee repatriation - we are working with Kayin Christian leaders in Thailand to develop programs that will help prepare refugees to return to their homeland in Myanmar through spiritual formation, livelihood skills training, and pastoral counseling. The US Dept. of State estimates that around 150,000 refugees from Myanmar live in the nine official camps on the Thai-Myanmar border, with more than 2 million undocumented refugees living in other areas of Thailand. A whole generation has now grown up inside the fences of the refugee camps, which were established over 25 years ago. A new government and greater stability in Myanmar are creating new hope for – and uncertainty about – repatriation. International Ministries is in a unique position to contribute to these efforts because of its long history and many partnerships in both countries, and we're honored to be part of the initiative.
Thanks for being on the journey with us!
Kita memuji Tuhan untuk anda (we praise God for you, in Bahasa Indonesia)