“. . . Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.” (Luke 15:6)
We are very thankful and happy for your prayers and support as we finish July of 2022. The divine timing of those answered prayers and support never cease to amaze me. The start of the month was a great one, where we continued our regular soul-winning times, seeing people saved through the power of the Gospel. Our Wednesday discipleship Bible studies carried into Lesson #29, “Separated People Excel in Obedience,” of the Teaching All Nations curriculum. In addition, we thank the Lord for our annual team 4th of July fellowship, where we had so many delicious items our team families prepared. Games and fireworks concluded the evening, which is always a great reminder of our God-inspired U.S. history and the efforts our soldiers made through the years to keep our freedoms.
Midway through the month, I drove our family roughly nine hours south to the provinces of Phuket and Phang Nga. During our travels, we reunited with Nong, a Christian woman we met two years earlier. This time we were able to give Nong her first, hold-in-her-very-own-hands Bible. She was so happy. Since her salvation, she has studied through a digital Bible and through lessons she receives via email from the pastor who led her to the Lord years ago after the tsunami of 2004. She has been faithful to the Lord, and God has blessed her in an environment where most of her family remains Buddhist and most of her coworkers are Buddhist also. It was a special time to hear her testimonies and to encourage her in the Lord.
Another person we planned to see was Chian, a man whom Sarah led to the Lord at work two years ago. Our prayer and hope was to find Chian, give him a Bible also, and encourage him in the Lord. Nong told us that Chian had left his job, and she didn’t know where he had gone. Later in the week, we were two hours south of Nong. I wanted to take Sarah and the kids to a nearby outdoor market in a very beautified, historical district of the city. We parked at a hotel parking lot just down the street from this area. I asked the young parking lot attendant if we could park there to do some nearby walking, as we were not guests of the hotel. The young man seemed a little perplexed as to what to do, so he went inside to get his boss. His boss came out to talk to us, super-friendly, and as we went back and forth in the conversation, it dawned on me that I knew this guy from somewhere. The subliminal look he was giving us was that he already knew us, but he was wearing a mask. Then I looked at his name tag. It was Chian, the man we had been looking for! Only God could put a very random meeting like that together, hours away from where we expected Chian to be. He was so happy to see us, and we had his new Bible with us, just a few steps away in the parking lot. He remembered the day of his salvation and called it “the best!” What a “praise the Lord” time we had, where God helped us find that one who had been led to the Lord during the pandemic. Although it took us a couple of years to return, we found him . . . or he found us . . . or God just made it happen!
While away from the Nong Phlap church for one Sunday, we attended a church started by a Thai man over 17 years ago in the Phang Nga province. For the past four years, Pastor Tawee has cared for the church. We went to encourage and be a blessing. That day, we found out some of his members are now bedridden, and they have had some battles during the last two years, but they never closed the church down, not even for one week, as all of their services are outside. Undoubtedly, God will keep that faithful ministry going strong for many years to come. I had planned to give a love gift, even though I knew Pastor Tawee was not expecting anything. Sarah and I talked a little bit about the gift a few days before our visit. Amazingly, within a few hours of that discussion, an unexpected love offering from the States came to me for nearly the exact amount. Then, another unexpected love offering came the next day. Praise the Lord! The circumstances certainly confirmed God’s leading to give.
The Nong Phlap church had a 100-plus attendance on the Sunday we were away. Pong and Star handled the visiting, soul winning, preaching, Bible studies, transportation, food, music, and ministering with excellence. As a missionary, this is a huge blessing and
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proof that with our national staff, all is well in our absence. The month of July saw Sunday attendances over 100 each week for the Nong Phlap church, including July 31, where the Lord gave us 116. Fifteen dear souls were saved throughout the month.
Just recently, July 29, we had some very special meetings out soul winning. Star and I have taken a liking to this little coffee shop, located in the area where we’ve done an extensive amount of soul winning. It’s almost comparable to a good taqueria or pizza place on the Chicago bus route. In any case, I usually park near the coffee shop, and then we go out from there. In between the truck and the coffee shop, we pass a construction project that has been going for as long as I can remember. Many times, we have given out tracts there and even given the Gospel as people do their work, which didn’t end up the best. That day, the site was unusually quiet, and we found a few of the workers hanging out in their temporary housing (one-room dwellings, sheet-metal siding, raised wood floors, and no air conditioning–super basic). The men we met were Sagawn (age 30), Tessamo (age 33), and Jai (age 29). It turns out that they had the day off and had a lot of time to listen to the greatest story ever told—the Gospel. All three men prayed earnestly and were just so happy that they had heard and accepted the truth of God.
Sagawn was especially moved. We learned Sagawn had been in a bad accident a few years before, and he had prayed to Jesus for physical healing in the hospital. A short time later, his healing made great improvements, and he was all better. He thanked Jesus and has been wanting to learn more about Him ever since. He often thought of that miracle and blessing. However, that morning, he learned how Jesus wanted to save him spiritually, to save his soul, so much more than just physical healing. Under this new understanding, Sagawn broke down in tears, overwhelmed with God’s love. Now Sagawn has the Gospel in his heart, a John & Romans in his hands, and an invitation to church. All five of us enjoyed coffee afterwards from our nearby shop. Jai told us that he’d seen us several times over the past year or so in that area.
Shortly after our times together, we were able to lead a mom and daughter to the Lord, just down the street, and invite them to church. They were just taking a break to eat under a tree. We had another great time out giving the Gospel. Thank you, Lord!