Our hearts are thankful for your continual prayers for the people of Thailand. December provided many blessings and answered prayers. Since October 31, our Nong Phlap church has been planning a big day for Christmas. We rented a nearby public-park facility, where the agreements and relationships built there with the park went very well. For December 25, the park provided two buildings for us. One was an enclosed and air-conditioned building to serve as our Junior Church. The second building was a large, open pavilion where we could fit 400 chairs. On Saturday morning, December 24, most of our church supplies were moved over to the park to prepare for the big day. We had everything we needed: the chairs, the tables, drinking water, the PA system, the baptistery, and a dose of Christmas decor. Pastor Pong, Daa, and 6 other church members prepared enough food to feed 500 people, which took them late into the day Saturday and very early into Sunday, bless their hearts. Sarah and I pre-purchased the gifts back in October that would be given away. We had 400 gifts: microfiber towels (for the men), shopping bags (for the ladies), homemade Christmas stockings (Sarah and 2 other dear ladies helped sew 100 of these beauties) full of surprises (for the kids), and stuffed reversible octopuses (for the babies). Another 50 gifts of various kinds were donated. We didn’t have a nursery that day; rather, the babies just stayed outside in the arms of Mom. This park, the King’s Reforestation Park, is about 5 minutes from the church, but the pavilion is a good 1.5 miles inside the park and not really easy to find. Well, after a full day Saturday, all that was left to do was pray and just be ready for anything.
We arrived at the park at 7:00 Sunday morning to put the finishing touches on setting up. The PA system was ready; all was working in both buildings. Pong and Daa brought the food out around 8:00, and I went to pick up a group of 12 about 10 minutes from the park. On the way out of the park and on the way back in, I saw a lot of motorcycles and pickup trucks packed with people headed for church. I saw groups in front of our church calling for directions. In my stop to pick people up, adults and children were extra excited for the day. When I arrived back at the park, things were building up. I saw streams of kids walking into the Junior Church. Sarah told me later on that 150 were in the building. Seats were starting to fill up in the main auditorium. We had 3 preaching services, which went from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Pong would preach the first sermon, Star the second, and then I was to “draw the net” and preach salvation in the third service. Each service had between 2 and 3 music specials, 8 in total. The 400 chairs were never completely filled, but we had many people come in at different times and some stand outside of the pavilion, where the speakers were plenty loud to hear. At the end of the service times, we counted 483 different people. Our gifts totaled 450, but we had some kindly pass on receiving one, and some of our regular kids would wait and receive their gift on New Year’s Day. There were many salvations in the third service, as several were first-time visitors. Three individuals were saved through personal soul winning after the services. Three young men were baptized in the wilderness. It was a banner day, and we give God all the credit for everything! I had not set up a PA system for that large of a crowd before, and the only way things went so smoothly with multiple microphones, music, etc. was because of the Lord. Occasionally, a microphone failed, but it was quickly remedied, as all eyeballs were on me. I looked like I had everything under control, but deep down, I was just praying that what I was doing would work. I have new respect for audio workers in churches. We had a great time. The spirit and tone of the services were positive and encouraging. Everyone seemed to be happy, learning the Word of God, eating, and fellowshipping in the Lord and all His greatness! Thank you for praying! It was a very Merry Christmas! Combined attendances for both the Nong Phlap church and the Hua Hin church exceeded 730 on Christmas Day. Amen and praise the Lord!
Our Nong Phlap Church Members Would Like a Larger Church Building
One area of prayer that has been constant in 2022 has been our church building and its capacity for people. We have two adult services every Sunday morning to allow more to attend, but even with two services, we have people sitting outside under tents with a speaker to hear the preaching. This began regularly after our five-week “Reach Your Jerusalem” program in October. Our church members are ready and asking God for a larger space, knowing that the long-term, best solution would be our own piece of land with our own building. I knew this was coming and have been personally preparing for it, but my hope and my prayer was that our people would see the need for themselves and experience their own desire to have a larger facility where they could pour their love for the Lord into. I did not want to put forth a building program until the hearts of the people were ready for it. Please pray with us for the Nong Phlap church land. The church has a healthy amount of money raised already. We also had one donor from the U.S. who gave generously towards a need like this just a few months ago (that’s in the bank). So, away we go—time for a land/building program. I’ll have more details to come on this, but please pray for the right opportunity and for the ability to execute under the Lord’s leading.