Twenty-eight hours after leaving Tupelo, we made it to Thailand safe and sound. Good flights, good weather, and our baggage arrived with us. Our hosts are Charles and Lourdes Holmes. He is American, she Filipino. Eighty years ago some Americans started ABWE—the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. One of their earliest fields was the Philippines, which is now a strong and thriving group of churches, schools, and related ministries. Eventually the Philippine churches (called PABWE, for Philippine Association of Baptists for World Evangelism) began sending missionaries to other Asian countries. Lourdes went to Thailand as a single missionary from PABWE 40 years ago. She and Charles were married in 1983.
Today there is a thriving network of churches in Thailand called TABWE (Thailand Association of Baptists for World Evangelism). Nice example of how the Great Commission is supposed to work. Missionaries from America go to the Philippines to win people and start churches. Those Filipino churches sent missionaries to Thailand. And soon the Thai churches will be sending their first missionaries to an unreached area near the Cambodian border.
One of the primary means of ministry comes through English classes. They also do lots of prison work. This morning Marlene and I went to the women’s prison in Bangkok to observe a graduation ceremony for the women who have completed the English-language program. The 30-40 women presented a skit in English about two rulers—”President Kindness” and “President Meanness,” the point being that those who mistreat others in the end find themselves brought down. Then they sang the children’s chorus that goes, “One door, and only one, and yet its side are two. Inside and outside, on which side are you?” The four of us—Charles and Lourdes, Marlene and I—gave out the diplomas to the women, and then they presented us with gifts. It was simple and beautiful and deeply moving.
Later this afternoon I speak to the Filipino missionaries (don’t need a translator—they all speak English). The big event of the week is a retreat being held at a resort center about an hour from here. Over 200 workers will come to the conference. Basically it’s a training session for the LIFE conference next month. That’s their huge “learn to speak English conference” that attracts 500-600 people. Most who come are from Buddhist backgrounds—93% of Thailand is Buddhist. So I’m teaching on evangelism to equip and motivate the workers.
By the way . . . it’s HOT in Thailand. Hot and muggy. Really, really hot and muggy. That’s a shock to the system. Charles says it’s like this all the time, except when it gets “cold” down to 75 degrees—then the Thais put on jackets.
Bill and Mary Jo Price from Columbus, Ohio arrived early this morning. A week ago they flew to Sao Paul, Brazil for the 50th anniversary of Word of Life Brazil. From Sao Paulo they flew to Paris and then to Bangkok. We met Bill and Mary Jo at Word of Life in New York, they met Charles and Lourdes through ABWE, and that’s why we are in Thailand this week.
Anyway, we’re here and doing well. Thanks for praying. More later.