We are so sorry that it has been so long since our last blog post. It has been a wild year already! We have been having a ton of fun, learning lots of new things, and continuing to grow in the Lord. What’s new? Well, Chris has now officially stopped attending language school, and he is now spending more time in the villages, learning on the go, and studying on his own. Homeschool is in full swing with Addie and Emma, so Whitney has been working hard with them while trying to wrangle in the two littler sisters, and manage learning the language also. We started opening up our home every Thursday night with an Open Table Night, our desire is to have an open invitation into our family and lives to all who would be interested. It has proven to be such an amazing time to be able to fellowship with Christians in our city, but also to have many new people who are not Christian come into our home and become a part of our family. We are excited to see what God does with this!
The fruit of Bill and Julie’s labor in the village is really incredible. Just last week, Chris met two people who couldn’t walk less than 2 months ago, but are walking now. One of them was also blind just 1 month ago; now he can see. There are two main groups in neighboring villages. The bulk of our work in the villages right now, other than simply learning and following along, includes going to meet with a group of leaders in each village on different days of the week. Our time with them is mostly focused on studying the Bible together, giving them tools to go out and teach others, and then going out with them to visit with different families scattered throughout the countryside. These groups of leaders that we meet with all have their own groups of disciples that they are teaching, training, and living in community with on other days of the week. One of the groups, the more developed one, has also seen some of the people in their group multiply into another generation of disciples. This is a very exciting process to be a part of, and more than anything, we are mostly observers in the whole process. Bill and Julie, and another couple, Brian and Mary Beth, are the senior missionaries working here who are doing the trainings and leading these groups. Chris learning the ropes; observing and helping as much as he can! We believe that we are witnessing the birth of one of the greatest discipleship making movements that Thailand or Southeast Asia has ever seen.
One of the greatest parts of this movement is that it truly gives room to Holy Spirit to do what He does best. Discipleship, along with Evangelism, is not an event or 12 step process; it is a lifestyle. We are witnessing the believers make disciples who make disciples. To date, the vast majority of those who are following Jesus have been women in their 50s and older, but a recent development has included men that are starting to join the leadership team and beginning to go out and share the Gospel too. We are also having more and more young people begin to attend meetings and show more interest in Jesus. It is a very exciting time to be here, and it is such a joy to be able to take part in and see the fruit of this ministry.
One of Chris’ desires is to continue to learn and develop different agricultural practices that can be a huge help to the local people here in becoming more financially self-sufficient, and to help alleviate debt and poverty. For now, this has looked like him planting many different trees and plants around our home as a type of demonstration of the amount of food and productivity that we can have with a small piece of land. As time goes on, we are harvesting more and more food right here on our property. Some of the things we have been able to grow and harvest here have been mangoes, mulberries, rose apples, passion fruit, tomatoes, bananas, pineapple, chaya leaves, moringa leaves and seed pods, limes, barbados cherries, guavas, custard apples, Thai ginger, and eggs from our chickens! Our plants are all around 1.5-2 years old, so our yields have mostly been pretty small for now, but we are excited about the growth of our own food forest and to share what we learn with the village farmers!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, pray for us, and support us financially, emotionally and relationally. You are actively taking part in God’s Kingdom being sewn in Thailand, and we are so grateful for you!