Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Christian Odyssey editor and international publications advisor John Halford visited Chogait and Amporn Garmolgomut in Thailand last week. Here is his report:
Friday, December 4, I was privileged to represent our denomination at the formal opening of the Ambassador Bilingual School (ABS) in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is the latest, and most ambitious, of a chain of schools, kindergartens and language institutes established in Northern Thailand by Chogait and Amporn Garmolgomut.
Chogait is one of the few Thais to graduate from Ambassador College. After graduation, he returned to Thailand with a deep desire to serve his people, but no firm plans. About 20 years ago the late Herman Hoeh gave Chogait a check for $100 and suggested he and his wife start a school. The rest is history – but a remarkable history. (I told it in more detail in an article in the February-March 2009 issue of Christian Odyssey.) During the opening ceremony we named the school’s new library the Herman Hoeh Library and Educational Center.
ABS is a K-12 school, located in a refurbished office building that has been transformed into a bright, high-quality educational facility. Although not a Christian school per se, it is administered with Christian principles and values. As Chogait says, “I want to bring the best of what Ambassador gave me to my people, in a way they can understand and appreciate.”
Thailand is a Buddhist country, and Christians only make up about 2 percent of the population. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of Western missionaries in and around Chiang Mai, but their impact on the Thai community has been almost negligible. Some have been here for years without making one convert. This is what makes Chogait and Amporn’s effort all the more remarkable.
“People here want to learn English because they see it as the key to success and prosperity,” explains Chogait. “But we know that there is more to success than just material prosperity. We know that the gospel is the answer to our people’s deepest fears and worries. So we try to show them that by the way we live and run our educational operations.”
Although they did not set out to start a church, Chogait and Amporn have a house church of around 100 meeting regularly. They have baptized about 160 people in the last two or three years, most of them native Thais.
From Pastor George Hart:
Christ Community Church of Cincinnati reached out to the community around its church hall the Sunday before Thanksgiving with Thanksgiving meals. The area is one of the lowest-income communities in the county, with many school-age children. The congregation collected food and cash donations to put together 100 meals. The meals included all the traditional Thanksgiving trimmings and a gift certificate for a turkey or ham at the local grocery. After a shortened service, the congregation pitched in to put the meals together and deliver them to the community. In the process we were able to meet many of our community neighbors. The spirit of “missions” was high as most of the congregation was involved in the process. After delivering the meals, we returned for a pizza dinner and shared our experiences in meeting our neighbors. Our original goal was 100 meals, but we collected so much we were able to donate over $300 worth of food supplies to a soup kitchen the congregation serves every month. Next year we are talking about a goal of 200 meals.
Kalengule Kaoma reports that Edward and Janet Banda of Kitwe, Zambia, are planning a new church plant in February 2010. “Mr. Banda has a theology diploma with missions major and Janet is a prayer warrior,” Kalengule said.
2010 International Conference
We are pleased to announce that we now have a conference website. Information about the agenda, speakers, activities and other conference-related items will be posted to this website as the details are confirmed. Registration for pastors will begin January 11 and for elders and members on January 29. Check out www.2010.gci.org for the latest details.
Generations Ministry announces teen and young adult track
During the 2010 Grace Communion International conference, Generations Ministries will sponsor a conference within the conference for young adults and teens. In this special Generations Ministry Track, teens and young adults will be able to attend training sessions geared toward their areas of ministry. They will have an opportunity to participate in some Orlando activities and they will have a place to reconnect and hang out. Sessions and activities will run parallel to the conference dates, July 22-25. The conference registration fee for teens and young adults will be $20 which will help offset some of the costs for this special gathering. Save the dates and spread the word – details will be forthcoming.
Mexico Short-Term Mission Trip
From Debbie Minke:
The Vancouver, British Columbia, congregation’s teen group is very excited to be embarking on a short-term mission trip to Mexico March 6-16, 2010. Our mission is to be worthy representatives of Jesus Christ by assisting with underprivileged children at Guarderia Dios Provehera (God Will Provide) Christian daycare (www.victoryinjjdaycare.webs.com). Participants will be assisting with building projects for a Mexican pastor who is starting a church and doing community outreach in Ensenada with a local congregation. We have a few spots still available for interested teens. Please complete the attached application form and return it before January 15, 2010. Feel free to contact Debbie Minke for more information at (604) 532-3750 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The application may also be downloaded from our national website at www.wcg.ca.
Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer, for we belong to Christ, and by the Spirit it is in Christ that we pray. Prayer and other spiritual activities help keep our hearts in tune with God and remind us of who we are in Christ. He is our all in all, and in him we are eternally beloved of the Father and blessed to share his good news with others.
Love from my family to yours,