This update is from Rod Matthews, GCI mission developer in SE Asia.
Malaysia: women’s conference
In December, the women’s ministry of our Kuala Lumpur church hosted a two-day conference and retreat for 46 women from GCI churches in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. Wong Chew Yeng, wife of pastor Wong Mein Kong, organized the event which had the theme “Living Loved in Christ.”
The keynote speaker was Patricia Halford from the USA (pictured above on the left end of the front row). Pat shared from her life experiences in explaining how in times of trial we find ourselves in “God’s waiting room.” She reassured the women that, “God never wastes a hurt when we give it to him. We serve a God who is always ready to turn our attention not to the size of our problem but to the size of our God.” In a second presentation, Pat referred to the “butterfly effect”—that every action no matter how small makes a ripple in the universe. She applied this idea to Christian living, noting that every change we allow God to make in us, no matter how small it seems, matters as part of the radical change that God is making in us and in the world.”
Other conference speakers included Lulu Guzon, wife of NE Asia mission developer Eugene Guzon; my wife Ruth Matthews; and Wong Chew Yeng, wife of SE Asian pastor, Wong Mein Kong. The event included times of worship in song and communion, followed by a tour of the city.
Thailand: Ambassador Bilingual School expansion
From its inception, the Ambassador Bilingual School (ABS) founded and run by Chugait and Ampon Garmolgomut in Chiang Mai, Thailand has prospered. In the next academic year, they expect an enrolment of over 800 students from kindergarten to year nine. Chugait, a 1986 graduate of Ambassador University, upon returning to his homeland, wondered how to take the gospel to his own people. He was challenged by his good friend and mentor, Dr. Herman Hoeh to invest in the lives of others through education by starting a school based on true values and right living. Dr. Hoeh gave him $100 to help start this new life. As Chugait constantly mentions, God has blessed him in so many ways, with the greatest of those being his lovely wife, Ampon whom he met at Chiang Mai University after his return. They make a perfect team with their mix of shared vision, effective implementation and trust in God.
On December 11, a dedication ceremony (pictured at left) was conducted for the new ABS administration building (pictured above, right) and secondary classroom building. John Halford, long-time friend and supporter from Chugait’s days at Ambassador University, gave the dedication address. Wichai Jennititham, a Thai government official and good friend who has been instrumental in facilitating compliance with all educational and legal requirements, gave an address as well.
ABS promotes the learning of English in order to lay a much wider foundation for international opportunities and success in the future lives of the students. The biblically-based educational philosophy of ABS and the personal love and attention lavished on all the students by Chugait and Ampon, and reflected by the teaching staff, have been keys to their remarkable success. In addition to ABS, they run another smaller English-language-development school for children of all ages and a kindergarten called “Little Stars.”
As a result of teaching Christianity by example, God has used Chugait and Ampon to draw people to himself, resulting in the planting of a church that now has about 70 members. Pastoral assistance comes from an expatriate missionary living in Chiang Mai who also serves as one of the ABS teachers.
India: Hyderabad church partners with “Shining Stars”
Shining Stars is an organization working to develop youth and children in India. Their vision is to raise godly leaders by discipling children through holistic programs run in partnership with like-minded churches. It was founded in 1996 with after-school clubs to help children with their homework and provide them with a healthy snack and recreation. Today the ministry has nine centers serving about 400 children. They also train and equip leaders and teachers to facilitate children’s ministries in churches.
On October 27, Shining Star’s director, Peter Wiig (at right), gave a presentation to our GCI church in Hyderabad pastored by Daniel Zachariah. Moses, one of the children who graduated from a Shining Star, shared his experience on how the school had shaped his life into a disciple of Christ. He now works for Amazon Books and continues to volunteer his time providing administrative support to Shining Star. Pastor Daniel wrote, “It is our hope that we can continue to work with Shining Stars and support them in their efforts to serve under-privileged children in our city.” It is hoped that the church hall in which GCI meets can become one of the children’s centers.