Wednesday, January 26, 2011


We bid farewell to our friend Stefan at 11:30 this morning as he boarded a ferry back to Ko Samui. He has been with us now for about eight days and we have been blessed to see a lot of fruit from our relationship with him. There is too much to tell about all at once but one of the coolest moments was a few days ago when he joined us for a Bible study (Luca gave him a backpacker Bible). We were discussing the first chapter of James. He was reading and listening, but mostly looking into the distance with that glazed, thoughtful expression on his face. Suddenly he said, "my friends would never believe what I am doing right now". We all laughed joyfully at the statement. His expression remained dead serious. "No, really... they would never believe it." He said, shaking his head in some disbelief himself.
This morning as he was leaving we gave him our picture with some notes and scriptures written on the back. Then we all prayed a blessing over him. (He somewhat jokingly asked that we pray only good things. He's been reading Revelation.) The most unexpected and glorious moment was after I read the Aaronic blessing over him and we all said amen and suddenly he started praying for us! You know it's going to be a powerful prayer when it begins with, "Lord, well... you know I don't pray much. In fact this is the first time I'm really praying..."
It was very humbling and rewarding to hear him geniunely thanking God for sending us into his life.

We've had some other great opportunities here in Haad Rin, Ko Pha Ngan, as well but those will have to wait for another blog.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares The LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."

Saturday, January 22, 2011


As a team we try to focus very deliberately on constantly having an attitude of thanksgiving and praise and stopping regularly to acknowledge God's goodness. One of the greatest blessings that God has given us is family. I am realizing more and more every day that this is what God has created us for. God Himself is the ultimate expression of "family" in His triune nature. It blows me away when I read the words of Jesus as He prays that we all (His body, the church) would be one even as He and the Father are one. Go read John 17 and see what I mean. It will undoubtedly change your life.
But I digress, almost daily we remark to each other how blessed we are that God has brought us together as family. Our greatest desire is to see this family grow and for others to join with us in worshiping, serving and delighting in our Saviour. Over the last few days we've had the cool opportunity to invite one young Swiss guy deeper into our family than anyone else yet.
We met Stefan on our second day on Ko Samui. Immediately one of the girls invited him to join us for a beach volleyball game and since then he has been with us almost constantly. Besides sleeping we've done just about everything together. We've had a lot of good late-night discussions out on the beach, watching the moon cast it's silver beam across the waves as they gently lap against the shore. Last night he even sat in on our worship time and looked very thoughtful afterward. He considers himself a christian but has never given the slightest thought to what that means or whether God actually exists. The concept of a relational God is something that he has never heard of before. We have given him a lot to think about over the last few days. He has expressed interest in reading some of the Bible and we are planning on giving him one soon. Last night while we were out walking he expressed to me how different it is hanging out with us. He drinks less, gets to bed earlier, excercises more and, as he said several times throughout the day, "it's always fun with you guys". It's remarkable how much he enjoys spending time with us even when we are doing the most mundane things. I was particularly amused one night, after a rousing game of Jenga, when the three of us guys spent about twenty minutes playing with the wooden blocks; building towers, creating dominoe chains and other such things that toddlers enjoy. He was quite content to sit there with us and play with blocks rather than go out and get drunk with every other backpacker on the island. Surely he must see something of Christ in us. There's no other way anyone could ever enjoy spending time with me. It has been such a joy to welcome Stefan into our family and each get opportunities to share different things with him about our relationships with God and how that is what binds us together in love.
Pray that God will be at work in Stefan's heart. We've given him a lot of things to think about but only the Holy Spirit can bring true revelation that will open his eyes to see his need for Jesus.
Pray that God will give us direction on when and where to go next. We're tossing around a few ideas at the moment.
Pray that God will give us eyes to see those who are broken and hurting. Pray that He will fill us with love, giving us words in season and out of season, that we may clearly make known the mystery of the gospel of Christ, that we would declare it boldly, as we ought to speak.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The King is Good

Wow. Where to begin. I'll try to give a brief summary of each location we've been in since I last updated.
After Chiang Mai we spent about five days in Pai, which is a small town further up into the hills. It seems to exist almost solely for the purpose of offering backpackers cheap accommodation, food, trinkets and all variety of trekking, rafting, elephant riding and other such adventures. We found it a surprisingly frustrating place for ministry. We were able to meet people here and there but didn't develop relationships as deeply as we had in Chiang Mai. Our favourite memory from Pai was riding elephants bareback and splashing around with them in the river.
After Pai we spent two loooong days of travel down to Siem Reap in Cambodia. Our main reason for doing this was to renew our visas for Thailand. (We started with 30 days and now we have another fifteen after reentering.) I got some food poisoning on our overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and was outrageously sick for most of the night. I wasn't able to eat anything the next day but God gave me strength to get through the rest of our traveling and border crossing. It actually turned out to be a really good day for ministry. Early in the morning we met Mark, a middle aged American guy who got laid off and is traveling for the first time, who was headed in the same direction and asked if he could stick with us for the day. Of course we happily agreed and I was very glad to be able to help him through a lot of his first time experiences with international travel. I'm really kicking myself now for not exchanging contact info with him. He continued traveling on to Vietnam but I'm praying that we will somehow be able to meet again or that he will bump into other believers who will be able to continue pointing him in the right direction. But I digress, we also met two Canadian girls that we crossed the border with and then we were able to spend some time with them over the next few days. Malori was able to go quite deeply into spiritual matters with them. Pray that her words will have impact and that the Holy Spirit will continue working in their lives and drawing them to Jesus. Anyway, so we spent three nights in Siem Reap and got a chance to tour Angkor Wat. My favourite part, by far, was our last night there, which also happened to be the half-way point of outreach. We splurged on a slightly less cheap but still dirt cheap meal, bought banana pancakes for kids we met on the streets and took communion together. By placing the cross squarely in the center of our outreach I wanted to give an opportunity for confession and laying things down from the first half of outreach and have a time of "picking things up" and claiming the power of Christ's resurrection over the second half of outreach. It was a really powerful time and drew us together in even greater unity than we have experienced already. We were all feeling a bit of heaviness after all the traveling and missing several times of worship and intercession but after that evening we all had so much fresh excitement and vision for the next part of outreach that it almost feels like starting all over again! I thank God every day for this amazing team (better than that, this amazing FAMILY) that He has brought around me. They all have such pure hearts and it's a real privilege to serve our Loving Father together.
After Siem Reap we had another crazy two days of travel to get down to the Island of Ko Samui. We were all pretty sick on the 4 1/2 hour ferry ride but we sure are glad to finally be down on the beaches! Last night we spent the evening thanking God for all His goodness to us and committing this next portion of our time to Him. Today we are taking a much needed Sabbath day and already it has been so refreshing to spend some extra time focused on our personal relationship with God and resting in Him. Later today I'm also hoping to get caught up on budgeting, outreach reports and planning for the next few weeks. Pray that I have wisdom to prioritize my time well. Already we have had good opportunities to meet fellow travelers and I had a great time chatting with Stan, from the Netherlands, yesterday. He's 25, just finished med school, started traveling alone for the first time a few days ago, is eager to make friends and I believe I see a real longing in his eyes for true purpose in life. Pray that I get more chances to share Jesus with him.
I realized two things today. (Well, a lot more than that but two that I'll mention right now.) One is that almost all of the good witnessing opportunities that I have had are either with people traveling for the first time (who are often scared, helpless and open to just about anything) or single, middle aged guys who are hardened after a lifestyle of traveling and searching for meaning. I have a real soft spot for both. Another thing that I realized is that I really want to focus on talking more about JESUS... not just about "faith" or "christianity" or even "my own spiritual journey". Those things are all fine and good but they've never done diddly squat to redeem a man's soul. Jesus is the one that I'm madly in love with and He's eager to make Himself known to every tribe, tongue and nation. Pray that I would actually put this into practice and not just acknowledge that it's a good idea.
Let me challenge you in this as well. Do you have anything to praise Jesus about today? Even the tiniest little thing? If so, go tell someone else about it. Seriously, you'll never regret it. Let me know how it goes.

" I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations."

"He became sin, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God."

"Oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Last Night...

Last night's ministry in the red light turned out much differently than expected. The other YWAM team that we were going to meet up with ended up taking the night off so we went out much earlier in the evening (around 8) and came back earlier as well (done by 11). The red light district turned out to be much smaller than I expected, really just about a 200m stretch of bars a couple roads. I was glad to find out that it wasn't as "intense" as I had previously thought. There weren't half naked women running around or anything like that. Part of that may have been that it was still early in the evening. Regardless, we were very careful and deliberate about where we walked, where we looked and we didn't go into any bars. We spent most of the time prayer walking up and down the streets, singing some praise songs and stopping occasionally as the Holy Spirit gave prompting. We were happy to bump into George again, one of the guys that the students met when they took the cooking course, and give him a rapid fire presentation of the gospel from several different angles. It was rather hilarious actually, all four or us cornering him on the street and taking turns telling him how awesome Jesus is. He was very receptive though, is going to do some research on things we talked about (he's theophostic and considers himself a thinker) and we hope to bump into him again.
I won't take the time to describe every minor interaction but one of my favourites was when we were walking along and passed an elderly woman selling red roses. Instantly I felt like we should give them out to some of the prostitutes (the girls that is, it certainly wouldn't be appropriate for me to do so). At the same moment Malori stopped and felt an urge to stop and talk to one of the girls that was being berated by another girl for not being able to "seal the deal" with one of the guys that had been checking her out. She went in and gave her a rose and a Thai gospel tract (I had been able to pick up a bunch earlier in the day, Praise God) and spoke with her for a few minutes while the rest of us prayed outside. She seemed very touched and later on as we were walking by the same bar we could see her showing off her rose to everyone with a huge smile on her face.
I've gotta get going but there were a few other encouraging stories like that and we all felt very much like we were right where God wanted us to be and really gaining more of His heart for the people. It was a true privilege to be able to walk those streets and labour in prayer that Jesus would be revealed as the one who came to "seek and to save those who are lost".
Tonight we will be meeting with a YWAM team from Berlin just after supper and then partnering with them to go out together.
Thank you for your prayers and support! We feel the prayer covering very strongly and it makes a huge difference. You are a blessing and a vital part of this outreach.
God bless Thailand!

The gates of Hell shall not prevail against us...

First this is a quick call for prayer. We spent this afternoon hanging out with Emmi at the Lighthouse ministry here in Chiang Mai. She shared her testimony with us, which you can read on their website, and gave us some good information on how we can partner with them in their ministry to Thai students and in the red light district. Late tonight (starting at around 10 pm) we will be partnering with a YWAM Berlin team that has been here for about a month. We will worship and pray with them and then the four of us will stay together and prayer walk through the streets. The girls will remain open to opportunities to speak with the Thai prostitutes and Luca and I will remain open to speaking with the Western men who come to use the "services" that they provide. Our main focus on this first night though will be to prayer walk through the streets and be interceding for the long term work that is going on here. This is not the sort of area or ministry to enter into ligthheartedly or unaware of the dangers so I am asking for an increase in specific prayer as we go out tonight. Pray that God would give me wisdom and great spiritual discernment, particularly in knowing how to protect the students from any attack, be it spiritual or physical, that may come against them. Pray also that I would know how to prepare our team appropriately and how to debrief afterwards. For each of us, but Luca and me especially, please pray for a guard over our eyes and over our minds as we enter into an area dedicated to sexual immorality and seek to be "in the world but not of the world". Pray that we would take every thought captive to Christ. Pray that we would be a light and a blessing and that God would give us His genuine love for each individual person, both for the "workers" and for the "tourists".
Please check out the information on the Lighthouse ministry. They are doing a great work here and they desperately need our prayers and support. It was such a blessing this afternoon to hear some stories and testimonies of people who have come to know Christ through this ministry.
Just a quick update on a few other things: Yesterday was one of my favourite days so far. I felt very blessed to have all of my desires met and prayers answered for the day. Luca, Malori and Becky had a great time at the cooking course and were able to share testimonies with several people there. Pray for seeds to be watered, particularly in Pam, from Canada... I think, who is deeply involved in yoga and holistic healing. Pray that she finds true SPIRITUAL healing in Jesus Christ. I was able to have about a three hour conversation with my friend Johann, from Belgium. We lay back in comfy chairs at the rooftop bar and he smoked half a pack of cigarettes while we enjoyed good conversation on just about every topic under the sun. Mainly we talked about spiritual matters and I was able to lay out the gospel quite boldly and shared a lot of scripture with him. Long story short, he is still quite happy in his casual Buddhism and isn't really seeking answers to the deeper questions in life. I am praying hard that he will have a vision of Jesus Christ during one of his times of meditation. Please join me in praying for him. I hope that some of the things that I said to him stick with him and that the Holy Spirit will do His good work in bringing him to conviction of sin and a realization of the riches of Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
I'd better go. Thanks for praying! God bless!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Times of Refreshing

"You've NEVER been drunk?" Johann asked again, his jaw dropping in disbelief. His reaction was quite typical to many conversations that we had on New Year's Eve. Our prayers to stick out from the ordinary were definitely answered. It was an incredible night where we all had a great time and were able to about our faith in Jesus with several people. The conversation didn't necessarily get spiritual with every person that we met but the free BBQ on the rooftop bar was a great place for meeting people in our hostel and making connections that we can build on through the rest of our stay here.
On new year's day we had a full day of prayer and fasting for the nation of Thailand. Over breakfast time we went to a nearby temple and prayed that God would lift the veil of that is over the eyes of those enslaved to Buddhism and that Jesus Christ would be revealed as the "substance" of which all this searching for meaning is but a shadow. For the mystery of God has been revealed and in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. During the rest of the morning we had a Bible study together and then personal devotional time. Over lunchtime we went to a nearby government building and prayed about the current political instability in Thailand. I won't get into the details here but it's quite interesting and I would recommend reading up on it. During the afternoon we took some time to seek God for personal direction and vision for the new year. Over suppertime we prayed about the issue of human trafficking, sex slavery and prostitution. Again, I won't get into the gory details right now but please check out StopTheTraffik
For more information. We finished off the evening by having communion together and reminding ourselves again that "He became sin, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God".
Praise God as well that on that morning Becky was able to give a Bible to Mike, one of the Americans that we've been hanging out with here, just before he left to go to Laos for awhile.
We took today, Jan 02, as our Sabbath day. The best part of the day, by far, was joining the Chiang Mai Community Church for their evening service. It is an international church that has services in English. Many of the regular members are involved in ministry here in some way. It was absolutely GLORIOUS to be able to worship with them and be united with them in communion. I talked to a few people afterwards and was greatly encouraged and got some good information about where to get Bibles and tracts in Thai.
Tomorrow Malori, Luca and Becky are spending most of the day in a Thai cooking class. There will be about six or seven other westerners in the class spending the whole day together, cooking and eating and hanging out. It sounded like a great opportunity so we are going for it. Pray that they meet the right people and have boldness to share Jesus with them. They are together all day so they really have nowhere to escape to if they don't want to hear, right? I will be spending the day doing a variety of different things. I'll probably spend most of it here at the hostel. Pray that I get an opportunity to speak more with Johann, a middle-aged Belgium guy who is "slowing down a bit" and getting into a "different kind of traveling" that involves trying out various forms of meditation and so on. I talked to him for about an hour on new year's eve and I would love to give him my last booklet from Micheal Graham (Jedi Micheal, that I met last year in India). Besides that I will be praying about direction for our team over the next week or two and possibly visiting the Thai Bible Society to get some literature.
That's a brief summary of what we're up to right now. Thank you for your prayers and support!
Long live the KING!