Chiang Rai, Thailand | Jan 24 – Feb 8, 2024
For this prayer update, I’m going to include Scott’s prayer guide for this trip. It gives an excellent short history of our work with The Way Foundation in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Enjoy!
Thailand Trip – Purser Prayer Guide
Twenty years ago, David Kibbe, an American math teacher in Bangkok, saw the need in northern Thailand to begin a pastor and evangelist training program with a vision for training indigenous leaders in Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos (the Golden Triangle region). As he met with Lahu leaders, he learned that often church leaders were unable to articulate the gospel and had few resources and methods to study the Bible. Furthermore, he saw a clear need for discipleship and a vision for reproducing disciples (2 Timothy 2:2).
David and his wife Marilyn moved to Chiang Rai and began a small pastor and evangelist program among the Lahu. By 2012, the Kibbe’s son, Ben, also became a missionary to Thailand through Evangelical Friends in Ohio. Ben was instrumental in working with key Lahu Christian leaders to establish an official Thai ministry called The Way Foundation. The three-pronged purpose of The Way Foundation included the pastor and evangelist training program and also added a focus on planting new churches and focusing on holistic discipleship within Lahu villages. In 2016, Ben’s wife, Charity, a nurse, visited Colorado Springs (along with several of her prayer team members) and attended Discipling for Development’s initial ministry course called, “Foundations for holistic ministry,” a focus on using empowerment methods, whole-life discipleship and available resources to advance the Kingdom of God.
In 2017, The Way Foundation invited Discipling for Development to begin training their team in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand. They invited David Thomas, a missionary from the Evangelical Friends Mission, to be the liaison between Discipling for Development and The Way Foundation. David had effectively used the Discipling for Development method of ministry during his years in Rwanda. In 2018, David invited me (Scott) to form a small team of two to help coach the Lahu team through the five phases of Discipling for Development (preparation, exploration, mobilization, empowerment, and reproduction). Each year we make two or three visits to Thailand to coach, mentor, and train the team as they seek to disciple their communities in the hills of northern Thailand. About once or twice a month we also Zoom with two key leaders (Yosapa and Mana) to maintain relationships, talk about their work in communities, brainstorm together, and consider how to stir up the team towards love and good works (Hebrews 10: 24).
On this trip, David Thomas and I will team up to coach the team as they continue through what we call the mobilization phase. The mobilization phase is working with a community to help them identify and discover their strengths and obstacles and ultimately decide for themselves what areas they would like to receive training in to help their communities thrive. In the past few months, Yosapa and Mana have been traveling every other Sunday to two different Lahu villages and have been helping two small churches through this process. Recently, it has involved taking topics that the communities have selected such as a lack of Bible training or struggles with planning or problems between husbands and wives, and going through a “root cause analysis” process. What are the core roots of these types of struggles? As they continue to do this, they ultimately will develop a curriculum of topics they want to receive training in to help their community. As we meet, we will go through their conclusions based on their research.
The last time we were with this team was in September 2023. On this trip, in addition to helping the team through the mobilization phase, we will follow up with a training we did on coaching methods. We will also get updates on how the Discipling for Development team (YoSaPa and Mana) is doing and work together with them in thinking through the next steps and training for the coming three months. Here are some specific prayer requests:
- In the words of 2 Timothy 2: 1, “be strengthened by the grace [power] that is in Christ Jesus.” We hope that insights in coaching this team will come from God, and not from our own human wisdom and strength. We don’t just want good ideas, but to know that God is the one who is empowering us all through the Holy Spirit.
- For health, energy, and strength throughout the two weeks. On short trips like these, it feels like you are only just recovering from jetlag by the time you come back home again. On our last few trips, we have experienced some levels of sickness. It is also very common for translators and other Lahu team members to experience various kinds of sickness.
- To be the aroma of Christ. The apostle Paul writes, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2: 16). But we want to spread “the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (vs. 14). Please pray that Christ would be central in all that we do.
- To abound in every good work. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). Often, we don’t know the full situation of things until we meet and begin sharing with each other. As mentioned above, we want to hold on to God who gives this grace for all times and all situations.
Thank you for praying through these areas as you think of our team in Thailand.
Warmly in Christ,
Scott and I will also participate with EFM’s field director Dan Cammack and former EFM missionary to Thailand, Ben Kibbe, along with The Way Foundation leaders as they seek to strengthen their relationship. They will be looking at how TWF and EFM can work well together in promoting the growth of God’s kingdom throughout the Lahu peoples with Bible training, leadership development, church planting and whole-life discipleship. They will be looking at the unique challenges of church planting in their context. We will be looking at how EFM can best partner with them to encourage them to be and achieve all that God has called them to.
Thank you-all for praying with us on this trip!