Krabi Boats 8

The ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, once wrote “There is nothing permanent except change.” It seems that in the South Thailand region, this saying has been very true over the last 12 months. Some missionaries have gone on home assignment and some returned. Two families have left the region. And we have seen change in the form of innovation occurring too. The COVID pandemic created a number of unique constraints in the way that ministry was done last year, but at the same time gave opportunity for creative new types of ministry. 

David Lila Chang continue to serve the Lord in university ministry at the Walailak University in Tha Sala. Though there hasn’t been much opportunity for ministry on campus in person, they have had many opportunities to follow-up professors and students online. They have, in particular, been able to disciple and encourage one of the Christian professors as well as a few Christian students. As well, they have been supporting and encouraging an international Christian students fellowship by organizing online meetings for this group once face-to-face meetings were not possible. Dave, Lila and family are currently in the US on a short home assignment and return to Thailand in July.

Lee-anne20220517_103500.jpg Hill returned from home assignment in February. She has moved to the Ron Phibun market area in order to start a new church plant along with Bruce and Trish Bartleet (when they return from home assignment). Lee-anne continues to follow-up a number of seekers and new believers while connecting and conversing with her Nakhon Si Thammarat Lee-anne has continued seeking ways to live and serve in ways consistent with creation care. She recently contributed an article about creation care to an OMF publication. Lee-anne also joined the Digital Movements Working Group last year and has been researching ways that we can be using online media more effectively in order to evangelise Thais. Leeanne has also been (unofficially) coordinating the Prakhampee Facebook page.

Jonathan and Genine Thomas returned to Nakhon Si Thammarat at the end of August last year after being stuck in South Africa for almost 2 ½ years. They restarted language study and surveyed the Amphur Muang area for a new church plant location while waiting for Jay and Julia Wells to return from home assignment. In December, SIM asked them to move to Chiang Mai to head up the Sports Friends ministry. Jon and Genine moved to Chiang Mai in January to take up this role.

Bruce and Trish Bartleet’s connections in Mailaa continued to grow last year. As well as the groups where they teach and share Bible stories, they had many opportunities to encourage members of two nearby churches. They also found opportunities to give hope to families in the Mailaa area by delivering food parcels to those stuck in home-quarantine. Bruce and Trish then returned to Australia last December and have been enjoying home assignment there. They will return to Thailand early July. They plan to move to join Lee-anne in Ron Phibun when they return. Trish completed her 3rd level language exams last November. Well done, Trish!

Steve and Angel McCallum have seen some of the older members of the church plant in Phrom Khiri stagnate in their walk with the Lord, while at the same time they have seen much interest from teens and young adults in the area. Angel has been doing daily Bible reading with many of the church members and in doing so has seen much spiritual growth in these people. Steve and Angel also McCallum family 2employed creative ways to reach out to local people in Phrom Khiri during the COVID shutdowns 2021. They discovered that gifts of the KN51 masks were very popular! Steve and Angel also started their Khao Dee Nakhon Si Facebook page and website as a way to start reaching Thai Buddhists online during this time. They have learnt a lot about creating evangelistic posts for Facebook pages as well as how to follow-up online contacts. You can find their FB page here:

More importantly, Steve and Angel have been learning much about multiplication. Stephanie “Nong Pray” McCallum was born on September 4th last year. She is a great joy to her parents, wider family and the rest of the missionary community in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

And the very latest news is that Angel has officially finished her M.Min at BBS. Congrats!!

puzzle.pngWell done! You’ve made it half way through the report now. As a reward, here is a puzzle for you to do: tap, click or scan this QR code

Simon and Sabina are still on home assignment in Switzerland. They are due to return to Thailand in July but they return is not yet certain due to speech therapy needs of their daughter, Alina.

Jay and Julia Wells went on home assignment last July. They recently returned to Thailand and have moved to Bangkok region so that their children can attend ICS in Bang Na.

Bruno and Ana Granja Vila Nova were unable to do much in the way of soccer ministry last year. So Bruno spent his time focusing on language study. Bruno, Ana and family went on home assignment to Brazil in December. They plan to return to Thailand at the beginning of 2023.

Jeff & Belinda have continued to lead the region, though have requested to stand down from this position after being Regional Leaders for 14 years. Jeff has taken up the role of chair of the Digital Movements Working Group alongside the Regional Leader responsibilities. Jeff & Belinda also welcomed a new member into their family, with the marriage of their oldest son, Nathan to Lauren in December.

livestream.jpgThe tall and short of this means that there are currently only five missionaries in South Thailand region. We look forward to seeing the three families currently on HA return to Thailand soon! Besides the usual church planting work that goes on regularly, South Thailand region also have had the following activities:

  • Monthly prayer meetings.
  • Monthly coffee & culture conversations (though these have paused this year with so many on HA).
  • Monthly church planting discussions and workshops.
  • Various online prayer meetings.
  • Involvement in pastors/church leaders’ meetings for Nakhon Si Thammarat province.
  • Assisting provincial “revival” meetings by providing livestreaming equipment and know-how. (See photo.)
  • And celebrating different children’s birthdays together.

The Associated Churches Thailand - South (ACTS) have coped with the pandemic over the last three years in different ways. Generally, those churches with pastors or full-time leaders went to online meetings and did well and even thrived. Those churches who didn’t go online struggled to come back together once the restrictions on meetings finished. The ACTS committee went to online meetings last year and then ran an online conference in 20211226 1148380December with missionaries and tech-savvy Thais working together to host the Zoom meetings. All who joined in were greatly blessed and encouraged.

The churches and church plants in Nakhon Si Thammarat province – Pak Phanang, Phrom Khiri and Mamuang Talort have started getting together occasionally as the District 2 of ACTS. Here is a photo of the combined Christmas celebration.

AC19-20_0838.jpgThe Adventure Camp ministry restarted in April this year with two camps back to back. We had over 100 campers and leaders joining the two camps. Once again, campers enjoyed rock climbing, caving, abseiling and kayaking while discussing and considering how we can be friends with God. Campers and leaders joined in from Phuket, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Yala, Hatyai, Pattani and Sungaikolok, as well as Bangkok, Nakhon Sawan, Suhkothai, Khon Kaen and Udon Thani. Jeff has been talking to pastors and missionaries in Central Thailand and Isaan about setting up adventure camps in those regions which is why we had people joining the camp from so far afield. Camps in CT and Isaan are likely to happen in October.

So, much change has happened in the ST region over the last year. But change isn’t something that we should consider as bad. Another famous person said, “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” Or in the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” So it turns out that change – though sometimes unexpected – is used to God to develop and perfect us, both in our life and our service for him.