Missionary Stories

Peacebuilding through Storytelling

Thailand_-_Kristin_Wolf_Aug_2016_pic1.jpgLate July I attended a retreat with our partner the Church of Christ in Thailand for the Christian Volunteers in Thailand (CVT). The retreat was focused on English education and most of the CVT volunteers created lesson plans and taught all of us as if we were the students in their class. We had an array of lesson plans and age groups to explore and learn from.

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Life in Thailand

Thailand_-_Wolf_Spr_2016_pic1.jpgIt has been nearly five months since I left the United States to work as a Global Missions Intern in Thailand. I live in a beautiful northern city called Chiang Mai. I enjoy the day to day bustle of street vendors and children on their way to school. Monday through Friday I wake up to the sunrise and the subsequent intercom blasting Katy Perry’s ‘ROAR’ that the children sing along to. I walk maybe a quarter of a mile to the Christian Communications Institute (CCI) office at Payap University. CCI is a Thai folklore biblical storytelling troupe that travels the world telling bible stories incorporating Thai culture, drama, dance, and music. When I arrived they were touring in the schools around Thailand performing 5 days a week, twice a day. They had one show geared towards elementary age children and another for adolescents. The shows included songs the kids would sing along to, a modern drama based on a story from the bible, a sermon by the CCI pastor, and prayer.

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Sharing and Giving

India_-_Williams_20151216_155451_Spr_16.jpgSharing and giving are extremely important and is greatly enjoyed by the members of The Christian Hospital in Mungeli (CHM) and The Rambo English Medium School. Sharing everything from a skill, a story, a relationship with Christ, or an experience seems to be natural to those who grace both campuses.

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We Continue to Learn and Grow

Sri_Lanka_-_J_K_pic1_Sp_2016.jpgWe are Andy Jepson and Lindley Kinerk from central New Hampshire volunteering in Sri Lanka for what we hope will be two full years.  Andy is a retired UCC pastor and Lindley is also retired, a math teacher.  We arrived in Sri Lanka in October to work with the CACM (Church of the American Ceylon Mission), a Christian church working among the Tamil population.  We found that the relationship between this church and the American missionaries is a long, close one dating from way back in 1816.  Over the years the partnership between the Americans and the Sri Lankans has been one of mutual respect and sharing of responsibilities and faith.

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Lead Us into Understanding

Thailand_-_Wedding.jpgA good chunk of my work as an Ecumenical Officer involves translating—translating of conversations, of documents, of sermons, and so on.

This is a crucial service, in a country that ranks 62nd among the 70 countries in the world where English proficiency exams are most often taken. Thailand is extremely fortunate in that it has never been colonized by a Western power, unlike all of its neighbors in ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations). But this may also account for the comparatively low use of English. Why is this important? Because English is the official language of ASEAN, as well as APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation).

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True Colors of A Godly Friendship

India_-_Kahala_Spring_2016_IMG_4718.jpgTwo are better than one……………A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4: 9, 12

It is truly amazing how relationships and friendships blossom. We are all a part of one body.  We laugh, we cry, we grieve, and we love the same despite various differences in our countries of origin, culture, fundamental beliefs, age, or race. The special bond that we share cannot be broken. It doesn’t cease when one of us leaves India to return home to the United States of America, or leaves the state of Chhattisgarh to return home to Orrisa.

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Concerns and Gratitude

Greetings from Jakarta, a city I (John) generally avoid like the dentist. I am at the guest house owned by the Indonesian Communion of Churches with a small working group who are designing a workshop on environmental awareness and advocacy for local congregations.

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Legacy

Thailand_-_50th_Anniv._Comm._Ch._-_Charunee.jpgA couple of weeks ago I attended the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Community Church, in Bangkok. This is the congregation my father helped to start when he was the director of the Community Christian Center in those years.  The Community Christian Center was a neighborhood house which offered a number of ministries—among them, after-school programs for kids, English classes, sewing classes, Vacation Bible School, Youth Group (generally people in their 20s), regular visits by a nurse and sometimes a doctor, and free milk for kids in a culture where that was unavailable and in a time when medical advice strongly promoted it. And eventually, a new church began out of all of those ministries. My father was the first pastor (and the only foreign pastor) and, at the age of 9, I was the first pianist.  Not a very accomplished one, I hasten to add. But a willing one.

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Hello from Sri Lanka

Hello from Sri Lanka, in a small town in the Jaffna district, way up north on Sri Lanka, 20 minutes by train from the Indian Ocean.  This is one of the areas where the Tamil people live, and it’s the area to which the early missionaries from New England came almost two centuries ago – anniversary celebrations have already started!  We’ve been here only since October 2, and we are settled – temporarily – at the Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) of the Church of the American Ceylon Mission (CACM), our partner agency.

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Burning Season

Thailand_-_Living_in_Fire_Sept_2015_2.jpgExodus 3:1-15

Recently a Christian from another tradition asked me if I was “living in the fire.”  I asked if she meant persecution, as that has been one of the interpretations of “baptism by fire.”  She said no, that it’s a kind of next step in life in the Holy Spirit.  I’m still meditating on what this might mean.

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