Missionary Stories

The Voice of Prayer is Never Silent

Thailand_-_Commissioning_Service_GA_Sept_2015.jpgI’m recently back from a trip home to the United States, part of which was spent working at the Global Ministries booth at the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) biannual General Assembly.  This year, General Assembly was held in Columbus, Ohio.

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A Small Good Thing

The American writer Raymond Carver wrote a short story called, “A Small Good Thing,” in which a young couple loses their little boy after a terrible bike accident, right on his birthday.  Unknowing, the baker of the cake calls several times, asking, “What about Scotty?  Have you forgotten about Scotty?”  Each message is more sarcastic than the last.

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Skyscrapers, Churches, and the Future

Thailand_-_Sunset_in_my_neighborhood_-_03-12-15_(2).jpgBangkok is among the top 15 skyscraper cities in the world now, ever since the technology has been available to build tall buildings in a swamp.  When I left here so many years ago, there were only two buildings taller than five or six stories.  Now there are dozens.  One of the tallest in Bangkok, the Empire Tower, is about a block from the house where I’m living.  So trees and grass are at a premium.

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A Slice of Chiang Mai

I traveled to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand in late March for my first Mission Co-Worker visiting trip.  I was met by Becky Mann, a good friend of my family, but whom I had never before met.  Becky took me to the Lanna Café, the coffee house on the grounds where she and her husband, Mike, work.  They treated me to khao pad (fried rice) and an orange fruit shake, since I avoid caffeine and there’s no Lanna decaf – yet.  Lanna Coffee is produced by a co-op of Thai ethnic groups that live in the mountains and grow and sell coffee with the help of Mission Co-Workers who are connected to the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT).  Several groups participate in this project:  Hmong, Lahu, Lisu, and Karen (pronounced Kuh-RENN).  Many Christians in the United States may know people from these backgrounds.  A number of Hmong folks settled in the U.S. after the Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia War, and many are in the Des Moines area where I lived and ministered for some years, as well as in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area.

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Through the Belly of the Dragon

Just a couple of weeks ago, I took a journey that became a parable for me.  For three days right after Easter, I participated in a retreat with the entire national staff of the Church of Christ in Thailand, including the people from our Bangkok and Chiang Mai offices, as well as staff from a few other places—around 170 people in all.

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Asking "How?"

It was somewhere over the Pacific Ocean over a year ago that I realized that the flight I was on would change my life. And it has. I often lay at night and think about what if I had not boarded the flight.  What if at the very last second I had said “Wait, Stop! I am not going.” I think about that a lot. I think about how each and every event leading up to my departure could never have prepared me for what I have seen. Yet, I have seen it. And at this point there is no turning back. I often do not talk to others about the complexities of my job, often speaking in vague terms leaving out all the details. I think to myself “ It is to protect them.” Once they know what I know they will be troubled as I am - yet at the same time more people should feel troubled. They should be upset about what is happening.  If everyone just became upset for five minutes a day - wow - we could actually change something. There are moments when I wish I had never got on the plane, never seen their faces, never heard their stories, because living in ignorance is so much easier then living with truth. But I have seen their faces and heard their stories and I cannot just ignore that.

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Learning in Thailand

Thailand_-_Ben_Ewert_pic1.jpgMy time in Thailand as a Long-term volunteer with the Church of Christ in Thailand was not only a wonderful opportunity to serve others, but was also a time of learning about myself. 

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Through the Eyes of Children

India_-_Cannon_IMG_3133.jpgThe beauty of life is seen through the eyes of children all around the world. Just a short walk down the road from Christian Hospital Mungeli is the Rambo Memorial English Medium School (RMEMS). There, you have the vibrant energy of young people, from nursery to 12th standard. As you walk through the halls of the school, you can literally still hear the students’’ laughter and the pattering of feet, long after they have gone home and the classrooms are empty. Each day, students learn to cherish life, respect each other, and embrace the unique learning opportunities that are available to them outside, as well as inside, of the four walls of their classroom.

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Everything is Holy Now

Thailand_-_Common_Tree_Shrew_-_SE_Asia.jpgLast month as I preached at a worship service here at the national headquarters of the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT), I found myself thinking again, as I so often have, of a Peter Mayer song from an album by my friend, Scott Stilwell—“Everything is Holy Now.”  In it, the singer remembers growing up in church and wondering why there are so few miracles today, compared to Biblical times.  But the song also tells us that if we know how to look and how to listen, we can realize that miracles are everywhere and we’re swimming in a sea of God’s holiness.

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Sawasdee Ka! Greetings from Thailand!

Thailand_-_karendress.jpgSome of the people reading this article have known me almost my entire life, whereas others may have never met me, or have only known me for a short time. Those who have known me since I was little could attest to my wild imagination and sense of adventure.  One of my favorite activities as a child was packing bags.  Once my bags were packed I would travel behind the sofa, pretending that at the back of the sofa I had reached my destination.  Due partly to friends and family living on other continents, from an early age I had a deep desire and love for the world that existed far beyond our family farm in Iowa.  Another of my favorite games was telephone. To play, I would sit near one tree in the yard and my mother or neighbor friends would sit near another tree. Our trees were our homes. We would call each other and invite one another over, for pretend tea or conversation.  I was always curious to meet and get to know new people.

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