THANKFUL FOR HIS LOVE AND GRACE
by Rev. Vaneda Suwatchalapinun, Bangkok, Thailand
SCARS WHICH BROUGHT BLESSING TO OUR FAMILY
My great grandmother and grandfather were very poor. They lived in Canton Province, China. When grandfather was still a young child someone said to him, “Young man, if you can use your mouth to pick up this basket of rice and set it back down again, I’ll give you one coin. Because my grandfather needed the money, he accepted the challenge to pick up the basket with his teeth. However, the basket was heavy and my grandfather tore his neck muscles. My great grandmother had no money to pay for her son’s medical treatment, so out of necessity she left home with the son and begged for money from the villagers. When my great grandmother reached the Christian hospital in Suthaw, the hospital accepted the injured boy. The hospital staff also shared with my great grandmother and her son the good news of Jesus Christ. I thank God that my grandfather was healed in both a physical and spiritual way when he accepted the Lord Jesus as his personal Savior. Even though my grandfather became well and strong again, his neck remained full of scars. I thank God for these scars which brought blessing to our family. This is how my family came to know the true and living God.
After some years my grandparents, along with my own parents, came to work in Thailand. In those days Chinese people who traveled by boat from China were given two baht each by the Thai government when they landed on Thai soil. This money was for starting a business in Thailand. At that time my father was only 17 years old and my mother was just 16. They went to Uttaradit Province to start a business. There my parents had 4 daughters and 2 sons. My parents sent all 6 of these children back to study in China. However, when I came along I was still too young to go to school so I stayed home with my parents. My parents sold fabric and cosmetics and did tailoring. Whenever we would receive a new shipment of cloth, my mother would have the tailor make me a new dress. I became very proud of the fact that I always had new and pretty clothes to wear. After older brothers and sisters returned home from their studies in China I chased them out of the house saying that this house did not belong to them and that it was only mine.
During my childhood days, my parents’ house was by the river. One day a fire broke out very close to our shop. My father told my mother to carry me out of the house and he went back to try and retrieve as many things as he could from the shop. The fire came so close to the shop that my father was trapped inside. My father tried to escape the fire by going out under the house. He grabbed onto the metal cable which was used to draw water from the river. His life was spared, but both of his hands were badly cut. My mother waited there for someone to help my father. For many weeks my mother had to feed and care for my father until his hands healed.
I thank God that Dr. John Sung came to have evangelistic services in Thailand. Dr. John Sung was holding services in Pitsanulok Province and my father went to hear him. At that time my father experienced a revival in his spiritual life. When he returned to Uttaradit he started a prayer room and each Sunday following he brought his family there for prayer. This simple prayer room had no Christian worker to lead the services. It was just a room in his shop that formerly was used to sell things needed by the Buddhist monks. After my father returned from Pitsanulok, my father never sold those items again. After our family began meeting for prayer on Sunday, another family became interested and later came to trust in Jesus Christ also. To this day that family still remains committed to Christ. When World War II broke out, my family decided to move to Bangkok and began to worship at the Saphan Luang Church.
After World War II, my father worked exchanging Chinese currency for Thai baht. Later, the value of Chinese currency fell and with it, our family income. Even though my parents opened a factory which made cloth, they never regained what they lost. My parents became very discouraged in the business world. My father decided to serve as an elder at the Taki church and invest his life in preaching and visitation. As for the family business, my older sister and her husband oversaw the factory after my father stepped aside.
I have 10 brothers and sisters. My father helped deliver all of us children except my oldest sister. My grandmother helped deliver my oldest sister and taught my father how to do it. When my oldest sister was 19 years old she became very sick with typhoid and died. My facial features were very similar to those of my sister’s, so as a child I often feared that I would also die as my sister did, when I turned 19.
My oldest brother was spoiled by my mother. When he went to study in China, he caused a lot of problems for my grandmother. For example, one time he crushed some olives that my grandmother was drying. He ended up destroying the whole batch that my grandmother was preserving for the whole year. My grandmother took my brother to church with her, but while he was there he stole someone’s purse while they were praying. He also bullied people in the bathroom. My grandmother felt she could no longer handle this unruly grandson and sent him back to live with his parents in Thailand. I thank God that after my brother returned and we moved to Bangkok, God really began to work in his life. He changed and became a good example to us younger children.
One time a picture from one of my father’s books was missing. My father was very angry and asked each of us if we had taken the picture. That evening, when my family was having a time of prayer together in our home, my oldest brother confessed to my father that he had taken the picture. Then he brought a stick in to my father, knelt beside him and asked him to please spank him for what he had done. I never forgot that incident even though it happened many years ago when I was just a young child. Eventually he went to Bible school and entered the Lord’s service. He married and has six children: three sons and three daughters. He has retired and continues to have a deep love for his family. They now live in the United States.
My second oldest brother went to live in China with my aunt who was childless. He died there as a child. My sixth sister and my youngest sister have also passed away. When my youngest sister turned 18, she was accepted at Chulalongkorn University, one of the most prestigious universities in Thailand. She celebrated by going swimming with some friends. When her friends were ready to leave they didn’t see my youngest sister anywhere, so they assumed she had gone home ahead of them. After returning home, they called our house to ask for my sister. That’s when they learned that she never returned home. My family quickly went to look for her, but it was too late. She apparently struck her head on an object in the water, drowned and went to be with the Lord.
My second oldest sister is married and has two sons and three daughters. This sister and her husband took over the family business because he was experienced in this type of work. The business flourished and they were able to help support my mother and us younger children. My brother-in-law was very industrious and he deeply loved his family. When I began to have family problems, this older sister and her husband were very supportive of me and helped me to go on for further studies. After I went to live in Hong Kong for a year, my brother-in-law was found to have liver cancer. He died when he was only 41 years old. He had a younger sister who lived in Hong Kong. Two weeks after he died of liver cancer, his sister also died of the same type of cancer. She was only 40 years old and had 5 children. She was married to Mr. William Woo.
My third oldest sister married and moved to Chiang Mai. She has two sons and one daughter. My younger sister was a teacher at the Sammuk Christian School at the time that I was studying in Hong Kong. One Sunday I went to visit Mr. William Woo and his family. I felt sorry for the children who had no mother to help nurture them along. That night when I returned to the Bible school, I felt deeply burdened to pray for this family. Then it occurred to me to encourage Mr. Woo to marry my younger sister. The next day was Monday and my younger brother, who had just married, came to Hong Kong for his honeymoon. He called me at the Bible school to come and visit him and his bride at their hotel but I didn’t know the way. I phone Mr. Woo to ask if he would take me to my brother’s hotel. While we were eating together at the hotel, my brother whispered to me that the relatives of Mr. Woo in Thailand were encouraging my sister to consider marrying him. I was amazed that all of us introduced Mr. Woo to my younger sister and they eventually married. Though they had not previously met face to face, they sent letters back and forth to each other, listened to the advice I had for them, and believed that this was in fact God’s leading.
One of my younger brothers graduated from Thammasart Universtiy. After he married, he and his wife moved to America. They had two daughters and a son. This family and other Thai Christians started a Thai church in Brooklyn, New York in 1992. The church is still in New York but has moved from Brooklyn to Queens. This brother has passed the New York State bar exam and is practicing law in New York City.
The youngest of my brothers married an elder from the Second Church in Bangkok and has two sons. He moved to America with his family. So in 1968, when I finished my studies in Hong Kong, the families of my two younger brothers gave me a graduation gift of two plane tickets. One ticket was from Hong Kong to Thailand. During my stay in Thailand I was able to eat all the Thai foods I missed during my stay in Hong Kong. Then I was to use the second ticket to fly from Thailand to America.
The grace of God has spared my life on several occasions. Once as a child my mother opened the safe to take out some jewelry for the business. I stood there by the safe and slipped my hand inside before my mother closed the door. The door closed on my hand and to this day the middle finger on my right hand is crooked. I thank God that my finger was not severed or broken. Another time I was playing with some children and I ran into a glass cabinet. My mother later told me that my whole body went through the glass. How I thank the Lord that I received no injury from the incident.
When I was a child I was a very finicky eater. I would only eat roasted red pork. When I went to school I would ride on my older sister’s shoulders. When I was at home I would change clothes many times a day which caused my older siblings to become impatient with me. They became very tired of washing all my clothes. I am so thankful to God that I did not grow up in Uttaradit but rather moved to Bangkok because of the war. During the war the schools in Bangkok were closed and the children stayed at home and helped work around the house. One day, when I was 12 years old, we were hanging out clothes to dry when I fell into a very large well. My sister-in-law was the only one close by. I thank God that my sister-in-law noticed what had happened and was able to help. She quickly let down a rope into the well and called out for others to come and help her pull me out. My life was spared because of the grace of God.
After the close of WWII we children were allowed to attend Saphan Luang Christian School. I was the most unruly child in my class. All of us children were much older than usual because we had stopped our studies during the war. That made us brave to talk back to our teacher and I even encouraged my classmates to oppose the teacher. My teacher reported my bad behavior to my father who was an elder at the Saphan Luang Church. When I finished my studies I would also go and study Chinese with a group of my friends. I was preparing myself to eventually go to mainland China to study. My father was very concerned for me and feared I would become a member of the communist party. My friends sold their gold necklaces and gold belts in order to buy a ticket for the boat trip to China. As for me, I was never interested in jewelry so I did not own anything valuable that I could sell. In the end I was not able to join my friends because I did not have the money for the ticket.
My father made arrangements for me to go to Bangkok Institute of Theology. The institute, however, sent notification that they would not accept me because I was too young. When I heard the news I was very happy. Later the school decided to compromise and let me study, stating that the reason for the change was because my father was an elder and my older brother was an ordained minister. Throughout my first semester at B.I.T., I did not talk to anyone. When it was time for class I went to school and immediately after class returned home. I hardened my heart and really was not a happy person. Finally, one night when I was alone in my bedroom, I got down on my knees and prayed to God for forgiveness. That was the time I received Christ as my personal Savior. I told the Lord that I was hard headed, but if God had a place for me in His service, I was willing. The next morning I went to school a changed person. I was finally happy. During the first period class the professor asked us students to read Isaiah Chapter 6. Each of us was to read 1 verse. I told God in my heart I wanted to read verse 8 which states, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I answered, “Here am I. Send me!” I thank God that when it came my turn to read, it was in fact that very verse. I was very sure that this verse was meant especially for me. Latter that semester I was baptized and began to open up and talk with my classmates.
When I finally reached the second semester of my third year, three churches contacted B.I.T. requesting I come and work with them. My professor advised me to go to the Maitrijitr Church. I asked for permission to talk this decision over with my parents. Since it was my father who had made the arrangements for me to study, I wanted to allow him to make the final decision. I promised my professor an answer the following day. That night as I talked with my father, he advised me to wait until I married and then to serve the Lord together with my husband. I felt sad when I heard my father’s advice because I had no desire to marry after my studies were completed. There was, however, an older student who was in love with me but we had never thought of marriage. When we did become engaged, the Maitrijit Church heard the news and invited both of us to work with them. Every Sunday we were involved in the ministry at Maitrijit in teaching Sunday School, leading ladies meetings, and conducting evangelism and visitation. During the week we worked at an evangelistic center at Talat Plu evangelizing and teaching the Chinese People.
WHEN THE STORMS OF LIFE CAME
When I became pregnant, one of our Chinese language students came to offer her services to help with the housework. I felt that there wasn’t enough work around the house to keep her busy, so I suggested she take sewing lessons and we would pay for them. After she had her lesson she would stop by the market and pick up food to cook for supper. Then, following her Chinese lesson, she would go home. After my oldest daughter was born, I noticed that my husband was spending a lot of time talking with this girl. I asked my husband what they talked about. He said that he was planning to introduce this student to his younger brother, I didn’t think much about it then. In the following years I had two more children.
One day the head elder from the Maitrijitr Church came and asked us if we would go and help the Huakunjae Church in Chonburi Province. My husband traveled back and forth between Chonburi and Bangkok. On Sundays he would go to Chonburi and help with the church and the other days he would help at the evangelistic center in Talat Plu. It so happened that one Sunday my husband never arrived at the Chonburi Church. One of the elders was visiting the Huakunjae Church and came to ask me why my husband never arrived there on Sunday. I did not know why. When the year was over, the Maitrijit Church did not extend our contract. My husband said we should move to his house in Chachoengsao. My father-in-law had a truck which transported merchandise from Bangkok to Chachoengsao. My husband was very interested in that type of work so we decided to move. One day my husband’s younger brother came to the house and said, “Do you know that my older brother took that female student to a hotel?” My brother-in-law told me that while he was driving a taxi in Bangkok, he noticed this woman get into a taxi with a man. He followed their taxi until it stopped at a hotel. It was then that he saw that the man in the taxi was his brother. He quickly drove home to tell me what he saw. When my husband returned home from Bangkok that evening, I asked him if what his younger brother told me was the truth. My husband admitted that it was true and said that her mother knew all about the relationship and encouraged my husband to take her daughter as a second wife. The mother was also a minor wife and therefore could accept the situation. My husband was afraid his family would find out about this relationship so he moved the three children and me back to Bangkok.
I went to visit my brother in Saphan Luang. When I got there, I just sat and cried until my mother and brother-in-law asked me what all the tears were about. I then told them the whole story about my husband and his relationship with this female Chinese student. My mother and brother-in-law refused to believe my story, saying that Christian workers do not do things like that. They said that I must have been thinking too much and therefore allowed these crazy thoughts to come into my mind. I answered them, “Suppose what I am telling you is really true. Then may I please move back and live at home again?” My family responded that if what I was telling them was really true, then I could return home. I returned to the house my husband and I were renting in Bangkok. That evening I talked with my husband. I pleaded with him to read the Bible with me before we made any decisions. He opened the Bible first and read I Corinthians chapter four. Then I read the following chapter. The very first verse of chapter five said, “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.” (NAS) That verse immediately confirmed to me that I should return to my mother’s house.
I asked my husband what he planned to do with the three children. My husband said that he and his girlfriend had already discussed this and felt that since they were my children I should care for them. Early the next morning my husband hired a car to send me back to my mother’s house. Since my older sister and her husband oversaw the cloth factory, I immediately had a job to do. I did not have to worry as to how I would support myself. However, I began to feel very sad and began to wonder if I was inferior, and felt I could not compare to my husband’s new girlfriend. I was angry and hated this girl and my husband too, for what he did. I even felt myself disappointed with God. I wonder why God would allow such a thing to happen to me. My only escape from all of this was through my tears. During those days, I could never seem to cry enough. God revealed something to me through this. When I was a B.I.T. student, I had better grades than my friends. After graduating, I was married before any of my friends. I was offered a job at a large church with a better salary than that of any of my friends. All of these things caused me to become quite proud. I felt I was better than other people. But when problems surfaced in my marriage, I lost everything. I was so desperate. I wanted to kill myself. More than that, I wanted to kill my husband and his girlfriend. I felt my life had no meaning anymore.
One day, as I was walking from my house to the end of the lane, I met an old friend who at one time seemed to be a Christian. She became a minor wife of a man who came form Taiwan. This Taiwanese man had become very rich from the diamond business. After a time, the first wife followed from Taiwan and did everything possible to make life for this wife intolerable. She became like a crazy woman. When I saw this former friend acting as if she had become crazy, I asked myself if that was what I wanted to become. I knew in my heart that I didn’t want to be like this and asked God to please help me. During this same time, Rev. Chaosukhwang came to speak at the revival meetings at the Saphan Luang Church. As I listened to the sermon I heard the voice of God encouraging my heart again. As a result of that sermon I was able to see the true condition of my heart; that it was full of pride and hatred. I confessed my sin to God and asked him to forgive me for thinking that I was the only good one, for being aware only of the sins of my husband and his minor wife. I asked God to heal my heart that very evening. The hymn we sang that evening really spoke deeply to me. The title of the hymn is “More Love to Thee, O Christ.” I responded to the invitation of the preacher to come forward to the altar and give myself again to the Lord.
One day an unordained woman pastor from the Presbyterian Church of Thailand, Miss Laoyokia, came from the Petchaburi Church to visit me. She said that the night before she could not sleep. She just kept thinking about me and my situation, and decided to visit me and ask me if I would like to work with her in Petchaburi. At that time she was receiving a salary of 1,600 baht per month ($64 U.S.) and was willing to give half of it to me. My father said it was very rare for a person to feel their salary was high enough to share with another person. It was only because of the love of God that this Christian worker would give me such an opportunity. At that time my oldest daughter was already in boarding school. Since the time she was three years old she would cry every morning, feeling left out when she saw older children leave for school. After she started attending school, the head teacher said my daughter liked to listen to the teacher as she studied English. My daughter started boarding school when she was only five years old because she truly loved to learn.
When my second daughter was three years old she went to live with my mother who helped care for her. My son was only eight months old so I took him with me to Petchaburi. It was difficult to take my son with me when I went on church visitation and did work for the church. I decided that I would need to find someone to help care for my son and that I would have to pay 500 Baht ($20 U.S.) a month for that service. The extra 300 Baht ($12 U.S.) a month I would need to use for my food and milk for my son.
After a time my husband began to call my mother regularly saying he wanted the children back. My younger sister was working as a teacher then and my husband would bother her at school saying he wanted the children back. This made my mother and younger sister very uncomfortable. When I had the opportunity to visit Bangkok my mother encouraged me to return the children to their father since they belonged to him and bore his name. My mother had vision problems and did not feed she could properly care for my second daughter. I knew in my heart that I would need to return my children to their father, especially since the oldest daughter was in boarding school, the second daughter was with my mother, my youngest son was being cared for by someone else, and I was working at the Petchaburi Church. That meant mother and children were all separated to four different locations. If I returned them to their father, the three children would be together with their father and stepmother. They knew the stepmother already because she babysat for them before. I decided it was better for them to live with their father than with me. I asked one of the members of the Maitrijit Church to ask my husband to come and speak to me. I asked him if he really wanted the children or not. I also asked him to take my name off the house registration. Before I sent the children to live with their father, I took a picture of myself with the three children as a keepsake.
Before Pastor Laoyokia came to serve the Lord in Petchaburi, she served as the pastor of the Tapanhin Church in Pichit. The church members really loved Miss Laoyokia and asked her if she could find someone to serve the Lord with them that was just like their former pastor. Miss Laoyokia introduced me to the members of the Tapanhin church. During that time, I also had a friend who returned from studying in Hong Kong. She came to visit me and said that someone in Hong Kong had offered to support a Thai student, who was really faithful in his or her service to the Lord, to study in Hong Kong. This friend encouraged me to further my studies and I was really quite interested in going, too. I sent my application to the Bible school in Hong Kong, but eventually was rejected. They said I was not fit to study in Bible school because my marriage had failed. I was so confident that I would go to study in Hong Kong that I had already resigned form the Tapanhin Church and returned to Bangkok.
When I was rejected by the school, Pastor Laoyokia suggested I go to work at a church in Ratchaburi because they really needed a pastor. I went to work at the Ratchaburi church, but every week after I would finish preaching the sermon and step down form the pulpit, a little voice would speak to my heart saying, “Are you fit to preach and teach other people?” The rejection from the Bible school in Hong Kong really caused me to think a lot and I eventually developed stomach and intestinal problems and even asthma. I became very discouraged in my work. I could not sleep well at night because of my illness. My family told me I should return to Bangkok and seek medical attention because they could see I was very ill. So I returned to my family’s house to recuperate and rest. If I rose late one morning my mother knew I had been ill most of the night and had not slept well. Before long, everyone in the house began to call me “sickly girl”.
Another one of my friends who graduated from the Alliance Bible Seminary was serving God at the Saphan Luang Church. She came to visit me at home and asked me if I was interested in studying in Hong Kong. When I thought back to the letter of rejection from the school in Hong Kong to which I had previously applied, I answered that I was definitely not interested. This friend, however, really encouraged me. After her third visit urging me to apply to Alliance Bible Seminary, I became quite upset and answered, “If you really want to encourage me go ahead, but you write a comprehensive family history and send it off to the seminary. When they know the whole story, they will certain not accept me.” My friend did send a detailed family history to A.B.S. The Director and the Academic Dean met and discussed my situation. They felt that if someone had come through such a pitiful situation as had I, they should give such a person another chance. The school sent me a letter of acceptance and I was utterly amazed. I never thought that Alliance Bible Seminary would accept me. My older sister and her husband asked me about the letter and I told them the whole story. I was 28 years old at the time. My sister and her husband were pleased and told me I should go. They would help support me as I went. They hoped that one day there would be a female Bible teacher in their family. I was still quite sick, though. One day when I was sick and laying on my bed, one of the members of the Maitrijit Church came to visit me in my room. She prayed for me and told me I would be healed if I obeyed the Lord. I told the Lord that I did not want to burden my older sister and her husband with the cost of my plane ticket if it was His will that I study in Hong Kong.
One day, Mrs. Kiamsung, with whom I had been friends since third grade, phoned me at home. After grade school, we had not remained in contact with each other. She asked me about my plans to study in Hong Kong, and whether or not I had bought my plane ticket yet. I answered that I had not. She told me not to buy it and that she and her husband were going to buy it for me. Even though I had not been in contact with this friend for many years, God used her to answer my prayer. Because of this I was confident that God had answered my prayer about Hong Kong.
My aunt told me that my doctor was not very competent and took me to a better one. She told the doctor to prescribe any medicine regardless of the price as long as I would improve. My aunt said she was willing to pay any price the doctor requested. The doctor examined me and said it would take three months before I would be well. When I heard that, I told my aunt not to bother with the treatment, and that we should just go home. In three more days I was to leave for Hong Kong. I returned to my old doctor and asked him what he thought of my going to Hong Kong to study. The doctor just laughed and said, “You live in Thailand where the weather is hot and you are often sickly. In Hong Kong the weather is always changing. I don’t know what to tell you.” I told the doctor that he should then supply me with a large supply of medicine before I went. He did so and instead of traveling with a purse full of money, I traveled with a purse full of medicine.
My brother-in-law was so happy that I decided to go to Hong Kong to study that he prepared a special Chinese meal for me. He invited our relatives and there ended up being three tables full of people. When I went to the airport my nieces and nephews gave me a garland of candy that they had made. That was very special to me because it reminded me that all the bitter things had passed. What remained was sweet, like the candy garland the children made as a farewell gift for me.
FROM THAILAND TO STUDY IN HONG KONG
When I left for Hong Kong, it was the fourth day of the first month by the Chinese calendar. When my feet touched Hong Kong soil I realized I was very cold. Even though the weather was very cold there, it was a real blessing for my health. I was able to breathe better than I did when I was in Thailand. I did not need to take the medicine that I brought with me for my illness. Back in Thailand I had continual problems with my digestion. After arriving in Hong Kong, this problem also disappeared. Since I had never experienced such extreme cold temperatures before coming to Hong Kong, I found myself wearing many layers of clothing. Once I even counted 10 pieces of clothing but I still felt cold. One of my relatives in Hong Kong would make a hot drink for me, mixing wine and hot water which would help to warm me up. Because I was obedient and went to study in Hong Kong, God healed all my diseases. I wrote a letter to my mother telling her I was completely healed just as the Bible states in Psalm 103, verse three: “Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all you diseases.” (NAS) My mother was still skeptical. She had my younger brother answer my letter saying that I should not lie, and that if I was ill I could return to Thailand. How I thank God that He did heal my body and make it strong again. Every disease was gone without ever taking a single dose of the medicine I brought with me from Thailand.
The seminary where I went to study was located on the top of a mountain. I had to take a one-hour boat trip to the island on which the seminary was located. After the boat trip one would have to carry their things up the mountain to the seminary. On my first trip I wondered how I would know how to find it once the boat landed. I had never been to Hong Kong and I could not speak Cantonese, so I prayed that God would lead me. The ferry was very large with a capacity of several hundred passengers. I sat next to an elderly lady. I smiled at her and she smiled back at me. In fact, she was the first one to begin speaking. As I listened to her I noticed she had an accent so I answered her in her Chinese dialect. We began to talk and I told her how fearful I was about finding my ways to the seminary. How I thank God that this woman was a member of the church which met on the campus. She was kind enough to lead me there.
As soon as I arrived on the campus my heart was full of praises to God because the surroundings were so beautiful. From the front one could look down and see the ocean. You could also see the coast of mainland China. This school far surpassed the one which rejected me as a student, because that school consisted of only one wooden house. This seminary was both beautiful and spacious. Even the curriculum was much more advanced. I thank God that He provided the best place for me, even better than I could have imagined. “For all things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.
However, when the time came for my professors to lecture, I did not understand a thing. After the class was over I would ask to borrow a friend’s class note and copy them word for word into my notebook. When my professors would require us to memorize Scripture verses, it would take much longer than my friends, since I was older. During break times and free periods, my classmates would relax but I never had time to do so. Each time before I would do my homework, I would pray and ask God to teach me and help me to memorize well. I honestly wondered if I was still able to study since I was so much older than my classmates. After studying for five months I completed my first term. One day after exams were completed, the Academic Dean called me into her office. I wondered what I had done, but the dean congratulated me for receiving the highest grades in the class. The dean encouraged me to take my future studies seriously. I was so happy that I was still able to study and thankful to God for such a wonderful opportunity. After that first term I was able to understand Cantonese better and the second semester I did not have to ask to borrow class notes from any of my friends.
At first, my older sister and her husband were sending me 100 Hong Kong dollars a month and told me that if it wasn’t enough I should write and ask for more and they would send it to me. I thought that this amount was already gracious and whatever else I needed was a private issue between god and myself. I really felt I should not burden my family for any additional funds. Out of the $100 HK, I would need to pay $55 HK a month for food, and $30 HK every six months for my visa. The money I received each month was not enough to cover my expenses because I also had personal needs. I knew that of the $100 HK from my brother-in-law I should tithe $10 HK every month. Sometimes I saw my friends buy an apple or an Asian pear to have for a snack, but I knew I had to be especially thrifty with every bit of money I had, so I would buy a tomato to eat instead. I did not have extra money to buy a warm coat but God in His mercy provided for my need. One day all the students had to put on their choir uniforms. They were also supposed to wear a black jacket in order to sing a special song. Mrs. Helen Chan, whom we affectionately called, “Mommy”, was our leader. I told her I did not own a black jacket. She said she had one and she was willing to give it to me. I said I would be pleased to accept it. She told me she was unsure as to whether to offer me hand-me-down clothing because some other students had refused it, feeling that they were being looked down upon. Ever since that time, Mrs. Chan continually gave me her extra shoes. After she went to America, Mrs. Chan continued to send me clothing. This experience taught me a valuable lesson in tithing and also in living a thrifty lifestyle. From the time my younger sister married and moved to Hong Kong, she was able to add enough to my monthly support to satisfy my needs. Until this day I have never lacked for anything.
I truly thank God that from my experience in Hong Kong I learned that Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior. At the Alliance Biblical Seminary there would be a selection each semester of a male and female student representative. The faculty would suggest the names of a second and third year male and female student. The students would also nominate one female and one male student. The student body nominated me. The seminary officials did not support the nomination because I was not a second or third year student. At that time I had only completed my first year. The director responded that it was acceptable for the students to nominate me, since I had already prepared for a year and a half. The final result was that I was chosen as the female student representative by the student body. That assured me that my classmates did not look down on me, but rather respected me as their friend and fellow classmate.
That experience encouraged me to press forward. During my first three years of study, I was chosen as a student representative six times. Normally a student is no longer allowed to be a representative in their fourth year, but because the school opened a new dorm for fourth year students, I was chosen as the representative for the new dorm. Altogether, I was a student body representative for all four years that I studied in Hong Kong. I thank God for the lessons He taught me through this on developing as a leader.
During my third year (1967), we ten female students decided to travel for fun and ministry to Taiwan during summer vacation. The day before we were to travel, a student from Thailand and a student from Vietnam met to go together and buy their fiery tickets to Taiwan. While the two ladies were riding in the taxi, the taxi driver robbed the Thai woman of her passport and money. The student from Vietnam opened the taxi window and threw out her purse. She also opened the door and jumped out of the moving taxi. The Vietnamese student received some scrapes on her forehead but was still able to travel with us to Taiwan. The Thai student was unable to go with us because her passport was stolen. The boat trip to Taiwan took 36 hours. We had purchased third class tickets which generally limit you to the bottom of the boat. However, during the day we were able to read up on deck. We were provided with three meals a day and it was only at night that we were sent to the bottom of the boat to sleep. My younger brother from America sent me $100 U.S. and I exchanged it for 4,000 Taiwan dollars. Our group was able to travel all around the island for one week with that money. Then our group divided into pairs to be assigned with missionaries for approximately one month. We were informed that during the time of our visit in Taiwan, the people back in Hong Kong were experiencing a water shortage. Hong Kong residents were given water once every three days. Those of us in Taiwan thanked God that we were spared from that difficult experience.
While I was in my fourth year at Alliance Bible Seminary, seven churches contacted me about a job after graduation. I prayed and asked God to show me what I should do and where I should work. On December 31, 1967, I received a letter from my younger brother in America. My two brothers had decided that when I graduated in the spring of 1968, they were going to send me two plane tickets. I was to use one ticket to return to Thailand to eat all the Thai foods I had missed those four years in Hong Kong. The other ticket was to be used to fly from Thailand to America. I felt sure that God had answered my prayer through this letter from my younger brother. I was confident that going to America was God’s will for me and I was able to refuse each of those seven offers from churches in Hong Kong.
If I had gone to study in America directly from Hong Kong, the U.S. law required a guarantor to insure that when your studies are completed you will leave the country. If the student refuses to leave, the guarantor is denied permission to remain in America. My younger sister and her husband said they would sign the papers, but I did not want to put anyone in an uncomfortable position because of me. So after receiving my degree in Hong Kong, I traveled back to Thailand. When I contacted officials here in Thailand about traveling to the United States, I was able to get my visa in three days. That was the fastest time I was ever awarded a visa. If I was applying from Hong Kong, it would have taken much longer.
After receiving my visa, I told my parents I was ready to travel to America. My father advised me to stay and visit for one month since I had just returned from Hong Kong only a few days before. That visit was the last time I was able to be with my father and mother. During the five years I lived in America, both of my parents went to be with the Lord in heaven. Our house and factory also burned during that time and all of our possessions were lost in the fire. My second oldest sister escaped in her nightgown. The photos of my children that I had given to my mother to keep for me were all burned. When I eventually returned from America, I could no longer find the remains of our family house.
A LIFE OF STRUGGLE IN AMERICA
It was 1968 when I went to study in America. I arrived with only $100 U.S. in my pocket. After being in America for only three days, I got a job working in a gift shop in New York City. I was responsible for the glassware department. I would have to go down into the basement to get the merchandise, clean it and display it in my department. I would work an eight hour shift without stopping to rest except for my 30 minute lunch break. During my first lunch break I walked to my sister-in-law’s place of employment. When I arrived I was really achy. That was the first time in my life that I had to stand for such a long time. I began to feel sorry for myself, but I tried to resist that feeling by saying I should fight harder. I was paid $1.80 an hour and that money was to be saved for my tuition, no matter how hard I had to fight. I had studied English years ago in Thailand, but once in America I did not understand anything the people said. This was my opportunity to practice the English I had once studied. When a customer would come to the store to buy something and I did not understand her, the customer would take me to the item and point out what she wanted. My first Chinese New Year in America was celebrated with the six of us relatives eating a supper of only boiled chicken wings. That really made me miss Thailand. I knew if I were still in Thailand there would be plenty of food to eat.
Eventually I changed jobs and went to work in a restaurant that was only open for lunch. The cook spoke Cantonese but the customers ordered in English. In the beginning I had to memorize the menu in both Cantonese and English and figure the sales tax. I had to serve the food very quickly to keep the customers happy so that they would tip me well. I thank God that even though back in Thailand I was the slowest one in our house, being paid an hourly wage in America caused me to work in fast and orderly manner. I lived in New York City and studied English in my spare time. After three years in America, I went to study at a school in Georgia named Toccoa Falls College. I was able to get a job cleaning eight bathrooms, but I only studied at that school for one term. Since the college was very expensive, I returned to New York City. A friend of mine introduced me to Covenant Theological Seminary. The student body was made up of mostly male students with only four of five females. Consequently the seminary only provided housing for male students. Since there was no ladies dormitory, I lived with a friend, but the situation was not very convenient.
Across the street from the seminary was a beautiful hosing development. I thought to myself, “What a nice place to live!” I asked my friend if it would be possible to live there. My friend responded, “No”, explaining that it was a development for wealthy families. One morning as the snow was falling, I saw two children waiting for their school bus in front of the seminary library. The children were two girls about 11 or 12 years old. I went out to talk with them. I found out that they lived in the housing development across from the seminary. I asked them to inquire of their parents if they would be interested in having a Thai student live with their family. One day one of the families called the seminary saying that they were interested in having “the Thai student” come and live in their house. The Benson family consisted of a husband, age 73; a wife, age 45; and a daughter, age 11. This family owned a house there in St. Louis, Missouri and another one in Florida. When school was closed I would travel with the family through the Southern United States. Mrs. Benson would drive the car. We always stayed at first class hotels. I was even able to go to Disney World as a companion of the Benson daughter.
Whenever I returned to seminary from my vacation with the family, my friends were jealous. There had never been a student who lived with a wealthy family before. I lived just across from the seminary with free room and board and I was even able to travel. But some time later some changes in the family caused me to leave and find a new family. My second family was the Shumans. They had a furniture business. The family had five children: two in college, two in high school and one boy aged 9. I was hired to be a nanny for this boy. When bath time came, I would call him to bathe. At mealtime I would call him to eat. Monday through Friday an African-American housekeeper came. Everyday the housekeeper would prepare a balanced supper for eight people. Mr. and Mrs. Shuman would take their plates into the living room and eat there. I would eat with the five children in the kitchen. They even allowed me to do my laundry in their washing machine. I was the one responsible for the breakfast meal. Each morning, I would prepare coffee for Mr. Shuman, orange juice for Mrs. Shuman, and the children and I ate whatever I felt like preparing. For lunch I would pack whatever I wanted to eat at the seminary. Close to their telephone was a pad of paper to write down anything that we might need. Mrs. Shuman would call the store and have them deliver the items to the house. On Saturdays, Mr. and Mrs. Shuman would go out and so would the four older children. I was left at home with only the nine year old son. I was given a payment of $10.00 for cleaning the house on Saturday, which provided me with my offering money. On Sunday, I was free to go to church. God prepared this second family for me as they were so kind to me and very wealthy too. At Christmas time, the Shuman family would have each of their children, as well as myself, write down the things that we wanted as Christmas gifts. Mrs. Shuman would then select items to buy from the list. On Christmas I would receive seven gifts, one from each member of the family. The nine year old boy was so cute. One night he came and knocked on my door because he was frightened from a bad dream. After awhile he informed me he was no longer afraid and was ready to return to his own room.
I received a letter from Hong Kong saying that the director’s wife (of Alliance Bible Seminary), Mrs. Holton, had breast cancer and needed surgery. Mrs. Holton wrote inviting me to be the Dean of Ladies at the seminary in her absence. It so happened that at the end of the term at Covenant Seminary where I was studying, there was a change in the academic schedule. The two courses that I had planned to take had been changed, leaving me nothing to study that term. I brought the letter from Mrs. Holton to the seminary for their decision. The seminary decided to allow me to study my final two courses independently and mail back my research. I was able to complete all the requirements before leaving for Hong Kong. The Shuman family did not agree with my decision. Mrs. Shuman asked me if I had the money for my plane ticket for Hong Kong. I answered that I would work until I had just enough money for the ticket, then I would return to Hong Kong. Back in Hong Kong, Mrs. Holton wrote to a friend, Miss Ruth Hitchcock, saying she anxiously awaited my return, but there was no money for a plane ticket.
Miss Hitchcock lived with her sister. They had a store from which they sold sewing machines that made embroidery and lace. Back then Miss Hitchcock was only 17 years old, her mother paid the expenses for her daughter to travel to China. When she arrived in China she had a great burden to be a missionary there. She helped orphans and provided work for women by helping them raise silkworms and weave cloth. She stayed until China came under the control of the communists. Miss Hitchcock later moved to Cheung Chau Island and taught at Alliance Bible Seminary until she was 70 years old. Before retiring to America, she sold her house to the seminary for a price of one U.S. dollar. She was very committed to the seminary. When she heard that I was going there to teach but did not have the money for plane ticket, she promised to help in some way. I was confident that somehow God was going to provide for my plane ticket to Hong Kong. Mrs. Shuman responded that Miss Hitchcock only promised to help in some way, not with the total cost of the ticket. How was I going to get to Hong Kong? I responded to Mrs. Shuman that I was confident that God was going to supply, so I bought a ticket to visit my younger brother in New York. Miss Hitchcock wrote me a letter asking me the cost of a plane ticket form New York to Hong Kong. She really wanted me to visit her in Los Angeles on my way to Hong Kong. However, the price of a ticket from New York to California was the same as a ticket from New York to Hong Kong. Finally, Miss Hitchcock sent me the money for my plane ticket. It was over five hundred American dollars, to fly black to Hong Kong (this was in 1973). On the afternoon of my arrival, Mrs. Holton went in for surgery. She is still living today (this book was first printed in 1996).
I assumed the responsibility of Dean of Women at Alliance Bible Seminary. I thank God that He gave me the opportunity to be a student representative during my former days of study there. That helped me to understand what my job would be and also helped Mrs. Holton to relax and rest after her surgery.
While I taught in Hong Kong, the William Woo family (the family of my younger sister) lived there as well and I had many opportunities to visit them. They had a little daughter who was four or five years old at that time. My niece would often share her snacks with me to take back to the seminary. My niece was so cute. She said she shared with me because, “At the seminary they don’t have those kind of snacks.”
There was a student at the seminary from Cambodia. She was broken hearted from a former boyfriend. One day she came to me and said that my life story was very sad, but after meeting me she saw that I was always happy and in a good mood. She concluded that I must be abnormal. I answered her that before I could be happy again, I cried many tears. It was only because of what the Lord had done that I could be happy again.
I enjoyed my work and the environment at A.B.S. I worked there until the middle of 1976. My younger brother in America was allowed to become an American citizen. He wrote me a letter asking me if I wanted to go to America. I said I did and during seminary recess I went to Thailand to have all of my official papers translated into English so I could go to the U.S. After seminary opened again, one morning during the worship service, Mr. Philip Lee spoke concerning the need for missionaries in many places. There were places waiting to be harvested, and he challenged us about the lack of workers. As I listened to the message, I heard myself answering, “Here is one of your workers, Lord.” Even though I was thinking about missions, my heart wanted to go America because I wanted to get as far away as I could from Thailand where I had experienced so much pain and heartache. On the morning of October 22, 1976, while I was reading my Bible, God spoke to me saying, “Back to your own land, your King will go before you. The Lord leads you on.” (Micah 2:13 Living Bible) However, I answered, “No!” I did not want to return to Thailand. I wanted to go to the United States.
A BURDEN FOR NORTHEST THAILAND
After six months passed, I began to feel as if I had no peace in my heart. The seminary had set aside a day for prayer and fasting. I fasted all day until 4:00 p.m. I prayed and read my Bible, pleading for assurance as to whether it was God’s will or not to return to the country of my birth. God spoke to me again from His word through the following verses:
“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;
Neither feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth,
And the reproach of you widowhood you will remember no more.”,
“For you will go out with joy,
And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”
(Isaiah 54:4, 55:12 and 58:11 NAS)
The Lord told me not to be afraid or ashamed. These verses confirmed that God was truly leading me back to Thailand. I went to talk with Mr. Philip Lee and I informed him that I had made a commitment to return to Thailand because of his chapel message titled, “Where Are the Workers?” I was willing to be a missionary and God has been faithful to me in every way these past 18 years.
I applied to the Foreign Missionary Society to the Chinese Christian and Missionary Alliance of Hong Kong (C.C.M.A.). They were happy but they did not know how much they should support me financially because they had never had an applicant who had completed a Master’s level of education before. The Society did not assign me to any specific province in Thailand, rather they left the selection up to me. I thought of a Bible verse in the Chinese Bible which mentioned a desert area (Isaiah 58:11). For Thailand, that must refer to the Northeast provinces. At that time I knew a teacher, Miss Nitaya, who worked in Udon Thani. I knew there was a Christian school there, so I decided I would help Miss Nitaya for three years. I sent all of my possessions to Udon Thani. When I arrived at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Guest Home in Bangkok, I met the chairman of the C&MA mission in Thailand, Rev. Elmer Sahlberg. He told me that I should go to Khon Kaen. I asked him why and he responded that for 20 years they had prayed for a Chinese teacher who had studied abroad and could speak Thai. When I arrived in Udon Thani, Miss Nitaya asked me why I had sent ahead so many things. I asked her if she had received my letter. She had, but had understood I was coming for only three months! I thank God that even though I had decided to stay for three years, He led me to Khon Kaen after just three months. After I had decided to return to Thailand and work in the Northeast, some older Christians in Bangkok wanted me to serve in Bangkok instead. I stood firm on my previous decision to come to the Northeast. When I moved to Khon Kaen I did not know a single person there.
During that time, my right hand and my left leg experienced a loss of feeling, especially my right hand I would have to massage it all the time. It became impossible for me to write. That circumstance caused me to feel discouraged during my adjustment period. I went to live at the house of Rev. George and Edna Heckendorf for six months. The Heckendorfs encouraged me and I felt less discouraged. After six months a church member invited me to move in a house on Amart Road. The bottom floor was a beauty shop and I lived on the second floor. On Chinese New Years Eve, 1978, my neighbors next door went to visit family in Bangkok. They left their house key with me and I kept it in a drawer at the beauty shop. I received the key about 12:00 midnight. I put the key away and went up to bed, turned off the lights and fell asleep. At two A.M. I was awakened to see a light shining in from under my door. I heard some sounds and realized that a thief must be in the house. I wondered if I should pretend to be asleep or if I should get out of bed. I thank God that He led me to climb out my window to a neighbor’s house. I went to the third house. The house belonged to a church member whose mother was Cantonese. I told the mother in Cantonese that a thief was in my house and asked if she would please open her window so I could come inside her house. The mother opened the window and then woke up her son. The son called the police and within ten minutes the police arrived and were able to catch the thief in the bathroom. Instead of joyfully celebrating the Chinese New Year, I had to go to the police station. I was informed that the intruder had entered a nearby building that was unoccupied. That building was next to my house. Electrical appliances were stolen and kept in that unoccupied building. Since it was still dark, the intruder came back and entered my house to see if he could find a female or any money. The policeman was surprised that I had been able to catch the thief when others had tried unsuccessfully to do so. I answered that this house belonged to the true and living God. He was the One Who had protected me.
On April 10, 1979, I was ordained as a minister. Those who officiated in the ceremony included the Rev. Khamjan Boonma, President of the Gospel Church of Thailand, the Rev. Tiamsin Boonpong, the Rev. George Heckendorf, the Rev. Richard Johnston, and the Rev. Wayne Persons. “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.” (Psalms 126:3 NAS)
In May1979 God used a book titled, IT IS POSSIBLE, to encourage and direct me in my services for Him. One morning a Christian couple came to visit me and asked me to go with them and look at a piece of land that was for sale. They asked me, “What do you think of using this land to build a Chinese church?” When I went to see it I felt the lot was really in an ideal location, but upon hearing the price I thought it was too expensive. I had lived in Khon Kaen for two plus years and during that time we had begun a Chinese Bible study, but there had never been any offering money collected. We had never thought of a building project. We did not have the finances or a committee to oversee such a project. When I returned home from seeing the land, I prayed to God and He again answered me from His word: “Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.’” (II Chronicles 7:12 NAS) From this verse I was confident that it was in fact God’s will to buy this piece of land for a future church building. Yet, I still did not know how I would get the money to purchase the land. The couple that went along with me further stated that in June the banks close the accounts for the half-year mark, so they did not have much cash on hand.
God knew, however, that I had about twenty thousand baht in the bank. A Christian in Hong Kong who had a business exporting rice from Thailand feared that there might be political problems in Thailand as there had been in the neighboring countries of Vietnam and Cambodia. He pleaded with me to keep aside money for a plane ticket to Hong Kong in the event of any political uprising. God inspired me to use that twenty thousand baht I had saved as a down payment for the land, which was located at 70/12 Klang Muang Road in the Khon Kaen city district. The owner had arranged to sell the land to the school next door for 900,000 baht, but they were not able to finalize the arrangements. An attempt was made a second time to sell for 600,000 baht and the buyer even put down a deposit of 30,000 baht. In the end they were unable to complete the sale. So the owner was now offering the lot to us for only 529,000 baht. We decided to buy and the owner asked if he could remain on the property until December. We, however, wanted to occupy the property and wanted the owner to leave by August. We offered an additional six thousand baht making the total 526,000 baht if we could have it by August. I prepared the twenty thousand baht as a deposit, but the owner asked for fifty thousand baht. He said he would need to return the thirty thousand baht that was the previous deposit leaving him with twenty thousand. The Christian couple who went with me to look at the land wrote out a check for the remaining 30,000 baht. Together we were able to raise the fifty thousand baht required as a deposit. The written agreement stated that we would come up with the balance by July, 1979 in order to transfer the deed into our name. I decided to travel to Bangkok to see if I could get the help of the Chinese Christians there in raising the needed funds. Upon arriving in Bangkok, I sought advice from some older Christians. Several of them responded that the likelihood of raising the needed funds was not very good for the following reasons:
1) It was the half year mark when the banks closed their accounts.
2) July through September are the heaviest part of the rainy season. Sales are down, so business people have little money coming in. When they receive little they are only able to give little.
3) There was recently a request for help from a church in Northern Thailand. They had already worked together to give 100,000 baht to that project.
4) You are just a small lady and you expect to raise even more than was raised for the church in the North, even with all these obstacles.
After hearing all these reasons I realized that the funds would be very difficult to raise. I prayed again and asked God to give me another assurance that this was His will. If not, I was willing to let this proposal die. God spoke to me again through His word: “But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me.” (Matthew 26:10) Because of this verse I was even more confident that this was in fact God’s will. On July 2, 1979 I went to share my burden with Chinese Christians in Bangkok about buying property for the church in Khon Kaen. The first week, the offering was over 100,000 baht. While I was in Bangkok I heard that the Christian couple in Khon Kaen had begun to advertise the sale of their own storefronts for 650,000 baht. They were unsure if I would be able to raise the money in Bangkok in time for the deadline. When they heard that in the first week God had brought us over 100,000 baht, their faith was encouraged and they were confident that God was leading in this venture. They decided not to sell the two storefronts.
The offering money from concerned Christians kept increasing. My younger sister and her husband (the William Woo family) gave very generously to the project. Their ten-year old daughter even saved her snack money in her piggy bank to put towards the land purchase. When the William Woo family decided to move to the United States from Thailand, they gave all of their household belongings to the Khon Kaen Chinese Church. They rented a 10 wheel truck and filled it with items for the church. There was even a school that gave tables and chairs for the children that are still being used today.
The reason behind the generous giving of the Chinese Christians towards a church in Khon Kaen was because they realized that there was no Chinese Church in the Northeast. Who was going to feel responsible for the spiritual need of the Chinese People if there was no church? Khon Kaen was considered the center of the Northeast and a logical place to begin. God was using us to begin this work. All the glory belongs to Him alone. There were many people of Chinese ancestry who were yet to hear of and accept Jesus as their personal Savior.
In only three months, from July through September of 1979, God had led committed Christians to give 550,000 baht. That amount exceeded our greatest hopes. All praise and glory belongs to God alone. We held our first worship service on October 7, 1979. Our Sunday schedule was as follows:
9:00-12:00 in the morning was Sunday school for children who were not yet Christians. There were about 40-50 children who attended. They would sing, hear a Bible story, have a Chinese language lesson using the Bible, play games, and finally, have a snack time. This gave us an opportunity to contact parents as they became interested in what their children were learning.
7:30-9:00 in the evening we held evening services for adults. We averaged about 22 adults at this service, the majority of whom were not yet Christians and had never heard the gospel message before.
How I thank God that everything worked out according to His plan. When I served the Lord at Maitrijit church, there was a five year old girl in the Sunday School. She went on to medical school at Chulalongkorn University and was now Dr. Penpan Phulibunyo (Tanhegawn). When I went to Bangkok to raise funds to buy land for a Chinese church, I discovered that she was to become a professor at the medical school of Khon Kaen University. I sought her out and asked her if she would help us in starting a Chinese church. For Dr. Penpan to join our fellowship was no easy task. To travel from the university into town where the Chinese church was, was difficult since there was no public transportation in those days. The distance was far, so her former professor from Chulalongkorn Universtiy, Dr. Jit Sitiamorn, offered to drive her back and forth to church. He felt it was unsafe for a lady to travel alone after dark. Dr. Jit and his wife faithfully brought Dr. Penpan to the services and often joined in as well. Eventually Dr. Jit and his wife accepted Christ as their Savior. Because of the testimony of Dr. Penpan, others became Christians, including medical doctors and students. Dr. Penpan had the joy of leading Dr. Kiatchai Phulibunyo to the Lord and later they were married. They now have one son. May this testimony encourage each Sunday School teacher never to get discouraged about his or her teaching. One day your students will grow up to support the church by becoming good church leaders.
There came a point in my work at the Khon Kaen Chinese church that it seemed appropriate to invite a couple to come and serve the Lord with us. In so doing, the members would be able to see an example of a nice Christian family serving the Lord together. We asked the Chinese Christian and Missionary Alliance if they would send us a missionary couple. They sent to us the Rev. and Mrs. Edward Ng who worked in Khon Kaen and later went on to start a church in Korat.
A Chinese mission team came to Thailand and in the group was the Rev. Yung King Wa and his fiancee. When they visited Khon Kaen, the Chinese Church members and I felt that this Cantonese couple were highly gifted and could fit well into the ministry in Khon Kaen. We began to pray for God’s leading. When we planned our church dedication service we invited the Rev. King Wa to deliver the sermon. The Lord answered our prayers and led this couple to join us in Khon Kaen to work at the Chinese church and oversee the outreach at Khon Kaen University. They would prove to be not only a blessing to the people of Khon Kaen, but also a blessing to people throughout the county. When the university students graduated and their work brought them to different provinces, these disciples became strong members in their local churches.
During the time I worked at the Khon Kaen Chinese Church, I had many opportunities to visit Ban Phai. I would visit a former schoolmate named Mr. Suwot Wachiradetwong and his family. Mr. Suwot was married and had five children. The whole family considered themselves to be Christians but since there was no church in Ban Phai, the children did not fully grasp what it meant to be a Christian. There was another family in Ban Phai that had accepted the Lord. This was the family of Grandmother Hiaytiang Sae Kho. Grandmother Hiaytiang trusted Jesus in Nakhon Sawan Province when she married a Christian man who originally came from China. When her husband became gravely ill, Grandmother Hiaytiang asked him if he still believed in Jesus and he responded that he did. Grandmother Hiaytiang decided to put her faith in the same God as her husband. She prepared food for her ancestral worship ceremonies as she had done in the past, but that was the last time she ever participated in those ceremonies. Her husband eventually died. A few days later a Buddhist monk came to her house to tell her that her recently departed husband had appeared in a dream to the monk. The monk said that the husband was hungry because his wife was no longer preparing food for the ancestral spirits or making merit. Grandmother Hiaytiang quickly responded that if her husband’s spirit was really hungry why did he not appear to her? Why could he only appear to the monk? She could not believe the words of the monk and that only strengthened her belief that her husband was in paradise with the Lord. He was neither hungry nor thirsty.
After that, she and her family moved to Ban Phai and she lived with her two granddaughters. Our evangelistic outreach in Ban Phai began with a children’s meeting with the five children of Mr. Suwot and the two grandchildren of Grandmother Hiaytiang. A group which consisted of Miss Jumpa, Mrs. Amphai Yarin and I taught the Bible every Saturday. Once the Khon Kaen Chinese Church had celebrated its third anniversary, we began to rent a house and help with Sunday afternoon worship services in Ban Phai. How I praise God that He brought into being something out of nothing. If it were not for the grace of God we could never have reached out to Ban Phai. It was the result of God answering the faithful prayers of Christians concerned to see a church planted in Ban Phai. This was the very first Protestant church in Ban Phai and it is located at 470/12 Yiam Prasert Road in Ban Phai. It is close to the Yiam Phaisal School, so the people of Ban Phai quickly learned about the church. The price for the land with one house on it was 430,000 baht. We did additional construction and repairs, poured a concrete floor, put up a roof, brought in water and electricity and bought some additional items which increased the cost by about 400,000 baht.
I thank God that the brothers and sisters in Christ were united and gave generously to this project. For example, Grandmother Hiaytiang made a promise to God that she would give a certain amount toward the building of the church. She had very little money, but her daughter, who was working in Taiwan, sent her some money. With part of that money she fulfilled her promise to God for the building project. There was another elderly lady, Grandmother Kham, who was heavily involved in gambling before she accepted Christ. If she did not gamble each day, she would feel hot and sweaty. She was unable to sit still and even unable to sleep until she gave in to her old gambling habit again. After Grandmother Kham became a Christian she totally quit the gambling habit. The people of Ban Phai were amazed! Her son decided to believe and after a few years his wife decided to believe as well. Presently, the son of Grandmother Kham is studying at Payao Bible Training School in preparation for full-time Christian service. With a grateful heart Grandmother Kham brought her meager savings to give toward the building project. There was also a female medical student named Somrak Khrunsan who struggled with being overweight. She tried to refrain from buying snacks and put that money in a bank to be used as an offering for the church. Her weight decreased and she not only helped to build the church but she also benefited by having better health. This was very pleasing to God because what she gave, she gave voluntarily.
There was a united effort of Christians here in Thailand, in Hong Kong and even in the Western countries to see God’s work spread and people won to Christ. The offerings we received were an evidence of that unity. From May until October the total cash on hand was always enough to meet our building needs with extra to spare. God’s grace was very evident to us at this time. We experienced a true miracle. We used the money that was left over from the building project to buy a used pick-up truck for church visitation and for transporting people to evening services. At that time there was no local public transportation in Ban Phai.
The Ban Phai church has expanded to a worship service, a Sunday School and a mid-week prayer meeting. God was the One Who brought it to completion. The workers who came after me at the Ban Phai church have included Ms. Amphai Yarin, Miss Lydia Tse and the current pastor, the Rev. Surapong Poldongnok. The Rev. Surapong and his family have served the church for many years.
In 1981, while I was still working at the Khon Kaen Chinese Church, Mr. Tongchai, my son-in-law’s uncle, came to visit me and invited me, saying, “When are you going to help us some in Yasothorn?” After that I began to wonder if God was leading me to work there. I began praying about this issue regularly. When Dr. Somrak finished her studies at Khon Kaen University, she went to work at the Yasothorn Provincial Hospital. She was genuinely interested in helping to plant a church in Yasothorn. She was the younger sister of Dr. Srisawat, my oldest son-in-law.
The evening before Chinese New Year, 1981, Miss Somrak (at that time still a medical student) came to look for me at the Khon Kaen Chinese Church. I was eating with some other students who were not able to return home. I asked Miss Somrak why she was so late since we had just finished our dinner together. She began to cry saying she did not go home for Chinese New Year because she had made a promise to eat only one meal a day. She believed if she ate less, she would sin less. She feared her family would be upset and would expect her to eat things she did not want to eat. The young people and I were able to talk to Miss Somrak about salvation and we explained that God was the Creator Who made food and created us to enjoy it. Miss Somrak promised she would study this issue in detail. The following is her testimony about tithing.
“I had the opportunity to attend Christian worship services before I put my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior. At that time I was interested in learning how Christians evangelized others and brought them to faith in Jesus Christ. I decided that if I spent just a few hours on Sunday morning, I could listen to spoken Chinese and hear the message of the Christian teachers. Anyway, it seemed more worthwhile than wasting the morning in my dorm room. When the time came for the offering I felt like its purpose was to pay for the preaching. The speaker preached well, so I decided I would put five baht in the offering. Later, on February 18, 1982, I decided to put my faith in Jesus Christ but I still did not understand the full meaning of why a Christian should present their tithes to the Lord. I wondered what the church people used the money for anyway. After I became a Christian my faith deepened and I decided to increase my tithe to 20 baht. Later, when I had the opportunity to study the basic beliefs of the Christian life, I was taught about tithing. I learned that my tithe belonged to God and I was responsible to return it back to Him. If we are faithful in the small things that God entrusts to us, we will be faithful with the larger things as well. I was new in my faith and desired to be faithful in following all of God’s teachings. I wanted to do everything that God commanded in His word, but I had no idea how God would bless me for my faithfulness in this matter.
“Upon reviewing my monthly income, I saw that my mother and older brother were faithful in sending a monthly allowance while I was studying at the university. Back in 1984 and 1985, I was able to give 50 baht in offering on a regular basis. The church challenged us to make a pledge of how much we would like to support the building project in Ban Phai. I decided on a figure of 500 baht, but after I prayed I added an extra 0 to the total (making it 5,000). Before the year was over I had reached my goal for the building project of 5,000 baht. Throughout the four years that I studied at Khon Kaen University I never went without. I was even able to share some of my money with other students in need, whether here or in Chiang Mai. When I graduated, I closed my bank book by withdrawing a total of 10,000 baht. God led me to work in Yasothorn. I had a burden to work with the Rev. Vaneda in starting a Chinese church in Yasothorn. I had many relatives and friends who lived in that province. They did not yet understand the message of Jesus Christ. I wanted them to have a relationship with Christ. Before the church building was started, I married Mr. Suthep. We both agreed that we wanted to tithe the money from our wedding gifts to the Yasothorn church. We planned to give 50,000 baht, and when the time came to decide on buying property for a church building, we were able to use that amount toward the land purchase.
“Reviewing my life from 1982 until I married in 1986, I began by giving 5 baht which grew by a factor of 10 until the amount reached 50,000 baht. I received blessings each day from the Lord in my work and family life. I was able to experience the truth of Lamentations 3:22,23, which states, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercy never comes to an end. It is new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness, O Lord.”
“My family has a firm faith and hope in God that He will lead us according to His will. Therefore we will produce fruit according to His promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
“Since I have learned a valuable lesson, I want to testify to you of the importance of returning our tithes to the Lord. When we give fully to the Lord, He opens the windows of heaven and pours out His blessings on us. Malachi 3:10 tells us, “ ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” ”
I began to pray seriously about planting a church in Yasothorn. In early 1987 someone came with an offer of about a tenth of an acre of land with a two-story house on it for 240,000 baht. The owner needed to sell the property quickly. I invited the Christians to go with me to look at the place. We liked it and were especially happy that the next two lots were empty and spacious enough to build a church. We informed the owner we were interested in the land, but we desired all three lots. The one lot alone was too small to build a church on. I asked for an answer before I boarded the 8:00 p.m. bus for Bangkok. At that time I was teaching during the weekdays at Bangkok Institute of Theology (B.I.T.). The landowner responded that the other two lots belonged to a wealthy man in Yasothorn who probably would not want to sell. We all prayed together for God’s will in this matter. I praise God that that very evening I received a phone call saying that we could buy those three lots which comprised about three tenths of an acre. I had again experienced God’s help in the planting of this church. God has proven Himself to be faithful to every promise in His word and for that I praise Him.
There were many answers to prayer while purchasing the land in Yasothorn. First, the landowner who contacted us about the sale of the property had an outstanding debt with the man who owned the other two lots. He had owed 9,000 baht for building supplies for four years. When he contacted the storeowner about selling the land, the storeowner used this opportunity to speak about the unpaid bill. He added four years of unpaid interest and informed the landowner that he now owed 40,000 baht. Of course, the landowner felt the 40,000 baht bill was unjust and so they were not able to reach an agreement. Finally, the storeowner lowered his demand to 12,000 baht and they were able to agree. On the day we were to transfer the title of the land, however, the man of the two adjacent lots could only find one of the land titles. So on February 6, 1987, we were able to transfer only two of the three lots into our name. Later, Mr. Tonchai Erawan and his wife Nonglak arranged the final transfer of the remaining land title so that all three were completed.
Second, after our initial trip to look at the land, we returned to the home of Dr. Somrak and her husband, Mr. Suthep, who were newlyweds. They were both in agreement to give the 50,000 baht tithe from their wedding gifts as a start towards planting a Chinese church in Yasothorn. I was moved by the burden and generosity of this young couple. I was encouraged to take a bold step of faith in planting this new church. I had an opportunity to speak with three Christian friends about our vision for a Chinese church and about how God had been leading in this. They decided to loan us 340,000 baht interest-free. We were able to secure all of the money within one week, which exceeded our wildest dreams. We praised God for His provision.
Third, when the time came to build the church, God prepared three brothers and their father to help us with the construction. While we were preparing to pour the concrete floor, the water from the well ran dry. We decided to buy a pipe to allow our well to go deeper. However, we were not able to buy the pipe we needed, because the store closed before noon. We wanted to finish the meeting room in time for our first scheduled service on April 12th. We had only four days left. But on that very day, April 8th, a strong wind came up and rain poured down. There was even some hail! Soon, the well was full of rain water, more than enough to allow us to pour the concrete floor in time for our first service later that week. For that first service on April 12, 1987, there were two representatives from Hong Kong, Mr. Liu Kam Ho and his fiancee. He gave the message. The couple was already missionary candidates planning on coming to the Northeast to share the gospel message.
Fourth, God led me to meet a student from B.I.T. where I was teaching. Miss Nuanan Khamhengpon was originally from the Northeast and was preparing to graduate at that time. She was still seeking God’s will as to where she should serve upon completion of her studies. I invited her to visit the work at the Yasothorn Chinese church. She eventually decided to come and work with me there in May of 1987.
Fifth, I saw God provide for us beyond my greatest expectations. When I asked to borrow money from three Christian friends, I promised I would repay one of them his 150,000 baht in three months. As the deadline approached, I had no idea how I was going to find that kind of money. I prayed and asked God to somehow make a way. Two days before the deadline to repay the loan, my son called me from America. He asked me if I would help him transfer his piece of land in Chiang Mai. He said he had sent money in two installments totaling $6,000 U.S. When the money was changed to Thai currency, it was just the amount I needed to pay off the 150,000 baht loan. God opened the way for me to borrow the money from my son to first pay off the loan on time. I was then able to complete my son’s request to transfer his land in plenty of time as well. God’s timing is always best and I praise Him for that. It is never too fast or too slow. God even led the man who lent me the 150,000 baht to give another 20,000 baht toward the building project. Praise be to God. When I went to Hong Kong and America I owned some gold and jewelry that was somewhat valuable. When I first arrived in Khon Kaen, I deposited them in a safety deposit box at the bank. After I went to work in Ban Phai and Yasothorn, the safety deposit box was used to hold the land titles and official documents of the Khon Kaen Christian Foundation. I decided to take out my valuables and keep them in my possession. Later, I sold my god and jewelry and used the money to help buy the land for the Yasothorn Church. Even though the value was not a lot, I felt free and was able to wholeheartedly sing the hymn, “All to Jesus I surrender.”
I was able to experience the all-sufficient grace of God in the midst of many problems and obstacles. The Lord renewed me and allowed me to do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I found my experience similar to that of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:13. Later, Miss Prapaporn (nicknamed Noi) Suwanakhot, Mr. Liu Kam Ho and his young bride came and took over the work at the Yasothorn Chinese Church.
One day in 1990, I sat with my oldest daughter and son-in-law. My son-in-law said they were planning to send me 3,000 baht a month to use personally. I answered them, “If that is the case, then I can retire.” My son-in-law quickly responded, “Mom, if you are going to retire, we will plan to give 5,000 baht a month.” From that day on I began to think about the prospect of retiring because the bones in my back were pinching the nerves and that was causing me a lot of pain. Often at two or three a.m. I would awaken and get out of bed because of the pain.
In August 1991, the Rev. Richard Herring asked me if I would be willing to teach at Northeastern Bible College. The Christian and Missionary Alliance was planning to reopen the former Central Bible School in Khon Kaen as Northeastern Bible College (N.B.C.). I immediately refused the offer. Soon after, I went to the United States for three months. When I was in America, I saw many elderly Christian workers who were still serving the Lord. For example, even though Miss Helen Chen was old and quite frail, she still ministered faithfully. There was also Miss Ward, who was still very committed to serving the Lord. I even had the opportunity to attend an evangelistic crusade led by Dr. Billy Graham in New York’s Central Park. What a tremendous example of an older person faithfully preaching God’s word. There were hundreds of thousands of people listening to his message. God used these people to prepare my heart for the next step in His plan. After leaving the U.S., I went to Hong Kong and stopped at the office of the Chinese Christian and Missionary Alliance. I met Mr. Philip Lee and he informed me that he had received a fax from the Rev. Richard Herring asking their permission for me to go and teach at Northeastern Bible College. Mr. Lee encouraged me to go and teach the Bible at N.B.C. and I felt certain that God was leading me back to Khon Kaen a second time. The first time, God used the Rev. Elmer Sahlberg to invite me to Khon Kaen. Then I moved to Ban Phai and later to Yasothorn. Finally, God used the Rev. Richard Herring to ask me to return to Khon Kaen and serve the Lord there a second time.
I prayed to the Lord three times to take away my “thorn in the flesh”, but the Lord answered me from II Corinthians 12:8-9, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” For me, the thorn was my back pain. It was caused by the bones pressing on my nerve endings. One time after the doctor examined my x-rays, he mistakenly snapped at the assistant for having me lay down during the taking of the x-ray. Actually, the bones in my spinal column are quite crooked. They form the shape of the letter “S”. The physical therapist advised me not to take long trips. That was almost impossible because in my ministry in the Northeast, it was often necessary for me to travel from Khon Kaen to Korat, to Yasothorn or to Bangkok. At one time I was even teaching during the week at Bangkok Institute of Theology and traveling every weekend to Yasothorn, then back to Bangkok again.
I asked for advice from my oldest daughter who is a medical doctor. She informed me I had two choices: 1) take medicine to relieve the pain, or 2) have and operation. I decided that I would trust the Lord with this problem. I would not take medication for the pain and I would not undergo an operation. I would trust and depend upon God to take care of my back problem. I decided I would be very careful not to put on weight as that would put increased pressure on my spinal column. I would also exercise every day. I thank the Lord that this “thorn in the flesh” caused me to depend upon God more. Many who knew me from my first time in Khon Kaen said, “Even though you’ve been gone from us for a long time, you still look the same as ever. What do you use to color your hair? It always looks back.” People would ask me how I could still smile when I had pain in my lower back every day. I would answer that if we walked around with a sad face, that will cause others who see us to be sad too. If we are able to smile in the midst of our pain, we will remain victorious and be a blessing to those we come in contact with each day. I may not be beautiful, but having a smile on my face makes me cuter to look at.
There is one other thing I must thank God for. When my oldest daughter was a young child she became very ill. Her fever was so high that her body went into shock. I did not know what to do other than to pray and leave the healing in God’s hands. God chose to heal my daughter and she became well and strong again. Her mind was sharp and clear. She was able to graduate from the medical school of Mahidol University. She married Dr. Srisawat Kurusan, who was a graduate of the medical school of Siriraj University. The two of them met while they were medical interns at the hospital in Ubon.
Once when I went to Chiang Mai to visit my older sister, I met a girl who worked as a maid at her home. I could tell that this girl had some kind of a mental deficiency and could only do very simple household chores. I was told that when this girl was young she also was very ill and went into shock. Her high fever resulted in some brain damage. As the girl grew, she was not able to study or learn to read and write. When I heard that sad story, I was immediately reminded of the grace of God that allowed my daughter to pass through her illness with no lingering affects to her brain. She even graduated from medical school with honors. My oldest daughter experienced the grace of God a second time in her life. When she became pregnant with her first daughter, the doctor noticed a cyst on one of her ovaries. When she delivered her daughter, the doctor operated and removed the ovary with the cyst. This would decrease her chances of getting pregnant. Shortly after the birth of her first child, my oldest daughter told me that they had examined the other ovary and it too had a cyst. Her doctor advised her to have surgery to remove the remaining ovary also. I told her not to have the surgery but to pray and ask God to heal her. She agreed not to have the surgery and became pregnant again. We prayed together and asked God to give her a son. God answered “yes” to our prayers and a son was born. Later she became pregnant for the third time and delivered a very tiny little girl. My daughter questioned why the baby was born so small. I answered that this child was a bonus baby and things that are bonus are always small. This granddaughter has since caught up with her peers and is now normal weight for her age. I often asked my daughter and her husband why they did not regularly attend Sunday worship services. My daughter said that if I came and planted a church in Yasothorn, the family would attend. After the Chinese church in Yasothorn was built, this family stopped working on Sunday mornings so the family could go to worship services together.
My second daughter graduated from nursing school and is working in Chiang Mai. She married Mr. Preecha Sae Tang, who is a member of the church governing board at the Chiang Mai Chinese Church. They have two sons.
My third child, a son, is working in New York City. He married Miss Ratree Nimcharoen and they have two daughters.
The families of my three children are a tremendous blessing to me. I have told them the story of when I was in America and had a second opportunity to marry. One of my classmates in seminary asked me to marry him. He was preparing $10,000 U.S. in order to pay for the wedding. But when I thought of my three children back in Thailand, I knew that if I married it would cause many problems for them. So I felt I could not accept the offer of marriage at that time.
During the time that I was undecided if I should go to America or serve the Lord here in Thailand, I felt God clearly leading me back to Thailand. As far as America was concerned, I could go there anytime. I thank God that He has blessed me with the opportunity of making three additional trips to America.
The first time was in 1983. I went to the States for six months. I visited some alumni from Alliance Bible Seminary in Hong Kong. My younger sister and her husband paid for the ticket. I was able to visit many cities and was travelling so much that I did not get an opportunity to read the newspapers on or immediately following August 10, 1983. When I met a friend in Vancouver and she asked me what airline I flew to the U.S. on, I replied, “Korean Air”. My friend asked if I was afraid since it had just been reported that a Korean Air jet had crashed, killing 269 people. When I heard the news I thanked God for protecting me. I know that my life has been protected by God’s grace.
For this trip, God taught me many lessons. One day I went to visit a place named Sunken Gardens. I was informed that at one time the area was not beautiful at all. The land owner’s wife had begun planting all different kinds of trees until the garden developed into a beautiful park. Once inside the gardens, I learned about a particular tree called the “Ginkgo”. The fruit of the tree is beautiful and golden in color. When the fruit falls from the tree, it decays and gives off a terrible odor. Chinese people take the fruit, carefully wash off all the liquid, and use the seed to flavor certain recipes. These dishes are very expensive in Chinese restaurants. From these two examples, I was reminded that people are like God’s excellent fruit. God created mankind beautifully. But when people sin and fall away from God, their lives become of no value, just like the fruit of the ginkgo, which, after falling away from the tree, produced a terrible odor. However, when God cleanses man from all his sin, he again becomes something of value. This was shown to me by the fruit of the ginkgo tree whose seed is used as an expensive spice in Chinese cuisine, and through the beautiful garden.
When I went to the city of Calgary in Canada, some Christians were in the process of building a church. One of the members was an engineer and he took a one-year leave of absence from work to oversee the construction of the new church building. While on the job, an accident occurred and he fell from the second floor of the building. One of the ministers, who normally stayed home that day to prepare his sermon, arrived at the building site in time to take this engineer immediately to the hospital. They all met together to pray for healing for this man. God answered their prayer and restored him completely.
From there I traveled to visit a friend named Mr. Tia. Mr. Tia had been a refugee from Laos. He took me to visit another friend in the city of Scarborough but the friend was not at home. It was getting dark so we returned to Mr. Tia’s house. That night around midnight I was brushing my teeth before going to sleep and one of my false teeth fell out. I did not know what to do at that late hour. Thankfully, Mr. Tia was a dentist and helped fix my false teeth that very night.
I also had the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls on both the American side and the Canadian side. I was amazed at the glorious handiwork of God and the beauty of His creation.
I also traveled to Florida and visited a former missionary couple, Rev. and Mrs. William Miess, who had retired and were living in Bradenton Missionary Village. The village was a place built by an Italian man who became rich producing orange juice. This man used his tithe money to build a retirement center for missionaries who had served the Lord for at least twenty years. The retired missionaries would be allowed to live in these beautiful homes rent free.
During the first visit I stayed in the States for six months, slept in 35 different beds, and was able to travel to 17 states. The grace of God led me there and back in complete safety.
My second trip took place in 1991. This time I went to America for three months. My niece’s husband, Mr. Chan Chotinuntaset, provided me with the plane ticket. That time I hardly went anywhere. Mostly I rested at my two sisters’ two houses in Los Angeles, but I also visited my two brothers and son in New York City and New Jersey. I planned to retire in Thailand after this trip so I did not do a lot of traveling. However, it was just before this trip, on August 1, 1991, at the Siam Mission Annual Retreat in Khon Kaen, that the Rev. Richard Herring asked me if I would help teach at Northeastern Bible College when it reopened. Even though I had turned down his offer, God was preparing me throughout these months to put aside my plan to retire and go back to Khon Kaen to teach. The Chinese Christian and Missionary Alliance also encouraged me to go, after receiving a fax from the Rev. Herring requesting my assistance. So, after returning to Thailand I went back to Khon Kaen to serve the Lord at Northeast Bible College.
My third trip took place in 1994. Mr. Chan gave me a first class ticket this time. I felt that was very convenient and comfortable. Each previous time I had traveled to the States, my body became very exhausted. This time, however, I was in first class and the flight attendant regularly served water and fruit juices. Because of that, I had no physical discomfort from my travel at all.
I went to America to visit my two brothers and their families, my nephew and some Chrisitian friends. They had opened a Thai church in New York City called the “Chao Thai Reformed Church of Brooklyn”. I really wanted to visit this church. In Los Angeles there were already several Thai churches, but in New York there was not a single one. I was so thankful to God that a Thai church had been planted in New York City. I was determined to visit them and encourage them in the Lord. This trip I was also able to attend the wedding ceremony of my niece, the daughter of my younger brother. God’s grace was also evident in that even though New York had been having a rainy and chilly spell, the weather for the day of the wedding was wonderful.
I thank God for every opportunity He has given me. I have felt Him leading me at all times. May all the glory and praise be given to God alone.
The Rev. and Mrs. Paul L. and Priscilla Johnson came to Thailand as missionaries in the early 1950s. They were shot to death while they were preaching the gospel in the village of Dongmafai, Kumpawapi, Udon Thani Province. Their blood was poured out here in the Northeast, and eventually the land has become fruitful.
I came to the Northeast in 1977. It is my hope that every village, town and province will be reached with the light of the gospel message, so that in each place there will be a church set aside to worship God.
The Chinese Christian and Missionary Alliance Mission (now known as Hong Kong Alliance Mission) has three missionary couples: the Rev. and Mrs. Yung King Wa, Mr. and Mrs. Liu Kam Ho and the Rev. and Mrs. Lai Ka Lai. We also have a number of Thai people working with us: Mr. Prasan Charoensuk and family, the Rev. Surapong Poldongnok and family, Miss Malee Chinparitiwong (serving as missionary in Cambodia), Mr. and Mrs. Niphon Luengneun, Miss Prapapawn Suwananput, Miss Lumyai Sattaklang and Mr. and Mrs. Wichai Sukunpalomchai.
There are presently a number of people who have responded to God’s call and are preparing for Christian service. These include Mr. Nikawn Sittijereaporn and family, Mr. Arun Laitanagit, Mr. Giat and Miss Newtjari. God has used our small group, consisting of the Khon Kaen Chinese Church, the Korat Church, the Ban Phai Church, the Yasothorn Chinese Church, the Ban Suan Church, the evangelistic center in Muang Pon and the cell groups in Roi Et, Phra Yeun, Kok Lam and Ban Muang Bong to be a channel of His blessing. I believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ will be spread out to many other places as well.
My suggestions for starting a church are as follows:
- Be confident of God’s leading.
- The believers must be united.
- Be an example in tithing
- Be faithful with all the money you receive. Your financial records should be in order. All contributors must be given a receipt.
- Prepare yourself for criticism. Some people will not join with you in this project.
- Expect and be prepared for obstacles because they surely will come.
I close with this challenge from the Rev. Hudson Taylor, founder of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. He is noted for starting that all of God’s work begins with the impossible, after that come many obstacles making it difficult, but in the end it will be done well.