The last couple of months have been a little crazy for our family. Well at least more so then usual. In late September, I was able to make a special and quick visit to Northern Virginia for just one day as I wanted to spend time with my Aunt Flora who was suffering from cancer. The time I had with her was very precious as Aunt Flora went to be with our Lord on 26 Oct 2012. Our family would greatly appreciate if you could lift our Uncle Paul and his family up in prayer. May our Lord’s grace bring them comfort in this difficult time.
While in the US, I headed out to Portland, OR and began work on my Doctorate in Missiology. The courses and instructors are perfectly in line with our ministry work and I have been able to form a great dissertation committee as well. I know the work I have to do will be very challenging and strenuous on our family in the years to come, but I trust God’s grace will bring us through it.
Meanwhile, Sinte went to visit some of the seminary students that Farthest Corners supports in Yangon, Burma (Myanmar). Two of the students that Farthest Corners has provided scholarships to will be graduating next year. We’re so blessed to have played a part in their Christian development and are looking forward to working with them in the future as they become servants to their church and begin new mission opportunities.
After Sinte spent time with these student and met old professor friends she and Ewing headed up north to her hometown to spend time with family there. This was a joyful time for Sinte but difficult as well. Ewing became very sick and was hardly able to eat anything for two weeks. After visiting a couple of doctors in Sinte’s hometown the doctors there finally gave a diagnosis that Ewing had tuberculosis. However, knowing how poor medical care is in Burma we decided to wait until Ewing returned to Thailand to get a second opinion and begin treatment. At the end of their time in Burma (Myanmar) Ewing also began to improve and eat again. An answer to many prayers! In mid October, we were reunited as a family in Thailand and then had Ewing checked out immediately. God showed us His great healing power when the second opinion we sought, answered our prayers. The doctors in Thailand believed that Ewing had bronchitis not tuberculosis and that when they compared his x-ray from Burma to his x-ray in Thailand he was well on his way to recovery. Praise God!
Meanwhile, Rakchat has been busy studying at McGilvary College of Divinity on his Master of Divinity. This semester he earned a 3.4 GPA and we are very proud of him. In early October, during his school break Rakchat went and visited our development projects and Happy Home in Karen State, Burma. Unfortunately, I (Austin) was unable to go because of the border situation and internal problems with some of the Karen leadership. Rakchat is really pleased with how our farm projects are growing. Our rice fields have improved in production, the irrigation had no problems this year and our fish our multiplying so rapidly we have had to build three more ponds. The children have plenty of meat from the goats and they now have enough pigs to sell to other villagers as well as to eat for themselves. Next year we’ll have six students graduating and we’ll be working with these students to ensure they have future opportunities for further study if they wish.
After our family reunited and Rakchat returned from Karen State, Burma we hosted a short term mission team from Pender United Methodist Church in Fairfax, VA. Pender has been supporting Farthest Corners work from the very start and so it was such a great honor for us to welcome them here and introduce them to our ministries in person. I’ll detail their work in our upcoming 4th quarter newsletter but it was an amazing time having them participate with our evangelism training, woman’s training and children’s programs. There were large turnouts at the two villages we did evangelism work in and we had many fruitful conversations that I hope to build on when I return to these villages in December. Some say Thailand has been a poor field for missions, but in the last few years I have really seen an openness to the gospel by the Church here as well as by many non-believers. God is working on the hearts of so many here. Scripture speaks so powerfully on this!
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38
The below video shows what some of these short time harvest workers did the past couple weeks and we praise God for His grace shown through this team!
We’ve now started to settle back into our regular routine in Chiang Mai. Sinte and I this week will start back into our Thai studies. Sinte is getting ready for her future daughter and loving every moment of it! Ewing has headed back to preschool. I (Austin) am writing my doctoral papers, doing research and also starting to think about books and curriculum for next year’s seminary classes. I’m also now helping to start an informal world mission group among the seminary students. It’s exciting to see how all of this is coming together and surely God’s hand is at work.
At the same time we do face challenges. Our family has been living in a one room apartment for the past four months. We moved into this apartment because we were promised it would be for a short time and that we’d be able to move into a house the seminary had no later then November. However, we were dealt some bad news just a few days ago. The family living in this home has decided at the last moment to say they won’t leave (despite the fact they were given 6 months notice to leave). This puts our family and also the seminary in a difficult spot. We’re praying and trust God will provide us a place to live. This is a great prayer request because we’d really like to have a home to call our own, especially with our daughter’s expected arrival in January.
So it’s a mix bag full of praises and a couple of concerns too. But God has given us a harvest that is truly bountiful here and we’re so blessed to play a small part in working in our Lord’s field. Please know that we are praying for so many of you. May our great and loving God bring you a bountiful harvest this season in your life and may we all recognize that it is He alone who has provided it. To Jesus Christ our Lord be all the glory!