Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fall Road Trip 2008

Our Fall Road Trip 2008 was a blast! Above are 58 students plus staff from NC State that joined together on the retreat in Myrtle Beach, SC to explore the claims of Christ and spend a weekend of fun at the beach. If you remember, we were trusting God for 50 students to attend, and God brought that many and more. God is really doing some exciting things in our relationships, and we ask you to continue to pray for us and with us as we all continue to learn more about what it means to follow Christ.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Please pray for our Fall Road Trip 2008, which will be on October 17th-19th in Myrtle Beach, SC. We are expecting around 80-90 students from NC State, UNC, and Duke to attend. Many of these students will hear the gospel for the first time. Please pray that as we all encounter God our lives will be changed!
"The Red Zone" is our weekly meeting, where we strive to explore the claims of Christ with students by being Word centered and culturally relevant at the same time. Over the past couple of weeks we have averaged around 55 students at these meetings. Please pray for these meetings! Pray that it would be a tool that gets people before the Truth of the Gospel, and leads to deeper friendships that hopefully lead to more time in God's Word and changed lives.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

We Are BACK!
The Farewell Party:

Kelley and I are back in the US after 30+ hours of traveling and then visiting the Summer Orlando Project in Orlando, FL. Thank you so much for your prayers as we traveled. The plane rides back could not have been any better, and right now we are trying to get settled back into our home in Raleigh, recover from jet lag (we are falling asleep at 8pm and waking up at 5am...crazy huh), and then get ready to begin another year at NC State. Just to give you a summary of Thailand; it was more than we could have ever imagined as God renewed and changed our hearts, marriage, and our vision for seeing the gospel reach the nations. God graciously used the Thailand staff and the students there to help us see more of the glory of God and realize at a deeper level that life/ministry are all about relationships. It is an experience that we will never forget and has changed who we are for a lifetime!

The Airport:

Update from SOP:
It was very encouraging to visit Orlando and see what God has been up to in the hearts and lives of the students from NC State. God is building a movement of college students that long to know Him and make Him known for a lifetime in our midst! It is very humbling and crazy all at the same time to watch God grab hold of a group of people's hearts and watch them begin to desire to live counter-cultural. The beauty of the love and grace of God!

Kelley and I are very excited for what lies ahead for us and the staff at State this year. Please continue to pray for us, as you always have, and know that what God is doing here in Raleigh is because YOU have been faithful in your praying and giving.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

40 Years Old and Still Laboring?
Today, both CCP groups (40 students and staff in all) got together with the Thailand staff (some Americans and some Thais) to have a day of vision building. Each region (Raleigh, Charleston, and Thailand) got to share about what God has been doing on each of their campuses, and then we had opportunities to labor for one another in prayer. It was a very encouraging and challenging time. One of the things that was very challenging for me was when one of the staff quoted the Regional Director from South Africa, saying that if we don't have 40 year olds from our ministry that are laboring beyond the campus then we have failed. Two thoughts crossed my mind when I heard this:

  1. I have a very small vision! I have somehow lost sight of "building laborers on the campus for the lost world". I have just been trying to build campus laborers. How in the world did I get here?!
  2. I want to make sure that I am laboring for the gospel at 40 years old, and just because I am in full-time ministry doesn't mean that I automatically will.
Then the same staff person said that he believed that there aren't many 40 year olds laboring for the gospel because ,yes, life is full of challenges and changes, but much more than our hearts are more full of ourselves than it is with people. WOW! I hope that just convicted you as much as it did me. Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 9:

"When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

This passage says that Jesus saw people! That means He wasn't so consumed with His world, His success, His job, or managing His reputation that he couldn't see people. He noticed their physical, emotion, financial, and spiritual needs. And guess what?! He didn't get mad or judge them. He had compassion for them! And then he turned to His disciples and said pray for laborers. Be careful what you pray for though because guess what happens in Chapter 10? Jesus sends out the 12 to labor. He might answer that prayer in sending you! How is your perspective? Is it that you and I are saying, "I'll go if you want, but I am planning on staying" or "I am planning on going, but if you want me to stay I will." He wants us to "see" people and go, give, and pray for them. No multiple choice there, but rather a call for us to do all three. Let's ask God where we can go, how we can give until it hurts, and pray until we can't cry out any longer. The nations need the "entire" body going, giving, and praying. We have a decision to make don't you think?!

*To be 40 years old and laboring we MUST believe:
  1. God is in control- He has a plan and He is making it happen
  2. That God is a glorious reality and not just a concept
  3. It is God's work and our work (grace vs. work)- if you fall out on either extreme you will run out of gas
  4. Lastly, we must believe that God wants to redeem people's hearts- We should long for people to be doing well spiritually
*Thoughts from a COT staff person's talk during the Global Vision Day.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Home Stretch
Sorry that we haven't been able to update you guys much over the last couple of weeks. It is the rainy season here in Thailand, and the internet is often times down or extremely slow. Nonetheless, Kelley and I are excited to get you caught up on what God has been doing here in student's lives as well as our own.

Update from Keith:
The last two weeks have been great relational weeks for my ministry team and me. My ministry partners are Brian Firpo (Regional Director of COT) and Clay Carter (recent graduate from The Citadel), and we have been praying that God would give us around 4 groups of men that we could build friendships with and then begin to step toward spiritually. As we prayed and began to engage men in the beginning it seemed like we were going to get nowhere, but God has begun to show us His power and grace by giving us crazy favor with several groups of men. We have been taking trips to the city with them, eating lunches with them, doing things outside campus life that they like to do, and this past week we have had a blast watching them compete for their majors in what is called the "Freshy Games". This is a very cool competition that the university created to build unity and momentum amongst each major. I wish this happened in the states, but we are "too cool" for it sadly. Right now, we believe that God has us in a great place with these men relationally, so next week we are trying to take a step toward the spiritual by having them over for dinner and watching movies like Narnia or Amazing Grace, and discussing them afterwards. Please pray for our times with them. This is our last week here and we want to finish strong with these men. We are praying that God would remove the blinders and allow them to see His glory. Here are the groups of men you can pray for:


Ple (pronounced Bun)



Update from Kelley:
Much like Keith, I feel like the last two weeks have been very encouraging to me and my ministry team, consisting of Kara (a humble and obedient American who has been with the CO Thailand staff for over 3 years), Taan (a recent graduate from KKU who grew and continues to grow in the Lord through the CO Thailand's willingness to share the gospel with her regularly), and Liz an American student who is involved with CO at CSU in South Carolina).

As a team, we are attempting to establish solid friendships with around 15 freshmen (typically, we meet them in groups) and to cultivate spiritual interest with around 10 of the upperclassmen with whom Kara already has friendships. All of this is underscored by the fact that on July 25th, Kara will be leaving Thailand with our team to spend 3 months in America (raising support and seeing family and friends). Also, Taan will be looking for a full time job after the summer. Thus, we are trusting God with these relationships, knowing that He cares more about the Thai students than we do and that only He can bless Kara's ministry by keeping these relationships strong during her time away.

Building Friendships
Each day, my ministry team splits up into two groups and goes to the KKU campus for lunch. One group will usually eat with students we already know while another group is trying to meet new groups of freshmen. We are focusing on English majors, so it has been easier than I expected to have great conversations with these students (although Kara and Taan help a lot). After lunch, we sometimes will do an English activity (i.e. watch an English movie or teach English classes). At night, we often get together with students to cook American dinners or baked goods at Kara's house. These cooking sessions are coupled with playing games and/or followed up with a fun outing (i.e. Karaoke)!

Sharing the Gospel
At least once a week, we have a book study with 4 of the upperclassmen girls. Each week, we read through one of the reasons that Christ suffered and died for us, from John Piper's book, The Passion of Christ. It can be difficult to explain the concepts because they don't fit within the cultural context of Thailand and they can get lost in translation. For instance,
they do not understand sin nor have they ever heard of an unmerited love. Idols and spirits that are worshiped in Thailand require that you earn your merit - the message of Christ is brand new. This past week, we studied forgiveness. The girls really understood what Christ did on the cross and even why he did it. Sometimes, I wonder if they are just concepts or if the girls know how to apply them to their lives, but one of the girls said that she loved studying forgiveness. She said, "when you are forgiven, it is nothing that you have done to be forgiven and it is free to you. It cost the one who forgives you everything." Both I and the girls really look forward to these times together.

This weekend, several of the freshmen and upperclassmen girls will be going on a CO retreat where they will continue to hear about the gospel and even see a Jesus film in Thai. Please pray that God would give them ears to hear and eyes to see.

I am really beginning to see God work in our routine and in our relationships here in Thailand...it is hard to think that our time here is drawing close to an end. In fact, last night, I was telling Keith that it would be hard to leave now because it seems like many girls that we have been building relationships with and sharing the gospel with are finally starting to respond. Of course, he reminded me that I can trust God with their lives. Please join me in praying that God will continue to reveal his loving kindness to the following students: Jute, Booey, Wee,
Booey, Meow, Pbar, Lee, Tdom, Boi, Pbar, Knot, Blue, Oiy, Neigh, Jao, Apple.

Thanks so much for reading about God's work. Our hearts are anxious to see and share His glory.

Kelley with Knot at Teacher Appreciation Day

Kelley hanging out with Pbar and Jute

Jute's birthday party at Greenleaf

Kelley with Kara and Taan

Karaoke with the girls!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Futsal and Snookers
The first couple of weeks here, we as a team, have been focusing extensively on meeting new people and building friendships. Relationships are very important to the Thai people, and many of the students who have come to Christ in the past have been attracted to Christ because the love that they experienced while in a relationship with a staff person or CCP (Cross-Cultural Project) student (John 13:34-35). So the men have been doing this by going to eat lunch in strategic places on a daily basis hoping to meet new students, and then inviting these students to play either futsal (this is basically indoor soccer), basketball, ping pong, karaoke, to watch the Euro Cup (soocer) on TV, or even learn new games with them like snookers (this is a game similar to pool, but much harder). Below are some pictures from these times with students. Please take time to pray for these men, and also being praying for us as we continue to try and build friendships with these men with the hopes of sharing the Gospel with them. Evangelism is often times a very long process here because of their lack of knowledge about Christianity and who Jesus Christ really was. We are daily praying that God would convict the Thai students of their sins, and allow them to see His goodness and glory. Lastly, Kelley will be giving you an update on the girl's side of ministry here next week.

This is us at a place called Raja City playing futsal with Thai students.

This is Clay and I with (left to right) Nun, Gok, Game, and Ben.

This is Clay and I with (left to right) Tdee and Oam.

Snookers definitely humbled me!

Brian Firpo (COT Regional Director) and Gok.

Dang (the pastor of Covenant Church, which Campus Outreach planted), myself, and (left to right) Ben, Gok, Game, Beer, and Nun.

Also please be praying for the following men:
Ken-we have had the opportunity to share the gospel with him already and he has lots of great questions.
Jep-we also have shared with him multiple times. Please pray that God would open his heart and that he would stop giving himself to women and partying.

*These two are guys that I routinely have been playing futsal with and am asking God to give me an opportunity to dive into spiritual things with.

The Snake Village
This past week, our entire team was able to explore and experience more of the Thai culture as we took off for the countryside about an hour outside of Khon Kaen. And believe me it was one of the CRAZIEST things I have ever experienced. As you well know, King Cobras are one of the deadliest snakes in all of the world, and most of us see people handle them and defy death by coming eye-to-eye with them on TV, but we got to see these incredibly large and deadly snakes within a couple of feet away. Not only that, but we witnessed as men and young boys courageously (or stupidly, which ever perspective you have) stared these serpents in the face and dared them to strike. I guess when you live out in the middle of nowhere you will find anything to do for fun or to make money. Better them than me!

As you can tell this guy has been bitten a couple of times. He is missing some of his fingers.

Look how young this kid is!

Look at my brave wife!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I wanted to give everyone a brief overview of what we are praying for this summer and ask you guys to be praying with us and for specific students. "The Kingdom" is our overall theme for the summer, and throughout the summer we are asking God to unpack what Jesus meant in Mark 1 when He said, "the kingdom of God is at hand". Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, which is the same as Great Britain, but here the king is deeply loved and has more power. He really serves the poor and relates well to the common people, even though he makes them serve idols. Huge pictures are up of him everywhere, and they do not allow you to say anything negative about him. So as we learn to serve the one TRUE KING in Jesus Christ, the Kingdom civilians (community of believers), and those outside the Kingdom, we are hoping that the Thai people fall much more in love with Christ than they do their beloved king. So please beg with us for these students because 95% have zero concept of Jesus Christ. Below are ways you can be praying for Kelley and I, our team, and the Thai students:

  1. Is that we would be able to grasp at a deeper level this idea of what it looks like to experience the Kingdom of God right now. The Scriptures seem to be very clear that the gospel is not just reduced to personal salvation, but involves God's plan to redeem everything around us. We desperately need His wisdom and understanding to help us draw specific application for our lives.
  2. That Kelley and I's consumerism would be exposed in our marriage, and that we would fight to give to and serve one another. God has given us one another in order to compliment one another and push one another to the Cross, but we often reject one another's nudges toward the Cross rather than receive His grace in it.
  3. Please continue to pray for our support. We have no idea where we are right now because of being here in Thailand, but we are continuing to ask God to raise up people, churches, and businesses to be a part of advancing His Kingdom throughout the world.
  4. Please pray for the following students:

This is Clay and I with Tdaem, Tdong, Breeze, and Note.

This is me with Pop and Tdawn.

This is Clay with Nat.

Also please pray for:
Por (2)
*These are girls Kelley has met and is trying to build a relationship with.

"and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation" Romans 15:20

Monday, June 09, 2008

Who or what do you worship?
Today, Kelley and I took a tour of Khon Kaen with Brian Firpo, who is the regional director of Campus Outreach Thailand. He wanted to give us a more intimate feel for the city and the culture. Each city in Thailand has a "holy place" that is revered and cherished by the people, so we visited there first, and later we ventured over to a Buddist temple. It was my first time being in any such place. To be honest the places were very beautiful, as you can see below, but they broke my heart as well. It blew me away to see people bowing down to idols, and offering up cries of hope to gods that cannot hear them, and will never faithfully meet their needs. Sadly, they pay for these prayers as well, hoping to somehow earn merit or good luck.

I began to think that open idol worship was one of the more heart wrenching things I had ever seen, but then God reminded me of my own heart, and I was quickly led to repentance. The Thai people may worship idols for all to see, but I have a tendency to worship idols that I can mask or temporarily hide. My job, success, the approval of others, my wife, my reputation, and financial comfort can all be things that I find life in and/or become more important to me than my worship of God. The Scriptures are very clear in several places like Psalm 115 and Romans 1 that our hearts are "idol factories" (as John Calvin puts it), and the wrath of God is to actually turn people over to their idols; to give them what they really want, which hardens and perverts the heart and mind. I don't know about you, but I want to make sure that I am constantly dismantling the idols of my heart by "putting off" the things that so easily entangle in this world, and "putting on" the character of God by allowing the Word of God to dwell in my heart richly (Col. 3:1-16). I want to encourage you to please examine your heart, as I examine my own, and ask the Lord if there is any grievous ways (idolatry) within our hearts. He has called us to pursue holiness, and constantly dismantling the idols of our hearts, by His grace, is definitely a big part of that. May you and I be a people that are not consumed with anything but the Glory of God!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Swatatdee Krap (Hello from Thailand)
Well, after 43 straight hours of traveling (yes that is right, kind of crazy huh) we have gotten safely to Khon Kaen, Thailand. Things are really different here, but we are enjoying ourselves.

Here are some key differences:

Food in Thailand is good, but very spicy (the red sauce will light you up). Thai's drive on the "other" side of the road, have tons of outdoor food markets, don't have many air conditioned spaces (even though it is more hot than back home), and love to sing karaoke. They have karaoke places everywhere, and they definitely get into it. Of course, this is very fun to watch and you know we have to sing a little as well! They love soccer, have more motorcycles per capita than any other place in the world, and the entire bathroom is a shower (no tub). The culture is very laid back and the people here are extremely nice. It is not a competitive society like ours, which is a breath of fresh air.

We all have ministry partners from the Campus Outreach Thailand staff and have been on campus a couple of days already with them. We are meeting new students, and trying to build relationships with the Thai students that the staff already know. It has been cool to begin dreaming about what God may do in these students lives...especially in a culture that does not have a context for the person of Jesus Christ. Below are some of the pictures that capture our first couple of days here in Thailand: