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 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!