Jan. 9-12, 2015. The flights to Bangkok this time were perhaps the best I have ever experienced. Though I did not have an empty seat next to me on the legs from Dallas to Tokyo and from Tokyo to Bangkok, the Lord gave me several hours of sleep which I believe was a great help in acclimating to the new time zone. I arrived late Saturday night and Tim came Sunday morning. It is always a climactic moment when we are together in other countries doing the Lord’s work.
Tim arranged that we have lunch at 2:30 p.m. with “A” who along with her mother, kindly agreed to store 11 cases of manuals that were shipped from the printer in New Delhi, India. She also shipped four cases to Chiang Mai for us so they would available for the conference there, where Tim had been asked to give a presentation of GPHC during two of the workshops on Wednesday and Thursday. We wanted to thank them for serving us with such willing hearts. It was wonderful to meet them for the first time. Tim told me the story of how “A” came to Christ when she was in NC years ago and how this has affected her family. What a bright, fervent spirit!
We took the train from Siloam station to Siam and found the restaurant she said we should meet at. It was a delightful time together and it strengthened our relationship with them. Just to confirm their servant’s heart, they would not allow us to pay for the lunch. Such is the spirit of so many people God has put in our lives. We do not ask for this, but God in His overflowing grace has freely given to us through those whose hearts have been regenerated by Christ.
Monday was a day spent in getting our brochures and cards printed and planning how we would put packets together for the conference, where they expected 200 to attend. On my previous trip, I came across a printer very near the Bangkok Christian Guest House, who would print for us at a reasonable price. Because the ‘letter’ paper size in S. E. Asia is 9 x 11.5, it is challenging to take an 8.5 x 11 brochure and make it fit into a tri-fold paper that is a little larger. They had the graphic skills to create a near perfect fit so the folds would be in the right place. As you will see throughout this journal, there are many small situations where God has provided what we need at the right time and in the right way. We do not consider these for our comfort, but that He is glorified through all we do and that we strive to make Him known to the world through every detail in life.
After talking through the needs of the conference and our promise to provide manuals to the Chinese students at the training center in Chiang Mai, we decided to take another box of manuals with us on our flight the next morning. The question was---would this extra weight tip the scale over our combined allowed limit of 60 kilograms?
Stay tuned for the next journal entry tomorrow.
Oct. 24, 2014: The next few days will be in summary with much less detail. The flight to Yangon was very good and time passed quickly as I got back into reading a book by Reg Reimer entitled “Vietnam’s Christians”. A weird thing happened at RGN as I was expecting Brother Mang or a young man to meet me at the airport since I had never stayed at the Bliss Hotel. After waiting a half hour, exchanging some money and being asked many times by one taxi drive in particular to take me where I wanted to go, I asked the taxi driver to call Mang’s cell number. We discovered it was no longer in service. After praying and asking the Lord he would be there, I gave another brother’s number and he answered. He gave the driver the location of the hotel and how much he should charge me (important if they think you are new to the country), I was off to another place for my two weeks temporary home.
Bliss Hotel indeed had my name and put me in a room on the third floor at the front overlooking the street. One of the first things I always do in a new location is check-out their Wi-Fi so I can get/send email and talk to Rosemary on Skype. It was so bad I went downstairs and told them how important this was to me that I get connected. Thankfully, they had the same room on the second floor and it was better; but only a little better. At least I could get email. Unfortunately, this proved to be a struggle for both Tim (after he arrived) and myself for the rest of our stay. While this is a modern crutch, it is vital to stay in touch with home as much as possible for many reasons.
Worried that Mang had gone to the airport and not found me, I walked four short blocks to their place on the top floor (eighth) of a corner business and residence building overlooking the Yangon River, to let them know I had arrived. It was a thrill to see them again. We discovered that the young man they sent to the airport arrived too early and left before I got to the lobby. We enjoyed dinner together with Mang, Ciin and Andrew from Australia who was there to teach the following week on Cell Church Ministry during the day, and Tim and I would train using God’s Plan for His Church in the evening. The schedule was not completely clear, but I usually figure the details as we go along.
After dinner, I walked back to the hotel to settle in for the night. Friday was largely a day of rest except that Michael wanted to have lunch with me. He arrived around 12:30 p.m. with a brother (Sun) and we walked up the street to a Mini-Mart which had a pastry shop on the third floor. Getting to know Sun’s story was fascinating. He is a truck driver (big rig) and for many years lived as an alcoholic which brought trouble to his marriage and family. After complaining to a friend about how bad things were, his friend gave him a Bible. Not knowing where to begin reading, he opened to the book of Proverbs and was drawn to the wisdom he had never heard of that answered so many of the problems he faced. After a time, he went back to his friend and asked where this wisdom came from? This was the open door of his heart that received the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ that delivered him from Buddhism and drinking. Because his wife is very ill, he has left his job and is now caring for her full time. What a marvelous story of grace! We cannot limit God and the ways He will use to bring a soul out of darkness into His light.
Saturday was the 25th Anniversary Celebration of God’s Trio Partners at the training center, beginning at 10 a.m. Arriving about 9:45, I found myself among two hundred or more and began to see a couple familiar faces, including Andrew from Melbourne, Australia, the three from England, and Moses who Tim and I trained in Chiang Mai. Trying to take a back seat didn’t work. So, along with others, we were asked to sit in the front with Mang and Ciin. Many church planters and pastors from all over Myanmar were there who had been trained by them over the years. The next three plus hours were filled with worship, testimonies, slide shows and singing by different ethnic groups. After the service there was a meal provided for all who had come. It was quite an event.
Mang asked me to attend their service the next day (Sunday) and serve Communion. This is usually a risky thing to do because there are so many denominational and cultural traditions and specific ways of doing this, but knowing Mang, I felt at home to help as the Lord led. They placed Communion in the middle of the service after worship and many testimonies, but before the sermon which was being given by Andrew. I took the liberty to explain how and why Jesus used the Passover as a transition element to introduce the Lord’s Supper and why it now holds such importance for the church. Many came up to me after to express appreciation for the way I had done this and what greater meaning it gave them every time it would be celebrated in the future until the Lord comes.
Tim was arriving from Chiang Mai in the afternoon, so I double checked with Mang to be sure that if someone was going to meet him, they had the correct time of arrival, and if necessary, I would go as well. Oh how I wanted to see him again. I was assured that Joe Lim would be the one to fetch Tim and bring him to the hotel. About 3:30 p.m., he arrived at the Bliss Hotel and we both had a moment of blissJ Now we were up to our old habits of walking the town to find a place for food and, yes, ice cream! Finding places to eat was no problem. Good ice cream took a back seat for one day.
Oct. 27-29. Since Andrew was continuing his teaching on the “Cell Church” until noon on Thursday, Mang asked Tim and me to take two hours in the evening (Monday through Wednesday) to begin the introduction of God’s Plan for His Church. This gave Tim and me the next three days to get into mischief during the day! Don’t ask for details!!
Michael had asked me through email and on Friday if I would speak to a group of church planters and pastors who gather regularly at his office for prayer and encouragement. When I made this arrangement with Michael, I did not tell him that Tim might be with us, so it was a joyous moment when He came around 10:30 a.m. with Sun and we headed to his office which is about ten minutes away. It was only a couple blocks away from our hotel that I noticed a new building that was near completion which had on the first floor a Swenson’s Ice Cream and it appeared open. I tucked that in my memory for later reference.
We arrived at Michael’s and were greeted by his wife Gulu. It was good to see her and Dal No who was the interpreter for Randy and me the last time we were here. Sitting at a long row of narrow tables were about fifteen men and women who were giving testimonies of what God was doing in their ministries and asking for specific prayer. About 11:30, Michael asked me to speak a word of encouragement to them before lunch was served. The Lord put on my heart to trace through Scripture those who had learned to live in a close relationship to God so they could hear Him speak to them. Beginning with Enoch, Noah and Moses, and then ending with those in the seven churches of Revelation 2 and3 who have an ear to hear what the Spirit says to the church. Michael then asked Tim if he wanted to say anything. He concluded our time with how the importance of this truth affects our marriage, family, the church, and our testimony to the world. We then enjoyed a time of fellowship over lunch, learning what the Lord is doing with some of those present. I have not mentioned it each time it comes, but this is the rainy season and it is common once a day to have a heavy downpour. I was beginning to wonder if we would even be able to get into the car parked outside. It is also common that these storms do not last long and within a half hour it had almost stopped. Michael took us back to the hotel where we rested and prepared for the evening session.
Since Tim was leaving Saturday morning for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I deferred to him teaching as much as possible and prayed that this would set the stage for the ten days ahead. There is one thing in our favor and that is our dear Brother Mang who is truly like-minded with us in GPHC. Tim took extra time in Chapter One hoping to lay a firm foundation in the sixty or so present. On Tuesday, Tim and I decided to sit in on the Cell Church training just to see what it was like and how close the teaching was to what we were presenting. We both agreed that it was supportive of an Acts model and did not detract from our training. For this we are thankful!
Please Pray: (October 3 – November 10)
1) Teaching Church Leaders using the Burmese God’s Plan for His Church in Yangon – October 27- November 7
2) Launch the new Karen God’s Plan for His Church in Maw Day Musekee – October 17-19
3) Teaching Bethany College students God’s Plan for His Church in Chiang ai - October 13-24
4) Synergy Meeting with Vietnamese Leaders in Bangkok - October 6-10
5) Strategic Planning for the Khmer God’s Plan for His Church in training Cambodian Leaders – November 1-3
6) Launch the new Vietnamese God’s Plan for His Church in Saigon – October 13 – 24
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving, pray also for us, (Tim and Sherman):
1) That God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ Col 4:2-3
2) That words may be given to us in opening our mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel Eph 6:19
3) That the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored 2 Thess 3:1 (ESV)
4) That we may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding Col 1:9
5) That we be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might Col 1:11
Dear Faithful Brothers and Sisters,
We first want to thank the Lord for his abundant goodness us in so many ways. Your prayers are
heard and we sense God's unmistakable leading in so many respects, though not always just the way we expected. Here is a brief update on a few items from the last newsletter:
Pakistan: Tim Bunn and a brother from Africa were expecting to travel there this month to introduce GPHC to 25 - 30 pastors, but because one of the visas was not granted, we felt the Lord closing the door. The Pakistan brother we trained in Chiang Mai last year is now going to conduct the training in our absence. We believe this is God's way of making the work there truly indigenous. Please pray for this dear brother.Foreword to be written by David Hesselgrave (professor emeritus Trinity Evangelical Seminary) along with several other key endorsements. It will then be ready for Bible Schools and Seminaries around the world. Continue to pray for open doors where this will effectively impact students before being sent out in His field.
Seminary Course: Final proofing and editing is finished. We are just waiting for the
Foreword to be written by David Hesselgrave (professor emeritus Trinity Evangelical Seminary) along with several other key endorsements. It will then be ready for Bible Schools and Seminaries around the world. Continue to pray for open doors where this will effectively impact students before being sent out in His field.
Trip to S. E. Asia in March was postponed which gave Sherman more time to heal from two surgeries. Just Monday, he received a very good report from the surgeon and release to return to normal activity using normal caution. For this we are very thankful!
Please pray for trip to S. E. Asia in May:
-Through our connection in Pakistan, there may be an open door for Tim to visit Malaysia and/or Bangladesh to introduce GPHC.
-Through a wonderful sequence of events, God has given us Pastor Randy from Connecticut to travel with Sherman and Tim. He is working through the manual and has a heart for church planting. We believe this is God's appointment!
-Sherman and Randy: May 6th to 10th - in Yangon, Myanmar to help a brother there launch the new Burmese manual.
-May 13th to 16th - in Chiang Mai, Thailand to complete the training of Chinese missionary students before they go out to various unreached people groups around the world with God's plan and purpose.
-May 17th to 20th - complete the training of Karen students in Chiang Mai, preparing them to strengthen their own people to reach out to unreached people groups in both Thailand and Myanmar.
-Tim and Randy: May 22nd to 24th - in Phnom Penh, Cambodia encouraging a church planter who has been translating the manual into Khmer and has been going through some trials.
-May 25th and 26th - following up on new contacts in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in view of advancing God's work in Vietnam through the church and business leaders.
-May 27th to June 1st - God has given us a new opportunity through a contact in Hanoi to visit the Hmong and Dao ("Yao") people groups along the northern border of Vietnam and China to introduce GPHC.
These are opportunities that only God could orchestrate and we ask for your special prayer that each event will be guided and filled by the Holy Spirit so that an indigenous and eternal work will be ignited and hasten the Day of the Lord. "This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14).
With gratitude for your interest, prayers and support,
Tim, Sherman and Randy
This post will give you a slice of what God is doing in Thailand. “Timothy and I had a very fruitful time ministering the Word of God to 7 students. He knows the material and can communicate the biblical principles and connect these principles to their current and future ministries. He actually can communicate and teach much better than I can. What a blessed time we are having together!”
Tim and I are home and very thankful to see our wives and families. Picking up from our last letter, on May 14, we spent four days in Phnom Penh, Cambodia training a church planter among the Khmer people. He is unique as he seeks to following Paul's example of working to provide for his own needs. To accomplish this, several helped purchase a Tuk Tuk which he will use for income and transportation. His vision is to train other "Timothy's" with GPHC and help them start a business that will provide their income. He clearly has a heart for living and duplicating the Early Church model.
Tim and I left on the 19th; Tim to Laos to deliver Bibles which had been provided by Wake Christian Academy, Raleigh, NC and others here at home. I proceeded to Chiang Mai to start training a pastor from Pakistan. Tim arrived a few days later and we focused on one-on-one training him and then two other men from Myanmar for the next three weeks using God's Plan for His Church manual. We are convinced of the effectiveness of this method! The personal interaction, valuable discussion and fellowship over how the biblical principles work out in each culture brought inspiration and a fresh appreciation of Scripture in their setting. With a few, time was taken to complete the "pre-assigned" work, but these brothers were diligent and hard-working so that each one completed the final project, developing their own strategy for ministry in their setting with the principles they learned. These men represent the Karen, Chin, Katchin, Burmese, and Naga people groups of Myanmar and the Karen in Thailand. Translation work is already in progress for these languages.
Let me summarize how the Lord has led us to this point in our ministry. Having taught the manual in conferences for many years and seen little multiplication from this venue, we felt that Paul's method of mentoring Timothy was more effective and would multiply much faster. After much prayer and searching for about a year, Tim found a Christian couple in Chiang Mai who would rent us a four bedroom house with a kitchen and sitting area for a very reasonable price.
Paul said in I Corinthians 16:8 that he would “stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened for me.” God has opened many doors for us, but like Paul, we desired to enter this “effective” opened door. It allows us to train one-on-one, face-to-face, where persons are away from the responsibilities of ministry, culture and family in a quite neighborhood, yet within walking distance of village stores for food and necessities. The owners are convinced this is the purpose God has for this place and are fully behind us.
While we were there, God opened another door through the owners. Here is a comment from them: "A new teaching team from the United States viz., Pastors Tim Bunn and Sherman Driver of Go-Reconcile, will train our evangelists in August; and our regular mentor Rev. Dr. Tan Wai Choon in November." This training will be with the Lahu people group in Thailand.
We praise the Lord as we share this with you. Please continue to pray for us that we remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit for His "effective work", humble in spirit, and physically able to meet the demands. Also pray that God will raise up Timothy's who God will call to this work. Tim will be returning to Burma/Myanmar at the end of July for a conference in Yangon. From there, he will return to Chiang Mai, Thailand to train leaders from Africa and the Thailand Karen and Lahu. Pray that each of these open doors will turn out to be God's "effective work" for His glory!
I do not know even where to begin in updating you on everything that is happening all over the world. Reports of God using God's Plan for Church Planting (GPCP) come in weekly, oftentimes daily! Just the other day it was reported that after our meeting in Turkey, the leaders from Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and Lebanon had gone back to their respective countries to commence applying these simple biblical principles. As a result of that, we are hearing that the disciples and churches are multiplying in these Islamic countries. Here are a couple of testimonies: “The conference and the manual opened our eyes to the bitter reality that today's church and even our local churches are out of sync with the Biblical model. We learned to let the Bible talk about the issue of church planting, and to be more submissive to its authority and guidance. It was an eye opening event for me.” ~ Church Planter, Algeria “The Church Planting Conference in Turkey was one of the best I have ever attended on the topic. It was a solid teaching built on the book of Acts and the principles used by the Apostle Paul. The sessions and discussions gave me new perspectives and approaches in the area of evangelism and how to witness for the Lord Jesus Christ.” Seminary Professor, Lebanon We have been receiving requests from several other Islamic countries for this tool. The same thing can be said of many other places around the world but it is particularly exciting to hear that His Church can grow and multiply in these "dark" Muslim countries where there is persecution and where many of the resources that we take for granted are not available.
GPCP Translations: In addition to almost 30 translations, we have the languages of Chin in Burma, Thai in Thailand, Oriya in India and Bisa/Lala in Zambia in the process of being translated and printed. It continues to amaze me to watch the Lord at work building His Church, in His time, by His Power through His indigenous people. It is almost as if the more we get out of the way, particularly as Westerners, the greater the work of the Spirit is. But, regardless, God is God and He can do whatever He wants, with whomever He wants and wherever He wants; we just need to make ourselves available.
Middle East and North Africa: The Lord has opened some encouraging and exciting doors among the Seminaries of the Middle East and North Africa. One of the attendees at our Turkey meeting was a key professor of a seminary in Lebanon, who saw the value of equipping graduating seminary students with GPCP. This would provide them with a tool to plant and grow His Church without money and buildings, since these items are diminishing in that part of the world. Therefore, we are working with these seminaries to provide GPCP in a format that will meet the standards of this venue. Please pray for the Lord to grant Sherman and me wisdom and time to assist them with providing this tool. This is a big project, and the possible impact for our Lord in these strategic Islamic locations is priceless.
God's Plan for Church Renewal (GPCR): Another thing we have been lead to do is to totally revise the GPCP manual, making it more user friendly, more easily grasped and flexible so that we can teach it to different academic levels in an easily understood story form with illustrations. Although this has been on our hearts for years, it was only on our last trip to Northern Thailand that we saw the need to teach leaders who had not attained a high academic level but were filled with the Holy Spirit and had hungry hearts for Christ. The more I work on this total revision, the more I believe it will be more useful to all of us and will open up a whole new world of opportunities for us not only now but in the future. I believe in the near future, we in the US will see the need to get back to a more Biblical model of church. We hope to have this new tool available in a couple of months or sooner.
Thailand Training Center: On a final note, please pray as we sense the Lord shifting us from training in other countries to bringing the key leaders to a neutral, economical, centrally located and easily accessible area, such as Thailand. This type of training offers many advantages. It will enable us to train the "key leaders" in a more focused and uninterrupted environment. Many times, we have found that when leaders are being trained in their own countries, the key leaders are distracted with managing the conference, their own ministries, telephones, etc. It also saves us traveling to other countries and it will help keep our teaching and ministry more indigenous since a white Westerner doesn’t have to go into other cultures giving the impression he is the “expert teacher.” Another important key is that this type training allows us to build deeper relationships with the leaders on a one-on-one basis. The meeting in Turkey was great in that it supported this type of training where key leaders were pulled out of North Africa and the Middle East for an intensive one-on-one relational teaching time together. This enabled them to build relationships and to dig deeply into the Scriptures without interruptions. In addition to providing training for overseas missions, it will provide us with a place to train and come alongside leaders who travel with us from the US as we serve and travel together. One last advantage. the area that is the cheapest, Chiang Mai, is the same area the Lord has opened a wide door for us to serve the Karen on the Thai and Burma border.
March 2012 Mission Trip: One last thing, looking back, the February-March trip was one of the most fruitful trips I have ever made among the Karen and Chin, both in Burma and Thailand. The miraculous door the Lord opened with the Burmese Brother from Australia proved to be fruitful and has opened up many new opportunities of partnership in Myanmar. We also had a great time of fellowship and encouragement in India at the IMD International meeting with our key teachers and trainers. We were all challenged to live and minister "post-Pentecostal" and not "pre-Pentecostal. Please pray for the training needs to be met in Thailand as this type training will actually be less expensive than traveling into various countries but still God’s provision is necessary.
Thank you for your prayers and support!
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