We really regard Thailand as home now. Our love for the Thai people and the country runs very deep.
So on the evening of 13th October 2016 as we prepared to leave to go to our Thursday Life Group. The news at 7pm came with the announcement that every Thai had feared; King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, Rama IX of the Chakri dynasty, had passed away at the age of 88, in the 70th year of his reign. He was the world’s longest serving monarch.
The news hit our ears and we both looked at each other in disbelief. We knew this news would hit Thailand hard; even in that moment in our apartment the stillness from outside was evidence. As we entered onto the streets of Bangkok, the silence, shock, grief, sobbing was written on every face.
We have 2 Thais in our Life Group and the sense of loss for them was painful. King Bhumibol Adulyadej was highly revered, he was the King of Thailand but was also the Father of Thailand who has done many great things for the country. The next day as we comforted, listened and spoke with many of the Thai women at NightLight, the personal loss of losing a Father cut deep. We are standing with, supporting and mourning with our Thai friends and family and feel their sorrow through this difficult time.
On Friday 14th October, Thailand a country often associated with bright colours, saw Thais, expats and tourists predominantly dressed in black, white and somber tones as the official national mourning period began. The initial mourning period will last for 30 days, but the funeral rites will last for one year. This will then be followed by the royal cremation.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, took his role with great seriousness, travelling through many parts of Thailand to
improve the quality of life for the people of Thailand. During his 7o year reign he set up many Royal Projects and installed infrastructures to enable Thailand and the people of Thailand – some of these include improving agriculture, farming and the general landscape of Thailand. He has left a great legacy.
Over 500,000 (according to Thai Public Health Ministry) people lined the route to see the King take his final journey from Siriraj Hospital (where he passed away) to the Grand Palace. The location surrounding the Grand Palace and Sanam Luang Park has seen huge crowds daily paying their respects to the King and signing the condolence books.
On Saturday 22nd October a massive crowd of an estimated 170,000+ mourners from all over the country flooded to Sanam Luang Park and nearby side streets as far as the eye could see to sing the royal anthem in a historic assembly in memory of the beloved King. With an accompaniment of a 200-piece orchestra and a 150-strong choir under the baton of renowned music director Somtow Sucharitkul A momentous occasion that was also filmed by 1,300-strong production crew, 50 cameras, including two drones and cameras positioned on two cranes, as well as 25 microphones set up in six locations to capture the event. The film will include added footage of the Kings royal activities, will be shown on TV and cinemas across the country.
As the Thais gather together, they are beginning to look ahead to a hopeful future, following in the footsteps left by – A Great Royal Legacy – King Bhumibol Adulyadej. This is more than just the unity of Thais loyal to the late, revered King, but a demonstration that the King left an example to follow; they are strong together – serving with love, kindness, friendship and willingness to help each other.
Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Please pray for Thailand, the people of Thailand that they will be comforted by the Lord. Pray also as they step into this new period of transition.
BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International
It has been a while since we have written a blog, so we will be spoiling you all with 2 blogs in a very short time frame. Please keep posted!
It has been nearly 3 months since we returned back from the UK on our 3rd Home Assignment! We also marked and celebrated several dates in June – Sarah’s Birthday, our 5th wedding anniversary and at the end of June, noted that it has now been over 4 years since we have been serving and living in Thailand! Where has the time gone!
For us coming back to the UK for Home Assignment is always bittersweet, since we really miss the ladies we work with, friends and family we have formed in Thailand and now regard Thailand as home. However it is always a joy to see family, friends and visit the Churches in the UK.
For Sarah, it was good to see her Mum, since whilst in Thailand she has been very concerned about her health. Unfortunately last year November her Mum fell and broke her hip and coupled with late stage Parkinson’s her mobility has suffered. Thank God, she looked much healthier than when we saw her last year. Her mobility is still not great, but she still has all her faculties, she loves to sing even though her voice is sometimes affected by the Parkinson’s and is still a strong prayer warrior.
We would like to say thank you to all of the Churches for your amazing hospitality, support, encouragement and prayers. It always overwhelms us to know how much support and generosity we receive.
We were warmly welcomed back to NightLight with gifts and hand written notes on our desks. It was wonderful to see all the women. While we were away 4 more women joined NightLight. However 1 of the women unfortunately left and went back to work in the sex industry, we are hoping she will return. The rise in the number of women coming forward so far this year, is amazing, since this means more women are feeling encouraged to leave the sex industry and walk in freedom. Please keep these women in your prayers, we will explain more about these women in a future blog. In the meantime please keep them in your prayers.
A wonderful miracle has happened in the bakery! Sarah and Julie (who assists in the bakery) had been praying since the end of the last year for extra help. It was very specific as to who the person needed to be, with Sarah being the only Thai speaking person in the bakery, so she had to do all of the translation. We didn’t even get round to advertising for the post, we just kept praying!
Here is what we were praying for – Job Spec:- Someone who is a Christian, a Thai national that speaks English well, someone that comes with all the skills and elements of baking and sugar crafting (since there is no time to teach a new teacher, with time taken up teaching the women and completing customer orders), someone who would be able to help Sarah with the admin and marketing, with management abilities and someone willing to accept a very low salary!
At the time our prayer request seemed like a tall order, since there are not many Thai Christians in Bangkok, many of the Thais that speak English well, generally choose to work with bigger companies that pay generous salaries. Baking and sugar crafting is still fairly new to Thailand, so to find someone with these skills was going to be hard and if they did have these skills they would probably either go to work for a top hotel or open their own business!
Well… Our God is the God of impossibilities! During July whilst we were still in the UK. A young Thai lady in her early 30’s, walked into the bakery to say that she had been living in the US for the last 15 years; she explained in excellent English that someone at her Church had told her about the work we were doing in the Freedom Bakery at NightLight. She explained that she is the only Christian in her family and has been a Christian for 6 years. She then went onto explain, she has just in the last 1-2 years made the transition from being an Accountant to training in bakery (patisserie) and sugar crafting skills and only just arrived back from the US in June to relocate to Thailand. Would we be able to use her in the bakery?…
Sarah received the information about her whilst in the the UK. Paul & Sarah begun praying about it and felt a sense of peace about it. We arranged to meet her when we got back to Thailand. After 2 lengthy interviews and happy to accept the very low salary that we could offer! The Freedom Bakery is please to introduce a new member of the team called Panita. She started on the 1st September and is already becoming a great asset in the bakery and administration. Having another Thai speaker especially a Thai national is a huge weight off Sarah’s shoulders and a great help. The women are also warming to her well.
In September the bakery successfully showcased their cakes at an an expat event. It was wonderful to see the women at the
event, interacting with the Thai visitors that were taking an interest in their spectacular cakes; with the women confidently answering their questions. This year has seen the women skills and abilities climb to a new level and as teachers we are having to assist much less. They are even now telling us how to do many of the techniques! Which is a great testimony to how God is working in the bakery.
On the 21st November, the bakery will welcome a new trainee, she will join the bakery as an apprentice. She has just recently left the sex industry and is determined to move forward with a new start. Please keep this in your prayers as we prepare to teach her, walk alongside and help her step into a transformed life
The Freedom Bakery has again this year, been nominated by Entrepreneur Now Asia in the Social Enterprise category. We have been invited to attend the award night which is due to take place on the 23rd November. Even if we don’t win an award, we know that the ladies have achieved so much and beyond.
NightLight Ladies Growing in Confidence
We had the wonderful privilege to witness recently one of the NightLight women *Niim play with the band at in the International Church we attend. The International Church has a congregation of more than 1000 people with about 50+ different nationalities (over 2 morning services). *Niim plays and leads worship at NightLight’s Church plant, which normally has a congregation of about 30! So a much lower numbers than she is used to. This was a first time experience for her playing in front of such a large number of people, but she approached it with such confidence and grace. God really used her. It made our hearts smile!
Give Thanks For:
Our time spent in the UK. It was a blessing to be with family, visit Churches we already knew and make links with new Churches.
The bakery women that coped so well on their own, whilst myself and Julie were away over the summer period.
- The women that have made the decision to leave the sex industry and come to work at NightLight.
The new Thai member of staff that God has provided for the bakery.
The Freedom Bakery successfully exhibited their work/cakes at a expat event.
The Freedom Bakery being nominated again this year, for the Entrepreneur Now Asia in the Social Enterprise category.
God giving *Niim the confidence to play in the International Church.
God’s continued guidance in the bakery. None of what has been achieved has been in our own strength. The honour and glory goes to God alone for what has been achieved so far.
Please Pray For:
The new women that have started at NightLight in the last few months. Pray that God will provide them with the strength and encouragement to move forward to step into freedom and transformation. For God to give us the abilities to walk alongside them and support them. For God to help us love them unconditionally especially when things get challenging or difficult.
The new trainee due to start in the bakery on the 21st November, pray against fear or doubt that may creep in for her and that we will be able to support and teach her to the best of our abilities.
Sarah, who has been having problems with her left foot and needs to have surgery. If all goes according to plan the surgery is due to happen on the 19th October. She will be away from work/bakery for 1 month to rest her foot. Pray for speedy healing and recovery.
Sarah’s Mum – please continue to keep her health in your prayers.
Then he said to me, “This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. – Zechariah 4:6
*Niim’s name has been changed to protect her identity.