From January to April Anne and I were the directors of a Discipleship Training School (DTS) out of Tampa Florida. We had 18 students. In April we split into different groups. I led the Frontier Missions group to northern Thailand, one team stayed to work in Florida, while my mother and brother led a Performing Arts group, touring Judah Ben Hur to New York, Los Angeles, and Malaysia, and then rejoining us in the South of Thailand. We all had an intense and fruitful time. In the end our DTS teams saw around (45+13=) 58 people accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
We arrived in Chiang Mai on April 13 – just getting here was an adventure!! You can read about that on Anne's Blog – The Infamous Journey. And we spent the next two months traveling from Northern Thailand to Southern Thailand.
Is it nap time yet?
Friends to Friends in Lampang
We started out in a little Thai village called Ban Kharm, in Lampang Province. Our hosts were Jumnong and Tdai Sorser, directors of the Friend to Friends Project. They provide under privileged village children with an opportunity for education, and also work in community development in the home villages of these children.
We stayed in the village for 3 weeks, teaching English at the local school, visiting Karen villages, prayer walking, gardening, building toilets and a stairway to a church. Most of the team slept on the floor and took cold showers and loved every minute of it.
Stairway to Heaven- Well, just to the church
While Sean helped the team with the English Camp and the other projects, Anne and the kids spent a lot of time walking through the village, visiting neighbours and praying for the people of the town to know Christ. You can read more about Ban Kharm here, here, and here. After we left, N’Tdai called to tell us that there were two new Christians in the Karen village of JokBok where we had ministered in the week before. Praise God.
Teaching English (Sean Translated)
Taa in Phitsanulok
Our next Destination was Phitsanulok. Sean drove the truck from Ban Kharm to Phitsanulok while the rest of us took the train. It's about a 5 hour journey. Our host here was N’Taa, an awesome Thai church planter who is faithfully serving God as a Team of One – he has been in Phitsanulok for 3 years, ploughing the ground and planting the seeds! Faithfully. N’Taa has an awesome vision to see the people of his city and region come to know Jesus, for churches to be planted, discipling and equipping new Christians for service, and to see them be sent out as missionaries. You can read more about his vision here.
Out team helping Taa's ministry
As we settled into our 10 day stay with N'Taa, we had to shift gears from a Village mentality to a City mentality. Prayer walking through his neighbourhood and city during the day, teaching English to a small group in the late afternoon, and then hanging out with the local skateboarding and breakdancing groups at night. The team learned lots of new moves as they spent time with these awesome young men and women!! One night, as the team was performing the drama that they had written and choreographed themselves, a young man started asking N’Taa questions about them meaning of the drama. A young woman also came to listen. By the time the night was over, both of them had given their hearts to Jesus, and N’Taa set up a bible study with them every Saturday. To read this from the perspective of one of our students click here and read "God At Work." This is the first fruits of N’Taa's new church!!
The Beginning of a Church
We ate regularly at the food court at the Makro near N’Taa's house, and a lady who served us food each day asked N’Gift (We have been very involved in N’Gift’s life for many years now and it was fun watching her step up as a leader), our translator, who we were and what we were doing. When she heard that we were Christians and were teaching English, she asked to come along. Soon, N’Taa's house was filled with the family and friends of the young men and women the team was ministering to!
We performed music, drama's and puppets
And again, after we left things really began to take off in the ministry. In early June, Sean visited N’Taa and learned how things had been progressing since we left. He now has 12 people coming to his Saturday Bible study, including his next door neighbour who gave her heart to Jesus after N’Taa prayed for her and she was healed! Several other people want to be baptized soon.
We ran kids clubs over 2 separate weekends
As we reflect on these events, we are humbled. We cannot take credit for these new Christians. It's all God's work. We obeyed His call to be Salt and Light in the world. We obeyed His call to GO and He did it! We rejoice that these baby Christians now have their names written in the Book of Life!
Then it was on to a little town called Khok Kloi in Phang Nga province. The team had a 17 hour bus ride, extended by a few hours due to the bus breaking down early on. But they enjoyed themselves. It's all part of the awesome outreach experience.
"The Forty" School
We worked 2 weeks with Phang Nga Church/Phang Nga Cornerstone Center and Ban Santisuk. where we happily rejoined the other half of our team. P'Yui and P'Peter were our hosts. They took good care of us, and gave us lots of work to do. More English Camps and school days for the team – at 3 different schools – Thai Muang School, Khok Kloi school and a School in a Burmese slum.
We went with the Burmese kids to the Beach
Our close friends Mark and Dorien run Ban Santisuk orphanage where we gardened, moved furniture, and played with the kids (Songs and puppet shows).
We also took the Burmese kids to the beach where we cleaned up all the trash on the beach. Sean had to leave early because a jellyfish stung Samantha.
The beach is more fun when you are with friends
A highlight of our time with PCC was the first day we visited the school at Thai Muang. It is made up of poor Thai children and Morgan Sea Gypsies. At the end of our program, we asked if any of the kids would like to give their hearts to Jesus. Forty – yes, 40!! - raised their hands. At this point P'Yui and N'Gift stepped in to explain in greater detail what this meant, the commitment these children were making. After being asked a third time if they were sure, all 40 of the children insisted they understood and wanted Christ as Lord of their lives.
40 New Believers
WOW!! What an awesome harvest! This school become very fondly known as 'The Forty' to our team, and we made sure we visited them again several times before we left.
Again, we are humbled to see what God is doing. We can't take credit for this. Others have been faithful to obey the call to plant the seeds in this school and community. Others have lovingly preached Christ to these kids. God simply gave us the awesome privilege of being there on the day the HE brought in the harvest!!
No, not the baptism, just a waterfight
7 of our students expressed a desire to be re-Baptised. Either they had only received an infant Baptism or else felt that when they were Baptised that it was not with a full understanding of the commitment. They approached my dad (Art Sanborn) and I and asked the two of us to Baptise them in the ocean. The waves were very strong and it was fun, exciting, and incredibly difficult for my dad who is a recovering quadrapelegic to Baptise them. I'll see if I can post the video of it to YouTube soon.
Seven Ocean Re-Baptisms
We wrapped up DTS outreach at a lovely beach resort in Khao Lak, Phang Nga Province. It was sobering to be here 6 years after the Tsunami. Nang Thong Beach Resort was wiped out by the Tsunami – only the pool remained - and the manager of the resort told us how she was severely injured and was in therapy for years. Many of her family and friends died in the disaster. Khao Lak was one of the hardest hit areas in Thailand. Several people told us their painful stories and others expressed their fear. We prayed that God would bring them peace and protect them. We saw a lot of relieved smiles.
These are my new friends
We debriefed the team individually and they sincerely expressed how much they loved the DTS, how much they matured, and how much they appreciated my wife’s and my leadership.
So, now we are back in Chiang Mai sorting things out after being away from home so long. For instance we had to repair a hole in the roof that was leaking onto our couch, and our truck needed some repairs after our long journey to the South.
Adventures in eating
Because of the international economic crisis, inflation has risen dramatically in Thailand. The average cost of living here was around $USD7 per day per person and now it is more than $15/day per person (This doesn’t even include our travel or medical needs). Our Thai friends are quite impressed at our frugal lifestyle. Meanwhile, our family has grown but our support has decreased due to the economic crisis in Western nations. To keep impacting the nation of Thailand we need to, at bare minimum, double our income. Please ask God if you are to be involved in supporting us with prayer or finances. Or let me know if I can design or host a website for you. Or let us know if you know of a church who would be interested in hearing about our vision for reaching Thailand with the gospel.
I don't know Jesus yet. Would you tell me about Him?
All around us people are struggling and the future looks bleak. Fortunately, this probably means that spiritual revival is right around the corner. Revival can not come when people are content and prosperous. America’s first 3 revivals came when they encountered financial difficulties. So we are preparing for the revival to come and we know that our security is in the Lord.
- We need help to afford basic medical insurance
- We need financial help to send our children to preschool
Thank you for all your love, prayers and support!
Sean and Anne Sanborn
YWAM Tampa Training Directors.