This year I spent a week with the Barefoot Doctors in Chiang Mai. These are church workers and pastors from Myanmar who come over to learn medical training and also get a week of intensive Bible training. I was joined by two Americans, who also did some of the teaching.
I taught a Bible Overview based on Vaughan Robert’s God’s Big Picture. It was great to see how they had remembered the overview from last year: Creation, Fall, Redemption and Completion. This year we asked the questions: Who are God’s people? Where is God’s place? Who is living under his rule and knowing his blessing? The other two trainers focused on reading, interpreting and then teaching/preaching the Bible with a focus on how to interpret and teach/preach parables.
The workshops again were an excellent opportunity for us to see how well they were learning the skills of correctly reading and interpreting the Bible.
For the second week I was joined by Johnny MacLean, a Thai speaker, for the third year conference in the Karen village called Teemulay. Over 80 people attended the conference from 20 different churches. Some of those attending were the women who came to prepare the meals, whilst most of the men were leaders in the churches. Most have attended in previous years which meant that we are getting to know each other.
The teaching this year consisted of a Bible Overview focusing on the different ways we see Jesus in the Old Testament. This was the first time I had taught this material which Keith Ferdinando had prepared, and we were encouraged to be learning with them how Jesus is seen in the OT, and some of the false ways we might make that connection.
Reading and Interpreting the letters in the Bible with a view to them teaching/preaching them was taught by Johnny. The focus of the practical workshops was Paul’s letter to the Philippians. These workshops went very well with most of the groups clearly identifying the main point of the passage and then producing an outline as to how they would preach them.
Each evening we had a service at which Johnny and I took it in turns to preach from passages in Philippians. By the end of the training each pastor had 10 sermon outlines that would cover the letter to the Philippians which we encouraged them to use when they returned home. We also encouraged them to get into local preaching groups to continue to practice the skills they were learning.
By Simon Percy
Potential new location
During the middle weekend of Simon’s time in Thailand he travelled to the north of the country to a town called Fang which is not far from the border with Laos. For the past three years Suradet has been pastoring a Thai speaking church in that town. It was a joy to preach at his church and to meet the people there, who are a mixture of tribes people and Thais. Next year we are hoping to do a day of training for some of the pastors in that town and if that is successful to do a training conference in 2021.
Thank you for your prayers and for the interest you take in this work. Practically everything went very smoothly, and I stayed healthy throughout the trip. This was the 10th occasion I have visited Thailand and it was the best of them all. I can see the value of long-term missionary work especially in a culture like Thailand where the people are reserved and very respectful and were it takes time to build up trust and respect.
Simon’s conversation with one of the hosts in Thailand
‘Pastor, I want you to know that your teaching is very different to the teaching we receive from others.’
‘How is it different?’
‘Your teaching is based on the Bible. You are always taking us to the Bible and showing us how this is found in the Bible.’
‘Do you find that helpful?’
‘Yes, because we are learning how to read the Bible correctly looking for the ‘Main Point’ and how the Bible fits together and especially how the Old Testament is preparing us for Jesus.’
That was one of the conversations I had whilst in Thailand earlier this year with one of the hosts. Indeed, there were many other occasions when those attending the conference wanted to thank us for doing this training and to share the benefit that it has been to them.
One said, ‘We had a teacher come making many claims. He used the Bible, but we did what you said, we looked up the verses to see what he was saying in their context and when we did that, we could see how the verses didn’t say what he claimed.’
Another reminded me that in year one we had looked at Acts 6:4, how a pastor is called by God to pray and to preach. ‘Pastor since I heard that I have tried to do that, to pray for my people daily and to prepare my sermon. I am very thankful to God for this training.’
Another who is a church planter said, ‘Your teaching always encourages me to have confidence in the gospel.’
As you can imagine I returned home very encouraged because of these unsolicited comments.