It may be the start of a New Year and you may be eager to put the tree away and move on to the simplicity of life, but our thoughts are still on the happenings of the past few weeks and all that God has done.
In December, we approached a few local schools to see if we would be able to go into the schools to share about Christmas. We were met with an immediate yes from four schools, where a total of 850 students learn, and started preparations for our outreach. At the last minute, the public elementary school in our town where roughly 900 elementary school students learn, reached out to ask if we would still be available to come and share with their students and teachers. We responded with an immediate YES! This one school would double the number of students we would be able to reach with the gospel through sharing the story of Christmas, taking our number of people we could share with from 850 to 1,750 students, plus staff and teachers.
It was a joy to watch our church members, many of whom are new believers, embrace the idea of this outreach with joy and gusto. One of our “aunties,” Ba Nee, was a part of preparing the small gift bags almost every time we were working on them, and went to every school to help in any way she could. Watching her joy at being a part of sharing the good news of Jesus with these students filled us with joy as well.
We had so much fun going into the schools and leading the students in simple English songs, sharing the Christmas story and why Jesus came to earth, and playing games with them. The children had a great time as well. At some of the schools we went to, there has never been a pastor or missionary who came in to share the gospel or do activities like this. At the large public school, we were only able to share a brief presentation of the story of Christmas and not our entire presentation as the school had invited us to join with them in their own Christmas program. Even still, we were able to get a small gift of gospel booklets, a pencil, an eraser, and a snack in the hands of over 1700 students and teachers in just three action-filled days! Many indicated a desire to know more about following Jesus. Also, many of the school administrators said they would love to have us back to share with the students again. We plan to follow up with these schools and organize other outreaches with them. We hope to partner with Operation Christmas Child to plan more ongoing outreaches with schoolchildren. These outreaches really were just the beginning of what we believe the Lord will continue to do within the schools in our area. Thank you for partnering with us to bring the true meaning of Christmas to a part of the world where it is not known.
Out with the Old
If you missed our 2022 recap, be sure to check that out here as it highlights some of the major events of 2022.
In with the New
As we look forward to 2023 with anticipation and joy, here’s some of what we are excited about:
Small Groups! More than ever, we believe in the importance and need for discipleship. This year, we want to help root our new believers more firmly in the word, help them establish a life of prayer, and build them up in the community of God. We also long to see our church members, both old and new, equipped for ministry. One of our major strategies for doing so is through our small groups. We currently have small groups three nights of the week:
- Wednesdays – on our street with new believers
- Thursdays – in a nearby town with new believers and seekers
- Fridays – with Burmese new believers and seekers.
Life in the Holy Spirit! People, and especially Thai people, are by nature a spiritual people. Too often, however, we leave out the life in the Spirit as a key in our discipleship. This year, we want to really cultivate the spiritual life of our people and teach them the biblical way of life in the Spirit, which includes a life filled with prayer and encountering God. We want to open up the opportunity for our people to walk in the Spirit-filled and empowered life more and more while also providing them solid biblical guidelines to walk within.
Train up leaders! We are going to be sending four of our church members through a leadership development program via Zoom beginning later this month. We also continue to meet with church leaders weekly for discipleship and strategizing.
Baby Baldwin! Baby Baldwin is doing well and has a due date of April 29. Amy and baby are doing well. The kids continue to grow in their excitement for baby, who the doctors tell us is a little boy. Jedi is thrilled that he will have a little brother and Alizah is already starting to bring mommy gifts “for baby”.
Visiting the USA! We are also planning and preparing for us to take an extended trip to the US, most likely in the fall of 2023. Please be praying with us for wisdom on timing, for open doors, for provision for flights, and for all the logistics of our visit. We will share more with you about this as details become more clear.
Thank you so much for all the ways you have and continue to stand with us that the good news of God can go everywhere we do in Thailand.
Matt, Amy, Jedi, Alizah & Baby Baldwin