It seems a bit unreal that in just a few days we will land in and begin our next phase of ministry in Thailand. To say that we are excited about what the Lord has ahead for us would be a tremendous understatement! But, even during all the business of packing and preparing to leave, it is hard to forget and leave behind all that God allowed us to be a part of during our time of ministry in London.
Just the other day, I was on the phone with my great friend and co-laborer, Travis Snode. We had the privilege of working with him and his family during our time there, and on various projects before we even landed on the field. Travis and Teri were and are still our very good friends and taught us much about ministry, church planting, and life in general. We will miss them greatly!
One of the great advantages, one that we certainly won’t have in Thailand, is the lack of a major language barrier. This allowed us to begin work almost immediately in the local area on the southeast side of the city. We were able to hold Bible studies in the local community center twice a week, distribute thousands of John and Romans, gospel leaflets, and invite cards. This kept us very busy, along with other preaching opportunities in other churches, groups from the States, and trying to continue to meet people in the community. Tony, a young man that I was discipling, helped me in learning more about the culture as I helped him know more about the Scripture. He was a great help in those early days.
In the summer of last year we were able to start the Downham Baptist Church. The Snodes and our family spent a great deal of time in preparation for this, looking for a meeting place and getting the word out about the new church plant. Miraculously, the Lord provided a building for the church that we never would have been able to afford otherwise. It is owned by the London City Mission, and after several discussions with them, they allowed us to use the building at a fraction of the market value. As property prices continue to soar in London, this was a major blessing!
I can’t even begin to count the number of miles we all must have walked those first few months while trying to spread the word about the church plant. It was a ton of work, but we had an absolute blast! Today, the church continues to grow with its core group of believers and is seeing new visitors nearly every week. Just this past weekend, 14 volunteers came out for outreach, and the youth club is seeing growth as well. We are excited about the future of Downham Baptist as Travis and Teri continue to lead. I hope that you will continue to pray for them and the church that God will continue to bless as He has done already.
This is a very bittersweet time for us to leave our friends, church, and home, but as God closes one door and opens another, we are excited to take what we have learned during this first church plant and use it as we continue to plant churches, now among the Thai people.