The Newly Planted Mai Ya Church is Thriving
Sherri and I and Christine Villa, the new missionary at Blessing Home, had the privilege of spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Pastors Jerron and On of Mai Ya church, a church that was planted just a few months ago (August 2011). Pastors Jerron and On are veteran church pioneers, having planted a church with us at Bowin which is now thriving and self-supporting. Now they have planted a second church in Mai Ya, Pastor Jerron's hometown. Previously, Mai Ya sub-district had no church of any type, until now.
This is the goal of the Pioneering Pastors Program (PPP) of the Thailand Methodist Mission. We plant churches in unreached sub-districts (counties), ones which have no church of any type. 78% of sub-districts in Thailand are unreached, so if the Thai people are to be reached for Christ, we expand the Kingdom of God by planting churches where there never has been one before in history.
It is very important that these new churches become self-sufficient, because a self-sufficient church is a permanent ministry. A church that is self-sufficient will be thriving generations after Sherri and I have passed on. The way we help to make churches self-sufficient is by helping the pastors and members to start businesses that can support them. At Mai Ya, the Thailand Methodist Mission gave funds to Pastor Jerron to open a barber shop to help him support his family (this was his trade before he went to Bible college). He used the funds to build a room for the barber shop at the front of the house he is using, and to buy equipment. The apostle Paul made tents to support his ministry, and the pioneering pastors follow his example.
While we were in Mai Ya, Pastor Jerron drove us around to visit some of his new members at their homes and farms. Since Pastors Jerron and On planted the Mai Ya church in August 2011, the church has grown from 8 people to 24 people. They are doing a great job of visiting people and building relationships. One of the new families are farmers, and we enjoyed watching Pastor Jerron visit with them. The men were working on the water pump, which was broken. Pastor Jerron rolled up his sleeves and jumped in there with them. Pioneering a new church is hard work and it takes building relationships with all in the village.
Pastors Jerron and On are wonderful relationship bridge builders, with other churches and with the community as well. Pastor Jerron has quickly become of the leaders in the community of Mai Ya, and is now president of the board for the local community pre-school and Kindergarten. He has been helping the school to get resources needed for teaching the children and his efforts have been appreciated. Because they have nurtured the relationships with those in the community, Pastors Jerron and On and the members of Mai Ya church were invited to put on a Christmas program for the school. In a Buddhist county, this is highly unusual, but we have seen the Lord do miracles over and over again.
The newly formed church needed help putting on the program, so they asked for help from the Pha Ngam Presbyterian church. This is the same church that came and prayed with us in July, as we had meetings for preparing to start Mai Ya church. The members of Pha Ngam Presbyterian church have been fully supportive of the new church plant, because they had been praying for many years for a church to start there, and now God has answered their prayers. Pha Ngam Presbyterian church sent a full team of teens and adults to put the Christmas program on at the Community School. They worked together with Pastor Jerron and the school officials, to put on music, gift giving, and dances by the students of the Community School and also the church. It is wonderful seeing the community open their hearts to the new church, and we hope soon many more will open their hearts to Jesus Christ.
On Christmas morning, we celebrated the birth of Christ at the Mai Ya church. We had games and gift giving following the morning service. One of the games which is popular is "Hot Potato". The "hot potato" is a bottle of powder, that gets passed around while the guitar plays. When the music stops, whoever has the bottle of powder must put powder on their faces and on their heads. Well, this was one of the games we played on Christmas morning, and there are two things I know will happen. First, the pastor will never stop the music while Sherri has the powder. Second, the pastor will ALWAYS stop the music while Mike has the powder! ALWAYS! It doesn't matter who the pastor is and where it is, Mike always has to dump powder on himself. Why does Mike always get it and Sherri never does?
We wish you a Blessed New Year!
Posted by Missionaries to Thailand, serving with the Thailand Methodist Mission (TMM)
Mike and Sherri Morrissey