Malones in Isaan Thailand - Working amongst the unreached of Isaan

Follow the adventures of the Malones in Thailand as we work with urban and rural peoples in the Isaan area in Thailand. We aim to share the Good News of Jesus with the Isaan and mobilise for 5 teams across Isaan. Previously, we were with the poor in Samut Prakan (part of Greater Bangkok). If you would like to work with us (short or long-term) please don't hesitate to contact us for more information.

30 September 2009

Is this a future Thai leader?

Every community has its leaders, whether by natural selection, by force, or by default. Even in a community of kids there are natural leaders who step up to the mark and lead their mates around. We see this with the kids we interact with in the communities we serve here in Thailand.

Let me introduce you to one of those ... his name is Jet and we think he is 8 years old. Many kids in our communities don't actually know how old they are because no one has told them when their birthday is. The number of kids we get to our kids' program on Thursdays and Saturdays can often depend entirely on how Jet feels that day. Let me share an example .... last Saturday, Jet said to me that he was not going to our Program of English teaching and games in the afternoon. And, so true to his word, he walked around telling others also not to go. His 'followers' promptly did what he said and didn't turn up. More on that later ....

Jet, like many kids we spend time with, is very needy without any male role model in his life. IF he is feeling OK he will grab hold of you and insist you give him all your attention and stops others receiving attention. Yet, on the other hand, he also takes a natural leadership position of organising the kids and trying to control them (whether they are older or younger) and many follow - out of respect or fear or wanting to be led, I really don't know why.

Mischievous Jet - but insisting on being up the front

Jet is very happy when he is in charge. But he is somewhat disruptive when he is being led.

Again, Jet making the 'statement' that he is the leader of 'the gang'

He doesn't go to school and spends his time either wandering around his slum community or playing and then is ready to boss others when they return home from the local school.

Jet refusing the challenge of a friend climbing to his 'height'

Most kids respect him and don't stand up to him, because he will be very forceful to get his own way.

Jet (on the right) trying to be cool, but he doesn't let his friends 'step out of line'

Anyway, back to last Saturday .... Jet finally decided (out of boredom, I think) that it was a good idea to join in with our kids' program at which time he stood with hands on his hip and yelled at the top of his voice for all the neighbourhood kids to come along as well. Those who didn't dare challenge his leadership prior to this time were now free to come and they all enjoyed our time together joining in with lots of fun games and activities. We had around 20 kids that day.

What do you think when I introduce you to Jet ? Possibilities can include ....
1. You may see his leadership qualities and the potential of a young man like this ?
2. You may think he is just a kid who misbehaves and wants his own way and should be disciplined ?
3. You may see that he is a kid with deep needs and deep wounds who has been rejected by potential adult role models who are too preoccupied by their own issues that stem from their extreme poverty ?
4. You may see that this child needs love and the care and leadership of Jesus in his life ?

I actually see the enormous leadership potential in Jet and want to provide care for him that eventually introduces him to my favourite leader - Jesus Christ. I have been encouraged by a friend in Australia to pray for Jet that one day he will become a servant leader of the emerging Thai church. Will you consider praying that with me?

My favourite leader is Jesus Christ because He showed how to lead people through servanthood. He never lords it over people but poured Himself out through His sacrificial death and continues to pour Himself out so His followers can be free. There is no better leader than Jesus - that is who we seek to serve and demonstrate to the communities in which we live.

Please pray that these natural leaders (like Jet) would choose the servanthood leadership of Jesus Christ and become natural servant leaders for their people in a way that revolutionises the Thai church.

22 September 2009

The Communities in whch we work - part 3 of 3

3rd in the series of communities in which we work, this blog features the neighbourhood in which we live. Our outreach activities in this community are concentrated on Fridays where we hold a club for kids and teenagers to learn English, and then teach English in our local government school.

The picture below shows a typical street in our neighbourhood. Vegetation grows quickly here in the hot humid climate and can typically overrun disused dwellings or vacant land.

Many locals in our community live in small high density dwellings - the picture below shows a poor housing block 1 minute walk from our place. By and large people will put whatever money they have into a vehicle (which is the status symbol in Thailand) and not into their dwelling.

Every Friday afternoon we open our house for kids and teenagers to come and learn English. The photo below shows a part of this group lining up for a game outside.

We normally get around 20 coming to join in games, songs and a Bible story - we use as many creative methods as possible to teach English while also sharing the Good News that is on our hearts.

Video - Jen sharing story about Jesus in our house

But before we hold this activity at our house, on Friday mornings we teach English at our local school. Last week we taught a Year 5/6 class of 55 kids. In the picture below Jen & I pose for a photo with some of the kids from lower grades. Many of these kids already know us as they live in Community No.1 which we featured in a blog a couple of weeks ago.
Please pray for this community in which we live that God would use us to be as light and salt to a people who have never heard of the Good News available to them from the Living God.

15 September 2009

The Communities in which we work - part 2 of 3

2nd in the series of communities in which we work, this blog features a larger slum community but with the same sorts of issues as the first one. Normally, we get into a 'songtaew' and travel for about 10 minutes to be there on 2 days per week.

In this community we teach adults on one day and then on another day we hold a program for kids and attend an adult cell church in the home of one of the believers.

Picture 1 - adults learn English at slum community no.2

At this stage, we are building relationships with these and other adults and use every opportunity to testify to the Hope and Restoration that we have through Jesus. In contrast to other English classes, we do not use God's Word in this class to teach English but just use a range of other materials. Each week God gives us greater insight into the needs of these people.

Then on another day we hold a program for kids and gather in a large central community meeting place, which we have done for about 3-4 months now. This has found favour with the Committee that runs the Community as well as the range of other adults who sit around to listen and observe our English class. Our Thai church has just begun to help us in this activity. Over the last few weeks we have slowly begun to introduce our Great God in many songs we do with the kids.

Picture 2 - some of the kids sit in groups to play 'animal bingo'

Picture 3 - Phil x 2 ... here, I piggyback one of our kids whose name is Phil

In contrast to other slum communities we have been exposed to, our kids program here is predominantly full of boys (normally in other places, we get to interact with more girls in a class). On an average day we will get anything from 15 to 25 boys attending and around 1-2 girls. The boys have the same heartbreaking issues as in other communities - no male role models and mostly looked after by grandparents because the parents have abandoned them. Their poverty stems from the fact that their carers are therefore too old to earn sufficient income to care for them .... and so the cycle of poverty continues for kids in this community. Their choices are limited in breaking out of this and we pray against and want to protect them from making damaging choices.

Picture 4 - our dear friend who cooks for us and provides us with drink in the hot humid climate

God has provided this lady to care for us when we serve in her community. While we teach adults and kids, she provides drink and food for us (paid by the local Government Committee that administer the Community). In her mind, she is serving us because we serve her community and she is 'earning merit' by helping people (us) who help others. We have, however, explained to her about the love of God that compels us to serve.

Lastly, in this community we take part in a small cell church of around 6 adults. The believers are mostly elderly women who have been in poverty all their lives and now have the care of their grandchildren as their priority. It breaks my heart to enter this small wooden house at the end of the path of other rundown shacks. We sit on the hard wooden floor, for around 2 hours, in the only room left in this lady's house where the electricity stills works. We sing praise to God, share testimony and read from the Word of God together. We celebrate God's Goodness to us and pray for sustenance to get through the next week and opportunities to testify about our mutual friend Jesus Christ.

Picture 5 - our cell church (picture 1 of 2) in this community

Picture 6 - our cell church (picture 2 of 2) in this community - elderly lady on left gets paid 100 baht ($3) per day to look after local kids

Interested to hear any comments you may have on this community ....

13 September 2009

New videos out

Hi all our readers,

I have uploaded 2 new videos of worship this morning. You can check them out by clicking on the 2 videos highest up in the YouTube bar on the right-hand-side of this page.... enjoy :-)

This week I will be posting the next blog featuring another community in which we work.

06 September 2009

The Communities in which we work - part 1 of 3

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be posting 3 blogs - one for each of the 3 communities in which we work in order to introduce these places to you (our readers). So, today is the first - a slum community 5 minutes walk from our home.

First, click on the video below, showing me mucking around with some of the kids from this community (if it doesn't work then click on the video on the YouTube bar on the right of this page) ....

We have been working in this community for close to 12 months now, being with them on 2 days per week to teach the kids English, play games with the kids and meet as a small church cell in the house of the only believer in the community. My heart melts when I am with these people - their needs are great and I know I cannot possibly meet these needs adequately. We attempt to be as Christ to them, loving them, caring for them and then loving them some more.

I invite you to scroll through some pictures before I continue describing some needs in this community (which comes after the pictures). As you scroll through the pictures, please keep the following in mind .....
Picture 1 - pray for these 4 little guys that they would be future leaders of the Thai church (their names are: Ny, Jet, Diaw, Bear) - they are all without male role models,

Pictures 2 & 3 - pray that in our mucking around they will continue to trust us and the advice we give them as they grow into adults,

Picture 4 - pray we will be as Christ to them, caring and loving them as we would our own.

The purpose of hanging in there with the kids is to give them an opportunity to hear about Jesus and to provide assistance to help them get out of the poverty cycle, which is so destructive. The male-role models they have are largely men who drink to excess and rely on getting high with drugs. These are behaviours you can understand when you see the cycle of hopelessness they are in. We are seeking in the future to reach out in love to these adults as well. God has provided some relationships with the adults already. Yet, it breaks my heart when the boys crave my attention and affection because they just don't get it anywhere else. This 'craving need', stemming from lack of attention, makes them highly vulnerable to all types of dangers from the wider urban community.

Now lastly, I present 2 more videos of our activities with the kids in our local slum community. Video 1 shows us playing 'animal bingo' (a creative way to teach English), while Video 2 shows Jen telling a Bible story in Thai. Hopefully, it gives you a taste of just some of the things that go on, although every week is very different presenting a new set of challenges. (Again, if clicking on the videos here doesn't work, then just click on them on the YouTube bar at the rightside of this page.) If you like this blog then please drop us a message after the videos below.

Playing 'Animal Bingo' to teach English vocab. ....

Jen telling a Bible Story in Thai, while I deal with another challenge...

02 September 2009

Back into Action

After an emotional and joyful time being a part of our daughter getting married in Chiang Rai, we had extended family with us for another week. Now, everyone is gone and we are back into action. God is good - He is building His groups of believers and nothing can stand against it.

I observe what God told David in I Chron.17 "You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in. I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up out of Egypt to this day". God tells me again to not look for my own solution in extending His Kingdom - my responsibility is to serve Him and see what He does in building His groups of believers. I am truly in the best possible place that God has for me at this time in my life - there is nothing better in life than to be serving God (who does the impossible) and to see Him blossoming through my dear children.

If you are reading this blog and unsure of your own relationship with God, please trust Him now before it is too late and more time is wasted. He has great plans for everyone, who trusts in His direction.

Please take some time to pray for these dear kids from the urban slums that we hang with, as well as the adults who have little hope.