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.

12 December 2011

A Season of Blessing

As the window draws closer to a close on 2011, I reflect on a challenging year while I enjoy a season of blessing at this time.

The year began with our return to Thailand for our 2nd term of service, after a wonderful furlough time in Australia. On the flight over as I listened to God, He said to me we would experience change, challenges and new things in this term. That has certainly being the case!

February to April - 'settling back in and new fruit'
After working 'flat out like a lizard drinking' to get paperwork in for our new work permit, visa and Samut Prakan branch office of our Foundation, God directed us back to live in the same neighbourhood which we had left 6 months beforehand. We praised God to see that the new believers (in our local slum community) from earlier last year were still following Jesus and growing. We marveled at the Grace of God in then bringing more people to follow Jesus , together with His abundant provision for our needs.

Picture - praising God with a New Believer

May to August - 'hitting a wall'
I 'hit a wall' with the contraction of Dengue Fever in early May, which put me out of the action for at least one month. As I lay everyday in my bed, too exhausted to even walk down the stairs I reflected on the Grace and Sovereignty of God for me - that this ministry is not about what I do, but it is about HOW God works in His timing and for His Glory. As I cried for release from the intense back and stomach pains and begged God to take me either back to Australia or to Heaven, His quiet still voice spoke and reminded me why He had called me here to Thailand. I remained depressed, however, for a few months.

Picture - praying no matter the circumstances

Work in our larger slum community also 'hit a wall' and we even toyed with the idea of throwing the work in this community away. I was tired and depressed, not only from Dengue Fever but from the heat and humidity and the fresh new discouragements in the ministry. After complaining to God He challenged me to 'run with the horses' in much the same way as He challenged Jeremiah in Jeremiah 12:5. God then showed me to persist by still providing encouragement for us in the fruit from our local slum community (different community from the larger discouraging community mentioned above). He also used an overseas friend on Facebook (whom I have never met face to face to encourage me with these words "I know you long to be full speed. I also know Isaiah 40:31 is woven tightly into the fabric of your soul" .... God was calling me to rest and retreat more in Him.

Picture - labour of love: building a new house for a Believer in the larger slum community after it was eaten by termites

September to mid October - 'consolidation and new direction'
I began to feel the worst of Dengue was now behind me. God took me into a retreat period when I spent a few weeks seeking His Face on future direction in my life and ministry - first at a leadership training retreat and then on a personal retreat in the lead-up to my 50th birthday. During this time I also completed my autobiography "Saved from the Fowler's Snare", which I am praying about releasing next year.

God produced more fruit in the ministry and started to consolidate the house church plant in our local slum community to provide encouragement for our souls.

Picture - community of new believers in our local slum community

late October to now - 'a season of blessing'
God poured His blessing out by gifting me with my first grandchild (a son to Karis and Noom) - 6 days before my 50th birthday! This fulfilled a promise God gave me at the age of 18 years old, that I would be a grandparent before I reached 50 years.

Picture - Getting to know my grandson

God also spoke clearly into the ministry with a new direction of discipling and training the emerging group of new Thai believers with our vision to reach all Slum Communities in Samut Prakan with the Good News. Again, we saw more new fruit as God brought people to Himself. Despite the immense challenges training new leaders was presenting, God began clearly leading in this way!

Picture - flooded market behind our house BEFORE the Great Flood of 2011

Despite the horrific damage caused by the Great Flood of 2011, God used this occasion to bless the Thai church by giving them an opportunity to be the 'hands and feet of Jesus'. We were very blessed by the generosity from friends back in Australia to our Flood Relief Fund.

One of the greatest blessings of all was the opportunity God has now given for Jen and I to have all our kids in the same country for 2 and a half weeks. Tim arrives today (12 December). We have been blessed thoroughly to have Matt with us since early November. We then plan to travel with our sons to Ubon to be with Karis and Noom and our grandson (Eliyah Sartugan), as we share the first family Christmas together for 3 years.

The New Year 2012 - ?
We don't know what God will do next year or where He will take us in His Sovereignty (Psalm 115:3). We are prepared for a ride, however, along this journey of life and ministry that He has for us. Whatever that is, He is by our side encouraging, building and taking us to new heights as we echo the words of the prophet in Habakkuk 3:19 "the Sovereign Lord is my Strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights" :-)

Picture - end of one season, beginning of next

Bless you all for a merry Christmas and happy New Year :-)

12 November 2011

Pray for Thailand

Most of you would be aware that Thailand has been coping one of its worst natural disasters over the last month or two - as massive amounts of floodwater flow through the country from the north to the mouth of the Chao Phraya River. On its way south the floodwaters have caused over 500 deaths, destroyed innumerable amounts of infrastruture (including many industrial parks and highways) and led to homelessness for millions of people. It has also wiped out a quarter of Thailand's rice crop - Thailand is the world's largest exporter of rice. Much of the floodwaters have now escaped to the ocean, but there is still more water to work its way through Bangkok, which remains under 1 metre or so of water in many parts.

Our province - Samut Prakan - has largely been spared damage from these floodwaters, although parts of our province are now becoming flooded. Samut Prakan is the last province the flood passes through before spilling into the ocean. We are immediately south of Bangkok and at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River. That is to our advantage - at least the floodwaters had somewhere to escape (i.e. into the ocean).

Below are some images of the flood in Thailand. I stress that none of these pictures are my own, I have merely taken some off the Internet. After viewing the pictures, could you please note the prayer points at the end of this blog and take a few moments to PRAY for THAILAND!

Many people have evacuated their homes across the country

Not even Big Mac survives the flood :-)

Floodwaters in some towns have been neck-deep for at least a month

It's sad what people cling to in a crisis - this person clings to 120 baht (around AUD4)

Prayer for Thailand
  • that believers would continue to be 'His Hands and Feet' to the vast numbers of people in need;
  • that people would see help coming from Christians as coming from the the Living God, the Only One who can help them in their time of desperate need;
  • as floodwaters gradually abate that water-borne diseases would be controlled (note: there are already reports of people in the Central Plains suffering from water borne diseases).
Thank you for praying for Thailand. Many of those suffering are very poor. Therefore in partnership with our church we now have a flood relief fund. 100 percent of monies given go directly to providing help for flood victims. If you are interested in giving to our flood relief fund, please contact me at email:

02 November 2011

Quilts by Jemuay

One of the gifts we gave our new grandson was a set of baby quilts made by our friend Jemuay, who is known to most of the visitors we've had over the last 3 years as she lives in the slum community near our home.

Jemuay is hoping to be able to make these quilts to order, using her wonderful sewing/patchwork skills, in order to earn an income. She will make the size, colour, and pattern according to order, including adult sizes, and can leave an opening to insert a doona if required. They are made completely by hand, these ones mostly sewn in the motorcycle taxi stand near her home while she was helping her sister-in-law sell snacks to passers-by, as seen in the photo here, with Jemuay on the right, next to her sister-in-law, and the motorcycle taxi stand behind them. This baby quilt size will sell for 1000 baht (about $30) plus postage. If interested in ordering a quilt and helping one family living in poverty, please contact me at

14 July 2011

Good news story

By God's Grace we have been interacting with people and working in our local slum community for around 3 years now. Our approach has been very simple ....
- pray ... into strongholds and for new openings,
- serve ... the community according to their needs,
- build ... relationships through whatever means God opens and provides,
- search ... out 'a person of peace' (c.f. Luke 10:1-9),
- pray & prayer-walk ... regularly through the community,
- pray ... again and again,
- wait on God ... for opportunities to share about His Grace while praying again,
- wait on God ... to bring people into a believing faith of Him while praying again,
- celebrate ... new birth and encourage new believers,
- meet ... with new believers regularly, with emphasis on getting them into the Word of God and praying with believing prayer,
- build ... a new church around the original 'person of peace',
- seek God ... to build a vision of outreach into new communities and pray together for these communities to start the process over again.

With praise to God we celebrated 5 new believers in this community last week. :-) Our small fellowship has grown by 50% overnight. It is by God's Grace that these new believers will remain faithful over the years. I don't know the outcome of that at this stage. Other new believers in our other slum community, a further distance from where we live, have struggled. BUT, the new believers in our local slum community who met Jesus around 18 months ago are going strong and loving new discoveries in the Word of God.

Jen & I with 3 of the new believers of 18 months ago and 2 of the original members of this church plant

It is beyond my human comprehension how God begins to transform a community that once had no hope. Ephesians 3:20,21 reminds me that nothing happens in my human comprehension anyway. It is an awesome privilege to serve the Living God and be a part of what HE is doing. In our 4 years here there have been huge setbacks and unbearable periods of pain (physically, emotionally and spiritually). But it is all worth it when a community begins a process of transformation before your very eyes!! It is all worth it when the God of the universe decides to involve the worst of sinners (i.e. me) in His plans!! There is very little else that brings such tears and weeping to my heart and eyes.

02 June 2011

Community of hope? not at the moment

As I lay sick in bed from dengue fever during May and then unable to move because of back problems, God brought to mind one of our communities to pray for regularly. When I had the strength to pray, I wrestled with God over the plight of our larger slum community - a community in which we have worked for around 2 years now. Yet there remains little visible fruit from the hard sweaty labour. Unlike our local slum community (which is the smaller of the 2 communities in which we work) where the fruit has been good, we are struggling in the larger slum community to plant a strong community church with faithful people. We do have a small church there but it is struggling because of the veil over the community of no hope. God spoke directly to me, as I lay on my bed listening to Him, about the reasons for this - which is really the subject of another blog .... watch this space ! :-)

But in the meantime, God has provided for us to open a Ministry Resource Centre in this larger community - thanks to a generous one-off donation a few years ago from St James Menangle in Sydney ( ). We have named this Centre the House of Hope. It is placed in the middle of this large community that has no hope. Daily, in this community, we are faced with heartache and pain that would rip open even the hardest of hearts. It is a smelly, sweaty place that some residents desire to get out of ..... and some do if they are lucky enough to find a job and get some money. I have posted 2 videos below of the opening of our Ministry Resource Centre last Saturday - please check them out, but then please read on AFTER the videos as I share an opportunity in this community which God is urging us to jump at !!! ....

I wrote above that this Community has no hope. There are lots of reasons for this which stem from a spiritual stronghold over the place of drugs, alcohol, bitterness, jealousy and hatred. BUT the community is also bracing itself for the ultimate building of the Skytrain which will put a station right outside this place. The community of around 5,000 people is owned by one person who rents the swamp to poor people who build wobbly structures on it. This one person is now likely to sell his swamp in 2-3 years to developers to build condominiums for richer people to live next to the new Skytrain station. Residents will then be thrust out to other swamps/communities they can find to build makeshift dwellings. Many have lived here for over 30 years, so the breakdown in community that will occur is horrendous. BUT .....

God is in control and I believe this is a unique OPPORTUNITY to disciple new believers before they are ultimately thrust out to new locations. Could this be a strategy to reach the unreached communities in our city?, bearing in mind we have only impacted 3-4 of the 30 slum communities at this stage. Please pray for God to open hearts and bring down strongholds of hopelessness in this community and grow this opportunity to disciple people BEFORE they are thrust out in order to reach all communities. Will you take up this challenge with us and pray?

06 May 2011

It only takes one Sovereign touch

I felt compelled to write this blog while recovering from Dengue Fever - a debilitating fever that requires rest for as long as it takes to recover. I'm only up to one week's rest so far, only God knows how long He wants me to rest. I never get bitten by mosquitoes, while Jen always gets lots of bites. But the one Sovereign bite I got must have been by a Dengue mosquito.

This reminds me of the Sovereign touch from the Spirit of God ... it only takes one powerful touch and then someone is infected by the Almighty Living God. We have seen that one powerful Sovereign touch in lives already. Have a look at the photo below and then I'll talk you through only a few stories of the touch from God ....

This was taken last week as we led some members of our small community church in Klong Da Nu slum community through a game putting together events from the Bible into chronological order. The 2 guys on the right (squatting) are Bom and Lung Bratheung (Bom's father). Lung Bratheung was touched from God around 13 months ago and is developing as a leader in this new church plant. His son Bom and some of his household have since been touched from God and also are now believers. The guy on the left in the white singlet is Lung Tui. Every week for almost 2 years I visited Lung Tui's little shack to collect his grandson who he cares for and bring him to the kids activities we were holding in a different part of the community only 2 minutes walk away. Lung Tui was always happy for his grandson to go with us because he liked us. Lung Tui was also touched by the Sovereign hand of God and has since decided to follow Jesus. Lung Tui has a hunger to 'eat God's Word'. Every week he has questions and is desiring to learn ... he loved this game because he wants to know how everything in the Bible fits together.

I was pondering on this during one of my many rests in bed this week. Let me introduce to another who had one Sovereign touch from God. He is in the picture below.

This is Pedro - a young Thai man who has been discipled by Noom (our son-in-law) and our daughter Karis as he lives with them in Ubon Ratchathani. Pedro is pictured here leading worship for us in the same slum community last week. God has sovereignly provided Pedro for us and brought him to live with Jen & I for the next 3 months to help us in the ministry. All this at a time when I need to rest and recover from my sickness. To have someone on our team who obviously knows the language and culture (especially at this time when God sovereignly knew I would not be able to do much) is an amazing Sovereign touch from God!

Please pray with us for more Sovereign touches from God.

15 April 2011

Yaa Peung!!

What do you do when you see people in need all around you, you have the means to help some of them but you don’t want to breed dependence?

What do you do when you want to help someone financially to get a better start but you know any income will be taken by her psychotic demon-possessed husband so he can visit the temple yet again and pay the monks to drive out the demon, yet again?

What do you do when your friend, the sister of that man, has lost all her hard earned savings to him and lives in fear of him to the point that she has lost heart in her walk with God?

What do you do when you want to help a friend rebuild their home that is falling down around them but when a jealous neighbour sees the house being rebuilt they tell the land owner and suggest he ups the rent on the land, causing your frightened friend to put a halt to the work before it has been made liveable?

What do you do when heaps of neighbours are asking you to give their kids private English lessons when it’s not really the focus of your ministry?

‘Yaa Peung’ is a term in Thai that means ‘just a sec’, ‘not just yet’, ‘wait a bit’. This, God has been teaching me, is to be my first response in such situations, followed of course by prayer.

I am the type of person who, when I see people living in great difficulty, wants to step in and help as much as I can to make their life better. This sounds very noble but I have actually been learning lately that it stems from unbelief! It often seems that God is so slow to answer prayers and sometimes I just can’t see Him helping, so I feel I have to take over His job and do it right, if it’s within my power to do so, as if I know better than God! Why is God always so slow to bring about His purposes?

As I was chatting with God about this the other morning, He reminded me of Joseph languishing in prison through no fault of his own. I’m sure if I was there and had any power whatsoever I would have done all I could to get him out of prison. After all God, what are you doing letting an innocent man suffer in prison for so long? But then Joseph wouldn’t have been there to interpret the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker. The cupbearer wouldn’t have mentioned Joseph when Pharaoh had his dreams. No one would have saved up food for the famine during the years of plenty. And Joseph’s family, the beginnings of the Israelite nation through whom God was going to bless all the nations, would have died. Or God would have brought all things together for good as He does, and would have made sure that I learnt my lesson.

Then there was Moses who, on seeing the suffering of his people, killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew and consequently had to flee to Midian where he lived out the next 40 years of his life until God finally called him to save His people at the age of 80! When he tried to help in his own way and his own time, it didn’t help at all. But another 40 years of suffering for the people God?! Why does God allow such suffering to go on for so long?

And what about impetuous Peter, cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant in an effort to save Jesus from being arrested? Maybe it’s a good thing he then denied Jesus and didn’t hang around to see the crucifixion or he might have tried to rescue Jesus from the suffering He was destined to go through for our salvation.

I’m so thankful than even when we make mistakes, even when we stuff things up through our sinfulness, our unbelief, our impetuousness, God still promises to bring all things together for good, for His glory. And in the process He teaches us some good lessons.

I’m so thankful that even though I stepped in ahead of God’s timing in my eagerness for someone to have a home that would keep them dry in the coming wet season, God enabled the job to finish well in the end. All this despite the horrible fear that we’d destroyed two years of work in that community in one day when it looked like the budget would blow out above what we had set aside, and leave us with not enough to pay the workers in the community.

I’m so thankful that God promises to guide us and to give us His wisdom, and that so long as I am focussing on Him and not my own petty needs and fears, so long as I am seeking His will and not jumping in to do things according to my own puny wisdom, I can trust that He will help me to make the right decisions about what to do in all those situations above and in any others that come my way. After all, God has placed me here to be His instrument, to join in what He is doing. It’s not as if I’m asking Him to help me and join in what I’m doing!

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Cor 2 1-5)

28 March 2011

Escaping the poverty trap

Over the last two years we have been praying about helping those living in poverty to begin a new occupation that will provide sustainable income. We've been asking God to lead us to the right people who He has prepared and have been waiting for His guidance.

At the same time, over the last two years, Khun Jaa has had a dream to help her community by learning a new trade. She hopes this will provide a sustainable income to support her family and enable her to give more money to help her community church. Many of you have visited or read about or financially helped this slum community church led by a blind pastor, Ajarn Charlie. Besides supporting her family and church, Khun Jaa also has a burden to teach others in her community so they too can have an income to support their families.

On a recent visit to Ajarn Charlie's church we were chatting with Khun Jaa on the way out. She happened to mention her dream to us and asked that we would pray for her, that God would provide the money needed to make her dream a reality. As we listened more to Khun Jaa's desire to help her community and church, and as we talked to God about her we were excited to realise that God had brought us together. God had placed us there in order to play a small part in bringing about His plan for Khun Jaa and her community.

This is a photo of Khun Jaa with the items she was able to buy with the funds provided by our Foundation and some of the flowers she has learnt to make to sell at the market. There are already many others who are keen to learn when Khun Jaa opens a class at the church and passes on to others what she has learnt.

May God use this enterprise to help many escape the trap of poverty, to help grow this small church and to bring glory to His Name.

14 March 2011

One Family's Story

In one of the communities we spend time in there is a young lady called Nong Wan, about 13 years old, who comes to hang around with me at every opportunity. She loves to play card games with me and just sit and chat, but most of all she loves to read all the Thai books we have about Jesus. She has been going to our local Thai church ever since she started to receive sponsorship from a Christian foundation to go to school, so she already has a beautiful relationship with Jesus. Last Thursday when we arrived to spend the day in the community, Nong Wan spent her own 5 baht (about 16 cents) to buy me a bottle of water and was then sharing with me her dream of becoming a doctor. I of course encouraged her to keep going for that dream and God will help her to reach it.

Later that day as Phil went to buy some lunch for us, I had the opportunity to go to Wan's home with her grandmother, who has the care of both Wan and her 2 year old brother since their mother abandoned them. As I gently asked questions to determine why Wan sometimes had to miss school she explained that she earned money to live on by selling goods that she buys cheap from a market in Bangkok and that she needs Wan to mind the little one while she goes out to sell them as she can't take him with her. She went on to explain that she used to be a housemaid but can't do that anymore since she has to care for her grandchildren, and that at times she doesn't even have enough money to buy the cheap goods in order to sell them, and is reduced to begging. She was crying by this stage. As I looked at her home around me, the mud we had walked through to get there, the gaping space where the roof was missing (remembering rainy season is on its way), the bits of tin and wood that looked like they'd fall down any minute, and remembered Wan's dream to become a doctor, and the money she had spent on me that morning, I too began to cry, and to desperately ask God for wisdom to know how best to help this family.

For starters, I rang Phil and told him to get two extra lunches. (The photo above is of them eating lunch in our rented space.)

Secondly, we are able to use donated money set aside for situations like this to help improve their house and make it safe to live in, with the help of people from our local church and also from within the community, giving us an opportunity to provide some work for unemployed men.

Thirdly, we'd like to encourage, enable and empower Wan's grandmother to do some kind of handiwork that she can do in her home or in the community without having to take Wan out of school to care for the little one.

And finally, as the donations already given are gradually used up in helping families like this, we'd ask people to consider donating more to our Foundation so that we can continue to make a difference in people's lives by being God's hands and feet. This can be done by contacting Suzanne North or Glenda Allred at Pioneers of Australia on 1800 787889 or by donating online at and specifying the gift is for "Phil & Jenny Malone Special Project - Foundation for the Urban Poor" (The online giving is only new and we haven't seen it work yet so please let us know if you donate online so we can follow it up if necessary.)

09 February 2011

House Hunting - A Cultural Lesson in this Oral Society

Who needs a real estate agent when you have friends, old nieghbours, acquaintances, and even strangers to show you around? We've been blown away by the kindness and generosity of the Thais around us as they've helped us in our search for a home to live in for this next stage of our journey. All we have to do is mention that we're looking for a house to rent and they're already offering to help us, whether it's our closest friend walking around the streets with us, an old neighbour taking me on the back of her motorbike, the father of one of the boys in the slum where we taught English riding around on his motobike with us sitting in his little Thai-style side-car, or the assistant pastor at our Thai church taking us around his old car.

Everything happens by 'word of mouth' so they'll take us to where they've heard of something available, and ask people on the street, who then will often join the search with us and take us on to another location. In one slum community a man with a bottle of whiskey in his pocket heard of our search and led us down a path to a house he knew of. In another, a street vendor drew a map for us and called ahead to his fellow coffee vendor to take us to see a landlord he knew of. In our old neighbourhood the mother of one of our previous English students who would have loved to have us rent her place that wouldn't be ready for another two months, instead took us to another neighbour who has a townhouse for rent. This one we are hoping will be the end of our search, funnily enough in the same street as last time.

We had been praying about living in one of the slum communities alongside the people we are working with and knew of several homes there that would be suitable for us to live in, but as none are available to rent at this time, it seems that God has other plans, perhaps because our vision is to reach into many communities not just one. We only pray that we'll still be able to share not only the Gospel, but our very lives with the poor in the communities around us. (1 Thess 2:8) Even though they may be poor materially, they are certainly very generous in giving of their time and the resources they do have. We have much to learn from them.

17 January 2011

The plan from here

The central business district of our city

In a few weeks, God willing, we'll be back in Samut Prakan after spending around 7 months in Australia. For the first 2 weeks we are staying at a friend's condo while we look for suitable accommodation in Samut Prakan in the same district we were living last year.

Communication will be a challenge for the entire month of February (and maybe into March) as we'll be restricted only to Internet cafes until we find a place to live and then get Internet connected there ..... so only email ... no blogs ... no VOIP phone ... no Skype!

Please pray for us in February that God will provide a suitable place in or near to our local slum community. We start by praying and walking the streets (that we know so well after living there from 2008 to 2010) and asking people and looking for lease signs. No real estate agents in our 'neck of the woods' !!

Some typical housing in our district

Please pray for us in March that God will provide a smooth process for our visa. We enter the country on a 90-day visa, but then need to convert it to our annual work permit associated with our new Foundation. If this is is not processed within 90 days of our entry (around 1 May) we will have leave the country and re-apply in Singapore for another 90 days. The work permit can only be applied for in-country.

Please pray for us in February to April that we will adjust to the oppressively hot weather (not uncommon for it to be 40+ degrees by April with high humidity - it's the build-up to the wet season). Also please pray in February to April that we adjust quickly back to ministry to the urban poor, that we give our very lives (".... we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but our very lives as well ..." I Thess. 2:8) as we build relationships and plant new fellowships that glorify God.

Also in February to April we have a few visitors who are 'checking out the work' in Samut Prakan with a view to where they may serve in the future. Please pray for clear direction for us and them.

Well .... that's the plan from here. But we are always mindful of the fact that "in his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps" (Prov. 16:9). Bless you our readers, friends and prayer partners that you would continue to feel a vital part of bringing in the harvest of the unreached urban poor.