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Together in Spirit

March 2023 Newsletter


"I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.

I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.'

Revelation 3:8 [1]


To our support team, family and friends,


Greetings and a big hug from us. It is hot season in Thailand - our average daily temperature is about 98, feeling closer to 102 typically! We are doing well and happy to be writing to you again. We hope you enjoy the pictures and some highlights from the month of March.


Relationships

We continue to spend time with our team, Pi Thaksin and Pi Kwan and the friends we've made in the community. The furthest picture on the left is us with Pi Thaksin and Pi Kwan at an authentic Southern Thai lunch spot. Usually you choose an extra spicy curry and pair it with a non-spicy veggie stir fry over rice. And then sweet sticky rice with fresh coconut milk for dessert. YUM. The middle picture is us with the Bartel Family at our new friend's restaurant! We had green curry that evening which she made special for Ethan because she knew it was his favorite. The picture on the right is us in Krabi with Ethan's friend from basketball and his girlfriend. Last minute the team needed Ethan to play in a province away so we drove with Team and Pi'Goi there and back. It was some of the best time we've been able to spend with them. We're so thankful for their friendship and help with practicing Thai.



Trang Churches Conference

We had the opportunity to attend an all-churches conference for our province last week. Eleven churches were represented!! We thank God for this incredible time of coming alongside the Body of Christ, hearing their hearts and gleaning from the seminars of teaching. The focus of this gathering was to unify the church from different denominations under the Word of God with the goal of equipping the believers to answer questions that their congregations are facing. The majority of believers come from Buddhist backgrounds and now are on a journey to align their lives with the Kingdom of God, so you can imagine it is only understandable that many practical questions come up! Daily life in Thailand is intertwined with Buddhism. Funerals, weddings, and even work present seriously complicated situations for the new believer because all of these spheres of life often involve Buddhist practices. As a believer in Thailand, these are some questions you have to process through:


Can I go to my parent’s funeral where monks will be performing a ritual?


Can I have a second wife as a Christian?


What do I do when all of my coworkers are giving sacrifices

to the spirit-house before work begins?


I used to give alms to the monks each morning with my neighbors… What do I do now?


Many questions like these were addressed by the Thai Church leadership. It was a blessing to be there, ask questions and see the local church standing for Christ and His Word, giving direction as needed while maintaining respect for the culture and room for the new believer to be led by the Holy Spirit in areas where appropriate. All in all, we are encouraged and looking forward to serving alongside and championing this community. As we stood in the room, I was so stirred in my heart to recognize all the Lord has done in Trang to bring each individual there. We are expectant for all that He is going to do in the future, raising up bold and passionate followers that He has anointed to proclaim His name in this region and beyond. What a blessing to partner in unity with this family.



YWAM Southern Thailand Conference

Right after the Trang Church Conference all of our team headed a little over two hours south to Hat Yai for the YWAM Southern Thailand Conference. Over these three days we were able to meet all of our fellow YWAM staff who serve in the Southern Region of Thailand, hear about their ministries, and sit at the Father's feet in worship and intercession together. It's hard to express in words how beautiful and encouraging this time was for Ethan and I as well as our team. The theme was "Together in Spirit" and we feel this so summarizes the month of March for us. We are learning more and more and experiencing in such profound ways how God brings so much blessing when we partner for His namesake across denominational, organizational and geographical boundaries. Seeing and hearing the testimonies of all God has been doing in Southern Thailand just boosts our faith for what He has ahead. One of my major takeaways was witnessing the vulnerability, humble need for Jesus and radical faith in Him to sustain us as we follow Him. As one of our elders shared during the conference, "[W]e may feel weak, like we have little power, but God is asking us to not let that define us. He is asking us to walk in faith through the doors that He will open before us. Accept and believe in the Lord's promises!"



Conversations from March

"Your God is the Supreme God. I am glad that you know Him. You are lucky to follow Him. People in Thailand know all the gods of lesser power. They fear them and try to appease them and get so lost in ritual practices because they don't know about the Supreme God."


The reality of this conversation still sits in my mind unsolved, uncategorized. I can't file that conversation away neatly. I can't forget his words as he shared with Ethan and I. He was learning more about the Lord, was delivered from demonic oppression through prayer, yet has been dealing with serious spiritual warfare and finds himself confused and unsure of what is true and who to look to for answers. We trust God that He'll continue to draw him to Himself and reveal Himself as the truth. Yet for now, I find myself just thinking repeatedly on his candid and remarkably accurate words. He grasped that our God is all-powerful, "the Supreme God" as he put it. But he also recognized that Thais only know of lesser spiritual beings and have resorted to worshipping them as they simply do not know of the Supreme God. We continue to pray for him and are thankful to be here long-term, to be investing in long-term relationships and through that offering truth in these moments!


"Tonight I will go make merit. There is a Chinese festival that I love to go to. People will invite the spirits to possess them, they will pierce swords through their cheeks and run over fire and nails. It's very impressive to me, a miracle. Do you want to come? It's okay if you don't want to go, we have the same heart. We have good hearts. That is what matters."


One of my favorite things about Thailand is also something that makes ministering to Buddhists really difficult at times. There is such a deep-seated belief that by doing good things you can then earn merit. The majority of people are so welcoming, so kind, so generous with their time and possessions, yet often underneath is so much fear or even ulterior motives. Many testimonies of Buddhists who become believers talk about the freedom they gain in Christ to serve and love, not out of compulsion, but from a changed heart. Not only is merit made in the temple in Thailand, but all of life becomes a means to earn merit and gain a better future. Often the perspective is, "You are Christian, we are Buddhist, but we both have a good heart. That is what matters." We need the Spirit's leading and boldness in these moments to share that truly we can only love purely by His love.



Praise

  • The ability to go to these conferences.

  • Our church family and YWAM family

  • God's refreshment and encouragement to us

  • Progression in language (slow but it's happening!)

  • God's presence, leadership and steadfast faithfulness in our lives. He is worthy to be praised for this!!!

  • Many of you were praying for Ethan's Grandma. Her surgery went well and she is now recovering. Please continue to pray that there would be no infection and for her to regain her strength.

Petitions

  • Please pray for these names: Mike, Live, Golf, Tian, Boom, Team, P'Goi, P'Mook, P'Nok and her two children, P'Daranee & family, Kru Sue, Nueng, Bing Bing, Don and Gee, Jay and Chompoo, Pi Kwan.

  • Rest and rejuvenation in God in the next week as we reset from the business of these conferences

  • Language learning

  • Intimacy with the Lord and amongst our team


We pray this song encourages you as it has us.

We're singing it over our personal lives and as a prayer over Thailand and all the earth.

“Love can be a war - just to believe. It’s no small thing when you can’t see.

It’s dark where I am Darling, and I have to lean on Your heart and on Your arm.


Narrow is the road, and difficult to find. But we’ll be hand in hand at the finish line.

I will be your seal, the last name on your mind, on your heart and on your arm...


May the Lamb receive in me the reward for all His suffering." [2]


Thank You

Truly we ought to never stop thanking you for your generous partnership in furthering the Kingdom of God in Thailand. We recently discussed our value of sacrifice and how we can see it in the hearts of many of our supporters: "doing anything and everything needed for obedience to God and the spread of His global worship." The Lord sees and knows the largely unseen and unknown sacrifices of His people. Thank you.


Thank you for your many prayers, continual encouragement and support.

We love and miss you. <3

Ethan and Marie Parks



"Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord."

Song of Solomon 8:6 [3]

 

Bibliography


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Revelation 3:8.

[2] "15. Legends, Legacies and Last Words (Official Lyric Video) // BALLADS OF THE SONG OF SOLOMON," streamed on March 22, 2023, YouTube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vdNKOTP9RE

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Song of Solomon 8:6.


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pastormiketm
pastormiketm
Apr 03, 2023

Greetings from your Transform Family! We want you both to know how blessed we are to be partnered with you and to pray over you fervently that the Lords hand would guide you and protect you in all the work you are doing for His great name! We love you guys and talk about you often… you are present in our minds and hearts always! Keep pressing on….The Lord is with you!

- Pastor Mike :)

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We are blessed to be partnered with you!! Thank you for your prayers at the recent all-night gathering and all the support. So thankful for our Transform family. 🙏

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