Child: Luke Thomas
Child: Joel Thomas
Child: Andrew Thomas
Mission Field: Ukraine
Home Church: Faith Baptist Church
Our Missionary for 7 years
Dear Praying Friends,
We have just completed our latest session of the Lao Bible Institute. Our theme was “Personal Evangelism,” which focused on both the mandate, and biblical methods of reaching souls. In Laos the population is considered 76% unreached with the gospel. This means that 3 out of 4 Laotians will live their entire lives with no potential to hear the gospel. This number cannot be changed without a commitment to pay the cost. A number, if not all of our students during the session, devoted themselves to proclaiming the hope of the gospel, no matter the consequence. In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic this could mean prison, torture or even death! Laos still rates as one of the top most persecuted nations in the world for Christians. As recently as October a pastor was tortured and killed in southern Laos for his faith. Some in Laos believe that Christianity is “a foreign religion and a tool used by the West to undermine the Communist Laotian regime.”
Since the conclusion of our recent session, we’ve learned that one of our students has already led 3 souls to Christ. Praise the Lord! But we know this, that as we arise to proclaim the gospel, Satan ascends to withstand it. We are thankful for men willing to pay the ultimate price, to see the gospel preached to “all” Laotian peoples. If you lived in a Lao village under the bondage of Satan and sin, where Animistic spiritism or Buddhism were all you knew, would you want someone to come, bringing you the liberating message of Christ? Would you also desire someone praying for you, that your eyes which had been blinded by the “god of this world,” would be opened to the truth? If our men are willing to risk their lives to take the light of Christ deeper into the darkness of Laos, are you willing co-labor with them in prayer?
Answered Prayer! After 6 months we have finally received the legal deed for our property in central Vientiane. The property has already doubled in value since our purchase. We can now begin building a facility which will house a local church, a pastor and his family, and give LBI a home to continue training God’s servants. We are already looking forward to our next session of LBI in late July with the hope of seeing the foundation laid for the building. We also anticipate hearing reports from our students of the gospel going out and of souls being reached, helped along the way through your necessary prayers.
Yours for the glory of Christ in Laos,
December 26, 2022 Dear Praying friend,
It is hard to believe that 2022 is ending, and that the war in Ukraine is now 10 months old. By the grace of God, since the war began February 24th, we’ve visited 102 churches; gathering prayer partners and aid for our beloved Ukraine. We’ve been touched deeply by the outpouring of “compassion for Ukraine” proved by both pledges of prayer and gifts of grace to help. From a single mother in SE Kansas, who gave her last check to help, to a couple of sisters in NE Arkansas, who offered me all the money they possessed, the gifts of grace are overwhelming. We’ve seen churches that have given sacrificially, schools that organized to help, individuals who have faithfully contributed, foundations that participated and organizations that have come along side and helped carry the burden. All gifts were acts of “compassion” that are “making a difference” in Ukraine for the glory of Christ. One example of this is the story of a woman who lives in the Kharkiv region.
The local church that ministers in her area currently has standing room only for its Sunday services. To reach their community this church holds special evangelistic services. In these meetings aid is offered to the attenders, who receive a ticket which enables the church to track those who’ve come and ensure they’ll have enough aid that night. This woman attended one of these special evangelistic meetings for the first time, but didn’t have a ticket. The church welcomed her to attend, but without the promise of aid. After the meeting they had a bag of aid left over, and offered it to the woman. She refused the aid stating, “I’ve already received today much more than I could imagine.” This woman found her greatest need met in this evangelistic service - the hope of the gospel of Christ. The aid provided a platform from which the gospel was preached. Thank you for being conduits of God’s grace through your gifts and prayers and for “making a difference” in Ukraine for the glory of Christ.
We have planned our fifth trip into Ukraine (since the war began) in January 2023. During our time there we plan to meet with our team, hold session for Slavic Baptist Institute, and look forward to other evangelistic opportunities. We deeply covet your “earnest” prayers for this trip. As 2022 brought many new challenges, God’s grace once again proved sufficient. Whatever we face in 2023, we hope in the promise of our Lord’s presence with us, and the pledge of your partnership in prayer for us. We wish you a very blessed and fruitful “New Year,” as we look forward to new experiences of His grace in 2023.
Derek and Julie
July 5, 2022 Dear Praying Friend, We have just returned from Ukraine, completing trips that included opportunities to minister to both the physical and spiritual needs of Ukrainians through a horrific time. We met families that have lost everything as they personally showed us the rubble where once stood their homes. One woman shared how Russian tanks positioned themselves in her garden, where once she planted potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and cucumbers. She described through tears the horror as she saw loved ones die before her eyes, and others injured, including her grandson who lost an arm, but survived. Through your gifts, we were able to distribute aid in her village meeting physical needs, but greater than that we had opportunity to preach the gospel, meeting their greatest need, “redemption.” The false facade of manmade religion, cannot bear the weight of such heartbreaking trials, but Christ can. Ukrainians are looking for more than physical help, they are searching for a certain hope, which only the gospel provides.
One woman, Lyuda, found her hope in Christ. During our first trip to Ukraine in April, we distributed aid and shared the gospel in her village. She wanted us to know that she was a Christian and pointed out her Orthodox church. She heard the gospel again on our second trip to her village, and began visiting our ministry partners at the Baptist Church. When we returned a third time and presented the gospel, she responded to the invitation to trust Christ. I asked Lyuda after the service if she had Christ. She smiled, put her hand on her chest and said, “Yes!” Glory to God and to the power of the gospel! By God’s grace, and through your gifts, we are able to give them physical help, while using this time as an opportunity to share with them the “living hope” of the gospel.
The needs in Ukraine are not getting smaller. Requests for help are increasing. With this in mind and the end of the war not yet in sight, we are returning to the states to continue raising funds for “Compassion for Ukraine.” If your church would be interested in us coming to share about our current ministry in Ukraine, please contact us. We believe the war has provided an “open door of utterance,” that as aid is spread across a war-torn nation, so the gospel stands in greater clarity to reach many more Lyudas who are waiting to hear the hope of the gospel. Time and again, Ukrainian people asked us to convey their deep gratitude to the American people. Thank you for your gifts, prayers and proving your “compassion for Ukraine.”
Derek and Julie
June 8, 2022
Dear Praying Friends,
The Lord has recently opened a door to return to Laos, and to continue the Lao Bible Institute! During the time of the pandemic, it became impossible for us to travel there. We held a couple of sessions by Zoom, but came to a point where students couldn’t even travel within the country. Recently, those restrictions have eased both for nationals traveling within Laos and for foreigners traveling to Laos. As part of our recent ministry trip to Ukraine, we plan to fly from Warsaw tomorrow, to Bangkok, and then on to Vientiane for a session of LBI next week, June 13-17.
Julie will be traveling with me and we seek your prayers for God’s blessing during this week of ministry, including both the preceding and post Sundays as we minister in home churches. Please pray for wisdom as we visit potential sites for a building purchase, in which LBI may be housed. I’ve received photos of one property that looks promising. We plan to visit this site together with our national pastor. He has stated his desire for my input and for us together to sense the Lord’s leading. We covet your prayers for the Lord’s will and direction to be known and done.
While Covid has kept us away from Laos, it has not diminished the love of the Laotian believers for Christ, and His glory to be known in Laos. We continue to get updates on the Lord’s working there, including pictures of baptisms. The students of LBI have been requesting our return to both meet and study God’s Word. You can be an active part of our upcoming session and its success through your intercessory prayers. The only way to reach such a diverse and restricted country as Laos is through the training of Laotian laborers. Pray for wisdom, grace, protection and power to this end and for this week of LBI to be a step toward this end.
Yours for the glory of Christ in Laos,
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