Greetings from Thailand! Yes, you read correctly. We have been in Chiang Mai, Thailand since Jan. 2, taking part in a microfinance training event sponsored by the New Life Center.
The New Life Center is directed by our colleague, IM missionary Karen Smith. Kit Ripley is also an IM missionary who serves at the New Life Center in pastoral and leadership development ministries. For some time, they’ve been interested in ways microfinance and microcredit enterprise development services might meet the needs of the Hill Tribes and rural Thailand people, and enhance the New Life Center’s ministries.
Conversations between a longtime supporter of International Ministries who believes in the importance of microfinance in the context of missions, and the New Life Center led to a partnership with the Chalmers Center at Covenant College in TN. Chalmers’ unique mission is to equip missionaries, churches, and others with skills and knowledge to serve the poor through economic development.
Like all of our faithful supporters, this generous partner is committed to the holistic mission of International Ministries, addressing the spiritual and material needs of people. He wants to help IM missionaries enhance their skills and knowledge in Micro-Enterprise Development and Micro-Finance services. With these skills we can help our partner churches develop effective ministries that actually transform lives and communities, all in the name of Jesus Christ.
To our amazement and delight we were invited to participate in this training and here we are, at no expense to IM, but because of the generous partnership of one mission-minded American Baptist family whose stewardship has made possible many good things for the Kingdom of God.
Solidly based on biblical principles, the information and training we have received is very practical. We are already thinking of many ways we want to put it in practice to expand and enhance our ministries in Chile. We especially want to focus on facilitating groups in the Mapuche churches and communities that will gather to save money and obtain small loans to start businesses and meet family needs. Also, we have received helpful materials to teach and train low-income people in small business skills.
So here we are. The boys have just come back from their first ever elephant ride and having lunch with the tigers. We’re all heading down now to take a swim as we rest and get ready for one more week of training before we head home.
Last night we enjoyed a Chilean meal with our Thailand missionary colleagues, Karen Smith, Kit Ripley, Kim Brown, and the Matt and Lori Mann family, and our colleague Jim Wiegner. What a wonderful time!
Please know that our hearts are full of gratitude for the rich blessings we have received. At the same time, we strive to be worthy of the trust and investment you have given to our ministry in Chile and look forward to updating you on many new developments throughout 2010.
We pray God’s richest blessings on you as we look together at all the good work God has for us to do.
Seeking the Shalom of the place where God has placed us,
Barb and Dwight