Debby and Kyle serve the Thai Karen Baptist Convention (TKBC) and Siloam Bible Institute in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where they work in pastoral education and leadership development. Young people from the Karen ethnic group attend the school to follow the call of God on their lives to be pastors and church leaders among the Karen churches in the hills of Thailand. Kyle is also involved in continuing education with TKBC pastors and evangelists. Debby is providing worship leadership to conferences in the area and helping with the English language program at Siloam. The Witmer’s continue discipleship with their children through homeschooling.
They write – Like others all over the country (and world), COVID19 is bringing changes to our family – but we know God is still in control
First, we wanted to write and assure all of you, our partners in mission, that our family is well and weathering the sudden changes that are being thrust upon our nation and its people, as well as people all over our world. Our hearts and prayers go out daily to all those who are affected by this virus, whether due to illness, separation from loved ones, loss of work, or general upheaval in life as we all hunker down and pray for the quick passing of this dangerous virus.
To the best of our knowledge, our friends and partners in Thailand remain well, for which we are very thankful.
For our family, the biggest change is that Campbellsville University, the school at which we have been serving as missionaries-in-residence and where our children, Hannah and Brennan, attend, has moved to online classes for the remainder of the semester. Our hearts are saddened, as we really weren’t given an opportunity for good-byes with all the wonderful students to whom we’ve been ministering. And for Hannah especially, as a senior, there is sadness at early and sudden separation from dear friends as well as a likelihood that her graduation ceremony will be cancelled. Moving all classes to online formats has already proved challenging for both of our students as well, but in view of the real suffering of so many others in the world, our hardships are light and momentary. Please pray for Hannah and Brennan as they finish out their semester.
Will the coronavirus affect our return to Thailand?
That’s a good question – and one for which we don’t really have an answer. Government restrictions are already affecting our ability to visit churches and raise support, as well as our ability to attend important meetings pertaining to our return overseas. In addition, travel has become quite difficult, and it is simply too soon to determine whether we will be able to return to Thailand by June. Please pray for God’s provision and for our patience! If Kyle is unable to return at the start of the new school year in May, we will work in conjuction with the staff at Siloam Bible Institute to figure out what happens with his classes.
With that said, we want to assure our partners that we still hear the call of God on our lives to return to ministry with the Thailand Karen Baptist Convention. In His timing, it is our intention to return to service. We will keep you posted as we know more.
Cancellation of speaking opportunities affects our ability to raise support
We are actively seeking new partnerships. As missionaries through International Ministries (IM), we rely on partners to support us by giving regularly to IM on our behalf. In order to return to Thailand, we are currently seeking to close a gap in funding of approximately 15%. Although many of our speaking engagements are being cancelled due to necessary government restrictions, the amount of support needed remains the same.