A letter from Esther Wakeman in Thailand
Important announcement #1: CCI (Christian Communications Institute) is coming to the United States for a West Coast Thai Dance and Drama tour from March 22 to April 21, 2011. If you would like us to visit your church or you know a church on the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington) that would enjoy hosting, please contact Rob Collins, tour director, at email@example.com.
Important announcement #2: God cares for us and works in our hearts!
The CCI team has nearly concluded an outstanding season of Spiritual Renewal Weeks in schools from the top to the bottom of Thailand. The team was encouraged to hear about one young fellow in the eighth grade here in Chiang Mai who told his teachers that due to a lot of family problems, he began to despair and considered ending his life, but in the midst of his anguish he remembered the message of God’s love and care that CCI shares. He had opened his heart to God already last year and God drew close to him again in his deep place of need. CCI’s dramas and songs communicate powerfully the hope we have in God’s personal loving care for each one of us, as well as God’s concern for our families, communities and society. Pray for us as we prepare new likay dramas to take to villages as churches invite us there during the cold season coming up.
I’m grateful for the little healings God keeps doing in my heart. Recently a little glimpse into the worried roots of my “workaholism” helped me relax and rest a bit more deeply in God’s love. Of course, I still have much room to grow. Just received this from a friend and it encourages and challenges me: he writes, “I’ve been asking myself recently, ‘how do I grow in favor with God as Jesus did?’ Jesus claimed that he could hear what his Father was saying and see what he was doing. I too want to know such ‘secrets’! All that Jesus did flowed out of intimacy. And this intimacy was characterized by (at least) two things: listening and seeing. Ultimately, there was only one voice that mattered to Jesus and only one perspective that he cared to see. I believe that this reveals part of the secret to growing in favor with God. Whose voice do I most want to hear and whose perspective is most important to me?” Jesus was not a workaholic, but he was the most productive person who ever lived — fulfilling perfectly the Father’s calling and ministry. Anything else is wasted time and energy.
In my last letter I wrote that my department was given responsibility for residential life and I was excited. Not long afterward our responsibility was limited pretty much to policy-making. We do have a chaplain in the dorms, and we have opportunity to provide pastoral care for the staff, but most hands-on leadership has been given to other hands. Honestly, it hurt — a lot; and it revealed some not-so-nice stuff in my heart, too. I’m thinking now that God is serious about his healing my “workaholism.” God can take care of our kids in the dorms without me being the “boss”!
Recently, with the dorm chaplain, Lum, and some dorm students, I visited the “Love Church,” whose members mostly came to Christ through the Eulogia Music Club, which partners with my office and is now teaching about 30 dorm students. “May” shared that she just became a Christian two months ago and God is changing her heart and life. She’s pretty rough and ready to fight and one day was talking with some friends when someone said something she took offense at. She got a fist ready and stood up, geared for a fight, when she heard a voice telling her to stop. It took a minute to figure out that God was the one talking — but she did, and she stopped — and she’s impressed with God’s love and concern for her and God’s desire to help her become a more loving, patient person. God can take care of our kids in the dorms without me being the “boss”!
Rob’s 50th anniversary celebration of ministry in Thailand was graced by many former students, neighbors and friends — including the former Attorney General of Thailand, who was one of Rob’s students his first year in Thailand at Bangkok Christian College. The preacher, the Rev. Somchit Huanaa, was a former student who had left school at one point, but whom Rob pursued by riding his trusty motorbike 170 miles to his home to encourage him to return to school. The Rev. Somchit is an outstanding pastor, preacher and evangelist. Going after that “lost lamb” may be the single most important thing Rob has ever done in Thailand.
Thank you for your prayers and support. May we all draw closer to Jesus’ heart so he can continue his work of love in ours, so we may hear him more clearly direct us to the “lost lambs” he’s calling us to love.
Esther Wakeman (for Rob too)
PS Family News:
On the family front, Anna’s wedding was deeply good — gorgeous, full of joy and laughter, beautiful music, fantastic food and the presence of Jesus. Almost 50 friends and family were here from around the world, including my brothers and their families — for a two-week festival of memory-making and memories-telling. Anna and Dom washing one another’s feet during the ceremony spoke specially to our Thai friends’ hearts — feet are the lowest part of the body so washing them is a profound gesture of humble service. Thai guests also loved the delicious and abundant “street food” at the reception; it was an unexpected and creative way to honor the everyday goodness of Thai cuisine. Anna and Dom are in Heidelberg, Germany, where Dom is finishing a degree in teaching and Anna is studying the German language and culture. We’ll visit them as soon as possible.
Rob’s son, John, and his wife, Sue, blessed us with grandchild #6, Christian Spencer Collins, who joins his much older siblings Ben (senior at Ohio State), Connie (first year at Friends’ University), and Sue’s daughter, Amber. We are eager to see the little fellow, but have to make do with Facebook glimpses for now. Andy continues to make excellent contributions to CCI’s video work, his wife, Ellen, helps with communications there too, and we enjoy watching sports and eating ice cream with Christopher and Jonathan. Kris, Troy and Sawyer are making a beautiful home in Oregon, and we are looking forward to seeing them in the spring. Nathan is starting his second year of law school, and Paul’s tour business is gaining ground. He has been guiding a blind and hearing-impaired woman from England during her month-long visit to Chiang Mai. We are grateful for his growing satisfaction in real service to others.
The 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 126