A letter from Leith Fujii in Thailand
August 9, 2013
Dear Family in Christ,
Eight years … it’s a long time to wait, and even longer to remember the first part of the story that began when Wiriya, a young minister in BIT’s faculty development program, came for English help. His English was weak and his score on the TOEFL exam wasn’t enough for admission to graduate school. We began meeting together and talked about life and ministry in the course of improving his English. I was impressed with Wiriya’s sincere love for God, his humble demeanor and passion for serving God’s people.
But one day Wiriya shared his dilemma. Yut, a taxi driver with a sordid past, had been touched by Wiriya’s witness and was now growing in his relationship with Christ. But Yut was not only growing in faith, he was also reaching out to his family and neighbors living in a village far from Bangkok, and all this was requiring more of Wiriya’s already stretched schedule. Wiriya needed to choose—invest more time and energy in Yut or enroll in an intensive TOEFL preparation course he needed badly. As we talked that day, the challenge of putting Christ and His Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33) came clearly into focus. We prayed as Wiriya chose to invest in Yut.
Wiriya didn’t get a higher TOEFL score, but God did not forget Wiriya’s dedication in faith. Through the Horace Ryburn Scholarship, named for a former PC(USA) missionary leader in Thailand, Wiriya was invited to study at Princeton Theological Seminary. But he sadly needed to respond, “I would like to accept, but I don’t believe it is God’s will for me to be separated from my wife and daughter.” The usual provision of the scholarship did not allow for accompanying family members. An unprecedented provision, however, was made, and so not only Wiriya but also Tu and Roong left for the States in 2005.
However, a year later when Wiriya graduated from Princeton, the TOEFL exam (as well as scholarship funding) still seemed like a big obstacle in the way of doctoral studies in New Testament. But again God provided the way for Wiriya to begin studying at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. Year by year, though there were many times of challenge, God continued to provide for Wiriya and his family. His faith was tested and honed while God developed him as a workman of His Word. Through times of financial uncertainty Wiriya remained obedient and faithful to God, working within the legal limits of a student visa and joyfully ministering to others.
Last month we joyfully welcomed Dr. Wiriya Tipvarakankoon back from the United States, ready to begin teaching New Testament at the Bangkok Institute of Theology. He never improved his TOEFL score… but can any door remain closed when our AWESOME God chooses to open? Hallelujah!!
You may be among those wondering, “Whatever happened to Yut?” Well, he’s about ready to graduate this year from a seminary here in Bangkok and will likely return to minister in his Northeastern part of Thailand (Issan).
Praise God for His steadfast love and faithfulness in answer to prayer! And also, a special thank you to those who have joined in prayer and generously supported Wiriya and family through the past eight-year leg of the Journey. Let’s rejoice and give thanks together, and then continue to pray:
- For Wiriya to have wisdom and courage to teach and lead by example and conviction as he begins his teaching and mentoring ministry at the Bangkok Institute of Theology–Christian University.
- For Roong, now 11 years old, as she adjusts to Thailand… “I’m an American girl, not a Thai girl!”
- For Tu, as she discerns how to use and follow her gifts–calling in ministry.
We want you to know that we appreciate your support of our ministry through your faithful prayers and generous gifts. These enable us to be invested in training leaders like Wiriya for our Thai church partners in ministry, the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT) as well as others. Thank you very much for your partnership and investment in God’s Kingdom.
Let’s stay connected... Check out our PC(USA) website or drop us a note or email. You are a vital part of our ministry, and we’d also like to know how to be praying for you!
With a grateful heart,
Leith for the Fujiis