Are We Fishers of Men? (Matthew 4:19)

“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Matthew 4:18‭-‬20

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.'” Mark 16:15

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:24

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

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Video: Myanmar Mission Overview

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.'”   Mark 16:15

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”   Psalm 34:18

Click here to read the written overview of the Myanmar Mission.

Myanmar Mission Overview

Myanmar borders Thailand to the west. Isolated from the world until recently, its rich culture remains undiluted. I was honored to speak at Innlay (Lake) Baptist Church on a raised platform above monsoon season flood waters- first encouraged, then shared testimony, a call to compassion for those who struggle with same sex attraction and gender identity, shared the gospel with a call to receive Christ (to repent and become a born again believer in Jesus). Many prayed to give their lives to Christ. Praise the Lord. 🙏

A dog rested at the foot of the platform. Pastor said the dog is an honorary church member and howls along when certain hymns are sung. That is what I call rich culture!

Armed with the Bible in Burmese and Google Translate, my wife and I street witnessed. Occasionally we encountered someone who could speak English. Although there was resistance to the gospel (much more than other countries in the region), some received with gladness. We connected with a number of people via social media for follow-up. Praise the Lord.

Side note:  In photos to follow on Castaway Ministries’ Facebook page, note that I am wearing a “lungyi” and “thanaka” (see below links). Interestingly, in past gay life, I don’t recall wearing a skirt or helping carry a purse… not until I married a woman. Haha!

Finally, God used this mission to grow me and my wife closer as a missionary couple. Thank the Lord for Rebekah.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myanmar
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longyi
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanaka

Click here to watch the Video: Myanmar Mission Overview.

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Witnessing in Southern Thailand & Salvation Story

“And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” – Acts 17:32

Immediate responses to the gospel could be classified as: (1) Yes, (2) No and (3) Maybe Later.

Thailand’s capitol Bangkok and beach towns Pattaya and Phuket are high priorities on the evangelism hit list because they are popular hubs for LGBT+ culture and prostitution.

We live and witness in Bangkok. Seeds were scattered in Pattaya (closer to Bangkok) earlier this year. This week, I hit Phuket for the first time.

Conversations typically begin with small talk, then testimony, then often the gospel. Additional armament includes tracts in Thai and the Bible in virtually any language via Bible app.

We try to connect with as many on Facebook as possible and post Scripture regularly so that they will be exposed to the Bible and lines of communication remain open.

Facts:
Majority of folks engaged: Thai Buddhists
Most common response to the gospel: ‘You (Westerners/Americans) believe in Jesus. Thai people believe in Buddha.’
Example seemingly appointed engagement:
Transgender male-to-female- met outside her workplace. In response to testimony, she said, “So you are a real man now, not just a gay.” Pouring down rain, she asked me to come back to discuss- shared the gospel and tract, read the Bible, discussed previous exposure to Christianity and clarification of salvation requirements and Christian living. Asked me to send her things on Facebook (ex. Scripture) and basically ended with- ‘I will hear you again on this matter.’

In general, the lay of the land is a city with:
1) An area(s) known for transgender male-to-female (“ladyboys”)- strip bars, massage parlors and old fashioned street prostitution.
2) An area known for gay bars- resembles what is common in US cities.
3) A pedestrian-only street(s) that is a mixed bag- hosts party/sex tourists from around the world.

All 3 of the above areas and everywhere in between contain ladyboys soliciting outside massage parlors. The Lord’s timing is perfect. It is rainy season. Business is down, and folks have a few moments to spare.

Prostitutes speak the language of sex, so God works from there. Some say my eyes look kind and they feel good talking to me. You and I know that is the Lord.

Sharing Christ with jeering prostitutes can seem pointless. Nonetheless, this is what we are called to do- if for no other reason than to give each human being, created in God’s image, an opportunity to repent and get through the gates. The Lord has gone so far as to resurrect men and send them back into the pit on a rescue mission. Having been warned of coming judgment, all will be without excuse.

“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.'” – Jonah 3:1-2

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 3:2

Eyes welling up with tears as we shake the dust off our feet, we reflect on those who have rejected Christ, peer down at our watches wondering how much longer we have… and utter, “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus.”

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Back in Bangkok Sunday afternoon, the Lord led to join a medical clinic. Specified assignment was to “play with the kids”. That was part of it and was certainly a blessing, but I knew better- that the Lord was doing something else. Our assignment is always to lead people to Jesus. So we scouted the area and found that it was also a ministry for juvenile (and adult) offenders. In the common area was a 14-year old playing guitar with his friend. The third seat in the small circle was empty. I sat down. After the ‘where are you from’ small talk, we got into business. He said that when he got locked up, he asked Jesus to help him and started to believe with his head but that he had never prayed to repent and give his life to Jesus. So he did! Please pray for “G”.

After many “No” responses, the Lord rewarded with a “Yes”!

THIS IS THE WHY- why the believer in Christ remains on the earth after coming to know Jesus- to fulfill the Great Commission.

Join the fight. Pray for training wheels. It’s scary at first, but the Lord gives the passion and leads. His heart is for evangelism. Be bold. Get close to the heart of Jesus.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.‘” – Jesus (Mark 16:15)

As an old friend of mine used to say, “We serve an awesome God, brother.”
Praise the Lord!

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Cambodia Ministry

Hello, friends:

Thank you for praying. Bus ride from Bangkok, Thailand to Phnom Penh, Cambodia took well over 20 hours due to a delay and re-route, then about 15 hours to return. Time with church family was wonderful. Although I got sick, the Lord provided strength to push through. We had a blessed mission. Praise the Lord.

Highlights:

  • Pastor asked Rebekah to teach Sunday School impromptu. I prayed with her quickly, and she went in. We worked together. With the Lord, she did valiantly.
  • Both of us standing in front of the congregation, Pastor asked, ‘Do you have a plan to get married?’ and ‘Do you have an idea of a date yet?’
  • Then I shared testimony from old life to new. We sang “It Is Well”- our first duet.
  • Daniel blessed me with the opportunity to preach at his house church. I spoke about spiritual weapons, including fasting.
  • The Lord always leads to witness, which is the core of Castaway’s mission. Jesus loves all and died for all. The gospel of Jesus Christ is 100% inclusive- applies to everyone.

Short Story:
We visited the rural village where I lived before moving to Bangkok 5 months ago. Walking from house to house, we gathered kids who regularly attended class on the porch. With most grouped together sort of in a line, I chatted them up and asked one by one if any was still reading the Bible every day. From left to right- ‘Otey. Otey. Otey…’ (No, No, No…). Humble and shy, the last boy uttered- ‘Baht’ (Yes) and looked down.

This is one of the Lord’s cinematic moments. Why was it the last child in the line who said Yes when all of the others said No?

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Brothers and sisters, think of this as a case study. Imagine that you have 6 months to build relationships in a village, share the gospel and win souls for Christ. Many pray to accept Jesus. Who will actually follow?

On the surface, all of the children appear to be the same… until you hear “K”‘s story. After accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior, K immediately showed an interest in the Word. He volunteered to read the Bible and pray in class.

One day, an elderly neighbor woman told me that his parents were both dead. He and his brother lived with his grandparents. I visited them and met his brother who shared he was leaving in a matter of days to work in Korea indefinitely (whch is common… make money to send back home). K was devastated.

Which one is still reading his Bible?  The one who is broken- has suffered tremendously and experienced the Savior’s comfort.

“…my father and my mother have left me, and the Lord has taken me up.” – Psalm 27:10

We don’t always know why bad things happen, but we know that God can use them to point us to the Rescuer, who loves us so much that He gave His life for us.

Follow this child’s example. Follow Jesus.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
“If a man is not born again, he will not see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:3
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 3:2

“Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” – Romans 10:9-10

My Story 3a: Envy

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Bible passages referenced in this video:  John 1:6-8, Mark 16:15, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Psalm 24:1, Matthew 28:18, Philippians 4:7, John 10:10, Philippians 4:19, Psalm 37:25, Exodus 14-16, Philippians 3:20, Romans 8:28, 1 Thessalians 4:13-18

Click here for the full song “Farther Along”.

Click here to watch “My Story”.

Click here to watch “My Story 2”.

2016 Wrap-up

2016 Progress:

  • The saving gospel of Jesus Christ was shared from Pennsylvania to Southeast Asia.
  • September 8, 2016, Castaway Ministries became an incorporated 501c3 nonprofit. Praise God!
  • Halloween weekend, Castaway dropped anchor in Bangkok, Thailand- one of the world’s top sex tourism destinations. “Ladyboys” working in the red light districts became a focus for evangelism.
  • In November and December, a dynamic Castaway Ministries board began to assemble and take shape. Castawayministries.org underwent an overhaul. An online support group was established. Facebook is regularly utilized in sharing the gospel and encouraging.
  • After Christmas, we had our first board meeting. Praise the Lord!

In 2017, please continue to support as we respond with action to the Great Commission:

“…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15

You can help! Relatively few people know who we are. We are now actively working to get the word out and raise support. Please click here to download and circulate our flyer (ex. church bulletin boards, ministry leaders, youth groups).

Praise the Lord for all He has done and all He is going to do!

Nana Plaza, Bangkok

Click here to gain a better understanding of this ministry.

Click here to visit Castaway on Facebook.