Heresy: an Import/Export Business

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” – Jude 3-4

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” – 2 Timothy 4:3-4

The Scripture above is unsettling. What should I do?

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” – 2 Timothy 4:5

Do you remember the scene from “Jaws” where father and son were sitting at the kitchen table and the son copied the actions of the father? As the old adage goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

When we stand for Christ in our community, the neighbors start watching our actions. Testimony is vitally important. Satan is always trying to shoot holes through it- to point out our shortcomings, to give people an excuse not to believe in Christ.

The West has greater responsibility than we realize. As the East develops, it mimics the West. For example, many in Southeast Asia see our actions on media and copy.

We were recently asked if Christmas is celebrated or even acknowledged in Cambodia / Thailand. Even at a Chinese restaurant in America, you might see a Christmas decoration on the wall and wonder why it is still hanging in June. Generally speaking, many associate Christmas with happiness. Happiness is endorsed. And many identify something that comes from the West as cool.

Like many Americans, many Cambodians also do not have a problem agreeing that, “Jesus is good!” People typically do not even rebuttal the deity of Christ. Then again, even the word for the sun comes with “Preah” before it, which means god. Adding Christ to a multitude of other gods who are worshiped is not a problem. Rejection of the gospel comes at the point where we assert that Jesus is the ONE true God and the ONLY way to heaven (the “exclusivity” of Christ).

Imitation of the West is not limited to popular culture. The church of the East also follows the church of the West. The fall of the American church is having a much greater impact than many of us realize. The world is watching. Since the gospel in recent generations came to much of the world through American missionaries, the tendency is to continue to trust / listen-without-filter whatever is broadcast through that same pipeline today. American false teachers, especially those with a large following, are quickly endorsed.

False teachings manufactured in the West are adopted in the younger, quick-to-follow-without-filtering church of the East. Survival of your brothers and sisters overseas depends in part on what you say and do.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” – Hosea 4:6

Wherever we are, we must be like the Bereans and compare what we are being taught against the inspired Word of God.

“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Acts 17:11

Praise the Lord for His Word.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105

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2017 Report & 2018 Lord Willing Plans

Hello, Missions Partners:

Thank you for your prayer and financial support. We are especially thankful for the Lord’s leading.

2017 Highlights

  • Evangelism Results: In response to sharing the gospel in Myanmar and Cambodia churches, a number of people prayed to receive Christ. Through street evangelism, 7 people prayed to repent and give their lives to Christ. Praise the Lord!
  • Evangelism Where?: In person, the gospel was shared in 7 countries- U.S., Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. Using online avenues, the gospel has been shared in many more.
  • Evangelism in Person- How Many?: Goal is to share Christ with at least one individual each day on average. Recently keeping statistics, I am confident that the 365-person minimum has far been exceeded. Praise the Lord!
  • Online Ministry- What Are You Doing?: Daily we have been posting Scripture with a photo (usually corresponds in some way to the text). When time permits, we have posted the same Scripture in up to 10 languages matching the people we have befriended through local evangelism and regional missions. Recently, as the Lord led, we began sending the same passage via private message to 20+. Partnering with other ministries and on our own site, we have posted brief teachings, ex-gay tips and testimonies (ex. video testimony in 5 languages). These have yielded opportunities. Folks from around the world have reached out for encouragement. As we share testimonies, blessings go both ways. Praise the Lord.
  • Stop Beating Up the Broken Campaign: These are testimony-sharing church visits designed to build compassion for the broken through awareness of the struggle. Where there is opportunity, Rebekah and I also typically sing.

 

Examples of how the Lord works when least expected: Street evangelism and testimony sharing at churches can coordinated in tandem. Working within very hospitable cultures with less emphasis on advanced planning, we find that sometimes it is best to prayerfully show up on a Sunday morning. One weekend, we attended Rebekah’s friend’s wedding, researched local churches for where to go the next morning. After Sunday service, we were introduced to a young lady who struggles with same-sex attraction and gender identity and a church that loves her but did not know how to approach it.

Over Christmas, Aunt Bobbie was here. After setting up a tent in a campground, we left and came back to find that someone had pitched tents remarkably close to ours… making conversation inevitable. We made friends and shared testimony. Moments before departure the next morning, another young lady who struggled with gender identity joined their group. Quietly during goodbyes, there was an opportunity to share with her.

  • Board Meeting: While home in July, we held our annual board meeting. Pastor Osterhout of First Baptist in Curwensville, Camerly Abajian and Joshua Maines were added to our board in 2017.

Christmas 2017

  • Christmas Choir: We were blessed to sing with Bangjak Baptist Christmas choir for the Christmas service and at two local malls as outreach.
  • Christmas Album: We recorded a Christmas album. Thank you to all who purchased it.
  • Christmas Giving: Focused on street ministry and refugees:

o 70+ individuals- primarily people we have met through street evangelism who struggle with same-sex attraction and/or gender identity.

o 3 Christian refugee families who have suffered persecution for their faith. These folks are an inspiration.

Lord Willing 2018 Plans:

  • Establish a ministry center readily accessible from red light districts where we can have Bible studies.
  • Lead the willing through the same steps through which the Lord led me in order to break old-life habits and establish new identity in Christ.
  • Take bigger strides in the “Stop Beating Up the Broken” Campaign. Share testimony in more churches, focusing on areas known to have an LGBT community.
  • Streamline online processes- daily Scripture posting, blog writing, discussion items within our support group.

The Lord is faithful. Praise God for all that He has done and for all that He continues to do as we trust Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Please Pray for:

  • Conviction for the global LGBT+ community.
  • Awakening in Southeast Asia.
  • The Lord’s grace and mercy for us.
  • The Lord’s provision.

Questions for You:

  • As we embark on a fresh start, we welcome your feedback. What do you suggest that we do differently in 2018?
  • Do you know of a church that may consider supporting our mission? If so, please reply with contact info so that we can reach out while planning church visits.
  • We are looking for volunteers to help with online ministry (ex. video editing, Scripture posts, providing feedback toward improving our facebook page and web site). If you are interested, please reply with availability.

Please click here to financially support Castaway Ministries.

Ministry Update

As much as I have wrestled with trying to paint a Norman Rockwell portrait of this ministry, it just can’t be done. It’s nontraditional, and I would not be doing it unless the Lord had led after 6 years of training.

God made each of us (Genesis 1:11:27). He loves each of us (Luke 12:7). Although some of us look cleaner than others, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). A prostitute’s sin is no less forgivable than a pastor’s sin (1 John 1:9Acts 10:34).

Please Note: I apologize in advance for using the term “ladyboy”. The term is not considered derogatory in Thailand, is more specific than “transgender” and less labor-intensive than stating “Male to female transgender” repeatedly.

As much as I have wrestled with trying to paint a Norman Rockwell portrait of this ministry, it just can’t be done. It’s nontraditional, and I would not be doing it unless the Lord had led after 6 years of training.

God made each of us (Genesis 1:11:27). He loves each of us (Luke 12:7). Although some of us look cleaner than others, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). A prostitute’s sin is no less forgivable than a pastor’s sin (1 John 1:9; Acts 10:34).

Please Note: I apologize in advance for using the term “ladyboy”. The term is not considered derogatory in Thailand, is more specific than “transgender” and less labor-intensive than stating “Male to female transgender” repeatedly.

 

It’s difficult to express in words how strong Thai and Cambodian cultures are. In the West, we expect parents to support their children… sometimes into adulthood. In Cambodia and Thailand, your children are your social security. Young people commonly move from the countryside to the city to make money to send back to their families… sometimes taking a “whatever it takes” approach.

Many ladyboys in Thailand are prostitutes. (Same applies in the U.S.) According to one man who moved from the poor Cambodian countryside to Bangkok and now lives as a ladyboy, his decisions to begin taking hormones, have surgery and become a prostitute hinged on the need to make money for his family. Previously he had been dating women and had no attraction to men. It seems there is a noble aspect in his mind to the choices he has made.

A common challenge in sharing the gospel in the West is that people do not want to admit they are sinners. It is refreshing to share the gospel in an environment where sin is so blatant.

‘I take money for #™™*%&. Of course I have sin,’ remarked one.

The Lord uses the Cambodia connection (lived there before moving to Thailand). He has led to 3 Cambodian ladyboys who live in Thailand and feel isolated from their beloved culture. Through even a simple Cambodian greeting or mention of a common food, the Lord can provide comfort and build a bridge.

 

They say that a ladyboy in Thailand makes roughly $30-$90 USD per date. The bars are overflowing every night of the week.

For perspective, a professional in the Cambodian countryside can make roughly $100-200 per month.

When first approaching a ladyboy on the street, I am viewed as a “customer”. This makes for an interesting dynamic.

The sex tourism industry abounds in Pattaya, a Thai beach town. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. Two recent nights there yielded rich ministry experience. In evangelizing, we focus on those who may typically be overlooked (ex. LGBT community). But in doing so, we do not purpose to overlook others. The gospel is for all and applies to all.

 

Freeze Frame Moment: Young man in corset and heels up the steps at the entrance of a strip bar raises a fist and shouts “Prah Yesu! (God Jesus)”, commencing the 2nd night’s walk throughs.

Although many scoff, the gospel of Jesus Christ is being shared, and people are being called to repentance. Interestingly many have been exposed to the gospel in the past. Sometimes it appears we are united in response to a praying mother or friend.

Bottom line is this ain’t rocket science, and it ain’t Matt. It’s the Lord at work.

PRAISE THE LORD for his undeserved favor for all!

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Nana Plaza, Bangkok