The photos below were taken on our survey trip to That Phanom, and they show people in Isaan circumambulating the temple to earn merit. The flowers in their hands were purchased as they entered the temple, and when they finished walking their laps around the chedi, they would lay the flower down as an offering before a shrine of Buddha.
As we were leaving, David noticed that one of the monks picked up all of the offered flowers and took them back to the temple entrance to be sold again to other people as they came to earn merit. This endless cycle of offering and merit making brought a passage from Hebrews to his mind:
"And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." (Hebrews 10:11-14)
In Christ there is eternal freedom once and for all, accomplished by the work of Jesus. We do not repeatedly need to offer useless sacrifices because the blood of Jesus declares: "It is finished" on our behalf. Praise God for this assurance! May the people of Isaan hear of this precious hope.
This has been a busy month for our family... and not entirely in the way we thought it would be. Multiple ER visits and surgery for a broken elbow have made the last few weeks very memorable and caused some inevitable distractions from our plans. Through it all, God keeps reminding our hearts that He is sovereign and is working all things (yes, even these things) together for our good. This confidence grants us the perspective we so desperately need in order to let go of our agenda and trust Him for the story He is weaving with our lives. Oh for grace to trust Him more!
1. Christian at the ER after he broke his elbow on a trampoline, 2. Christian getting ready for elbow surgery, 3. Silas's first cow appreciation day at Chick-fil-a, 4. David and Mandy with dear friends at a joint church leaders retreat in NC. We are so grateful to our Isaan teammates, the Snyders, for watching our children for us so that we could attend!
We ask for your prayers...
Please pray that God would continue to give us grace to trust Him in all things. Pray that our faith would not be based on circumstances, but fixed on our unchanging Father.
We are traveling to share at several churches in the Boston area in August. Please pray that we would be an encouragement to them and that God would stir more hearts to partner with us in this mission.
Please pray that God would completely provide all that we need so that we can deploy sometime around the end of this year.
And always, please pray with us that God would draw many people of Isaan to know and worship Him!
Last month we shared a graph with our remaining monthly partnership need, and we are so encouraged by your responses! Our monthly support increased by more than 10%... here is an update of what has been committed since then:
We are so grateful for God's provision through your giving! Thank you to each one of you who saw this graph last month and asked the Lord if He was calling you to fill one of these rolls... we cannot do this without your partnership!
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21) Much love from the Englands