Report – Visiting Team Returns
Our team of Ellen, Marilyn, Nicole and Lisa has returned safely from visiting prisons in and around Bangkok. We were joined by our Thai team, led by Pastor Promma, together with Pastor Klom and their wives Sangwon and Ya, Supachai our driver, who joined our team when possible, and Sanchi Saewang, a recently released prison-church leader. Kenny Lee and wife Trish were also part of our support team. Lisa, a young mum on her first trip was impressed by our team unity, friendship and love for each other. She described us as a family.
There were special challenges relating to the recent death of Thailand’s beloved king, meaning that the team wore black clothing, we sang the king’s anthem at gatherings, and all celebrations were restrained, with no singing allowed at the Womens Prison. Rules seemed stricter, with military rule extending to prisons where many officers are military. Visiting was a little harder this year. Apart from the Womens Prison we could only call one building out at each prison. In addition, Klong Pai was shut down due to H1N1 virus affecting 5000 prisoners with 2 dead. There were 50 men there who had prepared for baptism. No women were allowed to visit inside Bangkwang prison and we were not allowed to visit on the phones there unless we were relatives. We also couldn’t go inside Klong Prem prison.
These obstacles however, caused us to stay humble, to trust and obey wherever God’s leading pointed and we experienced many blessings, which seemed all the richer, since they didn’t come easily.
Altogether we or our team members were able to see a total of 203 men and women in 6 prisons in Thailand. There were 4 inside visits and we spoke on the phones at 2 prisons. We were able to baptise at one prison Kao Bin, a total of 7 men. We heard many testimonies, and we saw the joy on the faces of those we visited. We gave our own testimonies to the women and we also had a skit on the calling of the first disciples based on Luke 5:1-11 for the other prisons.
Our visit showed our persistence and loyalty, and that we would never give up on them. We showed God’s love and grace to many hurting prisoners. Our Christian brothers and sisters are finding the rules and food rations ever stricter. Our visits brought much encouragement and joy and hope.
There may be another amnesty coming up on what would have been the king’s birthday, Dec 5th, which will see many close to release, able to go home. We met with Cosmos from IDC and ensured he has funds from us to help our released prisoners go home.
For those we couldn’t visit, we will continue to bless through our letters.We posted a Christmas message and cards to all the prison leaders before we left.
We have set a date for our next letter writing on Monday February 13th 2017 at Ellen’s house.
In the meantime have a safe and blessed holiday time as we enter into the Advent season in anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ. Your pen pals would love to receive a Christmas greeting from you.
Happy Christmas from Ellen and Marilyn, Nicole and Lisa.
And May Your 2017 bring Blessing and Much Fruitfulness.