Dear friends and family,
Ever since Covid restrictions are relaxed, how has your life changed again? For us, we had to re-adjust to new ministry challenges. Some are good and others not so good, but we can face these challenges with God as our fortress and protector.
Digital Skills Training Center: Balancing Sustainability and Outreach
One of our Digital Skills Training Center classes graduated from their entry-level 8-week course! From their pre and post-test results, we see very significant growth in their computer literacy and proficiency levels. We taught them basic typing, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint skills. The course ended with a final quiz and many prizes! Very proud to see how the kids committed to the full length of the course and paid good attention to our teachers.
All the teachers for the Digital Skills Training Center come from our social enterprise, Banah Digital. In 2021, we set up a social enterprise in Chiang Mai to provide job and training opportunities for local youths. We teach these youths to then multiply the opportunity they received into others in the community through the Digital Skills Training Center.
As a social enterprise, the team will need to work on income-generating web design projects while doing community outreach and training. The income generated covers our overheads like salaries, rent, utilities etc. Community outreach and training are really the heart of the business. So the one challenge that we face this season is balancing our hours between the two priorities. Both are great discipleship opportunities but we have a very small team and we need to manage both concurrently.
Through this challenge, we feel that God is teaching us to have simple faith and to trust in God’s provision. Sometimes when we need to reject income-generating projects to make more space for outreach and for discipleship, we have to lay down our concerns and fears of cash flow issues and trust God’s leading.
Visa: Dealing with Disappointment
We haven’t been writing much about our visa situation but it is still an ongoing struggle for us. For long-term stability, we have been trying to get a visa that is renewable yearly (instead of monthly or every 3 months) and after more than 1 year, it is still unclear. Unfortunately, there has been much red tape and administrative backlog that seems unsurmountable. Thankfully, there is some progress over the months, and by faith, we are almost there. It has been a very trying and disappointing journey that we could only pull through with God’s grace. We do question if it is a sign from God to pursue an alternative visa or to return home altogether.
As we seek God and hear His voice, we know that God is the one who led us into this pursuit and it is a season of endurance and forbearance. It gave us great strength to trudge forward and face the challenges of being an alien in a foreign country. Following Christ is never a walk in the park, and the challenges we face don’t always mean that God wants us to run or steer away.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.Colossians 3:13
Community Center: Facing new horizons with a small team
“You only have 2 staff???” This is a common response from friends who hear about our ministry team and all its activities. Covid was a challenging time, but post-covid brought a new set of challenges to our team altogether. As we expand our outreach again, we have been finding it difficult to build a strong single-minded team that is committed to working towards God’s vision for our ministry together. As ministry leaders, we are also very concerned if our small staff team would burn out from the weight of it all.
As a team, we have a good challenge coming our way, which is to host mission teams. With travel restrictions easing, we are receiving a few mission teams and our calendar is now full til Christmas. We will start off by hosting a DTS team from Canada for the whole of October. This is the very first time that the ministry is hosting a mission team! We are excited about how they can partner with us in reaching the kids and families in our community, and also concerned about how we can be good and hospitable hosts.
Despite the pressures and the unfamiliarity, we believe that this is what God wants us to do; to be hospitable, and to provide opportunities for teams to partner with God’s work in the mission field. Logistically, we are pretty much ready, but emotionally and relationally, we have no idea what is coming at us.
Through these new challenges that we face in our current work, God has given us a deeper understanding of discernment and of endurance. There is a time to slow down to rest and take care of our mental health, and there is also a time to sprint and give it our all. There will be smooth sailing moments and we shouldn’t take them for granted. There will also be challenging moments and it’s not necessarily a reason to doubt what God called you to do. We are learning how to very quickly turn to God’s opinion about our daily experiences and choices. Challenging moments can be discouraging and confusing, but God is there with us in those challenges.
Pray for us as we continue to face these challenges every day as we serve in the mission field. May we continue to face them with divine courage and wisdom. And may we emerge stronger and wiser as we journey with God in overcoming these challenges.