Sticking With It

 We had the privilege this Sunday at Faith Bible Church in Libby of hearing from and visiting with missionaries Jim and Louise Morris. They were friends of my wife’s family long before we even met and have been supported by Faith Bible for more than fifty years!  The Morrises went to the mountains of northern Thailand with Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) in 1957 to work among the Pwo Karen  (po-ka-ren’) tribe. The Pwo Karen are a small part of the larger ethnic group known as Karen. The term Karen covers a large group of people in Thailand and Burma who are divided into three main groups. Several million Pwo Karen lived in Burma (Myanmar), which was closed to missionaries, but some 50,000 lived in Thailand along the Thai-Burma border. There were no Christians among the Pwo in Thailand. They had no Bibles, no churches, and no written languages among them. Two OMF couples had worked briefly among the Pwo but had to leave for various reasons.  One other couple, Ed and Norma Lee Hudspith were working with the Pwo when Jim and Louise arrived to help them.

     The work was very challenging and discouraging as they struggled to learn some five dialects of Pwo Karen and to battle the spiritual stranglehold of Satan through the practices of animism and Buddhism. Finally one Thai lady left the domain of darkness and committed her life to Christ. In December of 1965 they held a baptismal service for five new tribal believers.  These were from five different families scattered throughout the mountains.  Yet, that seemed like not much to show for some eight years of work.  But Jim and Louise remained faithful to the task.  They were home in the states soon after and Jim told someone that after ten years and after learning five languages, they had only five Christian families scattered throughout northern Thailand. Someone responded, “But, it’s only been ten years. Usually it takes at least 18 when you have to learn the culture and the language and translate it for them!”
     The Morrises spent some 33 years working with the Karen people and when they left, there were more than 2,000 believers. As the Apostle Paul wrote in I Cor. 3:7, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”  In Thailand, some had planted, some had watered and God began providing the increase. But, the story continues. Because of the turmoil in Burma, many refugees, through our government, have been granted legal immigrant status to the United States and located throughout the country. One group is located in Gresham, Oregon where they now have a very growing church of at least 200 people with a born-again Thai pastor. Jim showed us a video of the ministries of the church and it was very moving and challenging to see the excitement of these folks for life in the United States with its freedoms as well as their new-found freedom in Christ. They love to sing and many of them learn to play guitars. They are learning English and are doing so through reading the Bible and through Christian hymns and choruses. They are also very evangelistic, and are constantly introducing others to Christ. It seems that God has brought Pwo Karen missionaries to our country–and we need it!
     But, just think. What if Jim and Louise had become discouraged and given up? What if they hadn’t stayed when it seemed that there would be no breakthrough?  They knew the pain of years of labor without fruit. But, because they, and others,  were faithful to plant and water, God gave–and is giving–the increase!  The Apostle Paul, and he should know, wrote: “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary” (Gal. 6:9). It must be so rewarding to the Morrises to see the fruit of their many years of labor. In fact, since they live now in Salem, Oregon, they go up to the Portland area most Sundays to worship with the Pwo Karen people. How encouraging for them to see firsthand what God is doing among these people who lived so long in spiritual darkness but now are experiencing the glorious light of their new lives in Christ. Some of the Pwo Karen who have come to the States and have become believers are going back to their people as missionaries.  Jo Dee and Tony Dee have started an FM Christian radio station in Thailand to broadcast the gospel and Christian music to the tribal people in Thailand and Burma.
     Hanging tough over the long haul still pays the richest dividends and brings the greatest joy.  Many of you may have watched the NBC special history documentary during the Olympics with Tom Brokow.  It detailed the events about Winston Churchill and Great Britain when they were under attack by Germany and it looked like they might not survive without the United States’ help. Winston Churchill made many attempts to convince President Roosevelt to help them. But the U.S. people were still recovering from WW I and really didn’t want to get involved. Churchill, who was an interesting character to say the least, was very resolute. He really lived by a speech that he made which became quite famous. He said: “Never give in! Never give in! Never! Never! Never! In anything great or small, large or petty–never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”  (By the way, the United States did get involved in WW II. Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese!).
     I don’t know if Sir Winston Churchill was familiar with the epistles of Paul, but his statement was a fairly close parallel to another challenge Paul gave: “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58).
     Whatever work you are doing for the Lord, it is always too soon to quit. Don’t give up. Hang in there. Trust God for the results. He is the one who gives the increase, in His time.
 
                                Forever His,
                                     Pastor Dave
 
P.S. Check out Louise Morris’s book Stronger than the Strong–available from OMF International.
 
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About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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