It’s easy for us to feel like God has forgotten us or doesn’t hear our prayers or maybe is unaware of our difficult situation. Maybe you believe God called you to a particular place or ministry/vocation yet you don’t see any spiritual fruit though you have remained faithful to Him. Jim and Louise Morris, missionaries in Thailand, felt that way. Jim grew up in Kansas where his dad worked for an oil company in Kansas City and set an example for Jim to work long and hard for what you want. Jim followed that example and while working on a farm one summer during his high school days, was invited by the farmer’s son to go to a Youth for Christ meeting in Indiana where Jim gave his life to Christ. At age 15 he chose Phil. 1:20,21 as the foundation of his life: “According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything but that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Jim took a very open stand for Christ when he returned to high school that fall and joined a Bible club and a quiz team that memorized the books of the Bible on which they were being quizzed. God’s Word really began transforming and equipping Jim’s heart and mind. He preached his first sermon when he was 16 and by the end of high school knew that God wanted him to be a missionary. He heard that Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta, was the place to prepare for missions. At PBI, principal L.E. Maxwell, challenged Jim and the other students to go where Christ has never been named and “carve out a kingdom for God.” My brother-in-law, Ray Kutz, was attending PBI at the same time and joined Jim and Ray Brooks in a trumpet trio. At PBI, Jim also met Louise Imbach, who also had felt called by God to be a tribal missionary in Southeast Asia. They grew to love one another and looked forward to overseas missionary service as a couple. They visited with the director of Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) who recommended that they not get married until they were on the field for two years. Their hearts sank, but they decided to wait to get married and get more training before heading overseas with OMF.
After graduation from PBI, Jim worked for the Canadian Sunday School Mission In British Columbia, and though tempted to accept their offer to stay and lead the work, still burned with a vision to serve as an overseas missionary. Louise took a course in missionary medicine at Biola. Letters flew back and forth as they agonized over following the mission director’s advice or to get married. They made the difficult decision to wait for marriage and to both attend candidate school in Philadelphia that next October. In March 1957 Jim Morris and Louise Imbach boarded a Dutch liner for England to join other prospective missionaries bound eventually for Singapore and then for fields of service all over Asia.
After having separate assignments in Thailand, exactly two years after arriving on the field, Jim and Louise were married in Chiangmai. The wedding was a harbinger of the struggles they would face in their ministry in Thailand. They did all the work themselves to prepare for the wedding: decorating, making bouquets, and preparing food. The night before, a storm blew out the electricity, so the homemade ice cream in the freezer melted. Moments before the ceremony a transformer blew out. A friend who agreed to tape the wedding service found someone to hold two wires together to give him enough power to make a tape, but they had no power to play the music tape for the reception. The fruitcake they made and frosted and set on pillars collapsed—but they were excited to finally be married. After a brief honeymoon they climbed on a ten-wheel rice truck for the seven-hour ride from Chiangmai to their first home in Wangloong where there began their work among the Pwo Karen (po-ka-‘ren) of northern Thailand, a tribe dominated by demonic forces. For centuries, Satan had ruled viciously over the Pwo Karen, who “lived in fear—fear of spirits, fear of sickness, fear of crop failure, fear of death, fear of outsiders, fear of curses, and fear of fear” (Stronger than the Strong by Louise Morris).
Jim and Louise had to learn how to communicate with these people who had a fear of outsiders—not an easy task. When their evil spirits were unable to help them with their illness and injuries, the Pwo Karen came to the Morrises for medical help, but resisted in accepting this “Jesus” of whom they spoke, for fear it would offend the demons and make life even worse for them. It became very discouraging for Jim and Louise. They had been faithful to God’s call to serve as tribal missionaries in Southeast Asia and really trusted in God for a breakthrough, but after many years it seemed that it may never come. Had God forgotten them? They had made some great sacrifices to live among this tribe in northern Thailand and thought, “If God sent us here, He must have plans for these people, but why don’t we see any results?” They were very tempted to give up and try another area to minister, but no one else knew the Pwo Karen like they did, and it would take many more years for another couple to get to where they were accepted by the Pwo Karen. So, they remained and after 15 years, the breakthrough finally came. God had not forgotten the Morrises or the little tribal group in northern Thailand. The response to trust in Christ for eternal life came slowly at first because of the Satanic oppression, but soon many were coming to Christ and the power of the gospel set a tribal people of Thailand free from Satan’s tyrannical rule. Churches and Bible training centers were built and many experienced the truth of John 8:32.36: “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free…If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”
Read Louise Morris’ book to discover more of the exciting story of how Jesus overcame Satan and the demonic forces that dominated the daily lives of the Pwo Karen. Jesus “shared in our humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Heb. 2:14,15). It was definitely worth all the years of waiting and sacrifice to see God set free the captives of the tyrant. “Jesus is truly stronger than the strong” (cf I Jn. 4:4). He did not forget the Pwo Karen. He did not forget Jim and Louise Morris. He will not forget you!