BIBLE SCHOOL UPDATE
During the last two weeks of December we had a break from our “normal” routines. Most of the students went home to visit with their families and I was able to spend some much needed time with my own family. Before the students left we managed to spend about three weeks reading and doing a basic study on Apologetics. I believe it was encouraging and challenging to each of the students and helped answer some questions that were lingering about the authenticity of scripture. In Thailand, history goes back much further than it does for us in the west. It is important, therefore, to really help them make the connections to how and where Christianity fits in with some of the other history and religions they are introduced to from an early age.
The students all returned last week and on Monday we began our next module. We will spend the next nine weeks studying Bible Doctrine. Every morning I teach from 8:30-12:00 and in the in the afternoon the students are reading through and studying Concise Theology by J.I. Packer since it is the best theology book currently available in the Thai language. They take notes on each section and we discuss them in class. I have one student in particular who has really taken an interest in his studies and has requested extra time to meet with me each week to discuss more deeply the details of the class and his readings. Please pray for this young man. He has a strong desire to preach and has an amazing testimony that truly resonates with the people here. I believe the Lord may use him greatly here in this country!
The J.I. Packer book I mentioned above is one of what seems to be only a few good books that have been translated into the Thai language. But even this book is no longer available for purchase. We had to borrow a copy from another missionary in Bangkok and seek permission from the Thai publisher to print enough copies for our bible students to use within our school. This is an unfortunate problem that we have seen over and over in our short time here. Several good books have been translated over time and are printed in small quantities but then money runs out and they are not reprinted which means many people never have the opportunity to read them.
In the West we take for granted this entire process. In the US for example, books and quantities are seemingly never-ending and we can trust that our publishers are well funded and can keep them coming as we buy them up. Here that just isn’t so. We have been speaking with one of the main Christian book publishers here and have meetings scheduled with a couple more in the coming month to discuss having more books printed that we can use and hand out. Additionally, we have a long list of books that we would like to get translated. We have a couple of books already in the process of being completed and we are excited to get them finished and printed towards the end of February or mid March. Depending on the page count, each book costs around $3,000-$5,500 to translate and then there is the cost to have it edited and printed which itself costs several thousand dollars.
As you can see the costs add up quickly which is why most missionaries and churches here can’t afford to print many of each book even though they have paid to have them translated. We have even talked to missionaries who have told us how some books have been translated more than once simply because no-one knew it had already been done...because it was no longer in print. It’s a rather frustrating cycle. We have been given some specific offerings designated towards translation work and we are very grateful. Additionally, our general expenses have been minimal the past couple of months so we have been able to re-designate some of our general funds towards translation work... Praise God! I’m thankful that, aside from unforeseen circumstances, our Bible school is currently able to run on a fairly modest budget. Because of this we want to continue to work towards growing the availability of sound books that we can make available to our students, other local churches, and interested believers in our area. If you feel led to give towards this part of the work please know that it will be well received and much appreciated (you can designate funds to the “Villandry Translation Project” if you want to give specifically towards this part of the work). I am happy to discuss any details with you regarding upcoming book translations and/or what is currently available and what our hopes are for the future.
Many of our churches and family gave towards the food distribution project we completed during the months of November and December. Thank you SO much! We visited 11 villages and handed out food to over 600 families. I was able to preach the gospel in most of the villages and when we had to meet church members outside of their village due to COVID I still preached a short message to them. It was such a blessing to meet the families of many of our students and get to know their pastor.
Our kids have made it half way through their school year and will all take midterm exams next week. Please pray for them as they study. Brittany is still homeschooling all the kids and then ends her day teaching English to the students of the Bible School. She also helps me manage all the paperwork, grading, phone calls, and scheduling for the Bible school as well us managing correspondence and administrative details for translation work. I’m thankful for such an amazing helper...God is good! We were very much hoping to make a trip back to the US this year but it isn’t looking promising. Aside from being ridiculously expensive for the six of us to travel back, Covid is also making travel rather difficult. We have several new churches that we haven’t even met with in person and we really hoped to do that sooner than later but clearly God had other plans. Please know that we are praying for you and thankful for all that you are doing to help the work here in Thailand. It is an honor and blessing to serve along side each of you!
My wife has been working, in her spare time (LOL), on setting up a new website that is more user friendly for the people here in Thailand. Once that is complete we will combine our current site www.Gospel2Thailand.com with the new one. The new site will be mostly dedicated to Christian resources in Thai as well as a landing page for class recordings, sermon recordings, translated literature, translated Bible reading plans, available and recommended christian resources, and links to other sites that will be useful to those here that we serve. Our prayer letters will still be available on the new site so if that is how you are currently reading our letters please know that though things may look different in the coming month...it’s still us! Also, please remember that photos and current updates can always be seen on our Facebook Page (Matthew and Brittany Villandry) or our school Page (Grace Baptist Bible Institute). Our current website also has a photos page that is linked to our instagram account where you can see LOTS of photos and short videos that may give you a better glimpse into what we do on a day to day basis here in Chiang Mai! I want to thank each of you who have given special gifts and offerings during the new year and Holliday season. We greatly appreciate your prayers and financial support for the Lord’s work here.
For HIS Glory, Matthew Villandry