Jan and I are church-planters with OMF International in Uthai thani, Central Thailand, recently assisted by our son Steve, who was born there. The first 10 years there we did 50% vet work treating water buffalos, beef and dairy cattle, goats, pigs, chicken, cats and dogs, with the odd monkey, and we have trained up local Thai vets in clinical work and surgery .
I continue to be available as advisor to the local Livestock Department and take on emergencies when Thai vets aren’t available, as well some surgery for some individuals. We have had a dozen or so vet students from the UK and other countries visiting over the years for seeing practice to see what we’re doing.
For the recent students this means I hand them over to local Thai colleagues for part of the time, and /or send them off to elephant centres, and for the rest of the time have been able to arrange spay camps where dogs and cats are neutered under my supervision for 50p per animal in village centres.
Accommodation is available with us and in Thai homes when the opportunity for them to practice English with a native speaker is much appreciated, and my Buddhist Thai colleagues have been impressed by the lives of Christian vet students and one says he is now believing.
I get opportunities to give seminars for pig farmers and buffalo farmers sponsored by World Vision International where there is often time to explain the Gospel at the end of the seminar or the lecture.(‘’how to prevent and treat diseases without drugs’’!), as well as the many times we chat with clients over cases treated.
Most of our time however, is spent in personal evangelism through existing contacts pastoring new believers setting up home groups and working alongside local Thai lay leaders in caring for their small rural churches. This means a lot of travelling in our famous Mazda 929 as we cover 20 churches in our province
We have seen the church grow from a few scattered believers to established fellowships of 50 -60 with their own buildings and pastors. However most rural churches are small with 7-20 members and the lay leaders need ongoing input and encouragement.
We return in June for another 4 year term and are looking for short term workers to join us for 1-3 years using veterinary medicine and / or English teaching as a bridge into the community, with the option of becoming career missionaries after the three years.
We are looking forward to seeing some of you next month at the Northern Conference. Meanwhile we’re based in Glasgow