God's Word For Isan—Mekong Bible Translation Project of Northeast Thailand
God's Word For Isan—True-life Accounts From Northeast Thailand - Testimonies of God's Amazing Grace
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Copyright © Ron Myers & Mekong (Isan) Bible Translation Project; All Rights Reserved.

A COLLECTION OF TRUE-LIFE MISSIONARY ACCOUNTS
Testimonies Of God'S Amazing Grace From Northeast Thailand

THIS WEB PAGE IS UPDATED OCCASIONALLY AS I FIND TIME TO PEN
MORE TRUE-LIFE ACCOUNTS OF OUR EXPERIENCES IN THAILAND.

Please check back from time-to-time. Respond if you like,
and thank you for your interest. Ron Myers

In my spare time, I've been penning true-life accounts of our personal experiences (and things we saw God do) while ministering in Northeast Thailand.  These include: salvation testimonies; God's miraculous providence and protection; human interest items; sad stories, happy stories; etc.  You can read these from you computer screen, or print them out.  I believe you'll receive a blessing from these accounts from one missionary's true-life experiences.  My plans are to compile these into an anthology of true-life missionary accounts for publication.  However, I'm still looking for a good book title.

TRUE-LIFE STORIES


Table of Contents

( Return to Home Page)


TRUE LIFE STORY #1

SPIRITUAL WARFARE, MIRACLES, AND VICTORIES THAT OCCURRED ON THE MISSION FIELD

God's Protection From A Dangerous Lightning Strike Through Prompted Prayer
by Ron Myers

Greetings from Thailand in Jesus' most-powerful Name!  Did I ever tell you about the time when God literally protected another missionary and me from a powerful, nearly-direct lightning strike—employing the power of prayer?  This was real life-and-death spiritual warfare in the truest sense of the word, something most Christians never see or experience. 

Another missionary and I were beginning to show movies in a remote, primitive village.  (It was in the general vicinity where my wife Cheryl and I began our church-planting ministry.)  The afternoon skies were clear, and the weather was mild... not a cloud in sight.  A large crowd of people had gathered from the surrounding villages, having come to watch the films and to hear the Gospel.

The first movie, a Moody science film, was well under way when the air cooled and a stiff breeze began to blow.  Soon, a few drops of rain began to fall.  This was followed by a strong wind and violent thunder and lightning storm, having appeared seemingly from out of nowhere.  The crowd immediately dispersed as we quickly set about to gather up the equipment, covering the old 16mm projector with a rubberized poncho before we hauled it in out of the deluge.

Bringing the projector and sound equipment with us, we retreated into the nearest available dry spot, an animal corral located underneath a nearby primitive house (built upon raised house posts, as is the custom there).  There, out of the rain, we stood ankle-deep in the flowing waters (and who knows what else) as we waited out the storm  There we were, cold, shivering, soaked to the bone, and not a little discouraged at that juncture.  After about 20-30 minutes of balancing the heavy projector on a bamboo rail, it was evident that the storm had moved on.  The rain had long-stopped and we could hear the thunder, softly rumbling off in the distance.

We surveyed the area for any wind or water damage.  Our huge white canvas screen, once stretched between two vertical bamboo poles and staked down securely with guy-wires, was now ripped and laying over against a nearby rice granary roof.  Due to the impact, the thin galvanized granary roof was wrinkled slightly on one corner of the overhang.  For this, we were culturally obliged to reimburse the owner a small stipend for the damage, which we gladly did—amounting to around $10 US.

As the skies cleared, we ventured out from the buffalo corral under the house, and brought the old Toyota Pickup truck around to load our equipment and head home.  First, we carefully stored the projector and film reels inside, then set about to go fetch the generator, which was placed at the edge of the village, a few hundred feet away.  Hauling it back on a rickety old borrowed two-wheeled cart, we proceeded to load it unto the truck.

With the tailgate down all the way, the other missionary on one side, and me on the other, we lifted it by the steel pipe "T" handle, swung it back and forth, then hoisted the heavy generator up into the back of the pickup.  As we heaved hard to push the generator forward, our bodies resting against the wet truck bed, that's when it happened!

Suddenly, we were both startled by a blinding flash and an ear-splitting CRR-RACK!  A powerful lightning bolt had just struck a nearby tree, not 25-30 feet away.  We both glowed briefly at the instant of the strike as the inducted electrical charge, having built up in the metal mass of the ungrounded truck body, coursed down our arms and through our bodies on its way to ground.  Oddly, however, we felt absolutely no jolts or shocks.  I only remember something akin to the light touch of a mosquito brushing past the hair on one's forearm!

NOTE: Just previous to entering the ministry, I had been in professional sales, selling UL-Approved, designed, and installed lightning protection systems in lightning-storm prone rural Upstate NY.  As such, I had studied the characteristics and effects of lightning, so I realized that something out of the ordinary had just occurred.  Supernatural, miraculous, a God thing ... call it what you like, we should have been knocked to the ground unconscious, or worse yet, seriously injured or even killed—which, weighing the known facts, I believe was the intent of the Enemy that night.

Ian (a British missionary) and I glanced at each other momentarily, then dismissed it as we finished loading the truck... our spirits dampened and our bodies soaked and chilled as we drove home in silent disappointment that night.  When I arrived home and walked in the door, a missionary friend who was staying at our home, but didn't go with us that evening as he was feeling ill, asked me abruptly, "What happened tonight?"

I couldn't think of anything in particular, except that it had rained hard and spoiled our evening.  "No," he said, "something happened tonight!"  He went on to explain that, during the previous hour, he was resting in a chair and reading when suddenly the Lord deeply impressed him that we were in grave danger, and to pray for our safety immediately, which he did.

I recapped the evening in my mind, and... Wow!  I recalled the lightning incident.  Could it be?  God and His angels had protected us from serious harm, and even death?  That's why, I recalled, that we had felt nothing at the moment of the lightning strike, as the high-voltage electrical charge stored up in the metal truck body used us as a ground rod.  I shared the incident with my friend and we rejoiced, as we praised the Lord together.  The lingering feelings of discouragement were immediately dispelled, replaced with elation and joy.  We had just experienced a bonafide life-saving miracle in His service—and saw the power of Holy Spirit-prompted prayer in action.

The following day, I took the visiting missionary into town, 36 kilometers away, since he had to catch the air-conditioned express bus to Bangkok, then up to Northern Thailand where he ministered among the Karen Hill Tribe people.  Ian, the British missionary whom I had been in the lightning incident with, lived in town.  So, we decided to stop by to say hello and share how God had impressed the visiting missionary to pray for our safety at that very moment.

When we finished speaking, Ian asked his wife Wendy to tell us her account of the previous evening.  Amazingly, her account was quite similar to that of the visiting missionary's... deep foreboding feelings and a strong prompting to pray that God would spare our lives.  Again, we gave more heart-felt praise and thanks to the Lord.

That's the true account of the incident, as clearly as I can recall (apart from a few minor details).  It's still quite vividly impressed in my memory, since one doesn't forget those things very easily.  It was certainly a confidence and insight builder realizing afresh that we were on a potentially dangerous mission, deep behind enemy lines, and that the Enemy wanted us out of there and gone.  However, our Commander in Chief, the Lord Jesus Christ, had other plans for us!

(It was a real-life lesson as to the reality and power of God's guardian angels, who were on duty watching over us, and the importance and power of supportive prayer as we fought the good fight on the front lines—taking the life-giving Word and the Gospel message to those still trapped in Satanic darkness!)

NOTE: The adjoining miracle was, a few months later a church came into existence in a home not too many yards from where we began showing movies in that very same primitive rural village. The homeowners, Grandma and Grandpa Samer, an elderly couple who were well-known, powerful spirit mediums, were the first two believers.  Trapped as Satan's pawns in the dark arts of witchcraft for many years, I later learned that they had given up on Buddhism as a means of deliverance from the spirits, and were searching for the truth. 

They came to my home one morning (situated in a nearby village) to purchase vitamins and stomach-ailment medicine, which I kept a small supply of to dispense as needed.  When done, I said, "I have some more medicine, the type that will purify your hearts so you can go to Heaven..."  "Bring it out so we can look at it!" the man responded.  I went into our house and returned with some colorful posters that I used as visual aids when preaching the Gospel, as well as a tape recorder and Thai Bible materials.

They listened intently as I taught, starting with God, Creation, Adam and Eve, Satan and his lies, the Temptation, Fall, Curse, and the promised Messiah, naming the Name above all names—The Lord Jesus Christ—as the only One who could save them from sin and God's judgment.  I went on to say that He was the one that their legends spoke of as the Deliverer who was to come.  When I ran out of things I needed to say, I told them it was now up to them to respond to the message and receive Christ for themselves. 

Their hands went up simultaneously, clasped in a prayer position as they cried out verbally to God for mercy and help.  God delivered them immediately upon their repentance and profession of faith, as they sat there on the front porch of my home.  The year was mid-1977.  Later on, they told me that when they left my place to return to their home in the neighboring village, they felt as if a heavy chain had been unwound from around their chests.  Whenever I visited their home to teach, I would often hear them exclaim, "Praise the Lord," and you could tell it wasn't just an empty phrase to them.  They're now both sitting at the feet of the Lord Jesus, enjoying His presence face to face.  Soon after Grandma and Grandpa Samer came to Christ, all of their children, and many of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren became believers... some are even now in the ministry, down to the fourth and fifth generation. 

So, you can see how and why God protected us from lightning that evening, prompting believers to plea for our safety, although they were personally unaware.  Satan may be a very powerful enemy, but his power is meager and limited compared to God's, in Whom we trust and serve till Christ returns as we take God's Word and the Gospel message to those still blinded and groping around in spiritual darkness at the uttermost ends of the earth.

By God's Enabling Grace, and For His Eternal Glory;
Ron & Cheryl Myers, Amarin Thai Restaurant, Mother's Day 2008
Ron Myers
Church Planting Missionary and Bible Translator
Isan People and Region of Northeast Thailand

Baptist World Missionary Outreach Ministries
PO Box 3303, Chattanooga, TN 37404



TRUE LIFE STORY #2


FIRST-HAND TESTIMONIES OF GOD’S AMAZING GRACE FROM NORTHEAST THAILAND:

The Sad but True Account of A Loving Mother and Her Sick Little Girl
by Ron Myers

Of all the moms in the world, this young mom was average in every way, and of all the little girls in the world, her daughter was also quite average.  It was evident that Mom loved her little girl with a deep, deep love, and the little girl loved her mom in return.  Like all children, the little girl's waking hours were filled with fun, playing games with older siblings and playmates, interrupted only by an occasional household chore.  One day, the little girl began to develop a slight cough.  Her mom didn't pay too much attention at first, because getting sick was something children do.  The cough slowly worsened, until she was no longer able to laugh and play.

You might be thinking, if this mom truly loved her little daughter, why then didn't she seek professional help?  She did.  In fact, from every specialist and source she knew of.  Yet, the little girl's health continued to decline.  Her cough increased, consuming the little girl's waking hours as she grew weaker and weaker.  Now racked with fever, she slept only fitfully.

The mom was greatly troubled, but what else could she do?  Her little girl was now on the verge of... well... death.  More local "doctors" were called in, but to no avail.  Finally, the inevitable happened.  One morning, the mom awoke only to discover that her beloved little girl's form was now cold and still.  She had slipped away into eternity during the night.  The mother, beside herself with fear and grief, reached over and picked up the cold, frail little body and held it close to her bosom as she wept uncontrollably.  "Why-oh-why did my precious little girl have to die," she cried out in her own heart language of Isan.

WIth numb hearts, the grieving mom and dad went about the motions of making funeral arrangements for their newly-departed little girl.  Family and friends came to do what they could to help comfort the grieving family, but the pain remained.  Words of warmth and solace were offered, but nothing anyone could do or say could bring the little girl back, or salve the grieving hearts of the little girl's heavy-hearted parents and siblings.

The funeral was a simple one, with only the bare essentials.  Just before the casket was closed, the heartsick mom, staring down at her beloved little girl, and in a moment of blind desperation, took a piece of charcoal and made a small mark on the dead child's arm.  Through her tears, the mom whispered, "goodbye little one; mommy loves you so much... maybe I'll see you again someday."  The frail little body was then gently taken from the grieving mother's arms, placed in a roughly-hewn box, the lid was closed, and the little girl's earthly remains were taken to their final resting-place by friends and relatives.

Have you ever seen a heartsick parent mark the body of a deceased child like this?  I have, when we lived among the Nyaw-Isan villagers of Northeast Thailand, where this took place.  Not knowing the Savior, what possible hope did the mother have that she would ever see her daughter again?  According to the popular beliefs in the world in which this family lived, the only hope they had was by marking a deceased loved one's body.  Then, later on, if they happened to see someone with a similar birthmark, this would be proof that their beloved child had reincarnated to live again.

Why did this little girl die?  The help this family sought came not from God, or modern medicine, but from praying to evil spirits, making merit at the local (Buddhist) temple, and enlisting the divination services of witch doctors who tied charms and amulets on the sick child's body, all the while mouthing magical incantations, as well as concocting strange local folk remedies.

How many more moms and dads will mark their deceased children in false hope as these did, And, how many more children will perish needlessly like this little girl because their parents ignorantly passed up modern medicine in favor of old heathen beliefs and practices?  What about the Gospel message of salvation and eternal hope in Christ?  Haven't they heard the truth yet?  Don't they know the freedom-giving power of God's Word?  Most Isan people have never heard a clear Gospel presentation, nor do they have the Bible in their own heart language... but it's on the way.

The good news is, the Isan New Testament we are working on is now 80% finished at this writing, and, if all goes well, due to be completed in 2008-09.  I presently reside in San Diego, CA, but return to Thailand regularly to check and print more newly-translated Isan scripture books.  These are then distributed throughout Thailand's vast northeastern region, where they are placed into the hands of Isan families there, like the family described above.

Then, for the very first time in many cases, Isan moms and dads will be able to read God's great and precious promises in their own heart language.  Promises like: "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities (or frailties), but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16)

This urgently-needed project is made possible through the love gifts of God's people.  If you would like to have a part in taking God's life-giving Word to the Isan people of rural Northeast Thailand, please seek God's direction as to what He would have you do, designate your check for "Isan Scriptures," and send it to the address of our mission sending agency's headquarters below.  What a wonderful privilege to serve God in this way.

Thank you in advance for your prayers and your sacrificial help on behalf of all the Isan moms, dads and children.

By God's Grace and For His Glory,

Ron & Cheryl Myers, Amarin Thai Restaurant, Mother's Day 2008

Ron (and Cheryl) Myers
www.isanbible.org

GOD'S WORD FOR lSAN - MAY 2007
Church-planting and Bible translating missionaries to the
twenty-plus million Isan villagers of Northeast Thailand.

Baptist World Missionary Outreach Min.
P.O. Box 3303, Chattanooga, TN 37404


Note: This is a copy of one of our past news letters.


TRUE LIFE STORY #3


FIRST-HAND TESTIMONIES OF GOD’S AMAZING GRACE FROM NORTHEAST THAILAND:

A Recap of Some Of Our Experiences While Serving In Thailand
by Ron Myers

Foreword (How It All Began):

Cheryl Myers—College Yearbook Photo I met Cheryl during the Spring of 1969.  She was a pastor's daughter and a very attractive and pure-hearted young lady who was to become my wife and life-long companion a few months later.  Cheryl, the answer to my prayers and epitome of my dreams, grew up about 12 miles distance from where I did in New York's Finger Lakes Region.  Actually, I was told about her by a mutual acquaintance a couple years before we met, and pursued the idea of getting a date, but it didn't work out.  During that time, she was in the process of earning her Bachelor's Degree in Education at The King's College, Briarcliff Manor, NY.  She then returned home to teach school where she had attended.  We met, dated, fell in love, and realizing the Lord had brought us together, were married late Summer of that same year.

(Photo was taken for the King's College yearbook for their Home-Coming Queen selection, two years before we met.)

Even before we met, the Lord had been working in both of our hearts concerning His Will for our lives.  During the time we were dating, the Lord reminded both of us concerning earlier commitments we had each made to serve Him, but had subsequently put on hold to pursue personal plans.  We both yielded to His leading the same Sunday morning while in church, albeit unbeknown to each other.  Discussing it later, and seeking counsel from our pastors, we decided to get married and enter the ministry afterwards.  Thus, one week after our Honeymoon we entered missionary training under New Tribes Mission.  In short, we chose to leave the work-a-day rat-race behind, with all its tinsel and trappings, and go make a difference among needy people in remote Southeast Asia as pioneer church-planting missionaries.  Thailand became the obvious choice, as we saw the Lord open that particular door, and give us peace to pursue that direction.

First, we completed four years of intensive, specialized training (1969-73) in preparation for the rigors of pioneer missionary life, replete with its challenges and extreme living conditions.  Studies included: socio-linguistics; cultural-anthropology; unwritten language acquisition techniques; cross-cultural communication principles; literacy; jungle survival; field medicine; and obviously Bible training.

Upon successful completion of all requirements, and my ordination, we raised our support and moved to Thailand during the Fall of 1973 (during the final months of the Vietnam War).  There, we raised our family while serving among the village-dwelling minorities of Thailand's vast northeastern region, bordering Laos.  It was richly rewarding, rigorous, and challenging, as well as dangerous at times.  Even so, we both desired to spend our lives doing something lasting and worthwhile.  Not particularly satisfied with settling down to a comfortable, yet mundane lifestyle.


Some Interesting Personal Highlights:


Welcome To Thailand:

Ron, Cheryl, Davey Myers - Eldon, MO 1973

We (Cheryl and I, and 18-month old David) landed in Thailand in mid-September, 1973.  That was after a grueling and exhausting trip on a series of jam-packed flights from New York City, flying over Europe, where many passengers near us smoked constantly.  Upon arrival in Thailand, our initial exposure to this exotic foreign land was softened a little because we were immediately driven to our mission's annual field conference, held some 150 kilometers southeast of Bangkok at the Southern Baptist Conference Center, situated on the then-remote "Jom-tian" beachfront, five kilometers south of the tourist town of Pattaya City.  We spent over a week there at the beach-front conference grounds, recovering from jet-lag, relaxing and enjoying the pleasant surroundings, and gradually adjusting to the sights, sounds, food and culture of a strange new land... a land which was to become our new home for many years. 

Back then, that whole stretch of beach south of Pattaya was undeveloped, save for a few local dwellings and wood-framed guest houses, scattered here and there amongst the wild palm trees and abandoned rice fields.  The road back then, such as it was, was a pothole-filled, grass-lined dirt laneway.  Nowadays, that same area is jam-packed with tall five-star hotels and condos, as thick as the teeth on a comb, and of course with a paved thoroughfare.

After our initial time at the conference center, it was back to Bangkok where we rented a wood-framed Thai house, and became immersed in the then-strange new language and culture.  Our cute little two-story, wood-framed, rented Thai-styled dwelling. It was not a mansion on ritzy Sukkhumwit Road as some foreigners did, which helped endear us to the locals.  As I remember, we paid a whopping 800 Baht a month, which equaled $40 US.  Our "mini-mansion" was located at the edge of an old fruit orchard, out behind the Suan Pluu marketplace.  This location was not too far from the present-day Thai Immigration Headquarters, further down Suan Pluu Road.  We immediately began attending Union Language School during the morning hours, located a few blocks away on Silom Road, not too far from the Hotel Dusitani.  We usually walked to and from school, enjoying the smells of all the strange but usually tasty foods, hawked by friendly vendors, perched on the sidewalks along the way.  They often took up most of the sidewalk, which made all passers-by divert around them into the adjacent streets, with its backward-flowing traffic (mirror-image from American traffic).


Our First Thai Coup d'état:

The Suan Pluu fresh market near our home was really handy, as it was situated only a couple minutes walk from our front gate.  Just beyond that was Suan Pluu Road, where Cheryl often shopped for canned and packaged foods.  One day, as she left our favorite Thai-Chinese grocery store where we did business, she no sooner stepped back onto the sidewalk than every open-fronted store on the street slammed their folding doors shut, including the one she had just exited.  She noted that there were no pedestrians or traffic on the normally crowded and bustling street.

It was then that she heard the loud roar of huge diesel engines, and the noisy clatter of rubber-cleated track vehicles.  As she turned, she noticed a garrison of Army tanks, rounding the corner a few hundred meters down the then-abandoned street, rolling quickly up the empty street in her direction.  Armed troops perched on big Army transport trucks and in personnel carriers accompanied the tanks.  Before she could think what to do, or where to go, the owner of the store she had just exited slid the folding door open just enough to pull her back in to safety, and WHAM, he quickly slammed it back shut again before the approaching tanks and armed troops went by.

What was the occasion?  The infamous Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn, one of the "Terrible Threesome" dictator types of that era, as the Thai liked to call them, was being ousted from power by a popular uprising (October 14, 1973), accompanied by the ensuing posturing and confrontations during a coup d'état.

That was the first Thai coup we experienced, but certainly not the last.  Most were relatively bloodless, so we quickly learned to do as the Thai, just stay inside for a few days, with the radio on, till everything blew over.  It became a normal event after a while—no big deal, which the foreign media liked to make of it—as the Thai Military and somewhat fledgling Thai Democracy movement occasionally went head-to-head for control of the country.

As told by Ron Myers
(Coup d'état incident details as related to me a few minutes afterward by my excited and breathless wife, Cheryl.)




Continuing On—More Highlights:

1) We lived in steamy, bustling Bangkok for one year (1973-74), mastering the complex Thai language and writing system.  We now speak three Thai-related Asian tonal languages, and are somewhat proficient in a fourth.


2a) Upon completion of Thai language school in Bangkok, we moved our young family 675 kilometers (420 miles) to Sakon Nakon Province, Northeastern Thailand, during the Fall of 1974.  I rode in the open cab of the dilapidated old truck hauling our meager earthly belongings (sitting all night on a wooden plank seat).  Meanwhile, Cheryl rode the overly-packed overnight Bangkok-to-Sakon Nakon orange bus with our two young children—aptly nick-named "orange crush" by missionaries—which wasn't in much better condition than the truck.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  b) Arriving "sleepless in Sakon" the next morning, we unloaded the truck, unpacking our things in the nice, Thai-style, wood-framed house we had rented, located in a quiet part of town.  We loved that place, so nice, so handy, so quiet, so livable compared to Bangkok.  Weekdays, while Cheryl stayed at home with the children, I ranged out doing survey work on rutted back-country roads and ox-cart trails, riding a small, 100cc Kawasaki trail bike.  I was looking for a good place to locate among an unreached people group, of which there were numerous unreached tribal minority-group villages throughout the general area: Bruu, Dtrii, Kalerng, Nyaw, PhuThai, Saek, So, Yooi, et al.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  c) I finally located an ethnic Nyaw peasant-farmer village with a friendly village headman** who invited us to move in.  This was in a remote rural area of Nakon Panom Province, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Sakon Nakon Province and 36 kilometers (22 miles) from Nakon Panom's capital city.  I made land rental arrangements with one of the villagers, Mr. Gert (first in the village to accept Christ).  I built a nice, sturdy peasant-styled house on Mr Gert's property, employing local help.  It was a typical-looking structure on the outside, So as not to look out-of-place or draw unnecessary attention, but the interior had many conveniences like gravity-fed running water, kitchen and bathroom (with sinks), shower, drains, flush toilet, livingroom, three bedrooms, office space, and even a children's schoolroom underneath. 

Note: **Village Headman.  A village headman in Thailand is appointed by the people as their representative and liaison to the Thai government and visa versa. However, the headman has little or no authority in the village's internal socio-cultural or spiritual affairs.  (A council of respected Village Elders holds that place authority.) 

As it turned out, this village headman, Mr. Nut, was quite corrupt; sort of a small-time gangster type—which everyone knew but us, we later learned.  He had gladly invited us to come live in his village, thinking he was going to receive gain off of the "rich" foreigners.  However, when he realized we were not going to fit into his wishes, he then tried his best to get rid of us.  At times he reminded me of a little Banny Rooster, when he would strut back and forth in front of our house, like a guard on duty, dressed in his government-issue village headman uniform, replete with white gloves and shouldering an old rifle he had picked up somewhere. 

He also began going around warning the villagers to be careful of us, and to not believe anything we said, telling them we were CIA, as well as KGB, all at the same time.  He even tried to tell the district officials the same thing, but they knowingly disbelieved him and sent him home.  Most of the villagers disliked Headman Nut, and accepted us, to the point where they finally appointed a four-man ad hoc committee to gather enough signatures to have him officially removed from office.

As a replacement for Headman Nut, they chose one of the men on the committee, who just happened to be my trusted friend, Mr. Kiam.  Kiam was also my Nyaw language tutor, who became a much-loved and respected village headman.  Concerning the Gospel, Kiam once told me quite earnestly during one of our language sessions, that he realized we had brought an important message to share, but that he personally didn't fully understand it very well.  One evening, he called a village meeting, where all the heads of households were called together. There, Kiam allowed me to preach the Gospel to them.  Not much happened at that time, but some believed later on.  Among them was the fromer Headman Nut's eldest son. 

Sadly, on one of my recent trips to Thailand, I stopped by the village to visit old friends, including Headman Kiam.  In usual fashion, I approached Kiam's house and called out his name, expecting to hear his voice in return, inviting me up onto the porch.  However, a neighbor responded with: "You're too late Ron, your friend Kiam died about a month ago."  To say that I was deeply saddened would be an understatement, since, to the best of my knowledge, Kiam never understood well-enough to accept Christ. 

May our God have mercy on Kiam's soul on That Day.  My good friend Kiam was truly interested in the Gospel, and knew that it was important, but lacked understanding.  I lay a good share of the blame on myself, because I didn't come to the full realization until later that the shortcut Westernized method of sharing the Good News (that most missionaries still use) falls dreadfully short in a land where the people know nothing of a Creator God. Nor do they hold a Judeo-Christian world view, which, when understood, helps them to "connect-the-dots," and more-readily comprehend the Gospel message, including who Jesus Christ really is, and why it is important to receive Him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  d) While I was busy completing our village home, Cheryl stayed in our rental home in Sakon Nakon Province, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) away.  We moved into our new home in the Nyaw village (spent the first night there as a family) on Christmas Eve, 1974.  There, we lived and worked among primitive rice farmers for eight years.  Village life was very primitive, with an absence of any utilities; such as electricity, city water, sewage, phone, or medical facilities, and a road akin to an improved oxcart trail.  It was not hard to adapt, quite pleasant, actually.  In a few weeks, we had pretty-much made all needed adjustments.  It was nearing the end of the Vietnam War, and many Communist insurgents hid out in the surrounding forests and mountains.  Nevertheless, having laid our lives on the line for the Gospel, God watched over us and kept us safe.


3) Our two daughters, Angela and Michelle, were born in Bangkok Christian Hospital. (Angela in February 1974 about seven months after we arrived in Thailand, and Michelle in May 1976, while we were living in the remote, upcountry Nyaw village.)


4) While entering Free Laos in the Spring of 1975 to renew our Thai visas (as we were accustomed to doing), this time we were surprised and detained by battle-hardened Communist soldiers, with loaded AK-47s drawn down on us.  Unbeknown to the outside world, they had taken the little border town earlier that morning.  Convinced that I was with the CIA, things soon got very serious.  However, by God's Providential watch-care, we were later released unexpectedly.

Note: As to the seriousness of the event, we knew missionaries who were captured by Communist soldiers, marched barefoot for hundreds of miles over rough mountain terrain to North Vietnam, and imprisoned in the "Hanoi Hilton."  We knew of other missionaries who were killed within their homes, which were then burned down with their bodies inside.

5) During those years, Communist insurgents, as well as gangs of armed robbers, and bandits roamed the huge forests out behind our village.  The bandits made it a practice of kidnapping government officials, traveling merchants, and wealthy businessmen for ransom money, often killing their victims.  I got word that we (as "rich" foreigners) were in their plans, whereupon I specifically asked God to protect us.  A few days later, we learned that an undercover provincial police battalion ambushed them in a sting raid, and ended up killing the whole gang in an ensuing gun battle.


6) In 1981, after a one-year Sabbatical in the States, we relocated from the primitive village setting to the provincial capital of Nakon Panom, near the Mekong River.  There, our nice home became headquarters where we expanded our outreach and initiated a Bible translation project for the 21-million Bible-less Isan people, now 80% complete.


7a) In 1983, our youngest daughter Michelle, at age 7yrs, slipped and fell from a fruit tree behind our house, landing on the hard ground 16-18 feet below.  Smashing her side against a big clump of hard dirt, she badly ruptured her left kidney and tore the adjoining artery.  Bleeding profusely internally, she survived emergency surgery in a somewhat-primitive provincial hospital, the only semi-decent facility within hundreds of miles.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  b) The hospital's blood-bank did not have her blood type (AB+ is rare for Asians), whereupon I was called upon to go "hunt up" three pints of AB+ from among friends and acquaintances, which I did, with difficulty.  The time by then was early evening.  Meanwhile, her life was being saved by Dr. Wichit, a skilled Thai surgeon who just "happened" to be in town.  Michelle healed rapidly, and is now a successful administrative district school nurse here in Southern California, with her Master's Degree in nursing (and a sizable scar by which to remember her inspiration for becoming a nurse).


8) Alltold, during all our time spent in Thailand, we made life-long friends from among a wide socio-economic and ethnic spectrum of people, ranging from dirt-poor peasant farmers, to successful businessmen, to multi-millionaires.


9) During our time ministering in Northeast Thailand, we were involved in planting (starting) at least three rural churches, along with various smaller local-area meeting centers.  We were also involved in reviving an older established church in Nakon Panom city that was floundering.  All told, we saw many families (men and their wives) become full-time leaders in their own right, including: pastors; teachers; evangelists; missionaries; church-planters; song writers; Sunday-school workers; elders; deacons; etc.  At last count, there were at least five generations of believers in some families.


10) Most significantly, by God's Grace, we saw Hope and New Life arise in many hearts and lives as they turned from their ancient folk-superstitions and works-based religious traditions to receive Christ as their Creator, Savior, and Lord.


Note: There are many more things that could be added, but these will suffice for now.

By God's Enabling Grace, and For His Eternal Glory;
Ron & Cheryl Myers, Amarin Thai Restaurant, Mother's Day 2008
Ron (and Cheryl) Myers
Church Planting Missionary and Bible Translator
Isan People and Region of Northeast Thailand

Baptist World Missionary Outreach Ministries
PO Box 3303, Chattanooga, TN 37404


TRUE LIFE STORY #4


FIRST-HAND TESTIMONIES OF GOD’S AMAZING GRACE FROM NORTHEAST THAILAND:

Rogue Killer Elephants and Our Adventuresome Trip into the Mountains of Northern Thailand:
By Ron Myers


During the early 1980s, as we had done before, Cheryl and I traveled east-to-west, across Thailand's upper or northern region to visit our two older children, David (11) and Angela (8), who were attending missionary school in the modern city of Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.  Our two younger children, Michelle (6) and Danny (approaching 4), were with us.  Upon returning home, traversing the myriad of roads along the 1,200-kilometer (745-mile) route to our place of ministry in Nakon Panom Province, Northeast Thailand, Cheryl and I innocently decided to take a short side-detour to visit fellow missionary friends.

The missionary family, Gene and Mary Long and children, lived and ministered among the highly-nomadic Yellow Leaf people, who slept under the stars and roamed the high-jungles, foraging for meager sustenance, w-a-y up in the remote mountaintop wilderness jungle regions of Thailand's Naan Province, as well as adjoining provinces, and even into neighboring Laos.

Somehow, we were made to believe, or got the distinct impression, that the road up the mountain was easily passable.  Actually, the villagers in a Northern Thai village at the base of the mountain assured us the road was fine, but sent a couple young fellows along with us to assist, just in case.  That should have been a clue; however, had we known, we certainly would have never attempted the assent in the first place.  If fact, that's when all the "fun" began.

On the way up, although the '75 VW Van we were driving was amazingly light-footed and agile, there were some pretty tricky spots I had to navigate.  At these points, Cheryl got out and walked a while with our then three-year-old son, Danny, who had become uncontrollably frightened, having been petrified by the long stretch of steep, potentially-dangerous mountain...  'er...  do I dare call it a road(?), that we had to ascend.

Actually, the incident that frightened Danny most occurred at the very crest of the long ascent... which made me a bit squeamish as well.  Near the top of that long, narrow ascent, there was a brief level section, with a towering dirt bank straight ahead, proceeded by a sharp 90-degree left-had corner at its base.  Beyond the sharp left-hand turn was another immediate steep stretch of road that resembled a narrow trough in one spot.  Near the crest, the road passed between tall, narrow banks that had been notched out just wide enough for a vehicle to navigate through.  I sized it up in my mind as I climbed towards it, the engine chugging along in first gear at about half-throttle...  certainly nothing an experienced driver (such as I) couldn't thread the van through with relative ease, I thought to myself.

We climbed smoothly up the steep, dusty incline as I threaded the van between the steep banks.  I relaxed a little towards the top, getting ready for the sharp right-hand turn at the crest, a few yards away. Then... W H A M !   The steering wheel was suddenly jerked from my hands as the van lifted a few inches and rotated counterclockwise, wedging tightly up against the hard dirt banks on opposite corners.  Upon settling back down, the left corner of the front bumper was lodged tightly against the left bank, and the corresponding opposite right corner of the rear bumper was lodged tightly against the right bank, preventing any movement whatsoever!  There we sat, pinned in.  I had seen nothing in the path to cause this.  However, upon crawling up and out of the driver's side window (the door being too close to the bank to open), I squatted down and pawed through the deep powdery dust, where I discovered a large buried tree root.  The hidden root had halted our progress with an abrupt jerk as the left-front tire slammed up against it!

Fortunately, the steep bank that the rear bumper's right corner was wedged against was relatively soft dirt, making it fairly easy to scoop out a deep groove using a flat stone and the van's tire iron.  This provided ample room to rock the van back and forth with the engine while straightening it up enough for a fresh attempt.  Even at that, proceeding uphill was impossible from a standing start, due to the lack of "umph" produced by the VW's 1600 engine.  The only viable solution was to back downhill about 25 yards to the square corner, then re-attempt the run. 

This time, we easily made it to the top of that short, steep section, as we should have done initially, apart from the hidden root.  What awaited us at the crest of that section is what threw the final fright into poor little Danny's heart.  Having been able to ascend between the banks with plenty of remaining speed, as I approached the sharp right turn on the level crest, it became evident that if I had over-shot the turn, we would have started back down again... ALMOST STRAIGHT DOWN!  A great expanse of air and space was all that was to be seen - with the tops of trees a long way below - and there we were, sitting in the van, perched on a postage-stamp-sized outcropping of land.  Danny lost it, then and there (and I can't blame him, really), whereupon Cheryl decided to walk with him alongside the road.

Beyond that point, the deeply-rutted unimproved path of a "road" had a few more scary surprises as it continued on. At times it was an ultra-steep, bumpy dirt trail, widened just enough for small trucks...  or in our case, an atypical VW Van, the tires of which dropped nicely into the deep wheel ruts, which had been cut in during muddy times, making it impossible to maneuver out of them, or turn around.

There were a few sections without these deep ruts. Turning around there might have been possible had it not been for other challenges.  Apart from the deeply rutted sections, the narrow road was typically lined with a variety of other little niceties: like big rocks; trees or stumps; heavy brush; flowing streams; banks or ravines; swampy spots; as well as patches of high grassy reeds, potentially containing hidden, immovable objects.  None of these options was worth the attempt, so I continued on.  Besides that, the "crew" of two young village men with me kept responding with: "just around the next bend," every time I inquired as to the remaining distance, making me think they really weren't sure.

There was one very surreal section of road I distinctly remember.  There, the road not only had a steep incline, but it was also very long and straight as an arrow.  This was compounded by very deep, narrow wheel tracks (ruts), as previously described.  We started out with pretty decent speed; about half-throttle in first gear.  We should have been able to make it over the crest if all had gone well; however, it didn't.  Even though I tried to keep it centered, our speed was impeded due to the van rattling and bouncing around in the narrow ruts.  We managed to get what seemed like a hair's breadth from the crest and ran out of steam.

The long uphill grade was much steeper than it appeared, seeing that the surrounding open landscape had that same upward-leaning slant.  What to do?  Since there was not enough power to relaunch from where we sat, the only viable alternative was to back all the way back down, a few hundred yards (or meters), to the level approach-way of that very surreal section.  We finally made it over the top, on, I believe it was the third try – getting teasingly close during each previous attempt.  Fortunately, the extra-high clearance of the mid-70s VW Van made the going possible, else we would have gotten helplessly and hopelessly hung-up long before reaching the missionary's mountain-high residence.

As it happened, we actually got bottomed out while cresting that uphill section...  the van rocking like a teeter-totter, center-balanced on its big frame-members.  This impossible predicament was "quickly" and "easily" solved by an hour's worth of grunting, sweating, and digging away on the offending hard-pan bump, using the pointed end of the van's tire wrench to lower the high spots.  Coming under the general classification of road improvement, I relocated the bump, packing the dirt into a makeshift ramp under the rear tires which had been rocking a few inches off the ground.  It worked, and we were able to gain traction enough to crest the hill.

By then, I was covered with sweat and caked-on dirt, not to mention tired.  With the sun drawing ever-closer to its evening destination, we were finally on our way again.  Cheryl had already climbed back aboard the van with Danny, after the road had smoothed out a bit, and Danny (bless his heart) had been able to regain a little composure.  When we arrived at Long's residence, we were informed that there was a rogue male elephant roaming that same dense jungle area which we had just come through, parts of which Cheryl and Danny were afoot.  The enraged male elephant had turned on its owner, killing him, and was feared to be out looking for more blood-letting opportunities.  Nice!  Praise the Lord we didn't meet up.  Who can tell the harm we might have unleashed on that giant beast with that little tire iron?  ... NOT!

As mentioned, had we known these things, we would have never attempted the assent in the first place, except that we had been assured by villagers in the Northern Thai village at the base of the mountains that the road was in great shape...  no problem.  Well, they must have meant great shape for Army tanks, Motocross bikes, off-road vehicles, or high-clearance trucks with plenty of passengers along to help push when required - the high-clearance trucks being the normal type of traffic that traversed this particular stretch of real estate, we later learned.

As it turned out, this was clearly not suitable for under-powered VW passenger vans!  Apart from the exaggerated sense of encouragement from the two young men that the Northern Thai village graciously supplied (telling us that our destination was just around the next bend), I would have turned back many times, had I found a good spot.

On the way in, one of the young men did a bang-up job (no pun intended) of thoroughly smashing his thumb in the VW Van's heavy sliding side door, which we weren't made aware of until after we had arrived.  Speaking of arriving, it would have been worth a million bucks just to have a picture of Mary Long's surprised look as she watched us drive past her kitchen window.  Agape with wonder, her expression was probably akin to watching a nuclear submarine roll past one's house in a quiet suburban neighborhood on a sunny afternoon... just not possible.

Fortunately for the injured young man, the Longs had plenty of first-aid supplies for just such occasions.  So, Mary was able to cleanse, sterilize, and repair the poor fellow's thumb to some degree with a butterfly patch, as well as apply a nice clean dressing.  I'm sure he's fine now, but at that time, the young man's thumb looked like it had just been traversed by an angry weed chopper.  And, even though he sloughed it off as being inconsequential, in a sense it was actually our fault.  Talk about having a high threshold for pain (which these people do have), we never heard a yelp from him when it occurred!

Thankfully, and amazingly, I was able to make it in and out...  or should I say up and back down, without putting a single scratch or blemish on that VW Van.  That being said, it took nearly all the driving skill and experience I had accumulated over the years - both on and off road - to traverse some of the spots, as well as get out of predicaments, all the while keeping from blemishing that pristine van in any way.

During our short stay with the Longs, while everyone else was enjoying themselves, I remember being silently pensive, preoccupied with concerns (even nightmares) about sliding off the very narrow part of the trail that scaled the first mountainside.  In fact, it was a mere notch of a path, all of the way along that steep section, literally having been hoed out by hand with primitive tools by Hmong tribesmen.  This made it possible for them to access their own village with their narrow, high-wheeled, short-cab diesel trucks.

On our way up, I distinctly remember glancing at the bottom edge of the windshield on the passenger's side.  As I refocused to get a fix on the edge of the road, to my amazement there was no roadside to be seen beyond the windshield wiper, only the tops of trees a few hundred feet below - the obvious reason for my concerns for our return trip.  I faced my fears and we made it back down in great shape, much easier than the ascending trip.

As a sidenote, a few months later, a fellow missionary-friend who owned a similar mid-'70s VW Van, heard about my excursion, so decided to meet the challenge to see how he could fare trying the same "stunt."  The result?  His wise (and somewhat upset) wife, as his hapless passenger, insisted that he turn back...  which he did in deference to her wishes.  They later moved there to assist in the ministry, and scaled the section numerous times, after having gotten the hang of it.  (Note: Today, this whole unimproved trail has been replaced by a decent dirt and gravel road, with some sections being made of poured concrete.)

So, what was the difference between our two trips?  Mine was a first time, done in naive innocence (OK, call it ignorance if you must) - somewhat of a first for me when it comes to driving antics.  Whereas, his was done as a personal challenge, and he knew the road, having been there before in the Long's old Toyota four-wheel drive pickup.  However, I'm not preening as having bettered him, since he is a good driver as well, and was most of the way there when he turned around.  It could easily have been the other way around - me trying to match or better his record.  This is a prime example of how some missionaries get their "kicks" on the mission field, yours truly not withstanding.  (Thankfully, no one got hurt, except for maybe a slightly bruised ego.)  As mentioned, few years later, he and his wife and family moved there, helping in the ministry to the Yellow Leaf people on that same mountaintop trail.  He later traded his beloved VW Van in for a high-clearance, four-wheel drive pickup.

I had opportunity to go visit the Longs again recently.  In fact, traversing that same road(?).  This time, however, I was a passenger, riding in Gene Long's ultra-comfy new vehicle...  a brand-new Toyota, all-wheel-drive, with all the "bells & whistles."  The Lord had graciously supplied it for them through a very substantial gift, as a replacement for a much-older, now semi-dilapidated Toyota four-wheel-drive pickup that had spent its whole lifetime going back and forth, from getting supplies in town to their mountaintop home, along that same route.

That same infamous road is a bit wider now, and even paved part of the way.  It even has bridges, such as they are, instead of the high-banked, flowing fjords I had bounced across years earlier, making it practically unrecognizable when compared to the apparitions I had stored in my memory...  apart, that is, from a few remaining deeply-rutted, potholed sections - wouldn't want it to be too comfy.

The previously-scary (dangerous) portion is now lined with overgrown brush and saplings, which blocks the downward view, and would probably (hopefully) have stopped us, if by any chance we might have gone off the road at that point.  We were relatively safe, though, seeing that Gene has traversed that glorified Motocross trail for many years during their ministry there among the Yellow Leaf people - which is beginning to prosper - so he knows it like the back of his hand.

Note: I realize this might sound like a fairy tale to some, but I can assure you, it's not. (RM)

By God's Enabling Grace, and For His Eternal Glory;
Ron & Cheryl Myers, Amarin Thai Restaurant, Mother's Day 2008
Ron (and Cheryl) Myers
Church Planting Missionary and Bible Translator
Isan People and Region of Northeast Thailand

Baptist World Missionary Outreach Ministries
PO Box 3303, Chattanooga, TN 37404


TRUE LIFE STORY #5


FIRST-HAND TESTIMONIES OF GOD’S AMAZING GRACE FROM NORTHEAST THAILAND:

The Amazing Salvation Testimony Of Aunty Jume (A.K.A. "Witchy")
By Ron Myers

I believe you'll receive a blessing from reading this true story about our next-door neighbor whom we nicknamed "Witchy."
She was a lady who came to faith in Christ during the sunset weeks of her life in a remote village in Northeast, Thailand.

Witchy is the nickname we gave her.  How horrible, you might think.  Actually, it wasn’t meant to be a derogatory term, just a moniker to identify her by when we first moved into the village, before we learned her real name.  However, the term stuck.  Give her a broom, a pointed hat, and a black cat, and she would look the part.  Witchy’s given name, we soon learned, was "Jume."  We also learned that the reason for her haggard and frail-looking appearance was because her body was riddled with Tuberculosis.  Yes, Witchy was once a very attractive lady, we were told, but was dying of TB, which was very common to the area with its lack of modern medical comprehension, health precautions and hygienic practices.  Thus, Witchy's days were numbered when we first met her.  Meaning that she had only a few years to live, or months, if that.

Witchy, or Aunty Jume, had lived her whole life in poverty and the seclusion of a remote rural Nyaw village called Bahn Nah Nai, or "Inner Field Village," situated in the remote countryside of Nakon Panom province, Northeast Thailand, bordering Laos.  It was into that village that we moved to begin our church-planting ministry among the Nyaw people—a sub-group of the Lao-Isan people—and Witchy (Aunty Jume) became our next-door neighbor.

Aunty Jume’s husband’s name was Gaew.  Uncle Gaew, whose clubfoot gave him a decidedly identifiable gait, was an esteemed village elder.  He was an honest man and later became our trusted watchman and close friend, and would keep track of our home for us when we were away.  Theirs (Uncle Gaew and Aunt Jume) was the very first house that I visited in the village while looking for land on which to build our home.  I climbed the ladder, and introduced myself, speaking in Central Thai (the only Asian language I knew at that time).  I sat on their front porch that Fall afternoon, 1974, along with other village men who were there chatting.  I then asked about the nice-looking plot of land, located directly across the road.  "It belongs to Mr. Born," Uncle Gaew responded in faltering Thai (not his first language)... "here, he's sitting right here." 

I made an agreement with Mr. Born that warm and lazy afternoon while sitting on Jume and Gaew's porch... leasing that nice-looking plot of land on which we built our cozy home-away-from-home.  (NOTE: Incidentally, Mr. Born became the first believer in that village, having trusted Christ the following year—summer of 1975.  Mr. Born, in his 80s at the time of this writing, was still going strong for the Lord as an evangelist, teacher, and local church elder until his passing, circa 2010.)

Using only hand tools and local construction techniques, we finished construction on our home in the remote Nyaw village of Bahn Nah Nai in about six weeks.  There was no available electricity at the time, and generators were noisy and impractical.  We moved in Christmas Eve, 1974.  Our place was simple, but adequate, like a cozy little cottage.  We fell in love with it, soon growing used to the sparse living conditions.  The main roof was corrugated gypsum panels, available throughout the area.  It had a large open front porch with a nice grass roof that afforded a natural cooling affect during hot season, helping to blend in with the others around us.  Our evenings were lit by candles and kerosene wick lamps, which gave everything a warm golden glow, but limited light.  For shade, we were fortunate to have two huge trees in the yard, like large landmarks.  I'll include a photo of our house later.  (We had a packing crate stolen in transit, which contained many irreplaceable personal effects, including a large amount of photos.)

Our village home was modeled externally like the others, but with a few essential "amenities" inside—things like a kitchen table and chairs, a cute little three-burner gas stove with oven and a five cubic foot LP-gas fridge (both being RV appliances I brought from the States), kitchen sink, running water and drain system, cupboards, dressers, beds, and last-but-not-least, a bathroom with an Asian-style manually-flushed toilet (it did the job), wash-sink, and overhead pail shower whereby we could enjoy warm-water showers during cold season.  In other words, all the essential comforts of home, more or less.  Our home stood on large square vertical integral hard-wood beams, the bottom end being "planted" in three-foot deep holes in the ground, extending vertically up to just under the roof on the inside.  The floor level was at the normally-prescribed six-to-eight foot height off the ground, high enough so we could easily walk or drive a vehicle underneath.  And yes, our home, although built mostly of used and hand-sawn lumber, was very sturdy, much more so than the majority of surrounding village dwellings.

The villagers proved to be quite friendly, helpful, and accepting of us.  However, their own living conditions were comparatively meager and primitive—as if transplanted from centuries out of the past—far beyond any modern conveniences with which we were accustomed: no electricity (we used candles or kerosene lamps—as did they); no running water (we drilled a small well—they used open pit dug wells, and ours); no sewer system (we improvised our own—they used the nearby woods); no telephones (no land lines or cell phones—both are now readily available); no local grocery stores (we shopped in the markets on a weekly basis in the distant town—they "shopped" daily in the surrounding fields and woods in a literal hand-to-mouth styled existence); and, a road akin to a semi-improved ox-cart trail, that was in a constant state of pot-holes, deep ruts, and general disrepair (now the main road is paved, although the pot-holes are still there, and there are narrow cement streets in the village).

The local soil was deep reddish-orange in color.  So, during the dry season, rust-colored and sour-tasting dust hung in the air, which coated everything with slippery, rusty-looking mud during the rainy season.  During rainy season, everything we owned took on a moldy odor—books, clothes, everything.  Since flip-flops were the prescribed form of local footwear, our lower legs, feet, and many clothing items took on an indelible reddish stain (with or without soap and water).  We even got used to the look after a while, and only felt embarrassed of our seedy-looking appearance when traveling the thirty-six kilometers (twenty-three miles) into the comparatively-modern town for market supplies and mail run.  This, I did on a weekly basis, riding in back of one of the many local small pickup truck-taxis, and later on a used Honda CL 350 c.c. motorcycle that we were able to purchase.  After a run to town during dry season, I would return home to the village covered with red dust from head to toe, or red mud in the rainy season.

Concerning Witchy, despite her somewhat scary-looking outward appearance, once we got to know her we discovered that she had a friendly and warm personality.  And, she proved to be a real prankster at times.  Her well-developed sense of humor came out in various ways—like the time Cheryl was collecting language material for linguistics studies.  She noticed a group of village ladies sitting and chatting on Witchy’s porch one morning, so walked across the road with notebook and tape recorder in hand.  Cheryl, after ascending the porch ladder and sitting down (just as I had done the first day we entered the village, looking for a place to build our house), asked Witchy if she would be so kind as to help her by telling one of their many fables or legends, to which Witchy readily agreed to do.  The idea was to dissect the recorded material to learn more about the syntax and grammatical structure of the Nyaw language—all with the intended purpose of being able to learn to speak this unwritten language fluently, and thus present the Gospel message in a clear and precise manner.  However, instead of telling Cheryl the requested legend, Witchy told an off-colored joke.  Everyone there was highly amused as Witchy played it up, but Cheryl was none-the-wiser, being totally oblivious to what was happening, since she was obviously unfamiliar with the "terminology" being used in the "story."  Cheryl later learned what had happened and we all had a good laugh, except for Cheryl, that is.

On other occasions, while we were sitting on our front porch eating an Isan-styled meal in normal Nyaw-Isan fashion to identify with the villagers, curious Witchy would amble on over to taste-test what we were eating.  "What is this horrible-tasting stuff?" she would grimace with a twinkle in her eye.  "Let me bring you some good food."  In a few minutes, she would return with a local delicacy, like smoked ant eggs, pickled (semi-decayed) fish, or wok-fried June bugs, all wrapped up in a dirty old banana leaf.  These, we were honor-bound to eat, or at least sample in feigned delight, and in turn, send her home with a sampling of our own "horrible-tasting" food, which she would make short work of.  Believe it or not, we tried many of their local "delicacies" over the years, and lived to tell about it, but I'll spare you the gruesome details for now.  I actually developed a taste for some of them.

Or, Witchy might just saunter on over to chat and relax in the cool of our large shade trees on a sweltering summer afternoon.  I was far enough along in the language-learning process so that I could effectively present the Gospel to her—starting with creation since they first need to know God as their Creator before they can understand about Christ.  Witchy’s TB condition had robbed much of her hearing, so I had to speak very loudly.  In doing so, other villagers nearby got the benefit of hearing the Gospel as well.  At other times, I’d use colored posters depicting Gospel truths for story-telling visuals, or put "Lam Lao" narrated Gospel tapes in the battery-powered cassette, give her the earphones and crank up the volume, whereupon Witchy would sit and listen intently.  These tapes contained stories of creation, the fall, and redemption in Lam Lao story-telling song form, sung by balladeers.  (Lam Lao is a popular local art form used to sing-tell oral history and other narratives with accompanying local-area background music.  It works extremely well to present stories of Creation, the Gospel, etc.—and the people simply loved to listen to it, even though they were slow to believe.)

At intervals, as I had for numerous other villagers, I would drive Witchy (Aunty Jume) and her husband, Uncle Gaew, the one-hundred kilometers (sixty-two miles) distance in my old 1964 VW Van to a regional TB hospital, located in nearby Sakon Nakon Province.  There, she received chest X-Rays, check-ups, and a fresh supply of TB medication.  Because most Isan villagers had little or no concept of germs or bacteria—thinking that things they can’t see can’t hurt them—any admonitions to maintain cleanliness and isolation of eating and drinking utensils usually went unheeded.  Witchy’s household was no different and so she continued to share the coconut-shell drinking cup used by other family members, ignorantly risking the spread of her TB to her loved ones.  She would probably have been cured by that time if she had continued on her medication from the beginning, but like most other Isan villagers, she would quit taking the medication as soon as her cough showed signs of improvement—thinking she was fully cured—which made the TB even more resistant to medication.

Once, when Witchy was not responding to the TB medication, and her health had declined further, Uncle Gaew summoned the help of a local-area spirit doctor or medium—a specialist which was called a Maw Yao (or "Yao" doctor) to seek answers as to the cause.  Considering himself a strict Buddhist, this was a practice in which Uncle Gaew "claimed" not to believe, but decided to try it anyway to see if it might help, he later confided.  Customarily, a Maw Yao was only summoned in a last-ditch effort, after all other avenues had failed, in hopes of discovering the cause of the problem, and thus affect a cure and save a loved-one's life.  These types of spirit doctors were typically always women, chosen by the spirits through hereditary lines.  The Maw Yao, a rosy-cheeked and somewhat rotund older woman, came and conducted a seance late into the night. There was music played on indigenous instruments, ceremonial dancing, tobacco and liquor.  The offended spirit—the one that was said to have caused the medication to fail—was summoned.  I was there, sitting in the background with my Bible, observing the proceedings.  (Missionaries, to be truly effectual, must observe and study the peoples' beliefs and cultural practices to be able to understand and thus more effectively present the Gospel.)

The ceremony apparently wasn’t going well, I was told by attendees, because the spirit was hesitant to "descend" upon the Maw Yao since it feared me as God’s emissary, and feared the Bible I was carrying. This brought a chorus of oohs and aahs from those present.  They then assured the "spirit" that I was a friendly neighbor, so "it" reluctantly descended anyway.  The alleged proof of the spirit's presence was evidenced in the Maw Yao being able to cause a short sword to balance erect on a tray, all by itself—which she finally managed to accomplish after numerous tries.  Then, the Maw Yao placed a boiled egg in the palm of her hand, which—to show affirmation in response to yes or no questions—rotated and stood on end all by itself, to reply yes or no to questions!  This, I also witnessed.

NOTE:  I observed closely to see how these two "supernatural manifestations" (so-called) were accomplished.  I then reproduced them the next day to everyone’s astonishment, showing them to be hoaxes.  Of course, this new revelation, however enlightening, did not bring an end to this long-held belief and practice.  This gives the uninitiated reader an idea of how resistant these people are to any type of change or outside influence—a small glimpse into what the missionary who works among them faces in attempts to effectively spread the Gospel message.

In usual manner, the spirit conversed with Uncle Gaew through the Maw Yao or spirit medium, letting him know that to which Witchy’s plight was due.  Apparently, someone in the household had cut down a bush in their fields, which allegedly offended it.  Uncle Gaew was told that only a blood sacrifice would appease the offended spirit, which in turn would restore the medication’s power, and Witchy’s health; i.e., a chicken, sacrificed under a designated tree.  This belief and practice is known as Animism, and of course most is just superstitious hocus-pocus to us, but these people live under its spell, so it is real to them, which keeps them in dark ignorance and bondage.  And, apart from the freeing power of accepting Christ and experiencing the New Birth, they remain lost and chained in spiritual darkness by these Satanic deceptions.

During the days following the Maw Yao ceremony, other cleansing rituals were performed.  These included a Suu Khwan or soul-calling ceremony.  This important ceremony was presided over by village elders, wherein Witchy’s "wandering" soul-essence or Khwan (difficult to translate) was beckoned to return to her.  Essentially, this ceremony is designed to restore one's sense of confidence and well-being after an upsetting event or strenuous experience has occurred, interrupting one's normal lifestyle.  During this ceremony, friends and relatives pronounce blessings as they tie cotton strings around the wrists of the person receiving the ceremony.  This promotes harmony and solidarity, further restoring the person’s sense of well-being and personal confidence.  Translated directly as "live good, have strength," well-being is a core cultural theme of all Nyaw, Isan and Lao people.

Years went by and we went on furlough, returning to our home in Ban Naa Nai village only a few brief months before moving into the provincial capital of Nakon Panom to expand our ministry and initiate the Isan Bible translation project.  By this time, many others had come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior and a church had been planted in a nearby village.  However, Witchy and Uncle Gaew had not yet believed, despite our prayers and best efforts to teach and encourage them, and remind them of God’s goodness.

Shortly after moving into the provincial capital, I heard from a coworker that Witchy had taken another turn for the worse, but also that she had recently accepted the Lord!  Greatly blessed, I sent word back to Witchy with the missionary that I was rejoicing with her, and that I would try to get out to visit her soon.  However, being tremendously busy, as usual, the promised "soon" never arrived.

A few weeks later, the missionary stopped by to break the sad news that Witchy had finally died, and that her relatives had invited us to attend her funeral.  It was the normal type of rural Isan funeral where, with the body of the deceased in an elaborately-decorated, multi-tiered, homemade coffin, and with ear-splitting music blaring over a generator-powered loud speaker system, a house-full of guests eat, drink and visit around the clock.  The prolonged merriment is designed to lift the hearts of grieving relatives and turn their thoughts to other things.  This continues for a few days, followed by cremation on a large funeral pyre at a designated site in a wooded lot, outside of the village.  I was given opportunity to speak.  The loud speaker system carried my voice throughout the whole village and beyond.  Using the Nyaw language, I told the people that Witchy was now safe and sound with the Lord Jesus Christ, and that if they desired to see her again, they too needed to turn and accept Christ.

While at the funeral, and wanting to get the facts, I inquired of Witchy’s younger sister as to how events had transpired during Witchy’s last days on earth, upon which she related a very interesting story.  It seems that about two months previous, Witchy was lying on a thin grass mat in their home one evening, the normal "mattress" for poor Isan people.  She was very weak and almost gone, or so it seemed.  In fact, friends and relatives had been summoned and were busy sawing planks for her coffin, within earshot, just outside in the yard.  How gross, you might think.  However, to the Isan and Lao this is a good thing, reassuring the person that their earthly remains will be disposed of properly, so that they can go on and be reincarnated into the next life span, a very important theme in their culture and Buddhist worldview. 

All of a sudden, Witchy stirred and seemed to revive a bit.  She mustered up what remaining energy she had and sat upright, ripped all the spirit strings off from her wrists and body, and proclaimed, "I’ve been under the spirits’ control all my life, but now I want to be in God’s care," a vocal testimony by Witchy that she had reached out in faith and accepted Christ.  Everyone there was terrified, thinking she had already expired and that it was her ghost that got up and was now walking around.  Witchy then went down stairs and took a cold-water dipper bath.  So what does that mean, you might ask?  When Isan people are sick, they avoid taking a bath, but when they sense they are getting better, they bathe again.  This also was a testimony to those around.  I can only surmise that the night-to-day experience of accepting Christ and the regenerating power of God’s Holy Spirit taking up residence in her life, infused her with the real sense of "well-being" that she was now better, which she truly was in a spiritual sense, having received the gift of eternal life and experienced peace with God through the Lord Jesus.

Witchy's sister went on to testify that during the last two months of her life, Witchy wouldn't be quiet—"Jesus this" and "Jesus that," was about all she would talk about, Witchy's sister related to me.  In my mind's eye, I could see Witchy wending her way back and forth on the footpath, going to and from their family's fields.  Whereas before, Witchy was walking in the depths of heathen darkness, lost and without hope and stooped over under sin's heavy burden, accompanied by the evil spirits and their enslaving power that had controlled her whole life from birth.  Now, she was walking in the light, freed, forgiven and rejoicing, accompanied by the life-giving Spirit of her newly-found Lord and Savior.

As it turned out, Witchy finally did expire a few weeks later—going to abide safely in the loving Arms of her Creator-God—and amazingly, she was a testimony even in the hour of death.  As with all Isan or Lao funerals, friends and relatives travel from near and far to sit around the house for a couple of days and all-night watches, in hopes of giving the place a sense of warmth and comfort, not to mention being served free food, strong drink, loud music, and smokes.  Yet, everyone involved knows what is really occurring.  Despite the levity and feigned smiles, close relatives hover in fear during the night throughout the festivities, waiting for the now-malevolent (vicious and hateful) spirit of the recently deceased loved-one to come haunting during the wee hours—to tap on a house post, play mean tricks to scare them, as well as demand to be fed and cared for in a spiteful, trick-or-treat manner.

This type of practice is part of their non-Christian worldview and resultant Animistic belief system, and as such, was normally expected to occur during Witchy's funeral.  However, God, in His glory and power, and in tribute to Witchy's newly-found faith in Christ, overruled any demonic-induced activity or influence that would have caused villagers and relatives to presume that Witchy's newly-saved spirit was back frequenting the area and haunting them, as per usual.  Witchy's sister related to me that all was completely quiet, meaning that nothing occurred.  "It was different this time, she really was gone," Witchy's astonished sister testified to me in relieved amazement.  Lastly, Witchy's sister told me that, after Witchy's death, she dreamed that she saw Witchy high and lifted up, young and pretty again and dressed in pure white robes.  As she spoke, I imagined Saint Witchy, now residing the the Heavenilies, basking forever in the eternal brightness of King Jesus, her newly-found Lord and Savior.

NOTE: The Nyaw, Isan, Lao, Thai and many other unreached or partially-reached people-groups are inherently superstitious, meaning they believe in dreams, as well as auspicious events and occasions.  As missionaries, we recognize that God, to proclaim Himself and verify the newly-arrived Gospel message, often utilizes these and other events to impress and impact unregenerate hearts, i.e., get their full attention.  This is especially so where the Gospel is just entering into yet-unreached areas, and the Word of God is not yet fully accepted or understood—as with Witchy's sister.  However, although we recognize that culturally-specific events such as this may occur, we focus on getting the Good News out, on proclaiming God's written Word, seeing people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, taught and discipled in God's Grace, and growing churches established.  Thus, with the Apostle Peter, we adhere to the fact that: "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts..."  2 Peter 1:19

Pray for the salvation of Witchy’s husband, Uncle Gaew.  He too has heard the Gospel many times over the years and seems to understand.  He witnessed Witchy’s salvation and powerful testimony first hand, evident even in her death.  However, social pressure from the villagers has prevented him from following through so far.

In closing, thank you for your faithful prayers, gifts, and missionary spirit.  God has called us to this ministry and because of your backing, testimonies like Witchy’s are made possible because you helped send us, and someday you’ll get to meet her in Heaven.  Pray now, that our support will soon be raised to the level where we can return again to minister among the Isan people and expedite the completion of the Isan Bible translation project.  "For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods."  Psalms 95:3

Ron & Cheryl Myers—Missionaries to the twenty-plus million Isan People of Northeast Thailand

Baptist World Missionary Outreach Ministries
PO Box 3303, Chattanooga, TN 37404


MORE TRUE-LIFE STORY TITLES — A WORK IN PROGRESS

An Anthology of True-life Missionary Accounts from Northeast Thailand
Testimonies of God’s Amazing Grace

  1. Accepting the Creator
  2. Burnt Idols in the Roadway
  3. Grandpa and Grandma Samer
  4. "Gui" - Our Vietnamese Friend
  5. Jarat’s Flight to Grace
  6. Mr. Born
  7. Mr. Forty-five, Flies in the Rice Basket
  8. Mr. Samer
  9. Ms. Orapin, nurse and humanitarian
  10. Pitak
  11. Prakop
  12. Prechaa, Friend and Faithful Man
  13. Sergeant Sanoh
  14. Ms. Som Sri
  15. Witchy
  16. Uncle Sutchaa and His Homespun Gospel

Other Stories of Interest from Northeast Thailand

  1. A Drop of Cool Water on My Parched Lips Is God's Word to Me
  2. A Mother’s Tears and her Dead Child’s Mark
  3. A Shortcut to School, Bad Roads and My VW Van
  4. All Religions Are the Same
  5. Ants, Snails, Rats, Snakes, and Other Delicacies
  6. Apprehended and Questioned by Laotian Communist Soldiers
  7. At the Fire
  8. Electrical Conveniences vs. Candles, Flashlights, and Kerosene Lamps
  9. Common Ailments, Strange Cures
  10. Creation Evangelism, Starting at the Beginning
  11. Strange Cultures, Different Strokes for Different Folks
  12. Empty Stares and the Funeral in the Field
  13. Father Lung and Mr. Gampanat
  14. Greetings and Dog Flowers
  15. Grocery Runs into Town
  16. Have You Ever Eaten Dog Meat?
  17. Market People: Miss Piggy
  18. Mirror-image Highways, Driving on the Wrong Side
  19. Mit Sin Motorcycle, Gui’s family
  20. Motorcycles, Dogs, and Scraped Knees
  21. Mr. AmKha, the Folk Healer Who Accepted Christ
  22. Mr. Boon’s Dog, the Squirrel and the Giant King Cobra
  23. Mr. Deet, the Village Mediator
  24. Mr. Gee and his Team of Prize Oxen
  25. Mr. Kiam: My Friend and Village Headman
  26. Mr. Niam’s Cows and Bloodied Noses
  27. Mr. Niam’s Variety Store
  28. Mr. Nut, Village Head Man or Toy Soldier
  29. Mr. Pea, the New Porch, and a Visit From Mother
  30. Mr. Peck’s Confusing Ordeal
  31. Mrs. Pahn: Cheryl’s Language Helper
  32. Our Dog, King
  33. Our Family
  34. Our Home Sweet Home in the Village of the Inner Fields
  35. Our Home Sweet Home on the "Lane of Peace and Happiness"
  36. Our Well in the Village: Stones, Pails, and Priorities
  37. Our Well in the Village: Bland, Untasty Bathwater?
  38. Progress Comes to the Villages … Really?
  39. Rainy Season, Hot Season, Dry Season
  40. Road Hazards, Tour Buses and Mouthwash
  41. Rubber Bands, Stones, and Contented Children
  42. Ruben, My Filippino Friend
  43. Sak’s Garage
  44. Sawang Pharmacy
  45. Showing Movies and Bolts of Lightning
  46. Sitting Around the Bonfire - Opportunities to Speak
  47. Skamper, Our Headstrong Little Dog with a Great Big Ego
  48. Slab Bacon, Land-O-Lakes Butter and Velveeta Cheese
  49. Snakes, Bugs, Spiders, and Other Little Pets
  50. Spilled Pearls and Baby Teeth
  51. Spirit Shrines: Doll Houses on Pedestals
  52. Streams, Ponds, and the Mighty Mekong
  53. Survey Trips to Remote Villages
  54. Tailors, Markets, and Noodle Shops
  55. Taxis, Trucks, Buses, Bicycles, Pedicabs, BMWs and Benzes
  56. Temples, Idols, and Shrines, ad infinitum
  57. Territorial Owner-spirits or Tormented Demons
  58. The Ball of Light
  59. The District of Renu Nakon
  60. The District of Taa-U-Tane
  61. The District of Tat Phanom
  62. The Districts of Naa Kae and Dong Luang
  63. The Feast in the Forest with the Village Elders
  64. The Fruit Tree Fall: Ruptured Kidneys and Blood Donors
  65. The Funerals of the First Believers in Na Waa
  66. The Helicopter Ride
  67. The Ho Chi Minh Religion
  68. The Little Girl Who Didn’t Die
  69. The Log Truck Accident
  70. The Long Road Home
  71. The Lost Wallet and the Radio Station
  72. The Magic Plant That Eats Frogs and Baby Livers
  73. The Mighty Mekong and the Laotian Mountains
  74. The Seven-headed Sugar Palm Tree
  75. The Ultimate Dessert: Sticky Rice and Mangoes
  76. The Wedding Truck Accident
  77. This Is How Mom and Dad Did It
  78. Tiger Face, My Dear Old Dad
  79. Trip Into the Kalasin Mountains With Jarat
  80. Uncle Supee, My Friend and Neighbor
  81. Vietnamese Nationals in Isan
  82. Villages, Villages, Villages, But No Gospel Witness
  83. Where Is the Sick Cat?
  84. When and Where the Egg Wants to Break, It Will
  85. White Devil, Screaming Woman


Note: Sample Titles


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