A $500 Matthew 25 Grant from American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) has helped a Kearney, Neb., congregation purchase building supplies like pipe, concrete, rock and rebar to build a fresh water system for a tiny village in Northern Thailand.
The congregation, First Baptist Church, Kearney, Neb., and the American Baptist Churches of Nebraska region sent 10 individuals from four churches to Thailand to build the water system, working with Missionaries Mike and Becky Mann.
“This is the fourth water system we have built in this area of Thailand,” explains Angie Gillming, who prepared a report about the project. “We have continued to have contact with the villagers we have worked for, so friendships have remained, and we can check on their well being.” Gillming explains that the village region where the Nebraska volunteers have served is experiencing dire poverty. “They have been walking great distances to carry dirty water back for their use. They are refugees from Burma/Myanmar. The village has a 100-year history, yet they are not considered citizens of Thailand.”
“The villagers face many hardships,” Gillming says. “They are in a very remote area and can’t get medical attention. Our vision is to help the villagers gain better health through drinking fresh water and having better hygiene. We also built some latrines so that they have bathroom and bathing facilities. We also pray that through their contact with Mike and Becky Mann that someday they may become Christians.”
Gillming adds the volunteers have also offered Vacation Bible School in each of the villages to introduce the Word of God to the villagers, who are largely Animist/Buddhist in their beliefs. “They have been very open to hearing the stories and are happy that we take the time to do activities with the children,” she says.
Education is limited in the area, and the children are not learning skills, such as how to cut with scissors, “so we did a few of those activities as well, Gillming says. “We had opportunities to interact with the villagers not only through the work during the day, but also in the evening around a campfire. We also enjoyed working with the men who work with Mike and Becky. Their witness to us and the villagers is amazing. The Grant gave us the ability to purchase supplies to make all of this happen!”
Gillming explains that while the volunteers were working in the village Karen Baptist Evangelists arrived. “They have been working with the villagers for a while,” Gillming says. “The man from the hut I stayed in two years ago came over to tell Becky that they were about to pray and ask Jesus to be their savior. He said, “I know I will never be rich, but I will be blessed.” Gillming says she has been praying that the man will be blessed in ways he never imagined possible and adds, “I am also praying that the evangelists will continue to come and disciple these new believers.”
The Matthew 25 Grant initiative, sponsored by ABCUSA and the Board of General Ministries, is funded by a generous, anonymous donor whose goal is to help meet the needs of “housing, feeding, education and health with regard to the less fortunate.” The application process for a Matthew 25 Grant is structured to help small ministries with limited staff time. For more information on the grant and application process visit: www.abc-usa.org/matthew25/