Hello from Yoga Training

 

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Hello from yoga teacher training!

Some amazing things have already been happening at teacher training, so I wanted to share with you!

Backstory: I first tried yoga about a year ago at a Christian yoga retreat and as I continued to practice yoga, Jesus just kept meeting me on my mat.  I found that yoga helped me to quiet my mind & draw into the presence of Christ.  I read Holy Yoga by Brooke Boon and learned more deeply how I can use yoga as a spiritual discipline to worship God with my heart, soul, strength, and mind.

I hoped to be trained as an instructor through a Christian program, such as Holy Yoga, but money and time constraints made flying to the States an impossibility. After praying, and asking some friends who had done various types of yoga training, I decided to sign up for traditional yoga training in a Bangkok.  My teachers are Hindus from India who pride themselves of teaching traditional Hatha yoga.

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The first few days I struggled with if this was the right decision.  Our mornings started off with a worship service for the gods ganesha and shiva.  The first few days, I sat through the service, but just quietly observed.  When asked, why I didn’t want to participate, I shared that this was not the god I worshiped and they encouraged me to worship my God in their service.  I considered ways I could do this, but I felt a disconnect.  Yoga is a practice of bringing your soul, mind, and body into harmony.  By participating in this service in the flesh, I felt that my soul and mind were not aligned with what I was doing in the physical.

As I was going through this internal struggle, praying my heart out, and seeking advice from other Christian yogi friends, I was also reading Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown.  In the book she shares about the importance of True Belonging, which she defines as:

“A practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are.”  Brene Brown

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I really felt like this was a time where I needed to “brave the wilderness” by standing alone and sharing my heart with my teachers.  I was nervous and didn’t want to cause conflict, but I spoke with my teachers and told them that I could not participate in their service and I questioned if this was the right school for me.

My teachers encouraged me that yoga is for everyone and I can worship my God through this practice. I knew this was true.  After further discussion, my teachers gave me permission to sit out of their morning worship service, but asked that I take that time each morning to worship Jesus instead. How beautiful is that!

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“The Wilderness can often feel unholy because we can’t control it, or what people think about our choice of whether to venture into the vastness or not.  But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.” Brene Brown

Along with this, they continue to ask me about my beliefs and God during classes, so I am able to share with all of them about Jesus and his love and forgiveness.  They are even throwing ideas out to me for how I can use yoga to worship Jesus.

All of this to say, if you think of me over the next few weeks, I would appreciate it if you would lift me up in prayer.  I’m having lots of brave conversations and I just hope to continue to speak Truth and embody Love.  Pray that my light can continue to shine in this training.

Strength

Written by: Mitch Woods, HighRise Treasurer

If anyone knows a thing or two about strength, it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.  In our world today, we tend to admire strength, however we usually only see the end results and not the hard work, determination, and grit it takes someone to get there.  Arnold said “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

With the winter olympics ending recently, we were reminded time and time again of the strength it takes for athletes to compete at that level.  It isn’t enough to be physically strong, but olympic athletes are strong mentally and emotionally as well. There are so many stories of determination and grit that can help us see what it takes to be some of the best athletes in the world.  I’m reminded of Pita Taufatofua, the man from Tonga, who was determined to represent his country in both the summer and winter olympics. He learned how to ski in a country covered in sand (and probably as hot as it is in Thailand!), only training for 3 months in snow before the olympic games, and placed 114th out of 116.  What a story of strength and determination!

God calls us to a life where comfort isn’t guaranteed.  In fact, Jesus says that we are going to struggle if we follow Him.  Our heart for the Thai people is that their struggles can help them grow stronger and point them to the source of true strength, a relationship with Jesus.  In a culture that is predominantly Buddhist (even if just by cultural identification), struggles are often interpreted as karma – a punishment or circumstance related to a past action that is impacting their present situation.  We want to show them that God’s love for them isn’t dependent on what they’ve done, that it is an unconditional love that is beyond our human comprehension.

The awesome news is that even though Jesus says we are going to struggle, we also know the end of the story – He has overcome the world.  Join us in praying for the people of Thailand that they can see their struggles in the light of the good news of the gospel, understanding God’s unconditional agape love for His people.

 

Community

Written by: Mitch Woods, HighRise Treasurer

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word community?

We believe that God calls us to live a life in community with others as a reflection of the community and relationship He wants to share with us.  Relationships this side of heaven are imperfect and broken – not a true reflection of our relationship with our Creator. They are often full of unrealized expectations and pain.

Even still, God calls us into community.

He never intended for us to journey through life alone.  He calls us to be vulnerable in our relationships and models that through sending Christ to earth to live and die for us. Brene Brown puts it well in her famous TED Talk. She observed that “Vulnerability is the core of shame, fear, and our struggle for worthiness.  But it also appears to be the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love.”

The great news is that we are found worthy through the vulnerability of God sending his Son.  We can experience the life that God intended of joy, belonging, and love by following his model and vulnerably investing in the lives of others and allowing them to do the same with us.

God restores our relationship with others through the restoration of our relationship with Him.  When we live in the image that God created us to be, we are able to relate to others the way He originally designed.

That’s the vision of HighRise in Thailand and all over the world – to see people who are freed by the power of the Gospel, restored into a right relationship with God, moving forward to love and be loved in the type of authentic community that God wants for His people.  We can’t see this become reality without the support of our own community. Join us in continually praying for the people of Thailand that they will be able to experience the joy and love of God in a community that seeks strength and truth.

Exercise Outreach

We at HighRise Bangkok are building a community of young adults, where Christians are encouraged to share their faith with non-believers. Our goal is to add exercise meet-ups as a place where relationships can be built and truth can rise to the surface.

IN 2018, HIGHRISE PLANS TO BEGIN TEACHING:
• Yoga
• Self-Defense
• Weight-Lifting

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OUR OBJECTIVES
1. Relationships are built in a fun and stress-free environment.

2. Truth is shared in each class and participants are given opportunities to reflect on the passage shared.

3. All participants are invited to bible studies, prayer meetings, retreats and fellowship nights.

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EXPENSES:
YOGA INSTRUCTOR TRAINING (AMANDA) $2,000
EXTRA YOGA MATS $100

SELF-DEFENSE INSTRUCTOR TRAINING (JON) $500
MATS $1,000
TRAINING GEAR $300

TOTAL AMOUNT NEEDED: $2,900

Please consider giving a one-time donation toward this Exercise Outreach here:

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We are very excited to add these outreaches to our current ministry and thank you for your donations.  Please share with your friends.

 

Value Informed Ministry

At HighRise Ministries we strive to be a COMMUNITY that seeks STRENGTH and TRUTHThese values are the basis for our ministry and we wanted to share a bit about how each of these inform our work in Bangkok.

COMMUNITY

We believe that community is a place where health, growth, and encouragement are found, and therefore we work to incorporate community into all we do.  The HighRise community hopes to be a Third Place, or a place for people to spend their time when they are not at school, work, or home.  We are a community where people come to relax, have fun, and spend time with friends.

STRENGTH

We value and work to develop strength in our community.  This means working through and processing the hard things of the past to bring emotional health.  This means studying the Bible and practicing spiritual disciplines to develop spiritual maturity.  This also encompasses leadership training, coaching, and mentoring young adults.  We work to develop emotionally and spiritually healthy leaders, who are empowered to share gospel.

TRUTH

In the HighRise community we strive to see the truth rise to the surface in all that we do.  We empower Christian leaders in our community to share the gospel with those who have never heard before.  Our community is a place to seek truth and work through the hard questions that come up along the way.

WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE FOR 2018?

  • Thursday Night Bible Studies: These bring community and growth to young Christians
  • Mentorship and Leadership Coaching: Meeting with local Christians to develop them as leaders and mobilize them to share the gospel with others in our community
  • Muscle Meat-Ups: Monthly weight-lifting meet ups with a post-workout protein load and hang out.
  • Fun Nights: Board game nights, cooking nights, and other fellowship activities.

INTENDED ADDITIONS: 

  • Self-Defense: Jon Degler would like to get trained and begin teaching self-defense classes in our community and other needed areas throughout Bangkok.
  • Yoga: Amanda Degler would like to get certified and teach yoga in our community on a weekly basis.

If you would like to donate toward the training and supplies for these classes, you can give: HERE (Please click the Blue EXERCISE OUTREACH Button).

Theology, Calling, and the Thai Language

Our Thai language study has been coming along nicely since our landing here in 2012, especially considering my keen ability to immediately forget anything I hear or learn. However, as you can imagine there are frustrating times where it seems we will never achieve true mastery, or if we do, its going to take yet another five years.  At many points I’ve lamented, “Why can’t Thais just speak Spanish?”

Despite these frustrations, we occasionally come across some really cool things.

So now for a quick Thai morphological study.

Thai is a monosyllabic language, which means that generally each word is made up of only one syllable, and then these syllables are combined to create new compound words.

Sometimes these combinations don’t make a lick of sense.  For example the word “responsible” translates to rab bpit chawp (รับผิดชอบ), and individually these syllables mean: receive, wrong, like.  Of course, naturally, put these disparate words together to make “responsible,” NOT!

However, in other cases, individual syllables come together to make complete sense and end up being really cool.  Amanda came across one such word a couple months ago.

“The Will of God” is translated naam pra tai (นำ้พระทัย), and each of these syllables means water, *word designating divinity, and prestigious word for heart.  This again might sound random, but looking to another word for clarification will help.  Naam jai (นำ้ใจ) means water and heart, and when put together it creates the meaning of generosity or kindness, as if someone’s kindness flows from their heart like water would from a spring or river.

So when Thai Christians think about the word naam pra tai, or the Will of God, they think about God’s heart flowing out from within Him.  God’s heart is that his people be at the center of his will.  Some might turn this into a difficult question, asking things like “Should I move to the mission field?” or “Did I make a mistake becoming an accountant?”, but the answer is quite simple.

According to Scripture, God’s will is that you love Him and love others(Mark 12:30-31), give thanks to Him (1 Thess 5:18), free yourself from sin (1 Thess 4:3), and spread His name across the world (Mark 16:15, Psalms 105:1, Acts 1:8), among many other things.

God lays it out pretty clearly in his Word.

None of this is easy to do, especially when we try to do it through our own meager strength, but God isn’t in the business of trying to confuse you.  God’s heart flows freely and clearly to you through his Word.  Stop garbling the message with silly questions that only distract you and freak you out.

I believe everyone needs to seriously consider moving to the overseas mission field for ministry, as it is seriously, sinfully, and shockingly understaffed, but the more basic questions should be these:

  • Are you loving God?
  • Are you loving others?
  • Are you thankful to Him?
  • Are you working alongside the Holy Spirit to continually sanctify your heart from sin?
  • Are you actively and passionately going “into all the world and preaching the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15)?

Consider these questions and allow the Holy Spirit to encourage or convict where necessary, just as He has done in my own heart.

Leave thoughts, comments, and perhaps what God has been doing in your life in the comment section of this post.

Why You Need a HighRise T-Shirt

At HighRise, we are concerned about your wellbeing.  We pray that your families are well taken care of, fed, sheltered, and clothed…  In fact, our commitment to keeping clothes on your back beats so deeply within our hearts that we want to sell you T-Shirts.

In Job’s time, it was the wrongdoers who would “spend the night naked, without clothing” (Job 24:7).  Are you a wrongdoer? Well, yes, of course you are (Romans 3:23), but that doesn’t mean you have to be naked.  In fact, your wife will certainly appreciate it.

HighRise is fundraising to establish its official foundation here in Bangkok, Thailand. The Thai foundation will enable the ministry to grow, and it will give HighRise the capability to work more efficiently.

Through September 10th, 2017, HighRise is selling T-Shirts to help contribute to the needed lawyer and government fees associated with starting a Thai foundation.

Click HERE to get your shirt!