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!

Global Missions for National Churches

One of the most important things I’ve learned since moving to Thailand in 2012 is that more help is needed.  I’m convinced that the unreached world is direly understaffed, both by missionaries and national workers as well.

However, this statement deserves a qualifier.

The truly effective missionary empowers the national workers to reach their own people.  A ministry will struggle when foreigners take this responsibility exclusively upon their own shoulders.

Or, to put it more bluntly, a Thai Christian does my job better than I can.

No foreigner can give a stronger testimony than that of their local counterpart.  In our case, a Thai Christian will reach their friends, family, co-workers, and classmates infinitely better than I ever could.  Even if I had flawless language skills, my ability to reach the Thai people would still be deficient.

Regardless of my intentions, everything about how I look and who I am screams “I’m a foreigner who is trying to change you and your culture.”  Naturally, people get turned off by that.  A Thai Christian does not have this same hurdle.  They speak the same language, have similar cultural backgrounds, and come from the same tribes.

So this begs the question, where does this leave us as missionaries?

Yet, this leaves a missionary with a great deal of responsibility as a trainer, equipper, mentor, discipler, pastor, teacher, evangelist, and just about anything else.  A missionary is capable of contributing to God’s work in any culture across the world, but a missionary must prioritize the development of the pre-existing church.

The indigenous churches are the backbone of Christian influence in any nation or culture, as they will be there long after the missionary retires, moves home, or just plain burns out.  The church will reach their own people, and a missionary can make a world of difference in helping them do that.  But when a missionary tries to do the local church’s job for them, we can’t expect any significant success, and in many cases this just leads to burnout or outright failure.

HighRise is in the business of supporting the indigenous church, and we would appreciate your prayers in doing this as well as possible.

 

 

One Year in Bangkok!

August 5th, 2017 marks one full year that the Degler’s have lived and worked in Bangkok.

We’ve been able to experience quiet a bit, which has helped inform and fill our dreams and vision for HighRise Ministries in Bangkok, Thailand.

Our original objective for this first year was to study Thai, learn about other ministries in the area, find a church for our family, and explore options for our own future ministry in Bangkok.

So I’ll give you a quick update on each of these objectives, and then I want to share a little about what’s next.

Thai Language Learning – If any of you have ever tried to learn a second language, you know that its one of the worst things we can put our minds through.  Unless you’re a polyglot, your mind is stretched to the point of breaking, and at the end of the day your brain feels like pudding.  Nasty, rotten pudding.

For us, we are getting there.  We can read, write, and speak, which sounds great, but its still frustrating, and we need more practice.  Random unknown vocabulary will regularly derail our conversations, and a quick or mumbling speaker always begs the question, “Say what?”  So we will continue our language learning with conversation and classroom study.

Meeting Other Ministries – We’ve had the chance to meet many different ministries in the area.  Its been great to see the work other missionaries are doing, where they have succeeded, and where they have failed.  We’ve been able to learn about what kind of ministry would stand the best chance at reaching the people of Bangkok.

If you’ve ever talked to us, you know that we aren’t interested in reinventing any wheels, so this has been exceedingly helpful in directing our future efforts.

Finding a Church Home – Finding a church for our family to attend regularly and get plugged into has been a little more difficult than we anticipated.  We took childcare for granted, and we quickly learned that wrangling Desmond during an entire church service actually initiates more sin than just skipping church all together and watching Charles Stanley on the boob tube.

We jumped around looking for a place that fit our family, and after a year, we think we’ve finally found one.  Thank you for those who have been helping us pray for an answer to this problem, as we’ve felt disconnected from any community.  We hope to begin a small group with people from this church and to continue to build our Bangkok tribe.

Options for the Future – After reading books on missions in Thailand and seeing many different ministries in Bangkok, we’ve been able to learn quite a bit more about the Thai culture, how Thais best receive the gospel, and what other ministries have been doing to reach the Thai people.  Its an entirely different blog post, but we’ve learned first hand just how difficult it is for a foreigner (or as we’re called, farang) to effectively share the gospel with a Thai.  This is true for any foreigner in any culture, but this has emphasized the absolute need for us to support the people who actually can make an impact on Thais: Thais.

Looking ahead we are going to continue our study of Thai, which means we might occasionally be in a classroom, but I’m convinced that we just need loads of conversational practice.  We are also beginning conversations with the local Thai pastors in our area.

Our goal is to support them and their congregations in whatever they need to be discipled evangelists of their own people.

Within the next couple months, we will update you further about how this is going and how we have been able to help pastors and congregations.