The Immigration Dance

We’ve been doing the immigration visa dance in Thailand for the better part of three years now, going back to early 2015 when we began applying for the first of what would be countless documents making it legal for us to live abroad. While it may be easy to fly in for a visit, staying here more than a couple of months has become quite difficult, as the junta government cracks down on long-term foreign residents. Intentions are good. Protecting Thai jobs and keeping the country secure, as well as protecting the unique Thai culture. But for those looking to minister in Thailand, it can be tricky at best and impossible at worst.

The easiest solution for many has been Education visas. ED visas require you to attend a heavy class load, and you have to prove that you are learning to read, write and speak Thai, but it does provide a legal means for staying in-country.

At least in theory. We applied for our ED visas while in the States over the holidays and were denied. An expensive and demoralizing hit. But as we already had return tickets booked, we left for Thailand and entered the country as tourists for 30 days, knowing that we’d have to leave Thailand again one way or another in early February.

February is now upon us, and we are booked to the cheapest non-Thailand destination we could find: Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We’ve paid for new paperwork to be drafted by our Thai school, obtained the necessary papers from the US Consulate in Chiang Mai, and we’re ready to head out on the 8th.

As a family, we have witnessed God providing time and time again against all human odds. We developed the family motto “Do the next right thing” to remind us to never make excuses when deciding whether or not to walk through the doors God opens. And we’re committed to that still. But I won’t lie, it’s hard at times. When we’re so buried in paperwork that we feel ineffective in our primary ministry, and when finances look bleak, it can be so discouraging. And right now it looks bleak. Once again we’re looking at budget spreadsheets that make no sense, with negative balance projections.

In my head, I know that God will come through again as He always has. And maybe it’s not the proper “missionary response” to admit when we doubt. But if I’m honest, I have times of doubt and fear. I justify these feelings by pointing to the hard figures, or noting the fact that we have a family to feed and care for. But the reality is that my faith is too small sometimes. I forget that I am a son of the wealthiest king the word has ever known. My king has asked me to accomplish a task, and he has promised to take care of me and my family as we obey. But my king has a peculiar way of providing for me, and it makes me nervous. He doesn’t send a paycheck. Instead he directs his other subjects to serve him by providing our support.

It’s uncomfortable because I have no control over it. No one owes me anything, as they would if I were an employee covered by labor laws. It’s this lack of control that feels unnatural to me. But it’s a tool that God uses to remind us of His faithfulness. And at the end of the day, I am thankful for that. But I’m also reminded of my human smallness when I doubt. And maybe that’s a good thing too. It’s a great reminder to those who say “we couldn’t do what you’re doing”. Of course you could, if God called you to it. You feel inadequate to serve Him with your whole life? Join the club! It is a daily journey for me to continue growing my faith, trust and love of the Lord.

Please pray for us as we navigate the next few weeks. Pray for favor with Thai immigration, that we’ll be approved for our visas. Pray for God to once again provide for our needs as we trust Him to know what those needs are. Pray for patience as we wait in long lines and drag our crew in and out of the hot, muggy Immigration offices for hours on end, because we all have to be present. Pray for our provision. And as always, if financial support is something God is laying on your heart we certainly welcome it:

God has blessed us with joy in the work He has called us to. So if it sounds like we’re complaining, please excuse our moment of weakness. We are truly blessed to be trusted with this work. Thank you all for your prayers and loving support. We love you all!

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