A Walk With Jesus

24 May 2023

Dear friends,

Right before going in on the latest Karen relief mission, I was with my father, on what he said was his last border walk. Dad is 93 years old and has been serving in Thailand for over 60 years as a missionary. He shares the love of Jesus with everyone he meets, and I’ve never seen anyone like him, in that he shares so graciously and powerfully; I’ve not seen anyone turn away. One time in Bangkok I had a meeting with a very hardened journalist; in the middle of the meeting Dad happened to come to the same area we were in, and I had to get something for the journalist and I excused myself and introduced her to Dad. I went and got the materials I needed and when I came back Dad was praying with her, and she had tears in her eyes as she prayed to receive Christ. I thought, “Wow, God, Dad is your man. I hope I can serve you as well as Dad does.”

On this last trip we were going into the Laytongku area of Thailand, which is composed of the Karen people and a sub-tribe of the Karen people called the Talako. The Talako are a special sub-tribe with many religious rules and customs, much like the Amish. They are also waiting for the Messiah to come. My dad first came to Thailand 63 years ago to reach these people, but it took 50 years before the first person from this tribe came to Christ. In the meantime, Dad was evangelizing among the Thai and other people, with many people coming to the Lord. But the Talako Karen did not. It was only after 50 years that the first people came forward to be baptized. And now there is a small church beautifully situated on a hill, surrounded by mountains, in the middle of the village of Laytongku. The opposition to the church was not only spiritual, it was political, it was military, it was cultural. But love won out, and through Dad’s sacrifice of himself and his love for the people there, and the locals coming to follow Jesus, a church was able to be built.

I had not been on any relief mission with Dad for over seven years, but when he told me that he was going on this trip and it was probably his last one, as he is 93 and cannot walk as fast as he used to, I prayed and thought, “I need to do this. I don’t know when I’ll be with Dad again.” So I went with him, and every time something happened I told him, “I’m here to serve you, Dad.” My nephew, Dave Dawson, was along, my wife Karen, and my son Peter, as well as a lot of our old Karen friends, supporting Dad. It was such an honor to follow him and hold up charts and help him do his mission. At the very end was the church dedication, and I remember looking at it and looking at all the different people there, some of whom had been in conflict with each other, now standing shoulder to shoulder with smiles on their faces.

It was a very exhausting day of talking and meeting, at the end of an exhausting week also full of talking and meetings, and moving through the jungle. And I thought, “Well, after this service it will be it for Dad, he’ll need to go back and rest a bit.” But then a group of young men and women came up from Burma. They were evangelists and they wanted to meet Dad because they had heard about him. They gathered around him like they were his children, or his grandchildren, and he instantly lit up and led them in a series of gospel songs, and taught them songs and movement. He stood up and danced with them to the glory of God.

One of his favorite songs that he sings so vigorously is:

My God is so great, so strong, and so mighty,
There’s nothing my God cannot do.
My God is so great, so strong, and so mighty,
There’s nothing my God cannot do.
The mountains are His,
The rivers are His,
The stars are His handiwork too.
My God is so great, so strong, and so mighty,
There’s nothing my God cannot do –
For you, and you, and YOU, and me!

That’s the song, and that’s a true song, for you and me. Thank you, Dad, and thank you, Mom, for showing me the way to follow Jesus, and bringing many people into that loving relationship.

I would like to add a note especially about my mom. My mom and dad have been missionaries in Thailand for about 63 years. Mom was a Broadway singer and brought that talent and her non-stop energy into a partnership with Dad. She has been able to reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in Thailand with this gift. Mom would usually join us for this kind of mission, but she is 91 years old and is recovering from a stroke. She is now walking and talking again and doing very well, but not quite ready for the kind of trip we were having. But right before we went to meet Dad, we gathered around Mom and prayed with her and she blessed us. This time of prayer turned into about an hour of singing and tap-dancing as she put on her old tap shoes, and even though she is recovering from her stroke, she was still able to tap dance and encourage us all.

Thank you and God bless you,

Dave, family and FBR

Peter and Pastor Samuel with the heart chart as Dad leads from the side.
Dad and Pete walking to another village.
Dad, sharing of his first trip over 60 years ago while wearing the same tunic they gave him at that time.
Dad with Talako leaders, Dave Dawson, and our family.
New church at Laytongku.
Joan Eubank, 91 years old, with her tap dancing shoes right after praying for Dad and the mission.
Dad and Pastor Samuel lead the song, “Our God is so great.”
Laytongku church on the night before dedication.
Paw Day Doo, first Talako convert, playing a song he wrote to the glory of God.
Church leaders and our family at the new Laytongku church.