>Home >Serve With Us >JFA Correspondents >We're Moving! –– to the "Heavenly City"

We're Moving! –– to the "Heavenly City"

Dear friends and family,
The first time I (Jonathan) visited Nakhon Sawan was back in 2017 with Jon Wood. Nakhon Sawan is a city located in the central valley of Thailand where there are no Adventist churches and no Adventist members that we know of. We went to shoot some videos about Sukhothai (about 2.5 hours north of Nakhon Sawan) another city in the same situation, and then we made a short visit to Nakhon Sawan. Within a year of shooting those videos about Sukhothai, God had impressed the hearts of a family to come and start a work in Sukhothai. They arrived in Thailand in August of 2019 and the work in Sukhothai has only grown since then. (Visit walkingredeemed.com to learn more.) Before the Norton family arrived in Sukhothai we were able to do a prayer walk to pray for God to move on the hearts of people and prepare the way for Robbie and Kasey and their family. 

Fast forward to earlier this year, Jon Wood had already asked us to go and do some more filming in Nakhon Sawan. Then after reading a JFA newsletter asking people to pray for the city, Hannah and I both had the thought “What if we went to Nakhon Sawan?” So we talked about it for awhile and then decided we should make it a matter of prayer. After that I had the thought that regardless of if we move there, we should just go there for a week and pray for the people. Reaching people isn’t something humans can do. Oh, we can talk to people and preach to people and study with people and share lots of truth with people, but there will be lots of people outside of the pearly gates who know lots of information but don’t know Jesus. Reaching Nakhon Sawan is not something any person or team of people can do. God has to reach them. He does use people to do that though. That’s why Jesus told us to ask the Father to send forth laborers into the harvest. We wanted to pray that prayer for Nakhon Sawan. 

When we arrived in Nakhon Sawan we looked at the city much differently than we would have if it wasn’t a possibility in our minds that God might ask us to move there. The first evening we were there we went out to exercise and I became friends with a young man about my age who is also a runner. As the days went by we really noted how friendly the people were, and it was exciting to see God guide us by little providences in our filming as well. Then on Friday God brought some Filipino friends to come and do a prayer walk with us. Two came from a town 2 hours north and one came from Bangkok. It was truly a blessing to pray together for the people there. Then on Sabbath morning God worked it out so that we could have a prayer call on Zoom while we walked around the park in the middle of the city. To join our hearts with over 50 other people praying for God to work there was really a special experience and one of the most precious times of prayer I’ve ever experienced. 

By this time we both had a growing burden for the people, and a deepening desire to move there and let God use us in some way to reach the hearts of those precious people whose city could be called in English "Heavenly City." We had lots of ideas of ways we could connect with people and we were getting excited! But God had a lesson for me. There was a part of me that wanted to go to Nakhon Sawan and do something great for God and reach lots of people and see a big work started, so that God could be lifted up of course, but with my name attached. See the pride pushing through there? I wasn’t thinking that consciously but God showed me that my motive was not pure and that I was looking for some recognition or honor. How ridiculous! I am not worthy of any such thing, were it not for God’s grace in my life I would be dead! My life is not my own, but somehow I wanted some praise for my attempts at good works which is really filthy rags. But this is the refining process that God needs to bring all of us through so that the dross can be removed and we can clearly reflect His character to the world. Over time, my thoughts had spanned from really wanting to go, to almost not wanting to go at all, and they sort of settled somewhere in the middle of being willing to go or stay — whatever God wanted us to do. So with a renewed surrender we decided to take some more time praying and seeking God’s will. 

While in Nakhon Sawan, we decided to start reading through the book Ministry to the Cities. And we read things like this: 
“There is a sacred, solemn work to be done in lifting the standard high among those who have yet to hear the very first call to the gospel feast.” MTC 87.1

“Throughout the world, messengers of mercy are needed. There is a call for Christian families to go into communities that are in darkness and error, to go to foreign fields, to become acquainted with the needs of their fellow men, and to work for the cause of the Master. If such families would settle in the dark places of the earth, places where the people are enshrouded in spiritual gloom, and let the light of Christ’s life shine out through them, what a noble work might be accomplished.” {MTC 75.1}

“All around us are souls going down to ruin as hopeless, as terrible, as that which befell Sodom. Every day the probation of some is closing. Every hour some are passing beyond the reach of mercy. And where are the voices of warning and entreaty to bid the sinner flee from this fearful doom? Where are the hands stretched out to draw him back from death? Where are those who with humility and persevering faith are pleading with God for him?” MTC 12.1

“We need missionaries at home; and we need missionaries who will go out into new fields, and see what they can do. Trade upon your one talent or two talents. Although your talents may be limited, God will accept them. Why bury them in the earth? Go to work, and do your best, and God will give you some fruit for your labor. Oh, I would rather come to the Master with garnered sheaves than to have treasures of gold and of silver. Give me souls as the fruit of my labor, and I will not ask for convenience or ease in this world. Are there not men and women here whom God will call to give an account for the ability He has lent themThere are souls for whom you are to work; there are youth with whom you are to plead.” MTC 75.2

As I read this last paragraph it was as if the lens was pulled into focus. If God is calling us to Nakhon Sawan, and we refuse to go, then there could be souls that God called us to reach that would be lost if we don’t go. And with that clarity, our outlook changed from, “Lord, do you want us to go?” to “Lord, we’re going to move forward, please close the door if it’s not your will.” It’s hard to steer a ship that isn’t moving so we are moving forward. 

One experience that we see as an indication of God’s providence happened when we were still in Nakhon Sawan. With the possibility of moving there we decided to look around and see if we could find any houses for rent. I did some scouting on Google Maps and found an area I wanted to explore. As we drove around that area we happened upon a couple of houses that appeared empty. We went back the next day and tried to contact the neighbors to ask if the houses were for rent but none of the neighbors were home or heard us calling. So we parked at the main road where the street came out and got ready to eat our lunch. As I was praying for the food, I asked God to help us connect with someone who could help us find out about those houses, and as I said “amen” and opened my eyes, there was a truck driving out from that little street! Hannah ran over and asked them if they knew anything about the house and the two guys left their truck in the road and came over to talk with us. As the one guy was making some phone calls, the other guy told us we were lucky because the guy making the phone calls is the Gamnan, which means he is over 9 village headmen! I’d say that’s an answer to prayer, wouldn’t you? He didn’t know about the house we were most interested in yet, but we have his phone number so we can contact him again when we go to look at houses again.  

We want to invite you to pray with us that God will close the door if it is not His Divine plan for us to relocate to Nakhon Sawan, but if it is, that He would guide in the timing of when we can go down there to look for a house to rent. There has been a resurgence of Covid cases in Thailand so travel may be more restricted soon which could change the timing of things. We are hoping to move down there next month but will have to wait and see what God’s timing is.

May God richly bless you!

Jonathan and Hannah
Foreign Correspondents

Click below to see the three vlogs from Mission Viewfinder
about our time in Nakhon Sawan. 

You can also watch the videos that we put together for Jesus for Asia about Nakhon Sawan.
(Note: The second video is similar to the second one in the MV playlist and the third video is a shorter version of the third one in the MV playlist.)
We also had the privilege recently to witness the groundbreaking for the new Love for Asia studio and office and to also hear one of the special stories behind the land. 

Last but not least, don't miss this video of some of the highlights of our time with Gayle recently. It's never boring there! 
Us and Nakhon Sawan. :) 
Joseph (just to the right of Hannah) and his wife Rose (far right) and two little girls just moved to the area to work with the Love for Asia studio. Happy to have them as part of the JFA team now! 
Enjoying a Karen meal with Gayle and Bletjaw in a nearby village after they treated patients.
We got caught by another camera! ;)