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2BC Liberty and Thailand’s Upland Holistic Development Project by Bill Gossett

“Life gets noisy. Sit for a moment in the eye of the storm. Close your eyes. Feel and hear yourself breathe. Take absolute confidence in one thing-God’s got this! This moment, this day, this life — God’s got this!”        — d365 daily devotional 2017

Hiking through the tropical jungle mountains of northern Thailand, it was as if my soul had been seized. The visions of the mountain village people and the landscapes I carry in my heart are a blessing and a responsibility. We happened upon an old man on an isolated mountainside tending to a small patch of crops. We asked him what village he was from and how he had managed to arrive here. With the help of our leader, guide, and translator, Bunsak Thongi, who we affectionately refer to as “Tui,” we found that the old man had made a dangerous trek with his family across the Myanmar-Thailand border in fear for their lives. He had connected with another mountain village tribe called the Karen, not too far away from where we stood. He and his family had settled in with them and were somewhat safe for now. The old man was weathered, wrinkled, and slight of build, but as he told his story, you could see his eyes dance. We could feel that his experiences had strengthened him and aided him in his spirit of perseverance. This was merely “one moment.” There were many more moments of my Thailand experience when God said, “Bill, stop and listen, live this moment.” My wife, Becky, will most likely tell you I am not a good listener, but I became one in “that moment”.

“Quiet me, O Lord. Calm my mind. Still my hands. Remove any worries from my heart. I want to give you my full attention. Slow me down so that I can hear your voice and see you at work in my life today.”        
—  prayer from d365 daily devotional 2016

I have never met this couple; their names are Rick and Ellen Burnette. I am told that they are the couple that began UHDP Thailand in 1996. After seeing the physical results of their many years of work, it sends a shiver up my spine. Only gifted, visionary genius that has been compelled by God could produce results with the immense impact that has come from UHDP.  It appears that they may be a proponent of one of my favorite sayings, “if it’s not impossible, it’s not worth doing.” Tui, who is now the Director of UHDP and has worked closely with the Burnettes, explains that all of the vast acreage surrounding the UHDP facility was a barren, hillside landscape. It had been ravaged by years of slash-and-burn farming methods. These farming methods had become standard practice for the entire northern Thailand mountain jungle region. What you see now on the UHDP acreage is a bountiful jungle paradise of banana trees, honey bee farms, indigenous vegetable gardens, indigenous fruit plants and trees, catfish catch water farm ponds, and frog farm condos. Yes, frog condos.  Frog is a part of the standard diet, and I will say it is quite tasty. Soooo, frog condos, you say? Yes, a very clever way to raise frogs in numbers in conjunction with the environment. Just stack 4 or 5 old car tires on top of each other around the catfish catch water pond. Fill the tires with water and cover the top of the tires with web fencing. The frogs seemed extremely happy and cannot escape. I am not able to relate to you all the other agricultural and livestock techniques that Mr. Burnette and Tui have introduced to the region. Through UHDP, these new practices are now being employed by the mountain tribes in the region, and it has improved the lives of the hill tribes dramatically.  Helping the hill tribes learn practices that provide a sustainable food future, WOW. I can hear God’s voice and see him at work in my life.

“So, take the safe route. Or…you can follow God’s impulses. He says, ‘Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it.’ Time slips. Days pass. Years fade. Life ends. And what we came to do must be done while there is time.”                 — Max Lucado, 2015

The next phase for Tui and UHDP is the process of expanding into Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and China. UHDP’s efforts are to support/share knowledge and bring resources to the table that will help these areas become an effective multi-national NGO/Ministry. UHDP has named its effort the “Cross Borders Ministry Program Vision 2030 UHDP.” We at 2BC Liberty should pray about our congregational and individual involvement with God’s work in this place that seems so far away. Moving forward, there will be many opportunities to become involved. One opportunity that is available to us now is our participation in the UHDP Prayer Cycling event Oct. 7-13.  2BC is sending a missions team to Chiang Mai, Thailand, to participate in this event. If you are interested in participating, please contact me at bill@americacrownwrestling.comBy the way, I am going. “What we came to do must be done while there is time.”

Please Be Blessed,

Bill

Photos courtesy of Bill Gossett

Learn more about the UHDP at uhdp.org.

 

 

 

 

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