July 26, 2012
The Asian YWAM Family Ministry leaders facilitated and hosted the third Asian Family Ministries Forum in Chiang Mai Thailand with 34 missionaries from 14 nations working with Families in Vietnam, Philippines, Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Korea and Kyrgysztan.
Family Resource Center (FRC) Director Larry Ballard (USA) reminded us of the beginnings of Family Ministries in Europe. He spoke about the foundational verse from Malachi 4:6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse. He shared about the 'family heart of God', He also challenged us to follow Nehemiah's example: to fight for our family and to build the ministry simultaneously (Nehemiah 4, 14b).
Andreas and Angela Frész, leaders of YWAM Family Ministries International, reported about global initiatives and facilitated discussions around the tables on (a) how we could reach families more effectively in the various cultural settings, (b) which programs and resources have been successful and (c) how family ministries could be expanded through training, multipliable resources and networking.
Through Arthur Banganan (working in Palawan Philippines) it was exciting to hear about their unique initiatives like the Parents University. Their church give free preschool education to poor families and require both parents of 40 preschool children to attend their ten month long parenting seminars with this Parent's University project. This is not only a powerful way to reach the whole family, but also introduce them to Christ.
Dr. Bruce Litchfield (Director of the Australian Institute for Counseling) challenged us with regards to pioneering new Family Ministry initiatives and reminded us to think big, because we serve a big God. It's been a privilege to have Dr. Bruce and Nellie Litchfield (Australians) with us. The Asian Family Ministries Forum was the first stop on their six weeks trip around the world where they will support two pioneering Family Ministry Schools in the nations of Nigeria and Tansania.
On our last morning together Pastor Alvin Bhakta from Bangladesh challenged us to be of Christlike character, to model what we believe and teach, to be willing to sacrifice and to run the race to the end. Sometimes we are faced with our own limitations but God promises that "His presence will go with us and He will give us rest" (Exodus 33:14).
All in all we did not just come together as people working for family ministries in different parts of Asia, we came together as family.