We’re continuing to feature one of the 41 missionaries and ministries Vision supports, and this week, we’ll be getting to know Philip Bassham, a missionary on deputation to Thailand.
Back when Philip was in high school, the Lord used a missions trip to Romania to plant the seed of foreign missions in his heart. Throughout his years in college, the Lord continued working in Philip’s heart, increasing his desire to become a missionary until he surrendered to what God was calling him to do. To help prepare for the mission field, Philip spent six months in Peru training under Pastor Gardner. Here’s what he had to say about his time there:
I learned a lot in college that I appreciate. The focused study of the Bible there will always be a benefit to me. But still, when I graduated, I was unprepared, and I knew it. That is why I signed up to spend 6 months in Peru with Pastor Gardner, and I believe I learned as much in my time with him as I did throughout college.
After Peru, Philip continued his training stateside and served as the music director and singles’ pastor at Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. He met his amazing wife, Lori, through missionaries Jeremy & Bekah Hall and Mark Coffey, and 6 months after their first date, they were married. They now have a baby girl named Claire Elane
The Basshams have been on deputation for 2 years and have traveled over 120,000 miles all across the United States! Philip describes deputation as being a lot like education.
We have learned a lot by seeing the Lord provide, meeting so many churches, and learning from such a variety of places. It really is amazing to see needs arise and the Lord use His own to meet every one of those needs. It really strengthens your faith when you know you are about to be the only Christian around.
He shares this experience about a situation he and Lori faced when they first started deputation:
I think I quit my job a few weeks too early when we started deputation, and we were especially broke. We went out to AR for a meeting, didn’t get a love offering, and were flat broke. On the way back home from AR, I was doing the math for how much we were going to give for our tithes and missions giving and realized that if we did that, it was going to literally empty our bank account. We were going to arrive home with $0 and an empty tank of gas with 2/3 of the month still to go. I turned to Lori, explained the situation, and said, “Well, it should be fun to watch how the Lord provides this time!” and I sent the payments (on my phone). The next 20 days were some of the most amazing I have ever seen. I never said a thing, but people bought us gas, showed up at our house multiple times with food (which had never happened before), and a dozen other things. We consciously took a step of faith that we knew was based on God’s Word, and He kept His promises. It was amazing!
The Basshams need only 15 more churches to partner with them in order to receive their full support. Once in Thailand, they will be living in the capital city of Bangkok and attending a language school downtown. Philip has been on two survey trips to Thailand already, and here’s what he noticed about the Thai people and their religion:
The people are very meek and kind, but they are also very superstitious. Obviously, the idolatry is very prevalent along with a lot of other very blatant sins. The main religion is Buddhism (95%) which is very humanistic and moralistic, but there is also a lot of spiritism mixed in, which has a lot of influence on their worship. Buddha had some good advice, but there is a big difference between good advice and good news. A long list of rules is very burdensome and trying to please all the spirits is very fearful. Jesus frees people from that life through faith in Him.
For those considering the field of Thailand, Philip gives this advice:
Grow in your understanding of the Gospel. Buddhism is not that bad if the goal is just to make people behave and act nicely. But moral people who think their good will cancel out their bad (karma) must understand that we can’t earn points with God to make him happy. And that is hard for us to learn sometimes.
I would tell those wanting to be a missionary to get a mentor and some specific missionary, cross-cultural, church planting training like the Training Center. I think it probably saved me 20 years of mistakes, and that makes it a very good investment.
The Basshams will fly out to Thailand on April 10, 2013.