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Mission to Thailand now a reality

Attaway family prepares for November move

By Jessica Connor

GREENVILLE—Suddenly, all the plans are falling into place courtesy of the Almighty: the Attaway family is headed to Thailand.

This fall, Todd and Pam Attaway, members of Aldersgate United Methodist Church, along with two of their children, Noah, 15, and Hannah Grace, 9, will leave everything they know to become full-time missionaries in the rural community Roi Et, in northeast Thailand.

I m really excited about it,  said Noah, who just finished his freshman year in high school. I m ready to go, and I want to go as soon as possible. 

The Attaways have been feeling the tug to do full-time ministry for some time, and when they finally decided to turn their plans over to God, they were propelled toward The Mission Society, an interdenominational group that sends missionaries to places the Gospel has been least heard.

It wasn t an easy decision by any means. One of their biggest sacrifices is leaving behind their two older children. Ashley, 20, a psychology and sociology major at Clemson University, and Sidney, 21, a youth ministry major at Charleston Southern University, will remain in the U.S. to complete their studies. But five generations of Pam s family have been United Methodist pastors, including her parents Tom and Molly Wilkes, and her brother, Tommy, and they all know that when God calls, you say, Yes, Lord. 

The Attaways began planning and fundraising for a trip, and God pushed them toward Roi Et, where they will teach English alongside Chris and Dora Barbee, who are English teachers in Buddhist schools there.

Fundraising for these trips can take a very long time, but the Attaways have managed to raise nearly all the funds needed in a very short time. They have been sharing their call with churches twice weekly for the past several months, and they expect to have all funding complete by the end of August.

In mid-September, they head to Colorado for a month-long intensive Mission Society training.

It s called missionary boot camp,  said Pam, noting the family will do two weeks of language acquisition skills, then situation and cultural training and other intensive preparatory work.

They plan to leave for Roi Et in November, and are working now toward securing their visas and other needed paperwork.

Once they get to Thailand, Noah will do his high school coursework through an online program where he can earn his diploma, and Hannah Grace will be homeschooled.

In addition to teaching English and helping with a fledgling church there, the family will document their journey for Christians back home through their Love Share Serve website, which features a blog and, once they arrive, photos and hopefully video (visit loveshareserve.blogspot.com).

God has put on our heart that we re mobilizers, not only for the folks in Thailand but for us here,  Pam said, noting the enthusiasm of the people here has made her realize how crucial it is for the family to serve as a connection between South Carolina and Thailand. We feel part of our call is to mobilize the church and help them with the idea of reaching the least-reached or the unreached, making the Great Commission real. 

While many UMCs are very active with physical labor on mission projects overseas, sharing the Gospel and making witnesses as a primary focus is not as common, she said. That is what they will focus on in Thailand.

This is getting back to some of the roots of John Wesley; he said ˜the world is my parish, and that s what God is putting on our hearts,  she said.

Todd said along with the excitement, there is a little stress factor  in dotting the i s dotted and crossing the t s in preparation for their trip. They are also sad about having to leave their two older children behind.

But we know we are doing what we re supposed to be doing, and God provides in all circumstances,  Todd said.

For his part, Noah is looking forward to building relationships with people his age and sharing what he has learned with them.

But he is quick to point out that answering God s call doesn t mean you have to turn your life upside down and move to Thailand. You just need to listen to God s voice, and then respond.

It doesn t have to be across the world; it can be 10 feet from you. You can go downtown or hop on a plane,  Noah said. We re not doing it because we want to do it. It s a calling and we choose to follow that calling. 

While most of the money for their trip has been raised, some funds are still needed, as is prayer support. To make a tax-deductible donation to help their trip, donate online at loveshareserve.blogspot.com or mail a check to The Mission Soc
iety, P.O. Box 922637, Norcross, GA 30010-2637 (designate Attaway “ 3018 SUP).

To ask the family to speak to your church about their call, email attawaysix@bellsouth.net .

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