We knew them from afar, now we know them as our close friends.
The Hughes family has been serving in Thailand for over twenty years.
It would be awesome if every new missionary coming into a country for the first time could have mentors like them, but unfortunately most don’t.
So, we have been blessed.
They also just recently celebrated their thirty year wedding anniversary which is also the number of years they have been in full time ministry! I just have to give God thanks for this family. They have blessed us and helped to make our transition into ministry in Thailand so much easier than it could have been otherwise.
I just love to brag on them because they don’t ever brag on themselves.
I like to call Bill, Mr. Understatement. He is a humble man of God who would hate that I am mentioning his name and talking about him like this. He could be a heavy handed authoritarian type, but he is definitely not! He is still always willing to hear from a young buck like myself and even try out some of my suggestions. (ha ha) He is a good husband and father and lives a consistent lifestyle. I consider him my good friend and have learned a lot from his modeling.
Bill was exactly the same age as I was when he first came to Thailand. He also spent the first few years acclimating to the country under another missionary evangelist. He later launched out into learning the Thai language and made it his “job” until he was able to speak, read, and write. I think this is part of the reason he has lasted so long here and made it his home. He has done every type of ministry and outreach sowing the seed of God’s word in many different ways. His fruit, the changed lives of Thai young people, is scattered throughout the country.
In my opinion, Bill and Julie have modeled what a successful Western family looks like on the mission field long term.
This doesn’t mean that everything has been easy and smooth for them. They would be the first to admit that this is far from the truth. Yet they have dug down deep, held on to God through the trials, and persevered together through it all. They have paid a price.
It’s one thing to serve cross culturally as a single or retired person and another to actually raise a family. I don’t think anyone can understand what it is like for a Western to raise a family in a country like Thailand until they have done it themselves. It is a major challenge in so many ways!
Things are a little easier now, but twenty years ago, it was much different! They didn’t even have milk or Starbucks back then! (ha ha) There must have been a huge amount of adjustment for Julie, but she stuck it out and was successful in raising four awesome God-loving, creative, and smart kids. (…You guys can pay me later)
I have a deep respect for her. She is a powerful minister in her own right. She has a beautiful singing voice, cooks great meals, loves to worship, loves to paint beautiful pictures, and loves to minister the love of God to others. She keeps herself fresh and is still young at heart despite having faced many painful seasons.
Despite the reality that they could be anywhere in Asia or the world for that matter, Bill and Julie love being among the rural poor of Isaan. They never look down on the people but love them just as their own family. They sit on the floor, eat the food, and laugh at the jokes as they bring God’s word and presence to those who have experienced little to none of either.
The church they planted here in Khon Kaen, through the leadership of Thai Pastors Charin and Waen Layothee, recently celebrated ten years and has impacted so many Thai people’s lives. Just in the past year, through new initiative, they have launched a new focus on planting new groups in villages where there are little to no Christian presence. They go out every week to multiple locations visiting the people, praying for the sick, and teaching believers. I have been so blessed to be a part of this and see God in action, changing people’s lives.
The Hughes family are the real deal and Thailand is blessed to have them here.
All of the Christian leaders in our city and region that know them, love and respect them dearly. We have been blessed to have them in our lives too. We wouldn’t have been able to do all that we have done in the short year and a half we have been here in Thailand without them.
We may be moving to a different city and ministry here in Thailand soon, but we will always be grateful for them and will always consider them our family. Their influence is now soundly integrated into our life and ministry. I believe this is why God put us together for this season.
My only regret is that we didn’t have more time together!
My heart is pained to leave, but I feel that it is the best thing for our family in this season. They are in agreement and want only God’s best for us. So, we push forward knowing that His way and timing are perfect. We are seeking to do His will.
We both look forward to seeing what the next season looks like for each of us. Until then, we wanted to take a moment to give honor to whom honor is due.
Thank you Hughes family!
You are precious to us.