Christopher Sorensen & Kyle Tumberg

The Milestone

Sorensen: The day we had been looking forward to had finally arrived—the grand opening ceremony of Peace Music Academy (PMA) and the Khon Kaen SDA (KKSDA) Ministry Center’s new building. From the earliest prayers and dreams of Pastor Ricardo Palacios in 2012 to Pastor Cris Tawmonggood’s opening prayer this year, so much time, energy, prayer, money and miracles have been showered upon our people and work here in Khon Kaen, Thailand! Now we were enjoying the results of all the hard work and coordination.

By God’s grace, the once abstract vision our AFM team (the Palacios, Tumberg, Koning, Doss, Sorensen, and Abbey families) embraced nearly a decade ago was now literally a “concrete” reality.

Tumberg: I remember the Sunday morning, more than five years ago, when my big-dreaming teammate Chris Sorensen came to my house with a couple of other colleagues, and we drafted the tentative plans for a new church and music school building complex. The project consisted of a duplex-like design where the church office and school would each have their own wing of the same building. Behind the duplex would be a bigger auditorium where we could hold concerts, recitals and church services. The auditorium building would also have a kitchen for potlucks and cooking demonstrations.

The design looked great on graph paper, and we all felt excited about the possibilities, but I was unsure if it would ever come to fruition. We presented the idea before our church family and went to work hiring an architect, forming a building committee and communicating with various church entities, AFM and donors.

Challenges ensued. We had to widen and pave the road that leads to our property, but that required the cooperation of several of our neighbors who owned land along the road. After months of attempted negotiations, a couple of the neighbors resisted, which meant exploring other possibilities. Purchasing additional land that would allow us to connect to a larger road would be our best option, but we did not have the funds to do that, and the owner of that land was not eager to sell it. We continued to pray, plan and work. A very generous donor provided enough for us to purchase the additional land, and we reached an agreement with the owner. The construction of the facilities took longer than anticipated, but the results were stunning.

The weekend of the grand opening was filled with much activity and many guests. Leaders arrived from the Thailand Adventist Mission, the local Union and Division and Adventist Frontier Missions. Former teammates and founders of Peace Music Academy, Ricardo and Alicia Palacios, along with their two sons, Gabriel and Daniel, made the trip from America to join us. Also attending were our former Thai pastor, Wanlop Intachai, and former AFM student missionary, Rachel Perry.

On Sabbath, we rejoiced as five precious young people chose to follow Jesus and were baptized. A special concert followed that afternoon. On Sunday, March 27, the day of the ceremony, the Hope Channel for Southeast Asia recorded the event. It was a high day indeed.

Sorensen: Many friends, sponsors and prayer warriors from around the world and nearly all levels of the SDA church gathered to help us celebrate.

Pastor Niratisai Aipan, president of the Thailand Adventist Mission (TAM), was our first key-note speaker. He shared some of the history of the SDA work in Khon Kaen, giving special recognition and thanks to Pastors Kasem Laoken and Wanlop Intachai, plus others who planted gospel seed before AFM’s arrival.

Our second speaker, Mr. Jaran Damrongkiattiyot, TAM’s Education Director, expressed his happiness with PMA’s success. He was delighted that the Khon Kaen SDA Church has so many young people and encouraged them to continue sharing God’s Word with the people of Khon Kaen.

Our third speaker, Pastor Laurence Burn (AFM Training Director), greeted all the church leaders and attendees on behalf of Pastor Conrad Vine (AFM President) and the worldwide AFM family. He expressed thanks to every level of the church for the privilege of partnering with them to make this Urban Center of Influence project possible. He then shared AFM’s vision of making disciples who make other disciples, helping the world see that having “a peaceful heart is possible in a broken world,” for when the Prince of Peace is in the heart, the heart experiences peace. This understanding is how our music school received its name: Peace Music Academy.

Next, Sinegugu, one of our new AFM missionaries, currently teaching voice and choir at PMA, echoed this idea with a beautiful solo performance of the song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” accompanied by Gabriel Palacios at the piano.

Our fourth speaker, Pastor Ricardo Palacios (former AFM missionary to Khon Kaen, Thailand and current director of Hispanic Ministries for the North Carolina Conference of SDAs), shared how his meeting Adventist dentist Dr. Ruth Artamapadung inspired him with the dream of starting a music school ministry to make connections with “the beautiful people of Thailand.” Pastor Palacios mentioned how dear Thai friends, Jib and Ni, had believed in his dream and encouraged him, even sending their son, Jom, to become PMA’s first violin student. Ricardo acknowledged the many colleagues and former teachers who served at PMA to make our students what they are today: “God gives us a dream in our hearts, but we need everyone to make that dream come true.”

His sons, Gabriel and Daniel Palacios, played a beautiful violin and piano duet arrangement of “Holy, Holy, Holy.” After that, one of our earliest students, Aorm, who was baptized and now works as a student-teacher at PMA, gave her short testimony about how she came to know God through the combined witness of PMA and the KKSDA Church. Her testimony was followed by a beautiful string ensemble performance by more than a dozen PMA students and their teachers.

Tumberg: We introduced our new Music School Director, one of our home-grown church members, Phi Joon. I believe that God has been preparing Phi Joon for this role, and I am confident that he will follow God’s leading.

Sorensen: Mr. Joon then shared his amazing journey of faith. He first came to PMA as a student and grew interested in Christ through the influence of our teachers and students and the musical performances. He shared how he learned about Christ’s love through church attendance and Bible study and how he chose to be baptized. Now, he is not only the head elder of the KKSDA church but also our new PMA school director.

After some members of our Khon Kaen SDA Church Youth Choir sang the song, “Light of the World,” Pastor Somchai Cheunjit, president of Southeast Asia Union Mission, shared his delight and support of PMA’s use of music to bring light and peace to the hearts of people in Khon Kaen. He offered a prayer of blessing for the ongoing operation and mission of PMA.

Our final speaker, Pastor Saw Samuel, president of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division of SDAs, praised God for the work done by Adventist Frontier Missions in Khon Kaen and throughout the world. Through relating his experience leading his elderly Muslim father to faith in Jesus, he encouraged everyone to be patient and persevering in our witness—realizing that some fruit grows fast, and some fruit develops slowly—but if we are faithful, we will someday see a beautiful harvest! Before his prayer of blessing for our KKSDA Ministry Center and all who ever enter it, Pastor Samuel assured us of his eagerness to partner with us again in any future planned projects that would take God’s work in Khon Kaen to the next level.

The KKSDA International Choir brought the program to a joyous close by singing the beautiful song “I Will Do A New Thing” by Heather Sorenson. The message of this song assured us that no matter how many great things God has done for us in the past, and no matter how remarkable this milestone is, there is still much more that He is eager and able to do for us and through us—new things that we have never seen before! Serving such a loving and powerful God keeps us on the edge of our seats, excitedly moving us forward, eager to see what else He desires to accomplish.

Tumberg: I can see God’s hand of blessing on this project in many ways, and I am humbled as I see so many lessons that were learned and others that still can be learned. I see that dreaming big, stepping out in faith, and working hard pays off and that even when we doubt or get discouraged, if we keep our eyes on Jesus and continue to patiently plod forward, good things will happen. I do not know what the future holds, but seeing what has transpired, I know God has a great plan for the city of Khon Kaen and will continue to provide the strength and resources.

We still need to raise about $20,000 to finish the fundraising for the new building. If you would like to contribute, you can donate to AFM. Please keep us in your prayers, and thank you to all.

Sorensen: On behalf of the current AFM team in Khon Kaen (Tumbergs, Alemans, Haywards, and Sorensens), thank you for your prayers and financial support as you have shared this mission journey with us over the past several years. Thank you for allowing God to use you to build up His work here in Khon Kaen, Thailand.

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