The flood is coming to Bangkok. So are the MinistryNet conferees! The MinistryNet 2011 conference is ON and it is in Bangkok!
Our theme verse is becoming Isaiah 43:2:
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
Kay and I are in Bangkok as the advance team. Well, truthfully we are in Bangkok to be Grammy and Grandad to two amazing grandgirls. With the flooding crisis, we have become the eyes and ears to help with on-site evaluations about continuing the conference here.
We traveled the city streets in the conference area of town which have no water at this time. We talked several times with our Thai leadership and crisis management team. We all agreed the conference should continue. Air tickets are purchased. Travel visas are approved. Hotel arrangements are made.
In contrast, our grandgirls and their mom Michelle are leaving town!
Yes, we are bringing people into town and Daniel is sending his family out of town. How did we arrive at differing decisions?
It’s because the decision-making process needs to fit the target audience. Our conference is in a 5-star hotel that is committed to providing food and water. They have large national procurement chains that continue to work during this crisis time. They have a stand-by generator with days of fuel reserves. The hotel is located in a higher section of town. The roads from the airport to the hotel are elevated and will not flood. Our conferees are adults who can take care of themselves.
This is different from the parents of 4 and 6 year olds who were scheduled to depart for furlough in 6 weeks. They purchase their food in the local stores, where food and water have disappeared from shelves due to stockpiling. Their daughter’s school, along with all Bangkok schools, are closed for 2-3 weeks. Some expect the flood waters could stay around for the month. Would you want to live on the second floor of your house and not go outside for a month?
Daniel, Michelle and their leadership decided to send them on their furlough early. Daniel will stay behind to care for their house during the flood and to help with flood relief.
Continuing our MinistryNet conference is already helping with flood relief. We were asked by the Thai leadership if conferees could bring in 4-person inflatable boats. Local Campus Crusade staff will fill the boats with water and food and navigate flooded streets helping others. In 90 minutes, we found 7 volunteers who each purchased a boat, two paddles and a foot pump. We used the internet to pull it together very quickly. After a cellphone call from the Thailand Campus Crusade crisis management team, we used Skype and email to finalize the plan. We emailed a number of conferees. We used a Google Doc to manage the signup process. Each volunteer used Amazon.com to order the items. There was not a single face-to-face meeting to plan and execute the project. It was a totally internet-based project.
In 90 minutes, across 9,500 miles, the project was initiated, planned, and executed. Next week, 7 boats will arrive to help with life-saving relief.
It’s kind of cool — a conference focusing on using the internet for ministry is able to use the internet to prepare for flood relief.
As Hannibal Smith would say, “I love it when a plan comes together!”