Learning a new language is hard, but there’s no better way to truly touch the hearts of people than to learn their language and culture—and to preach in their language too! GIS parents Jay and Alisa Ballou have been doing ministry in Thailand since 2013, working at a children’s home in Lamphun and churches in Chiang Mai and Lampang while studying the Thai language. Then, in 2015, they moved to Lamphun to plant a church that has grown from their little home Bible study. Jay currently co-pastors at Sila Church and heads the men’s ministry, while Alisa leads the women’s ministry.
The Ballous’ goal is to see local Thais rise up and become church leaders. Jay explains, “Our family motto is reaching Thai people from religion in their community. Reaching out means that I can’t just sit at my desk all day. It means going out! My favorite type of day is going out with church members to minister to the community. Then there’s Alisa, who leads a ladies Bible study and does a lot of one-on-one with the ladies.” Jay tells the story of a young man who grew up at the children’s home in Lamphun that the Ballous had worked with. He felt that God was calling him to preach, and so he was an intern with Jay at Sila Church for five years. He eventually married an international Christian worker, and now the couple is starting a church in Prae. “It’s really cool to see Thai Christians growing into Christian leaders and going off to lead others,” Jay excitedly says. “We focus on making an impact on a micro-level, and we see it multiply.”
The impact that Grace International School has on the Ballous is part of what has allowed them to make such an impact on the local Thai community in Northern Thailand. With Alisa doing full-time ministry as well as homeschooling three kids in three different grade levels in Lamphun, the Ballous began looking for a school that could meet their children’s increasing academic needs and provide the family with a community and connections. “When looking at the impact that Grace has on our family, I see it in my kids. They have grown in their personalities and skills and have come to really call Grace their home. There is so much love being poured into our kids by teachers who care so much. Both Alisa and I have never seen it anywhere else.” With the kids in school, Alisa is able to serve on GIS staff as a 5th grade teacher and invest in other children of international Christian workers.
Grace International School exists to enable families of international workers like the Ballous to bring the love of Christ to the local community of unreached people. It is our aim to cultivate a diverse community that partners and cares for one another so that our parents, students, and staff can impact others as God has called them to do.