CHIANG RAI – Troy Roberts and Cora (Butters) Roberts began dating while at BFHS in 1999. If you’ve lived in Bonners that long, you might remember Troy from football, soccer, basketball, his various involvements with student government, or a few incidents with local authority (before he found Jesus).
Cora is most likely remembered as Jr. Miss 2000, but was also involved in Youth for Christ and soccer. Their parents, Peggy McCalmant and Les and Beth Butters respectively, still reside in Boundary County.
The couple attended University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minn., where they both majored in education. College offered them opportunities to travel the world with short-term mission trips and see, first-hand, the need for education and, most of all, Christ, in every part of the globe.
After a wedding in Bonners, Troy and Cora taught for two years in the Minneapolis area before joining SEND International and moving to a fly-in-only fishing village of 60 people on the Alaska Peninsula. There they taught in multi-level classrooms while holding a weekly Bible study in their home for seven years.
There were times of joy and celebration: graduations, baptisms, births; and times of frustration and grief: darkness, drop-outs, deaths. In every situation they felt their Savior guiding them and stirring them to continue teaching people about Him – especially people who had never heard before.
As they saw a season of service closing in their small fishing village, they felt a growing desire to use their gifts to reach the unreached in Asia – a yearning that hadn’t died after more than seven years. They’d been praying for Thailand, specifically, as it is a nation open to foreigners, as seen by their booming tourist industry, but historically closed to Jesus.
Less than one percent of all people living in Thailand call themselves Christians. Thailand is also plagued by human trafficking, teen pregnancy, and substance abuse, all set against the contrasting beauty of limestone cliffs, tropical jungles, teak-forest mountains, and sun soaked beaches.
Troy and Cora learned that SEND was launching a new endeavor in Northern Thailand, and they hopped on board, finding a great fit for missionary teaching at Chiang Rai International Christian School (CRICS). CRICS students come from both servant families – those working in orphanages, anti-human trafficking, poverty relief efforts, and hill tribe evangelism – and local Thai families, who are predominantly Buddhist.
Teaching in Thailand is multifaceted and meaningful. The Roberts moved there with their two children – Chanan, 3 years, and Rinnah, 10 months – in the end of July, 2014, and have found that they enjoy their new life. Troy volunteers as a teacher of math, science, and technology, while helping with weekly chapels and intentionally trying to connect with teens he can encourage in their faith.
Cora is a stay-at-home mom who runs a small preschool in their living room and occasionally joins with an anti-sex trafficking group to do street worship in the bar area of downtown Chiang Rai.
SEND International also works in Mae Sai, a town just one hour north of Chiang Rai on the Burmese border, doing community development and outreach among the Akha and Shan people who have fled persecution in Burma. The Roberts hope to become more involved with that project over time. Their blog, www.sendtheroberts.wordpress.com, recently featured a post titled “Next to be Sold” about a heart-wrenching trip to visit the center in Mae Sai.
During their relatively short time in Thailand so far, the Roberts have enjoyed seeing a few of the sights of their beautiful new surroundings, such as waterfalls, night bazaars, cobras in kitchens, and an elephant camp in a village on the Kok River.
Troy, the one with the more adventurous palate, has even sampled fried bugs and worms and dubbed them, “Not bad. They’re like an extra crunchy French fry.”
Troy and Cora are looking forward to many more adventures, many more years, and many more meaningful relationships, but to stay in Thailand long-term they rely on support from generous people.
If you’re interested in teaming up with Troy and Cora to serve the servant workers of Northern Thailand through Troy’s teaching at Chiang Rai International Christian School and to share the savior with neighbors, Thai students, and bar girls, please visit their website at www.sendtheroberts.org for more information or go to www.send.org/tcr to give directly.