Meal Ministry Monday Welcomes Mem! (Delicious Thai Spring Rolls)

Mem and me at her house for lunch after our ladies bible study
It is an absolute joy for me to introduce Mem Luton…my sister-in-Christ, valued friend, heart-felt bible study leader, encourager, and yes…fellow “foodie” (this girl can cook Thai food like no one else!). Mem is pure at heart, shares God’s love with everyone she meets, radiates joy, has a passion for life, and has the kindest smile. Her testimony is one of the most unique testimonies I have ever heard. When I ever feel “not prepared”, “not good enough” or insecure about anything I try to accomplish in my life, I think of Mem. I am reminded of all of the obstacles she has had to overcome living in a “foreign” country, how much she puts herself out there for the Lord dispite language barriers, how she had to get used to a completely different culture, and how she has had to lean on God for strength in so many ways. Did you catch that she is my bible study leader? Yes….incredible for someone who has only lived in the United States for 10 years and was born Buddhist. God is that good. I am so blessed to have this sweet woman in my life…I could go on for days about how much I love her but will let her take it from here…
She is “Comfy in her Kitchen!”
leading bible study at our church; “Stepping Up” by Beth Moore. 
Mem cooked a delicious Thai meal this year for our
 bible study over at Courtney’s house (
By: Mem Luton
“And whatsoever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord and not unto men.”—Col. 3:23

Cooking is like an art for me. Although there’s a lot of hard work involved, it’s more than just rewarding, especially when I see people enjoying what I’ve prepared and wanting more. I never dreamed when I came to America ten years ago that I would be as heavily involved in cooking Thai food as I am now, nor that there would be as many people who like my cooking as has turned out to be the case. I began learning to cook “American style” after I got married, but experimented with new recipes I was coming up with for Thai food at the same time. (Fortunately, I have a family here who are always eager to be my willing guinea pigs). This is one of the reasons why it has been such a delight to know Janelle Nehrenz, with whom I have so much in common. She not only loves the Lord, but also enjoys cooking as much as I do. As a full-time housewife and a stay-at-home mother of four, I experience a great deal of fulfillment and satisfaction in life. Nevertheless, I have also found it very fulfilling to have people over for dinner and to minister to others out of my home.

I enjoy cooking, not only for my family, but also for my friends at church and at the school where my children attend. Since I became an American citizen, one of the things that I have come to love about this country is the fact that here I am free to still be who I am while being an American at the same time. Consequently, while being fiercely loyal to the United States and the American flag, I enjoy introducing people to what is best from my former life in Thailand as well. Most important of all, it has been my desire to model the new life I now have in Jesus Christ ever since the day I surrendered my life to Him before I left Thailand. Considering my Buddhist background, however, people often find it surprising to learn just how I became a Christian in the first place.

I was born the youngest of 7 children in a strong Buddhist family in southern Thailand. My father was the second richest man in the area, but I never saw those riches. By the time I was born, my father had lost everything. He and mother were separated before I was born, so one of my greatest desires was for a loving father and a happy family.

I almost died at birth because there was no doctor. My father just happened to be home that day and delivered me despite having no experience. When the local midwife discovered how badly he had performed the delivery, she said that both my mother and I were lucky to be alive. That would not be the only time I almost died.

Soon after I was born we lost our house, and my mother and I moved in with my grandmother who lived deep in the jungles of southern Thailand. We had no electricity or running water, and lived in very primitive conditions, but it was a lot of fun for me. I loved seeing the elephants, watching the monkeys in the trees, and being able to swim in the nearby river, but I always had to watch out for alligators. One time when I was 4, I was bitten by a cobra while walking through the jungle. My leg began swelling greatly and I began to fall into the “death sleep.” My brother ran as fast as he could with me in his arms to a village to get help but was told there was not much hope. Cobra bites are usually fatal, but somehow I recovered instantly. Some people said it was a miracle.

My great-grandmother belonged to royalty, but fell from grace when she married a commoner. Her daughter (my grandmother) continued to teach us to speak the cultured Thai dialect anyway, even though we were poor. She always took me to the temple and taught me in the ways of Buddha—that good deeds were important to atone for past sins and go to heaven. One day in the temple I saw several pictures of hell showing lost souls suffering in the fire and being tortured by demons. I was so terrified that I devoted myself to doing good deeds and being a good person so that I would not go there when I died.

When I was eight, my grandmother died. She had a servant’s heart, was deeply loved by all who knew her, and was very devoted to Buddha. Her funeral was very sad for me, because I had no way to know if she was in heaven. To add to our grief, someone cheated my mother out of the property my grandmother planned to give her. My father had left us nothing, and my grandmother’s death now left us penniless. Most of my brothers and sisters had moved to Bangkok to find work, so my mother and I moved there too.

In Bangkok, I determined to do my best in school so that I might somehow regain the riches and prestige that had once belonged to my family. I let people see only the bright side of my past and tried to hide our poverty. As a result, I became very skilled at lying, and would fight anyone who provoked me. I boasted about how rich my father was and about my great-grandmother’s famous royal name of “Nahtnakorn.”

I also became a thief. If there was something pretty in a store, “I came; I saw; I took.” I first stole a toy ring, but my conscience bothered me because of what my grandmother taught me. After a few days, however, my guilt feelings faded, and the next time I stole something, it was easier. One time I stole a pair of shoes in a Buddhist temple, but those pictures I had seen of people burning in hell so bothered me that I returned them. From then on I only stole “little” things—like money out of pay telephones. My soul felt unclean. I was happy-looking on the outside, but very unhappy on the inside. I had no assurance that I would ever go to heaven, because I just could not become the kind of “good person” that deserved to go there. Thai people believe that babies are born clean and develop bad behavior only because of outside influence. But no one had ever taught me to lie or steal. Yet these had become regular habits. I wondered if I could ever earn my way to heaven. Just how many good deeds would it take to atone for my sins?

Praying to Buddha brought no satisfaction for me, because our prayers were not even in the Thai language. I wondered, “If Buddha is God, why is he dead and if his idol is alive, why can’t he eat the food we place before him?” We continued making offerings to idols, but were terrified of demons and erected a spirit house for them to live in. We burned incense daily, but nothing seemed to take away our fear of them. I will only say that my family’s experience with demonic spirits has been real and terrifying.

To satisfy them once, my mother gave me away to her sister who was a practicing medium and conducted séances. I had become very sick, and my mother believed that the spirits wanted her to give me to my aunt to raise. It was only when I suddenly recovered that my mother changed her mind and took me back. God had miraculously showed up to save my life again—this time from a life in the occult. Little did I know at the time that on the other side of the world a woman was praying for me every day for 50 years—even before I was born—that God would protect me and that I would be saved. I would not discover this until many years later after I got married. 
This woman was Edna Luton, my mother-in-law.

My oldest sister was largely responsible for providing for the family. In the absence of a father, she imposed discipline, which we hated. We feared her and called her the “black witch.” Therefore, I was surprised when I came home one day and saw her showing love and telling the family about Jesus. An American missionary had told her about Jesus, and now she was telling us about Him. She said that, according to the Bible, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” but that God loved me, sent His perfect son to die on the cross for me, and wanted to become my Heavenly Father. Not having even seen my earthly father more than twice in my life, these words flooded my soul with hope and joy. She shared John 3:16 with me and told how Jesus paid my sin’s penalty and that I could invite Him into my heart through prayer. Without hesitation, I eagerly prayed asking Jesus to come into my life, forgive me, and give me eternal life. I had no reservation about leaving Buddhism to become a Christian or, as the Bible says, a child of God. And, best of all, it was all free!—not something I had to earn or work for. I knew then that I wanted to be a missionary and tell others about Jesus.

Unfortunately, I had little follow-up or discipleship for two years until I was 14 years old when an American school teacher was invited to help with the ministry. He not only taught us the importance of Lordship, but he showed us how to memorize and meditate on God’s Word, how to have a daily quiet time, and how to put the Word into practice. He continues today helping me grow as a Christian. He’s my husband—Bryan Luton.

Living the Christian life was fun for me. I was taken out of school to live in the ministry center, which my sister and brother-in-law had set up in our house, and I was constantly surrounded by short term missionaries from America who came to help with the ministry. When my brother-in-law and sister moved back to America, however, I felt devastated and alone. I was about to learn two very painful lessons—that we must walk by faith, not by sight, and that my worst enemy was my own pride, which resisted God’s grace.

Feeling very alone now, I decided to go back to school and complete my high school education. I began making many friends among unbelievers and, although I knew better, I began dating an unbeliever, thinking that I could win him to the Lord. I neglected God’s Word, because it was too convicting, and I stopped going to church. Instead of influencing my friends for Christ, they were influencing me. I was letting go of God, but God did not let go of me. Time after time, God protected me from destructive temptations because of His mercy and the prayers of His people.

Longing for the fellowship that I had once enjoyed with the Lord, I accepted an offer to enroll in a Bible training college. God “showed up” again and provided my expenses. I now spent most of my time in God’s Word. Verses I had memorized years earlier ministered to me again with a new freshness, especially Romans 8. Reading, meditating and applying this chapter marked the turning point in my Christian life: There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. I prayed a prayer of genuine repentance, and the joy of my salvation returned. I set Jesus apart as Lord of my life, and this time surrendered ownership rights of my life to Him. I began making restitution to those from whom I had stolen, and I began confessing and asking forgiveness of those to whom I had told lies. This also meant forgiving those who had wronged me, even if they don’t apologize. I was learning to be a doer of the word, not a forgetful hearer, and to walk by faith, not by sight.

I am far from what I once was, but I am also far from what I hope some day to be. God continues to expose my areas of weakness (and often uses my own children to do so). But because of the assurance I have from God’s Word, I have no fear of where I will spend eternity when I die. I have something now I always wanted but never had—a Father—a loving “Heavenly Father,” who is more than any earthly father could ever be. It’s also no longer important to me that my earthly father was rich, because my Heavenly Father has given me riches in Christ. It’s no longer important to me that my great-grandmother had belonged to royalty, because I am a child of the King of Kings. And I also have the joy of a stable family, not just my husband and children, but the family of God. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives in me.—Gal. 2:20

Mem has been so kind to share with us her very own Spring Roll recipe! You will never taste Spring Rolls better than these. I have to tell you Ladies this (I am giggling)…I was at the grocery store today and I brought with me Mem’s recipe. I was a little bewildered at some of the ingredients so I called her. She said “Janelle, why don’t you let me bring the ingredients over to your house…better yet, why don’t you let me stay and help you make them!?”So, sure enough an hour later we were at my house making this delicious recipe together! What sweet fellowship…I am one lucky girl to have such kind people in my life. So, here we are…

Mem’s Thai Spring Roll Recipe Adventure

Spring Roll wrappers are a bit thinner than wonton/egg roll wrappers- 
but you mayuse whatever you are able to find, Mem suggests this kind.

This is a sweet and sour dipping sauce -Mem pours it in a serving
 dish and adds a squeeze of lime juice to it…She purchases this at 
“World Market”If you cannot find this particular brand, you may use any 
sweet and sour sauce.

These are “bean threads” that Mem purchases at an Asian store.
 You may use rice noodles or bean spouts if you wish.

In a food processor, chop raw chicken- isn’t that interesting? I love it!

This is what it looks like…
Then she adds about a Tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 tsp of cajun 
powder to the chicken and lets it marinate while she prepares the other parts
 of the recipe

Just a simple Cajun seasoning you find anywhere

boil the noodles (or bean threads) until tender- this does not 
take long!

Mem with my daughter. They have a special bond 
(and both appreciate pretty shoes! lol).

chop carrots and green onion

Add about a Tablespoon of the green onion mixture to the chicken 
and mix it up

Then, in a wok heated on medium high with peanut oil add the 
chicken and the carrots, onions, and pre-chopped cabbage. Press down 
on the chicken with a spatula and stir…continue this pattern until cooked through.
Let the water out of the boiling noodles

Then add the noodles and additional Tbsp of soy sauce to the chicken mixture and 
stir well.

Take the Spring Roll wrappers out of the package and wet slightly
 with water

A quick video on how to roll up the Spring Rolls…

Cover in a damp cloth 

Roll em up! 
In the same wok (but cleaned out of course), I heat more peanut oil (appx 2 cups) on med-high to high heat and fry the Spring Rolls for about 1 1/2 mins per side until lightly golden. Then, place on a paper towel in a colander and let them dry before serving on serving dish.

Whala! Serve with a side of delicious sweet and sour dipping sauce.

You may also cut them at an angle for a smaller bite-sized portion

Mem’s Thai Spring Roll Recipe
(makes 24)

1 package of spring roll wraps
2 chicken breasts (processed/chopped raw)
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup pre-chopped cabbage (slaw)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 (2 oz) package of glass noodles (bean threads)
1 tsp cajun seasoning (or just cayenne)
2 Tbsp soy (separated)
2 1/4 cups peanut oil (1/4 cup to stir fry chicken; 2 cups to fry spring rolls)
(sweet and sour sauce/ juice of 1/2 a lime- for dipping)

Boil water in a small saucepan; add noodles, cook until tender, drain and cut up into 2 inch pieces. Chop carrots and green onions; set aside. Rinse raw chicken and place in food processor-chop well. Open processor and add 1 Tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp cajun seasoning, and 1 Tbsp of chopped carrots and green onions to raw chicken, stir. Heat wok and 1/4 cup oil on med-high. When hot, stir fry chicken, and all of the carrots, green onions and add additional Tbsp of soy sauce together. Press down on chicken with spatula, then stir…continue this motion until cooked through. Add noodles and stir.

(see youtube video above)
Take spring roll pastry out of package sprinkle with water. Wet dish cloth with water and wrap pastry in it. Carefully peel one pastry at a time. Lay out one pastry and place a heaping tsp of chicken mixture at the bottom corner. Roll bottom corner over chicken mixture. Roll the right corner in, then left corner in, then roll up into finished. Do this until ingredients are gone.


Heat 2 cups oil in wok (or fry daddy) and place 4-6 spring rolls in at a time. Fry for appx 1 1/2 mins per side then flip over. Fry until lightly golden. Place paper towels in a colander, drain, and serve on serving platter.


Mem suggests purchasing Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce from “World Market”, however any sweet and sour will do. She squeezes the juice of 1/2 a lime into about 1 cup of sauce.

Thank you Mem for sharing your testimony and delicious recipe with all of us! 
Love to you,

Questions for Mem? Please e-mail me at and I will forward them to her! She is praying for you and is willing to help through her testimony! 

Please e-mail me at to be a guest blogger on Meal Ministry Mondays. I would love to show off your love for the Lord and His people! 

I am participating at Living Well Wednesdays!
For more inspiring stories please click on the button below.

I am participating in Titus Tuesdays and 2 Tasty Tuesdays- Please check these wonderful sites out for more delicious recipes from fellow bloggers! YUM!

Beauty and Bedlam




  1. Mem – I hung on every word of your post! Thank You for sharing your recipe and what a blessing you are! You have truly found a Sister in Christ to share your love of cooking! You blessed me with your recipe and sharing your testimony! God is SO GREAT! Thank You again for opening your heart to us! D in North Texas

  2. Ann at eightacresofeden says:

    Janelle – thank you so much for giving Mem the opportunity to share her incredible testimony along with her recipe for spring rolls. Do you know how much my older children love Thai food? They are always asking me to learn how to cook 'real' Thai food! This is because both my son and daughter have been to Thailand on short term missions trips to work at the orphanage that our church supports. You can read of their experiences at my blog. They both fell in love with Thailand but especially the people and the food! Oh how they loved the food! One of the ministries of the orphanage that both my teens had the opportunity to be involved in was a meal ministry taking food to families in the nearby leper village. And you know my daughter's dessert business? – well that is what she is hoping will enable her to raise money so she can return to Thailand! And here you are introducing us to your beautiful friend from that very country.
    Oh – and on Saturday my husband came home from helping a family move house and said 'I told them that you will be dropping off a meal to them tonight!' I had told him about your meal ministry after being in touch with you and he saw a perfect opportunity to bless them. This week looks like I am going to be making spring rolls for the family (no excuse now that I have such wonderful step by step instructions!) and as Australia imports lots of Thai foodstuffs I will be able to find all those ingredients at the supermarket – Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce included! I recognized that brand immediately!
    Thank you so much Janelle and to Mem 'Khup Korn Ka' – I hope that is right – I just asked my daughter how to say thank you in Thai and she didn't have to think but tells me it could be different because of the dialects but this is what she remembers! She has just seen your post and reaffirmed her desire to go back to Thailand soon!

  3. Out Back says:

    Boy am I sure glad that I dropped by your blog this morning.

    I so loved reading about Mem and then Mem's story. She is indeed an inspiring woman and you are so lucky to have her in your life…

    Thank you,


  4. Her story is incredible and what a life she has lived! Such a pleasure and encouragement to read. And those Spring Rolls look amazing. I've only had them once and they were yuuumy!

  5. Mem – I am in tears after that testimony. I LOVE how you talked about being prayed over for the past 50 years – your precious mom-in-law! I love hearing about the missionaries and those who sacrificed to take the message of Jesus to the lost. So inspiring!

    Janelle, this is such a great addition to your blog! Keep the stories coming!

  6. Mem, thank you so much for sharing your testimony. You are such a blessing and encouragement! I am from Phils. and lived in America for only 3 years. It's been a struggle for me. I would love to hear more from you and your adjustment here. Thanks!

  7. I was blessed reading Mem's testimony… Having been born and raised in the former Soviet Union I often wondered why the hand of God was so strong in my life (when I learned about God I felt as if I had some special favor with Him even before I turned to Him)… when I got married I learned that my husband's mother has been praying for his wife from the day he was born… prayer is truly so powerful!!!

  8. Courtney (Women Living Well) says:

    OOOOOOOOOO- this was awesome!! I LOVE Mem too and adore her passion for Jesus and food :-)!!! Thanks Mem for sharing your story and recipe!!! I am blessed to call you my friend!
    Much Love,

  9. What an inspiring testimony!! I was so focused on her words that I was oblivious to anything else going on around me!

  10. Janelle Nehrenz says:

    Dear Jacki:
    This is Mem. Thank you for your nice comments. Since I came to the United States, I have found that reading my Bible and praying every day was absolutely necessary for me to transition to America and is crucial to keeping my balance spiritually. Do you and your husband attend a good Bible-believing, gospel-preaching church? If so, pray together that God would bring into your life an older godly woman who can mentor you. This proved to be a tremendous help to me. I will continue to pray for you and visit your blog. God bless you, Jacki.

    Love in Christ,

    Mem Luton

  11. That's awesome! 🙂

  12. Janelle Nehrenz says:

    Thank you ladies for your encouragement and kind words! Ann…what a coincidence…or is it a "God thing?" *wink*. Love to you, Janelle

  13. Mem, we are attending church faithfully. Last week, the Lord has given me an opportunity to meet my neighbor and I pray (I also have a feeling)she is the one the Lord has sent to be my friend and mentor. Thank you.

  14. Connie H. says:

    How much I enjoyed this post. Mem, you are continually such an encouragement to me! I was deeply touched to read of your mother in law's prayers for you. I am going to try to make these spring rolls!


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